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“True Adolescents,” reviewed

“True Adolescents,” reviewed (photo)

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They say that directing is 90% casting. But that must mean that casting is a hefty percentage of acting too — knowing how to place yourself in roles where you have the best chance to succeed. I’m not sure that Mark Duplass is a world-class actor but he’s a genius at casting. He’s good in everything in part because he understands his strengths an actor and plays to them. His character in “True Adolescents,” Sam, isn’t that far removed from the likable, aimless early thirtysomethings he played in films like “The Puffy Chair” or “Humpday.” But Duplass is his generation’s foremost likable, aimless early thirtysomething, and it’s always fun to see him to riff on that persona.

Sam lives in Seattle and works (sort of) as a struggling musician. His scruffy, scuffling rock band has the symbolism-infused name The Effort; Sam thinks they’re right on the verge of a record deal, but his girlfriend has had enough of his failed dreams and kicks him out of their apartment. With nowhere else to turn, he moves in with his aunt Sharon (Melissa Leo), who begs him to take his teenage cousin Oliver (Bret Loehr) and Oliver’s buddy Jake (Carr Thompson) on a weekend camping trip after Oliver’s absentee father bails on his chaperoning duties. Skinny-jeans-and-Converse-wearing Sam isn’t exactly an ideal outdoorsman, but he doesn’t have much choice, and so this unlikely trio of dudes set off to explore the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

At this point in the narrative, “True Adolescents” resembles a lot of other recent indie films in the mumblecore mold of slackers and sex talk — and not just because Duplass, one of the patriarchs of the form, is on hand to deliver another solid performance. Like most mumblecore movies, the camera work is loose, the locations are real, and the stakes are very low-key. Writer/director Craig Johnson juxtaposes the boys’ childish antics — Duplass has one particularly hilarious sequence where he desperately searches for a cell phone signal in the nude — with serenely beautiful images of the verdant scenery. Standing at the edge of the ocean peering out at the water, they seem on the cusp of something life-changing, if only these boys could grow up and embrace it.

Sam, Oliver, and Jake’s aimless wandering through the woods would seem to be the perfect metaphor for the aimless, wandering qualities of these sorts of movies. But once our heroes set off on their multi-day hike, Johnson begins to throw some unexpected but very welcome twists at the usual mumblecore formula. Things, y’know, like, happen in this movie. Lives are changed. Secrets are revealed. The guys don’t really know where they’re going, but they certain find some very important things when they arrive.

Duplass’ younger co-stars aren’t always up to the dramatic and emotional challenges their roles demand, and I wonder if the film would be even more interesting if it were told from their perspective rather than Sam’s. But there’s still something refreshing about “True Adolescents.” It feels like mumblecore’s inherent immaturity finally coming of age.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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