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Countdown to Top Ten 2K11: “Hanna”

Countdown to Top Ten 2K11: “Hanna” (photo)

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We’re just two months away from the end of the year and the start of top ten list season. If you’re a hardcore movie nerd like me, you look forward to December with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Making a top ten list is super fun but it’s also super daunting. There are so many movies to see, and only so many hours in a day.

Seeing every single movie released this calendar year is impossible, so you’ve got to pick your battles. That’s where Countdown to Top Ten 2K11 comes in. The goal of this column is simple: as I catch up with the 2011 movies I missed in order to fill out my own top ten list, I’ll tell you whether or not you need to catch up with them as well before making your top ten list. Each installment will feature my thoughts on the movie, a sampling of other critics’ reactions, the odds of the film making my own list, and the reasons why it might make yours.

Let’s kick things off by travelling to the Arctic, the site of one of the most critically acclaimed action movies of the year.

Movie: “Hanna”
Director: Joe Wright
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
Plot Synopsis: A teenage girl named Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) trained in the wilderness by her father (Eric Bana) to be the perfect killing machine is sent to civilization to assassinate an evil CIA agent (Cate Blanchett).
What the Critics Said: “An entertainingly nutty action thriller,” David Denby, The New Yorker
“The bad-ass girl-power movie ‘Sucker Punch’ wanted to be,” Christy Lemire, Associated Press
“Almost a terrific movie, or a partly terrific one,” Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
Were They Right? O’Hehir was the closest, though I liked the movie a bit more than he did, I think. I was actually surprised to see the film had just a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, because I’ve read and heard some really strong endorsements on the film; “Hanna”‘s apparently more divisive than I first realized.

My own opinion of the film is somewhat divided as well. The premise is intriguing and some of the action is fantastic (what’s better than Eric Bana taking on four dudes at once? Eric Bana taking on four dudes at once in a insanely long unbroken shot). Less fantastic is the film’s obsession with its own artfulness. With her years of training, Hanna makes everything she does look so easy; why, then, does the movie look like it’s trying so hard? It doesn’t take long for “Hanna” to establish itself as a contemporary take on an old fairy tale. Wright’s allusions to Grimms’ old stories are quite subtle at first — a hero who looks like Goldilocks, a villain who whistles like the Pied Piper — but he keeps piling on more, one after another after another. One character actually says “So off to Grandmother’s house we go!” Another screams “Run little piggy!” The final showdown between two characters takes place on a Big Bad Wolf themed roller coaster in an enormous Grimm-inspired amusement park. It’s like Wright can’t stop himself. Eventually, the subtext overwhelms the text.

Still, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Ronan gives an impressive performance; a bit mannered, but appropriately so, since her character has spent her entire life cut off from the rest of society. She’s equally credible playing confused and cunning. Bana is great too in limited screentime (Blanchett, on the other hand, seems oddly stiff as the Wicked Stepmother character). Alwin H. Kuchler’s cinematography shines in obviously showy moments like Bana’s one-take fight scene and Hanna’s lengthy escape from a CIA safehouse, but he also does a nice job of filling the frame with subtler visual cues for each of the movies numerous locals, from the Artic to Morocco to Germany, so that we always know exactly where we are in any given scene. The Chemical Brothers techno score is used sparingly but very effectively. And Wright puts in all these strange little details that give “Hanna” marvelous texture: a close-up of a young girl’s face so tight we can see the peeling skin on her sunburnt nose; a woman cleaning up the crumbs from her kitchen table in the moments before her murder; an obsessive mercilessly scrubbing her gums until they bleed. I just wish he didn’t go so far overboard with the fairy tale imagery. Hanna, who’s lived her whole life in a complete cultural vacuum and doesn’t know Romeo and Juliet from Sawyer and Juliet, could have picked up on these references.

Worthy of Oscar Nominations For: Original Score, Cinematography
Chances of Making My Top Ten: Very slim.
It Might Make Your Top Ten List If: If you liked “Atonement,” but wished there were more scenes where Saoirse Ronan kicked people in the neck; you reeeeeeally get off on fairly tale imagery.

“Hanna” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Tell us what you think about the film in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Give Back

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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