Screen Junkies » IFC http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 24 Sep 2014 18:26:45 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 The Screen Junkies Q&A: Dan Beers, Director of ‘Premature’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screenjunkies-qa-dan-beers-director-of-premature/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screenjunkies-qa-dan-beers-director-of-premature/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:54:41 +0000 JasonIannone http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263379 If you loved Groundhog Day but felt there were too few jokes about Bill Murray's penis, then Premature is the film for you.

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By Jason Iannone

In real life, if you screw up, you’re stuck with your screw-up. There are no do-overs, no second chances, no nothing. If you met the most beautiful girl in the world and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is a literal puddle of drool, good luck taking that back ever. You’re forever known as Drooly to her, her friends, and anybody who watched you make a fool of yourself that day.

That’s the beauty of a movie like Premature, the story of a high school kid who just can’t get that all-important loss of virginity down pat. Luckily for him, whenever he doesn’t deposit in the right place at the right time, the Universe resets itself, sending him back to bed to start the day again until he gets it right. If you loved Groundhog Day but felt there were too few jokes about Bill Murray‘s penis, then Premature is the film for you.

To learn more about the film, we sat down with director Dan Beers for a fun-filled and family-friendly Q&A. Namely, this one:

ScreenJunkies: Did you have any concerns about re-using a concept from such a famously unique film like Groundhog Day?

Dan Beers: We did, especially since that movie is an all-time favorite of mine. What happened was, there was another movie I was in the process of making, but that didn’t pan out. That film’s producer, Film Nation, invited me to pitch any new ideas, so my writing partner, Mathew Harawitz, and I were brainstorming what to do, and we came across this idea of doing a time loop movie a la Groundhog Day. Plus, I’m a huge fan of ‘80s-style teen comedies like Porky’s. Finally, we settled on the idea of a movie where a kid is forever being stuck in the worst possible time: trying to have sex for the first time.

SJ: What made you decide to add an explanation for the time loop, instead of keeping it vague?

DB: In early drafts, we had a more concrete explanation: a curse (much like in the original draft for Groundhog Day). But ultimately, we decided to give Rob the idea that he was making choices not for himself, but for his parents and his friends, and he wasn’t being true to himself. And we liked the idea of the universe kind of giving him a little nudge, giving him the opportunity to do over things he was doing wrong.

The idea for the trigger for the day, that being the orgasm, we had fun with the idea. It’s kind of like those movies where there’s a bomb under the table, and you know it’s going to go off, you just don’t know when. And for us, that was a lot of fun, the idea that the orgasm is the bomb, and every day it will happen, you just don’t know when.

SJ: Right, like the point where the cops are coming and he’s trying to jerk off in the locker room, but he might have hurt something down there.

DB: I think it was Day 5 when he realized what he could do, when he was trapped in the classroom with the bullies and he realizes he’s trapped but he can escape by just …

SJ: “Yep, I can just jerk off.”

DB: Right, it’s like a little bit of an action movie scene: are the bullies going to break in, or will he have an orgasm?

SJ: Ever come across an interviewer as damaged as the Georgetown recruiter guy?

DB: I have never come across anyone as damaged as that, thankfully. But we were trying to think of something like: you’re in an interview, what would be one of the worst things that could happen? You prepare for the day, you go through everything, all the questions memorized in your head, but the one thing you’re not prepared for is for this person to be just a well of emotions, a guy who came back to work a little too soon after this tragedy in his life. But thankfully, I’ve never come across anyone nearly that damaged for real.

SJ: Well, that’s good.

DB: What’s funny about the actor who plays him, Alan Turyk, we were shooting in Atlanta and he was already down there shooting 42, and he was playing this really awful, mean, racist character, and Alan was having a really hard time playing this person as long as he was. So he came in to read for the role and he was in such a dark place that he was just able to cry instantaneously.


(‘Premature’ official red-band trailer, via JoBlo)

SJ: Did you ever reach out to Bill Murray to cast him in the lead role, or was the idea of filming Bill with cum in his pants kind of a turn-off?

DB: *laughs* Actually, the role that Alan played (the Georgetown recruiter) was originally something I was hoping to approach Bill about. I actually know him, because I worked with Wes Anderson for about five years, and so I know Bill through him. He actually acted in the short film I had made, but I think he had already done me my one favor, so I don’t think he was going to come back and do it again.

SJ: You also did a TV series (FCU: Fact Checkers Unit). What’s more enjoyable and fulfilling for you: movies or TV?

DB: They both offer you different challenges. Movies are my first love though, because there’s just something nice about crafting a whole story over a set period.

For TV it’s something very different, and even though every episode of my series had its own little story, if I had to go back and do something again for TV, I would provide a longer arc for the characters. But that’s what’s so great about TV: letting a character really live and breathe for a long time, instead of knowing by the end of Act 1 they have to have that one moment. Because in movies there’s a formula: there’s an Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3, and all these little beats they have to hit. It’s nice to have a season or five for a character to really find his or herself.

Another good thing about TV is that it’s so fast, and the shoots are so quick, you don’t have time to think. You have to move and meet your five-day deadline. It presents a fun challenge, but movies are still definitely my first love.

SJ: Would you ever want to do something more mainstream, or is indie comedy your thing?

DB: Well, yeah. I think my dream is to make movies that people will see. I think that’s everyone’s dream, right? The next thing I’m working on is a little bigger in scope, a little bit less orgasmic. But IFC has done a fantastic job with this one — when they came on board, I was really excited because they had a clear vision on how to sell the movie, and I’m really thrilled with what they’ve done.

I grew up during the indie craze of the ‘90s, when tons of films were coming out in arthouse theaters all the time. Now things are very different, and the new arthouse theaters are TVs and VOD’s, and digital with iTunes. So how do you reach an audience now with all these movies that want to be seen? It’s a new format, so I was thrilled with how IFC handled it.

But I think if I get bigger and if I move into the studio role, I’d be looking for that ideal mix.

SJ: Yeah, that happy medium where a lot of people know of your film and go see it in theaters all across the country, but also having the freedom to craft something the way you would want. As opposed to writing something and having 15 different producers turn it into something totally different.

DB: Exactly. I was lucky I got to make the movie that I wanted to make, and the producers were great and let me do what I wanted for the most part. I was pretty clear about what I wanted to do and they were on board, thankfully.

Download Premature on iTunes here!

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Meet The Unsung Heroes Of IFC’s ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/meet-the-unsung-heroes-of-ifcs-comedy-bang-bang/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/meet-the-unsung-heroes-of-ifcs-comedy-bang-bang/#comments Mon, 07 Oct 2013 20:47:04 +0000 Wookie Johnson http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=257454 It takes a village.

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In a video that’s mildly insulting to the actual crew of IFC‘s Comedy Bang! Bang!, we’re introduced to the people working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the magic happen — big time celebrities! Like Key Grip Andy Samberg or Script Supervisor Anna Kendrick. Haha. It’s rich people pretending to work hard. LOLZ.*

*No disrespect to our editor-and-chief, Paul Bettany.

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It’s Been 9 Days Since We’ve Seen Bob Odenkirk On TV, So Here’s An Episode Of His New Sketch Show http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/its-been-9-days-since-weve-seen-bob-odenkirk-on-tv-so-heres-an-episode-of-his-new-sketch-show/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/its-been-9-days-since-weve-seen-bob-odenkirk-on-tv-so-heres-an-episode-of-his-new-sketch-show/#comments Tue, 01 Oct 2013 19:28:01 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=257341 As long as he screams at us, we'll be ok.

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Bob Odenkirk, knowing the end was nigh for his Saul Goodman, and before getting word that Saul would get his own show, got to work with The Birthday Boys. “Got to work with The Birthday Boys” isn’t a metaphor. He became the executive producer of the comedy troupe’s IFC series, and makes a sort of guest appearance in every episode.

Will it be as unanimously praised and adored as Breaking Bad? Absolutely, yes. No question whatsoever. You have my word on that.

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IFC Picks Up ‘American Storage’ And Garfunkel & Oates Series http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/ifc-picks-up-american-storage-and-garfunkel-oates-series/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/ifc-picks-up-american-storage-and-garfunkel-oates-series/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 17:55:25 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=257302 It's the anti-CBS

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IFC is quickly establishing itself as the home for offbeat comedy, airing Portlandia, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and those beloved Arrested Development reruns. They’re upping their game a little more with a ten-episode run of a series revolving around musical comedy duo Garfunkel & Oates. While it will be a comedy, it will also serve as an insider’s look at the comedy world, and what it’s like to operate outside of the conventional stand-up dynamic.

IFC will also be picking up American Storage, which was originally slated to be a film starring David Krumholtz and Steve Carell. The show will follow the unlikely relationship between a button-down storage employee and an eccentric man who lives in one of the storage units. Those who were hoping for a spoof of all the storage reality shows can go ahead and be disappointed.

 

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Because It Looks Like Hipsters Aren’t Going Anywhere, IFC Renews ‘Portlandia’ For Two More Seasons http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/because-it-looks-like-hipsters-arent-going-anywhere-ifc-renews-portlandia-for-two-more-seasons/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/because-it-looks-like-hipsters-arent-going-anywhere-ifc-renews-portlandia-for-two-more-seasons/#comments Wed, 12 Jun 2013 17:01:32 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=255271 The hipster lifestyle is like the fountain of youth for comedy writers.

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Until a new pretentious and underachieving (psuedo)subculture comes around (I’m looking at you, art world), we’re just plugging along, making fun of all these hipsters and their taco trucks and their lack of jobs and their nihilistic fashion sense.

And Portlandia will be leading the charge. For two more years at least, as IFC announced they’ve renewed the show that has served as the cornerstone of their expanding comedy lineup.

Portland, the city, is probably thrilled with the news, as they’re pretty much only known for this and the Trailblazers, and the Trailblazers ain’t the Trailblazers of the Clyde Drexler years, if ya know what I’m sayin’.

You don’t know what I’m saying, but that’s ok. It’s a good show, and we’re happy it’s renewed.

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IFC Continues To Bring In The Yuks With Ben Stiller And Will Ferrell Series http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/ifc-continues-to-bring-in-the-yuks-with-ben-stiller-and-will-ferrell-series/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/ifc-continues-to-bring-in-the-yuks-with-ben-stiller-and-will-ferrell-series/#comments Thu, 07 Mar 2013 20:20:20 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=253889 That's "series" plural. Two series. Each from one man.

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Having decided that meth, advertising period pieces, and zombie fare are best left to other forums, IFC has taken a decidedly focused approach to comedy recently, having expanded beyond Portlandia, Arrested Development reruns, and Comedy Bang! Bang! to include two new shows from funnymen Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell, who are teaming up with Bob Odenkirk and Adam McKay, respectively.

Oh man, this better be fucking hilarious. And not like Dodgeball and Semi-Pro hilarious, but actually funny. Ferrell’s will be a fake soap opera, whereas Stiller’s will be a sketch comedy show, which is good, because The Ben Stiller Show was pretty damn funny back in its day.

No timeline has been set, but considering this IFC, and the budgets aren’t huge, sooner is probably a better bet than later.

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The Independent Spirit Awards (AKA The Hipster Oscars) Explained http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/the-independent-spirit-awards-aka-the-hipster-oscars-explained/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/the-independent-spirit-awards-aka-the-hipster-oscars-explained/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2012 19:44:18 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=245712 If Billy Crystal found his way to this awards show, they would shoot him on sight.

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Since slamming the Oscars for being a self-congratulatory, bloated mess is now more fashionable than actually discussing the awards, many film purists are looking for an avenue that champions the films themselves rather than the industry and studios that make them.

Since 1984, the Spirit Awards have existed to reward actors and filmmakers that existed outside the world of big-budget Hollywood productions. 28 years ago, when the awards were first introduced, the rift between independent cinema and Hollywood fare was much larger than it was today, so the likelihood of any overlap between the Oscars and the Spirit Awards was almost unthinkable.

Today, a gap still exists, albeit a narrower one, thanks to increased access to independent films and the general mainstreaming and adoration of all things indie. So the night before the Oscars, the other Hollywood gets dolled up in their pixie dresses and blazers and sneakers to bestow some recognition on the filmmakers that are just too damn cool for the Oscars.

Yeah, they got Franco.

To give you an idea of how the Spirit Awards have gradually become more mainstreamed, this year’s host is Seth Rogen, a huge Hollywood star with enough of that slacker credibility to reassure everyone that, yes, they’re all very cool for being in attendance.

The Awards

The recognition given out by the Spirit Awards closely mirrors the Oscars in its prestige categories (Best Director, Best Feature, Supporting and Lead awards for Males and Females, etc). However, instilled with the spirit of independent cinema, the awards also showcase first-time directors, first-time screenwriters, as well as an award for the best feature made for under $500,000.

Of course, the Spirit Awards don’t have the huge backing or TV contract that the Academy Awards do, so despite being all “indie,” they bear names such as the Audi Someone to Watch Award, the Nokia Truer Than Fiction Award, and the Jameson Find Your Audience Award.

It's not an awards show unless you have a pregnant Natalie Portman in attendance, which is why the Oscars pay someone to knock her up every year.

One reason the sponsors are necessary is that, in addition to bragging rights, the aforementioned awards all come with grants that allow the filmmakers to keep doing their thing. So while having sponsors for independent cinema awards may seem a little counterintuitive, it’s done so that the recipients can keep staying independent and away from those godforsaken Hollywood studios.

 The Nominees

Again, you might see a little overlap here with the Oscars, as the Academy Awards are allowed to pick from all films, regardless of how they were produced or distributed, while the Spirit Awards stick with films made outside of major studios.

BEST FEATURE
50/50
Beginners
Drive
Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants

BEST DIRECTOR
Mike Mills, Beginners
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander PayneThe Descendants

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
Another Earth
In the Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000)
Bellflower
Circumstance
Hello Lonesome
Pariah
The Dynamiter

BEST SCREENPLAY
Joseph Cedar, Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Tom McCarthy, Win Win
Mike Mills, Beginners
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, The Descendants

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, Another Earth
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Patrick DeWitt, Terri
Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids
Will Reiser, 50/50

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Lauren Ambrose, Think of Me
Rachel Harris, Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye, Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle WilliamsMy Week With Marilyn

BEST MALE LEAD
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Woody HarrelsonRampart
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Jessica ChastainTake Shelter
Anjelica Huston, 50/50
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Albert BrooksDrive
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
John C. ReillyCedar Rapids
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Joel Hodge, Bellflower
Benjamin Kuh-Sulk, The Off Hours
Darius Kond-Jee, Midnight in Paris
Gui-omme Shiffman, The Artist
Jeffrey Waldron, The Dynamiter

BEST DOCUMENTARY
An African Election
Bill Cunningham New York
The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
We Were Here

BEST FOREIGN FILM
A Separation
Melancholia
Shame
The Kid With a Bike
Tyrannosaur

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD (Given to one film’s director, casting director and its ensemble cast)
Margin Call

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Chad Burris, Mosquita y Mari
Sophia Lin, Take Shelter
Josh Mond, Martha Marcy May Marlene

ACURA SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Simon Arthur, Silver Tongues
Mark Jackson, Without
Nicholas Ozek, Mamitas

AVEENO TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Heather Courtney, Where Soldiers Came From
Danfung Dennis, Hell and Back Again
Alma Har’El, Bombay Beach

The Broadcast

The awards aren’t too indie to be aired on TV, and the ceremony, usually held in Santa Monica, though for some reason held in a tent downtown last year) can be found live on IFC (duh).

Oh. The Spirit Awards often have figure skater Johnny Weir in attendance. Advantage: Spirit Awards

Like the Golden Globes, liquor is served during this show, giving it a peppier, more spontaneous feel. Futher, the Spirit Awards are a banquet-style ceremony, giving the affair a more casual feel than a seated theater awards show would have. Given the shoestring budget inherent with an indie awards show, the ceremony cuts out the superfluous sketches and prdocutions, just leaving hosts and awards. While this might sound a little dry, what it does is allow the people on stage (who are really the ones being celebrated) to spend a little more time entertaining the crowd, rather than moving through forced unfunny skits. Also, it caps the ceremony at two-and-a-half hours, which is about ninety minutes less than the Oscars.

So, if you just LOVE awards shows, but think the Oscars have become a self-important overblown mess (because it has), give the Spirit Awards a whirl. You may have a hard time getting your friend to fill out a Spirit Awards pool, but you’ll be able to sit through the event without getting bedsores, and you might even learn a little bit about film, which is something the Academy gave up on a long time ago.

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http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/the-independent-spirit-awards-aka-the-hipster-oscars-explained/feed/ 0 james franco Yeah, they got Franco. Independent Spirit Awards Show It's not an awards show unless you have a pregnant Natalie Portman in attendance, which is why the Oscars pays someone to knock her up every year. johnny weir Oh. The Spirit Awards often have figure skater Johnny Weir in attendance. Advantage: Spirit Awards
‘Human Centipede 2′ Trailer: Gross! It’s In Black & White! http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/human-centipede-2-trailer-gross-its-in-black-white/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/human-centipede-2-trailer-gross-its-in-black-white/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2011 16:13:02 +0000 Wookie Johnson http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=230194 At least it's not 3D.

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Get ready for the most in-depth look at the creepy sh*t that’s going on in the trailer Tom Six‘s The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). This time around the maniac behind the macabre surgery is a deranged guy obsessed with the original film who decides to make his own centipede…out of humans. Sick, right?

There are a few differences this time around. For instance, the antagonist isn’t a surgeon. He’s just a super-fan who resorts to using plastic tubing, rusty tools, and a staple gun. Also, there are a lot more mouths to feed now. But perhaps the biggest change is the decision to film in black and white. It creates a much more intimate feel to intensify the general feeling of claustrophobia. Seems like they’re saving 3D for the next sequel.

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‘Human Centipede 2′ Teaser: Meet The New Creep http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/human-centipede-2-teaser-meet-the-new-creep/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/human-centipede-2-teaser-meet-the-new-creep/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 16:17:13 +0000 Wookie Johnson http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=227509 Is that the kid from 'The Sandlot'?

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Here’s our first official, non-Australian look at The Human Centipede 2 from director Tom Six. Looks like we’ve got a new creep running around with a penchant for sewing and bum-bums. You might be asking yourself,  “How can two psychopaths have the same vision of a multi-legged butt monster?” Well, the answer is here. The new psycho, Dr. Butt-Monster, is actually an everyday crazy guy who saw the first film and decided to try it out in real life. Makes sense to me.

Also, kudos on casting another eery-looking actor who will ruin my sleep patterns. I’m pretty sure that’s the kid from The Sandlot. Child actors, man. They can’t be trusted.

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‘The Ledge’ Trailer With Liv Tyler Gets Pushed Off A Something http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/the-ledge-trailer-with-liv-tyler-gets-pushed-off-a-something/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/the-ledge-trailer-with-liv-tyler-gets-pushed-off-a-something/#comments Tue, 03 May 2011 02:02:46 +0000 Geoffrey Golden http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=Video&p=210129 Liv Tyler, Charlie Hunnam, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard star in a movie that was the backdrop for a Screen Junkies controversy. (Whoa.)

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Awhile back, Screen Junkies interviewed The Ledge star Charlie Hunnam at Sundance. It ended up not being pretty, but we’re ready to let bigones be bigones, and won’t let the bad memories associated with the interview color our presentation of the trailer. I promise to be completely fair and unbiased.

The Ledge, a poopy movie for dumb-dumbs, was written and directed by Matthew Chapman. The movie, about a bunch of jerks who get caught in a stupid-looking love triangle, stars Liv Tyler, Charlie Hunnam, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard. From the stinky trailer, I gather that Hunnam has to jump off the ledge, or his lover Tyler will be killed by her religious zealot husband Wilson. Oh, and when I said the trailer was stinky, I meant it smells like a fart.

IFC Films will push the movie off a ledge for a limited theatrical release June 29th. Also: two thumbs down.

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IFC’s ‘Portlandia’ Renewed For 2nd Season, Anti-Hipster Comedy Parade Continues http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/ifcs-portlandia-renewed-for-2nd-season-anti-hipster-comedy-parade-continues/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/ifcs-portlandia-renewed-for-2nd-season-anti-hipster-comedy-parade-continues/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 05:58:06 +0000 Geoffrey Golden http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=26942 All you have to know is that it's indie and I liked it before anyone else did.

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SNL lifer Fred Armisen‘s new show Portlandia is part of a growing movement in the comedy world to turn “hipster” into the next “mime” or “Elvis impersonator.” Lucky for me, I haven’t had enough hipster-skewering comedy yet, even between the mashup videos, webcomics and Tumblr-to-Urban-Outfitters-checkout books. Damn it, those guys look funny and ride bicycles and I want blood.

That’s why I’m glad IFC‘s Portlandia is getting renewed for a second season. I’ll have to respectfully disagree with my Screen Junkies collegue Fred Topel and note that Portlandia is one of my favorite new shows in awhile. It’s a hilarious, silly, thoughtfully written sketch show very much in the tradition of Kids In The Hall, and probably not coincidentally, both shows have some guy named Lorne Michaels in the credits.

Portlandia‘s kind of an exclusive thing, you know? Whatever, you probably haven’t even heard it. All you have to know is that it’s indie and I liked it before anyone else did. Now they’re giving Portlandia a second season and it’ll probably sell out. You know, f*ck that show. I’m gonna go drink PBR’s at my friend Steve’s mustache party.

If you’re interested in Portlandia, cause you’re not a drone, check out clips here. (Cinema Blend)

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Review: IFC’s ‘Onion News Network’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/review-tv/review-ifcs-onion-news-network/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/review-tv/review-ifcs-onion-news-network/#comments Mon, 17 Jan 2011 19:58:42 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=13551 I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to another fake news show, but “The Onion News Network” is actually really funny. This is more of a satire about the social themes portrayed in news.

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I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to another fake news show, but “The Onion News Network” is actually really funny. This is more of a satire about the social themes portrayed in news. Obviously, if I already have the screener, it’s not about being timely, although figures as obscure as Sarkozy and as mainstream as Kim Jong-Il do pop up.

The format is modeled after the 24 hour news networks even more than “The Daily Show.” Brooke Alvarez (Suzanne Sena) hosts “Factzone,” a “Situation Room” type hub that detours into talking heads, pundits and other facets of cable news. The Onion folks really know how to make satire work and they use all the tools of the television media to do their bidding.

In one story, Kim Jong-Il negotiates to take over the role of Batman in the next movie. They have footage of a news conference with Kim’s representative showing off a new Batdance. The “First Responders” are a panel of three talking heads in studio who debate all the sides of such a ridiculous issue, including Christian Bale’s qualifications to run North Korea.

One segment suggests that Sarah Palin would win a majority of 2012 election polls because people would vote out of a morbid curiosity to see what she’d do. Facts and figures pop up as Brooke interviews the experts, and you start to notice all the extra jokes printed in quickly displayed graphics. Freeze frame those DVRs to get all the humor.

Whether it’s profound social commentary (a later episode profiles the country’s first openly drunk politician) or just absurdity, it’s funny. A teenage murder suspect is tried not as an adult, but as a black man. It’s that Onion way of changing just one element that points out the flaw in the whole system.

A weather report on a national snow storm gives a complete fake analysis on all the trouble idiots get into in bad weather. A thorough perspective on the implications of pornography in a blizzard is much appreciated. They use all this intellect and insight to throw in some base humor. Another dirty joke commemorates the invention of the hand job as a historical event.

The fake correspondents deliver rapid fire jokes just like the 24 hour news cycle tries to pack in legitimate info. Pay attention for some good irony, like striking interns demanding more experience. Sena gives a good deadpan with the glamorous veneer of an on air spokesperson. The show even goes in depth about the superficiality of on air talent, after their Afghanistan correspondent is held hostage.

Like a real news show, they return to stories as they develop. This lets the weirder ones get meta. A celebrity stalker from the future is funny. Hiring a bodyguard from the future who quotes Tom Cruise catch phrases is brilliant.

Anything that doesn’t fit in the “Factzone” format seems to find its way into fake promos for other “ONN” shows. “Concurrence Roundtable” really finds a lot of different ways to make fun of crossfire shows by having the correspondents agree. I don’t think this will replace “The Colbert Report,” but it shows The Onion can expand into other media.

“Onion News Network” premieres Friday, January 21st at 10PM EST on IFC.

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Review: IFC’s ‘Portlandia’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/review-tv/review-ifcs-portlandia/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/review-tv/review-ifcs-portlandia/#comments Tue, 28 Dec 2010 21:49:48 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=13519 A series of sketches featuring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein centering on different aspects of Portland, OR. It’s all really obvious and it feels like improv topics that were contrived to be funny, but not actually inspired.

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I like Fred Armisen on “Saturday Night Live” and I see where he’s going with this new sketch comedy show “Portlandia.” It doesn’t quite work though and I can’t say you should spend any time watching it.

This IFC show is a series of sketches featuring Armisen and Carrie Brownstein centering on different aspects of Portland, OR. It’s all really obvious and it feels like improv topics that were contrived to be funny, but not actually inspired.

Case in point: a sketch about a hide and seek team. See, treating a childish game like a professional playoff is funny, because it’s so out of context, right? Watching it performed is not funny just because the actors take it seriously.

In a music video, Armisen proclaims that the ‘90s are still going on in Portland. If celebrating grunge culture is enough to make you laugh, then you’ll love the references to the Jim Rose Circus, hot chicks wearing glasses and sleeping until 11AM. That’s actually the best sketch in the bunch.

Armisen and Browstein ask a waitress at a restaurant ultra specific questions about the chicken they serve. You see, because in Portland they care about organic free range meat. So the waitress presents in-depth papers about the chicken they might order. I thought it was funny that Armisen said “And and and and and and and and and and and and” so many times before getting to the question, but we get it. At a certain point it’s just meat.

A sketch about Mind-Fi jokes that the next level of our technological obsession is mental. That’s not even regional. We have technology everywhere.

They do a lot of characters with wigs, like women’s bookstore owners with long hippie hair. They do that sketch twice in the first two episodes so I guess they hope those are recurring characters. If refusing to reach all the way to the shelf to get a book is funny, then there are endless possibilities.

Another sketch where Brownstein and Armisen switch genders is just uncomfortable. Not because I have any problem with gender roles. “Kids in the Hall” and “Monty Python” were always doing that. “Portlandia” just makes it so sexual and vulgar without making it funny. The joke is a safe word which the woman (Armisen) ultimately uses to stop even social interaction. That’s only funny if the situation is ridiculous, not just sexual.

Brownstein and Armisen commit to the absurdity of their sketches but the premises are just too obvious. Often they end up just yelling, like in “Put a Bird on Things” or the lost dog sketch. Since it’s filmed, the editing can create different timing than a “SNL” sketch, but it doesn’t make humor out of mediocre material.

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IFC Scoops Up All the Good Comedies http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/ifc-scoops-up-all-the-good-comedies/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/ifc-scoops-up-all-the-good-comedies/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 I was pretty vocal with my disappointment that David Cross's "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" wouldn't air on American television. I mean, c'mon, those lucky Brits have the world on a string -- awesome weather, those Jedward guys, and unsurpassed prevention of prostitute murder. Well, it was rumored before and now it's official. Beginning this fall, IFC will air David Cross's fish out of water comedy as well as two other very funny series. A TV version of The Onion News Network (Winter 2011) and the Kids in the Hall reunion series "Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town" (August 2010) have earned slots on the channel's schedule. Elsewhere, Comedy Central will be airing reruns of "Krod Mandoon" and "Naked Trucker & T-Bone's Show" ad nauseum. (Time)

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I was pretty vocal with my disappointment that David Cross‘s "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" wouldn’t air on American television. I mean, c’mon, those lucky Brits have the world on a string — awesome weather, those Jedward guys, and unsurpassed prevention of prostitute murder. Well, it was rumored before and now it’s official. Beginning this fall, IFC will air David Cross’s fish out of water comedy as well as two other very funny series.

A TV version of The Onion News Network (Winter 2011) and the Kids in the Hall reunion series "Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town" (August 2010) have earned slots on the channel’s schedule. Elsewhere, Comedy Central will be airing reruns of "Krod Mandoon" and "Naked Trucker & T-Bone’s Show" ad nauseum. (Time)

 

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