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DID YOU READ

The Coolest Film You Never Saw Blasts onto DVD

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By Michael Scasserra/IFC News

Way back in 2001, we started reading about a hot indie title that sounded right up our alley: a science-fiction-western-musical stuffed with ingenious, low-budget set design, clever low-tech special effects, and lots of alternative rock. The New York Times called “The American Astronaut”: “a tale that evokes Brecht, Beckett and Ed Wood.” Details described it as: “‘Star Wars’ mud-wrestling ‘Flash Gordon’—with Frank N. Furter officiating.” Entertainment Weekly summed it up as: “a Laurel & Hardy skit directed by Salvador Dali.” All that, plus a flinty, black-and-white look that evoked the cheapest expressionistic sci-fi flicks of yesteryear.

We couldn’t wait to see it when it opened in New York in September 2001. Then 9/11 happened, and no one was going to the movies (not even us), so “Astronaut” fell back to Earth with a thud. But now, at last, this one-of-a-kind indie is available on DVD and all is right in the galaxy. (Stop whatever you’re doing and put it in your Netflix/Greencine queue.)

Written and directed by Cory McAbee—an alt rocker who also happens to be one heck of good leading man—”Astronaut” follows the adventures of Samuel Curtis (McAbee), an intergalactic trader on a Homeric journey through a remote solar system. His mission: to supply the all-female population of Venus with a suitable single male. Along the way, his dirty job brings him into contact with a variety of bizarre outer-space derelicts, as well as an enigmatic, murderous professor with a score to settle.

“Astronaut” was developed and premiered at Sundance, then played some other prestigious festivals, including the big ones in Toronto and Moscow. The movie also earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for its outrageously inventive cinematography by W. Mott Hupfel III (whose hip factor continues to rise with his latest project, Mary Harron’s “The Ballad of Bettie Page”). Since then, McAbee’s arty B-movie has been an audience favorite and an award winner at dozens of smaller festivals around the country. We were finally able to catch up with it last year at the Southside Film Festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania—and we’ve been a believer ever since.

Astronaut features supporting performances by Rocco Sisto (“The Sopranos”), Broadway regular Annie Golden (formerly of New Wave band The Shirts), PJ Ransone (“The Wire”), and seasoned stage veteran Tom Aldredge—along with an ass-kicking original score written and performed by The Billy Nayer Show, the cult band that McAbee fronts as lead singer and songwriter. The recent DVD release of “Astronaut” dovetails with the release of the group’s latest CD, “Rabbit.”

Meanwhile, now that “Astronaut” is finally in full orbit, McAbee is hard at work on the storyboard for what he hopes will be his next big-screen venture, “Werewolf Hunters of the Midwest.” Let’s hope that one happens—and soon.

In the meantime, to find out more about “The American Astronaut,” check out www.americanastronaut.com.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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…