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The week’s critic wrangle: “Battle In Heaven,” “Night Watch.”

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We’ve got a wicked, wicked headache, sorry if this is less than, you know, in English.

Marcos Hernández as Marcos.
+ "Battle In Heaven"
: The general thought seems to be that director Carlos Reygadas is tremendously gifted, but that his already infamous second film doesn’t come together.

That’s not a blowjob joke.

Several critics acknowledge that, for all this film is being heatedly discussed, no one in the non-film-geek world will ever care. Andrew O’Hehir at Salon:

Reygadas is already a famous figure within the tiny, insular world of international art film, which means both that a fair number of smart if unbelievably pretentious people are drawn to his work and that hardly any regular moviegoers have the faintest idea who he is. This creates currents of mini-hype and mini-backlash that are difficult to avoid, although I have tried. Considering his work independent of that context is especially hard, because almost nobody outside that context will see it (unless it gets sold in porn outlets by accident).

Scott Foundas at LA Weekly:

[W]hereas Reygadas’ first film [2002’s "Japón"] felt like the unadulterated expression of a raw and original artistic voice, his second bears all the markings of a movie made for a constituency, as if Reygadas had spent much of the time in between projects standing outside of himself, pondering, "What would Carlos Reygadas do for an encore?" Well, how about making a glib assault on Mexican national identity that is unrelentingly in-your-face in all the ways that "Japón" was enigmatic and subtle, and which is quite a few other things that "Japón" never was — namely cynical, contemptuous (of its characters and its audience) and opportunistic.

Manohla Dargis at the New York Times echoes Foundas’ sentiments: "There is a searching quality to his camerawork, but too often he seems to be searching for a meaning (not the meaning), almost as if he needed to justify his artistry." Jeff Reichert at Reverse Shot compares Reygadas to Alejandro Jodorowsky: "Both are plagued by fantastically grand visions (track down ‘El Topo,’ if you dare), a surfeit of imagination and ideas, and only nominal control over their own powers." Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice swoons over the film: "’Battle in Heaven,’ as ambitious as its title, is a living mystery, already notorious for hardcore-osity but so serious about its formal intelligence and so deep-dish in its evocations of inexpressible desolation, personal and social, that it occupies your skull like a siege of Huns."

Here at IFC News, Matt Singer hates it.


Step out of the Gloom.
+ "Night Watch"
: J. Hoberman point out that Timur Bekmambetov Russian modern fantasy is a film in which"no longer extant Evil Empire reimagines itself" — he seems rather charmed by its post-Soviet gloom: "In its way, ‘Night Watch’ is the sci-fi spawn of ‘The Master and Margarita,’ the great underground novel of the 1930s era in which Satan and his familiars tour Stalin’s Moscow." David Edelstein at New York spends much of his article trying to describe the overly complicated plot, but ultimately finds the ending "a huge letdown…But for a good hour and change, the film is a big toy box that teases you out of the Gloom." Stephen Holden does the same (it’s, uh, a hell of a plot) — he concludes that "The film may be a mess — narratively muddled and crammed with many more vampires, shape-shifters and sorcerers than one movie can handle, but it bursts with a sick, carnivorous glee in its own fiendish games."

And our own rather hurried review is here.

Okay, we’re going to go home and lie on the couch with a cold compress. Once we figure out what that is. Back Tuesday.

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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…

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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.


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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