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DID YOU READ

The week’s critic ramble: Riding Alone in Mutual Appreciation.

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Also opening this week: The awesomely ridiculous-looking "Crank," Neil LaBute‘s enigmatic "The Wicker Man" remake, and Mike Judge‘s "Idiocracy." But no reviews for you (or us)! "Crank"’s press screening, at least here in New York, is today at 11am. "The Wicker Man" is infamously (well, infamously in our tiny entertainment news bubble) not being screened for critics. And "Idiocracy"? Is opening unheralded in a few cities today — New York is not one of them — sans even a website.

Also, some documentary we may have mentioned before opens today.

 

"I'm the actor behind the mask."
+ "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles": Mostly kind, if not glowing, words for Zhang Zimou‘s latest. Everyone’s quick to point out the film’s sentimentality — as Nathan Lee writes in the New York Times:

Vulnerable, corny and disarmingly frank, a film in which people don’t just weep but slobber and moan, “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles” drives melodrama right off the map. Cynics are in for a very long haul.

But he admits that "for all its schematic hyperbole, the film is warm and affecting." At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir groups the film stylistically with "Not One Less" and "The Road Home," and declares that "once you get used to the apparent flatness and emotional reserve of
this picture, it’s a sad, slyly comic tale of family trauma and
reconciliation that packs a wallop."

At the LA Weekly, Ella Taylor is more dismissive, and in a nicely incisive review writes that the film is a "fatally reverential vehicle for veteran Japanese actor Ken Takakura and the greater glory of the post-Mao proletariat":

Far from paying tribute to the rural poor, Riding Alone patronizes them by conflating simplicity with simple-mindedness and reducing them to binary oppositions.

Armond White at the New York Press likes the film, calling it "a cerebral tear-jerker."

 

"Do I have a girlfriend?"
+ "Mutual Appreciation": It’s been ages since we’re seen Andrew Bujalski‘s latest interpretation of our fumbling generation’s poignant cri de coeur, too long ago to write a proper review, and our roommate absconded to California with our DVD copy. Still, we wanted to say that we like it an awful lot, partially because it manages to transcend the self-consciousness and reflexive irony that have crippled the work of most young filmmakers. Its characters are themselves crippled by self-consciousness and reflexive irony  (and perhaps too much aimless niceness); the film, on the other hand, is sharply observed without ever being snide or too easy.

Anyway, almost everyone else loves the film: At the New York Times, Manohla Dargis compares the film to Jean Eustache‘s "The Mother and the Whore":

The men and women in “Mutual Appreciation” often come across as being as inwardly directed as those in the Eustache; the crucial difference is that the shadow of 1968 that hangs over the French characters invests their self-absorption with an intimation of tragedy. Mr. Bujalski’s characters, by contrast, don’t even have generational failure on their side, an absence of history, of myth, alluded to by Alan’s drunken confession that all he wants out of life is “a good story.”

J. Hoberman at the Voice pens a positive review that’s still packed with backhanded complements — in the absence of Armond White on this one, we have Hoberman to thank for breaking out the "s" word: "Funny Ha Ha managed to be both charmingly lackadaisical and annoyingly smug; Mutual Appreciation, which Bujalski shot in grainy black-and-white in hipster Brooklyn (and is self-distributing), is even more so." David Edelstein at New York writes that "With its halfhearted breakups of halfhearted relationships and fumbling declarations of attraction, Mutual Appreciation is a tapestry of indecision. It’s full of ‘random’ encounters that resonate like crazy, like the one in a bar with an acquaintance of Ellie’s who says, ‘I’m finding all this plant stuff, so I think it means I should start a garden.’ "

Heh. Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly also makes the Eustache comparison; he does think the film is a "wee-bit-too-wee." And this week’s Reverse Shot three, Jeff Reichert, Nick Pinkerton and Michael Koresky, are prompted to engage in an interesting discussion on the topic: "Is Andrew Bujalski the cinematic voice of a mumbling, inarticulate, moderately employable generation, or a talentless student filmmaker who’s managed to spin a single badly done trick into an honest-to-goodness moviemaking career?"

 

And now we’re blowing town for the long weekend. 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.

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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