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DID YOU READ

On DVD: Two from Bertolucci; “Little Miss Sunshine”

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By Michael Atkinson

IFC News

[Photo: “The Conformist,” Paramount]

Forget the Bernardo Bertolucci we’ve come to know since the ’80s — the suave, literate Parmesan who has been far too focused on disrobing his actresses and who seems, keeping in mind the box office lessons of “Last Tango in Paris,” to think having sex, or trying to have sex, or deciding when to have sex, is a grown-up narrative idea. (This goes even for Oscar-winner “The Last Emperor,” if not 1993’s “Little Buddha,” which is on an astral plain all its own.) His international rep would be many steps closer to the top shelf today if, in fact, he’d stopped when he was ahead, at 35, with seven features already under his belt, two of which — “The Conformist” (1970) and “1900” (1976) — are rapturous masterpieces.

At least two other early films — “Partner” (1968) and “The Spider’s Stratagem” (also 1970!) — would be peaks in another European director’s canon. But the eminence of “The Conformist,” in particular, is unassailable. Fleshing out novelist Alberto Moravia’s shadowbox of political compliance and personal shame with arguably the most bewitching mise en scène ever concocted for any movie, set entirely in rainy Euro-city afternoons and indigo evenings, the movie follows Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a would-be sophisticate lining up with Mussolini’s Fascists in the 30s for his own, very private reasons — as the title makes clear, this is participatory politics seen as psychosocial dysfunction. Being “normal” is an ideal the fiercely closeted Marcello talks about a lot, his desire to belong spiraling out to include marriage (to the fabulously pliable and obnoxious Stefania Sandrelli) and insinuating himself into the Party by framing up his old university mentor (Enzo Tarascio) and, by extension, the prof’s sexy, testy trophy wife (Dominique Sanda). “The Conformist” is both a bludgeoning indictment of fascistic follow-the-leader and an orgasm of coolness, ravishing compositions, camera gymnastics (the frame virtually squirms around, like Marcello) and atmospheric resonance. The actors vogue, Vittorio Storaro’s magical lens transforms every street and room into a catalytic baroque-ness, the clothes grip the characters like iconic mantles, the leaves blow with the roving camera across Marcello’s mother’s seedy estate. What a movie for a young man (only 29 at the time) to have made.

“1900” is a more troublesome creature, a true behemoth that runs over five hours and suffers the handicaps of being politically ironic, internationally cast (with multiple dubbing versions), more rueful than factual about class war, messy and subject to distributors’ whimsical cuts all over the world. But for those of us who care less about neatness than about bellying up to an endless banquet of melodrama, history, revolutionary fervor, food, sadism, Brueghel tableaux, war, peasant partying, and Robert De Niro and Gérard Depardieu and Dominique Sanda nude (yes, together!), “1900” is a savorable experience, with a poetic heart and a swoony Ennio Morricone score that rescue it from kitsch. The long-awaited Paramount DVD sets for both films come clotted with several making-of featurettes each.

That’s your weekend right there, so you’d have no pressing need to rent “Little Miss Sunshine” and see it all over again, except perhaps to suss out if in fact it’s the dependie wonder-comedy it’s been cracked up to be, or if the backlash against the acclaim and the stunning box office (more than 1000% return on budget, in a year when “M:I:III” didn’t manage to break even) is more on the money. But maybe you will in any case, knowing as you do that hype is prone to cut on the back-swing, and that Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s movie is modest in conception — eccentric family hits the road to participate in that most revolting of American rituals, the preadolescent beauty pageant — but executed with consummate wit and Swiss timing. It might boil down to the cast: give pros like Alan Arkin, Steve Carrell, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear open road, and they will race like the devil.


“The Conformist (Extended Edition)” and “1900 (Special Collector’s Edition)” (Paramount Home Video) are now available on DVD; “Little Miss Sunshine” (20th Century Fox) will be available on DVD December 19th.

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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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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.

Uncle-Buck

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…