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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: September 14th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Keira Knightley in “Silk,” Picturehouse, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“Across the Universe”

“Frida” director Julie Taymor follows up her Oscar-nominated biopic with a musical that, as is Taymor’s fashion, is anything but typical. The film follows a group of college students coming of age in the turbulent 1960s, as a boy named Jude and a girl named Lucy fall in love against a, yes, Beatles-heavy soundtrack. The film generated some ink earlier this year when Revolution Studios began test screening a cut of the film against the wishes of Taymor, who threatened to take her name off the project if the studio cut was released. Love is all we need, indeed.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Brave One”

Jodie Foster plays a woman in distress (yet again…) who seeks revenge on the thugs who brutally beat her and left her fiancé for dead. As she knocks off her attackers one by one, her anonymous exploits begin to grab the attention of the media and a detective (Terrence Howard) getting closer to catching her. While we feel like we’ve seen Jodie Foster play this role about a million times by now, can anybody play it better? “The Crying Game”‘s Neil Jordan directs.

Opens wide (official site).

“Darkon”

This doc from co-directors Luke Meyer and Andrew Neel follows the ongoing struggle in the land of Darkon, a fantasy live action role-playing club set in the outskirts of Baltimore, MD, where members and LARP enthusiasts use wooden swords, foam axes and rubber arrows to fight for glory. We prefer to restrain ourselves to table-top gaming, but there’s no denying that LARP enthusiasts prove a great source for entertainment — check out this short video of LARPing, if you’re unfamiliar. Lightning bolt!

Opens in limited release (official site).

“December Boys”

Daniel Radcliffe centers a collection of otherwise unknowns in this film about four orphans taking a reprieve from their group home on the South Australian coast. We’re certain they’ll be weeping in the aisles as the “Harry Potter” star, rumor has it, loses his on-screen virginity for the first time. And we thought riding naked on on-stage horses was bad enough…

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Dragon Wars (D-War)”

This film probably won’t be winning over any critics the way fellow Korean monster movie “The Host” did earlier this year, but “D-War” broke all kinds of records in its native country, so who’s to say? Korean-financed, but shot in SoCal with English-speaking actors, the film focuses on two warring dragon armies who tear apart downtown Los Angeles. Director Hyung-rae Shim reportedly spent years working on this project, reportedly spending the past three on the film’s CGI alone (principal photography wrapped in late 2004). It remains to be seen how many the film’s much ballyhooed computer graphics will actually impress, but we’re guessing “D-War” already has a solid following among B-movie enthusiasts the world over.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Eastern Promises”

Cult filmmaker David Cronenberg’s last feature, “A History of Violence,” remains one of our favorite films of 2005, so we’re sure that “The Fly” director will not disappoint with his latest thriller, in which a hospital midwife (Naomi Watts) encounters a Russian mob enforcer (a snaky Viggo Mortensen) who leads her on a path to discovering the identity of a dead prostitute. The film has already generated plenty of buzz both at film festivals and on the web, leading to fan speculation (and hope) of a third Viggo-Cronenberg collaboration.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Great World of Sound”

Director Craig Zobel’s first feature is a harsh look at the music business in which a newbie record producer gets excited by the prospect of signing undiscovered artists, only to realize that his new job isn’t what he expected it to be. Most of the performers shown auditioning did not know the auditions were fake ahead of time. The film premiered earlier this year at Sundance.

Opens in New York (official site).

“In the Valley of Elah”

The beginning of the “Hollywood Gets Political!” season kicks off with this Paul Haggis-directed war drama about a career officer (Tommy Lee Jones) who investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of his son during his tour of duty in Iraq. While we don’t expect Haggis’s latest to be as polarizing as his Oscar-winning “Crash,” we’re certainly elated by the reportedly brilliantly muted performance from Jones, who, with this and “No Country for Old Men,” is prepared for one heck of an Oscar season.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Ira & Abby”

“Kissing Jessica Stein” writer Jessica Westfeldt scripted and starred in her latest New York-based romantic comedy about a hastily married couple (Westfeldt and “Six Feet Under”‘s Chris Messina) whose marriage quickly devolves into a string of affairs, meddling parents and therapy. The film’s got an ace supporting cast that includes Fred Willard and Frances Conroy as unconventional parents and Jason Alexander and Chris Parnell as couples therapists. The film won the Best Narrative Feature prize last year at the LA Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“King of California”

Michael Douglas gets all zany on us in a role that we’re so glad Robin Williams passed on. Douglas plays an unstable father recently released from a mental institution who tries to convince his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) that there’s Spanish gold buried somewhere under a Costco. Newcomer Mike Cahill wrote and directed this comedy.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Moondance Alexander”

Young girl gets a pony and realizes that it can be a champion. We believe we’ve already seen this, and not so long ago; it’s called “Flicka” (or “Dreamer”). “Nancy Drew”‘s Kay Panabaker stars as the titular girl, with Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen and “Miami Vice”‘s Don Johnson filling in supporting roles.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Moving McAllister”

Television director Andrew Black helms this independent comedy about a law intern (Ben Gourley) who passes on taking his bar exam in hopes of scoring points with his boss (Rutger Hauer) by moving all of the hot-shot lawyer’s possessions, including his daughter (Mila Kunis) and her pet pig, across the country. Jon Heder, in a supporting role, was briefly rumored to have died in a car accident following “Moving McAllister”‘s cast party.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Mr. Woodcock”

Seann William Scott returns for his first film since 2005 (not that we’ve been counting the days…) in this comedy about a motivational speaker and self-help author who returns home to prevent his mom (Susan Sarandon) from marrying his old high school gym teacher (Billy Bob Thornton), a man who made school hell for Scott and numerous other generations of students. Reports that the film tested poorly led to the studio enlisting “The Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkins for reshoots. Quite frankly, even with Dobkins’ help, we’re still not expecting much.

Opens wide (official site).

“Pete Seeger: The Power of Song”

Documentarian Jim Brown’s film chronicles the social history of folk artist Pete Seeger through the use of interviews, archival footage and home movies. The film premiered earlier this year at Tribeca.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Rape of Europa”

This documentary from filmmakers Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen and Nicole Newnham documents how a collection of young art historians and curators from America and across Europe scours the globe in search of lost and stolen art works displaced by the Nazi regime after WWII. Joan Allen narrates.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Silk”

“The Red Violin” director François Girard returns with his first film since 1998, about a 19th century silkworm smuggler who refocuses his business interests from Africa to Japan and starts an affair with the concubine of a local baron. Michael Pitt plays the trader while Keira Knightly pouts her way through this period piece — her second, “Atonement,” is due later this fall.

Opens in limited release (official site).

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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…