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Marvin Hamlisch’s “The Informant!”, the film score of the year.

Marvin Hamlisch’s “The Informant!”, the film score of the year. (photo)

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Because few people pay close attention to film composers, they can pretty much say whatever the hell they think on the rare occasions someone thinks to interview them. As a result, “Where The Wild Things Are” composer Carter Burwell provides as much concrete information on the film’s studio-meeting turmoil as anyone on record yet in an interview in Moving Image Source.

In 4,000+ dense, fascinating words, the plainspoken Burwell opens up. A man I always thought of as a provider of ready-made, generically plaintive music (is there anything more basic than the “Being John Malkovich” theme?), but the man himself is perfectly aware of his role as studio hand-holder. When Warner Bros. wasn’t comfortable having Karen O score everything, Burwell got brought in: “It was just a comfort thing for Warner Bros. to know that there was going to be some composer who would handle that job on that scene,” he grouses. “I’m not comfortable with everything I just said to you, because I don’t like to be the dependable traditional composer.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the WB lot, Steven Soderbergh and Marvin Hamlisch got away with murder. The much-remarked-upon score for “The Informant!” (you can hear an excerpt at the link) is notable for a reason, as the LA Times explains. In dragging Hamlish out of semi-retirement for his first score since 1996’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” Soderbergh knew exactly what he was doing: using ironically upbeat, anachronistic music as a jarring counterpoint to Matt Damon’s self-deluding perspective.

Soderbergh actually managed to realized Sergei Eisenstein’s dream of “vertical montage” — using sound and music not to reinforce what’s on-screen, but to contradict and complicate it. If this sounds terribly academic, well, it is: the beauty of “The Informant!” is that it makes that goal viscerally comprehensible. You don’t have to be a steeped-in-academe theoretician to instantly realize the oddity of what’s happening or why.

Like all of Soderbergh’s work, “The Informant!” isn’t so much a movie as the solution to a complicated problem. And Hamlisch’s score is the key to that: Soderbergh’s foregrounded his music like no one since P.T. Anderson in “There Will Be Blood.” Here’s hoping awards season should be generous.

[Photos: “Where the Wild Things Are,” Warner Bros., 2009; “The Informant!,” Warner Bros, 2009]

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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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