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DID YOU READ

3D brings out the glory of “Cane Toads,” warts and all.

3D brings out the glory of “Cane Toads,” warts and all. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

“Welcome to Avatoad,” “Cane Toads: The Conquest” director Mark Lewis told the audience at Park City’s Eccles Theater on Tuesday night, not only providing weary copy editors the world over with a readymade headline, but neatly summarizing the mild absurdity of the film’s existence. A sequel to his delightful “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History,” “Conquest” picks up the story 20 years later, chronicling the toads’ alarmingly rapid spread along Australia’s northern coast. The new movie, out of necessity, covers some of the same territory as the first: the toads’ artificial introduction to the environment as a hoped-for hedge against the beetles preying on sugarcane crops; their utter failure to perform their assigned task; and their rapid-fire reproduction, growing from a population of just over a hundred to an estimated 1.5 billion over the course of seven decades. But “Conquest” adds the eye-popping enhancement of digital 3D, capturing the beauty of the Australian landscape in all its stereoscopic glory.

Lewis is well aware of the disparity between the brute naturalism of his subject and the cutting-edge technology of his methods. At times, the film almost plays as a joke on the faddish application of 3D technology to subjects where it adds little more than a marketing hook. The talking-head interviews with a variety of scientists, farmers and civic officials are staged with exaggerated depth of field: one subject is photographed in front of a looming wall of library books, another in the shadow of an enormous tractor. The movie makes extensive use of digital compositing, and other shots simply look as if they’ve been extensively worked over in post, their colors popping unnaturally.

“Conquest”‘s stylized reenactments, in one case recounting a pet dog’s brush with death after chomping down on a toxic toad, are filmed with a visual panache that would make Errol Morris sit up and take notice. But the movie’s overreliance on effects sabotages the feeling of connection to the natural world. It’s hard to forge a connection to Lewis’ “little toad friends” when even the shots that purport to depict them in their natural environment seem as if they might be staged. Every time a toad hops across the screen, you wonder if there’s a pair of hands just out of frame, releasing the warty creature on cue.

“Cane Toads: The Conquest” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “Cane Toads: The Conquest,” Radio Pictures, 2010]

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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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