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“44 Inch Chest” hard guys and Harry Nilsson

“44 Inch Chest” hard guys and Harry Nilsson (photo)

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Movies about hard guys are always best when they expose great weaknesses in the tough characters they depict. And not weaknesses like alcoholism or drugs or a penchant for violence against women – all of which are just cheap and easy character traits that only glorify the hard guy more. I’m talking about the real, pitiful flaws of a man that lie below all of that, the stuff you only get with good writing.

[The crew L-R: McShane, Wilkinson, Winstone, Hurt, Dillane]

“Sexy Beast” writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto certainly indulge their characters in plenty of drugs, alcohol and violence in “44 Inch Chest,” but there’s something more here too – aside from the misogyny I mean, of which there is also plenty – there is great character. Five of them in fact, played by Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane and John Hurt as hilariously disturbed Old Man Peanut. Joanne Whalley joins as the object of Winstone’s, shall we say, affections. Here, Mellis and Scinto do some probing into the fragile loneliness of a man who’s only value lies in his love for his wife, his woman, without whom he is just a sad pathetic hulk, with cynical friends in a wretched world.

This is made plain immediately in the opening sequence that makes excellent use of Harry Nilsson’s soaring lament, “Without You.” The song was originally written by UK’s Badfinger in 1970, and great as it is, Nilsson’s version is more forlorn, somehow weepier and works better here.

“Without You” – Harry Nilsson.

“Without You” – Badfinger.

Disappointingly, aside from the incredible flashback moments – like when Mcshane encounters Victor Maitland Steven Berkoff and the two go out on the town, gambling and cutting colossal lines of blow ” the size of a Tobleroné” – the film doesn’t achieve many creative cinematic heights afterward, but plays out like a stage production, really going no where even with a score by the great Angelo Badalamenti intimating that maybe something is about to happen. This is exacerbated by the fact that, once the cat is out of the bag so to speak, there is only one question that remains and the action stays confined in one location.

It’s just too bad they don’t get to hatch a caper or something while they deal with one guy’s hideous anguish. It’s odd this has come after “Sexy Beast,” it feels like a precursor. However, like a good stage play, it’s all about the characters, and though tossers all, they are great ones.


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.


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…


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.