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“Corman’s World,” reviewed

“Corman’s World,” reviewed (photo)

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Producer/director/schlockmeister Roger Corman famously made over a hundred movies in Hollywood and never lost a dime, in part because he never financed stuff like “Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel.” That’s not to say this documentary about the maverick drive-in movie maven’s life is bad; on the contrary, it’s a breezy, informative ninety minutes with great archival footage and superb new interviews with Corman, his collaborators, and protégés. But c’mon: 90 minutes of people talking about some old guy who made a bunch of movies? That’s not the Corman way. Where’s the sex? Where’s the violence? Where’re the crazy, LSD-dropping hippie biker gangs?

Actually, all that stuff’s in there too, thanks to a heap of clips from Corman’s lengthy career. In a sneakily savvy way, director Alex Stapleton has structured “Corman’s World” to work like Corman movie: you come to satisfy your baser urges, and inadvertently learn a thing or two along the way. In between the shots of Pam Grier shooting her way out of a women’s prison and man-eating piranhas feasting on human flesh, there are legitimately powerful moments here about following your dreams and fighting for your independence.

The world that Corman built was more than the sum of the pictures he cranked out for American International Pictures and later his own New World and New Horizons Pictures. It was also a network of younger artists he mentored and encouraged, and who went on to reshape Hollywood in Corman’s DIY, youth-oriented image — guys like Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, and Jack Nicholson, all of whom appear at length in the film to express their heartfelt admiration and appreciation for the man who gave them the first profesional jobs in the film business. The interview with Nicholson — who doesn’t sit down for this kind of thing very often, especially not in a way that’s this emotionally unguarded — is especially memorable.

If, like me, you already know a little about Corman — if you’ve read biographies about him like Beverly Gray’s “Roger Corman: An Unauthorized Life,” for example — there won’t be a ton of surprises for you in “Corman’s World.” During a couple stretches, the film does feel the documentary version of an greatest hits CD: you get all the hits, but you don’t really have the chance to appreciate the deeper cuts. For that, you have to go to the albums — or, in this case, the movies. I’d recommend starting with “A Bucket of Blood,” the Corman-produced “Death Race 2000,” and a couple of the Poe adaptations like “The Tomb of Ligeia.”

Stapleton probably could have — and maybe should have — probed a little deeper into his subject’s life and motivations. Why, for example, did a guy fight so hard and so long for artistic freedom only to use it to release so much empty-headed schlock? Still, it’s nice to see the greatest hits, and to listen to Corman’s refined paternal baritone as he talks about his work. He even allows Stapleton to film him at work on the set of his latest project, the SyFy Channel’s “Dinoshark.” When he doesn’t like the way the young guys on the crew are doing something, he just steps in and does it himself. Now that’s the real Corman way.

“Corman’s World opens today in limited release. If you see it, let us know what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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