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Happy & Not-So Happy Hookers

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By Andrea Meyer
IFC News

Movies about prostitutes might not be as old as the profession itself, but there are an awful lot of them. The films range from silly (“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”) to fairy tale (“Pretty Woman”) to depressing (“Vivre Sa Vie”), with the lovely ladies of the night portrayed as angelic and sad (“Leaving Las Vegas”), classy and sassy (“Mona Lisa”), or bitter and brash (“Whore”)-—sometimes to the point of going snap (“Monster”).

Coming soon are four great hooker flicks. On May 14-15, IFC hosts “IFZ Weekend,” airing films that were launched on the Z Channel to accompany Xan Cassavetes’ doc about the groundbreaking cable network. One of many highlights is Robert Altman’s beautifully melancholy anti-Western, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” in which Julie Christie plays the opium-addicted Madame who Warren Beatty loves. In re-release at the Film Forum in New York from May 18-26 is Federico Fellini’s Neorealist masterpiece “Nights of Cabiria,” starring the filmmaker’s wife and muse Giulietta Masina as a heartbreakingly hopeful streetwalker in Rome. Coming to theaters on June 1, Israeli director Keren Yedaya’s wrenching “Or” focuses on a teenage girl’s relentless determination to keep her mother off the streets. July brings us Sundance winner “Hustle and Flow,” about a pimp who dumps his day job to become a hip-hop singer. Jump on the bandwagon and throw a happy hooker festival at home. Here are some of the best:

“What Have I Done to Deserve This?”
Hookers abound in the ingenious oeuvre of Pedro Almodovar, most notably “All About My Mother” and this early satire, which remains one of his most perverse and delicious. Carmen Maura plays a mom dealing with the most hilariously dysfunctional family ever. The only sane person around is the whore next door.

“Lilya 4-ever”
Steel yourself, perhaps with a stiff drink (or the whole bottle) before hitting Play. In one of the most devastating movies of all times, Swedish director Lukas Moodysson tells the story of a Russian 16-year-old who is abandoned by her mother and seduced by a charming young man who promises to start a new life with her in Sweden.

“Mamma Roma”
Starring the incomparable Anna Magnani as a woman struggling to create a better life for her teenage son, this breathtaking film by Pier Paolo Pasolini combines religious imagery with gritty realism to create a work as heartbreaking as it is transcendent.

“Belle de Jour”
Walking the blurred line between fantasy and reality, Spanish director Luis Buñuel’s compelling work stars Catherine Deneuve as a sexually repressed housewife, who spends her afternoons acting out her kinky fantasies with strangers in a high-end brothel.

I include this comedy, which stars Dudley Moore as a rich playboy who falls in love with a waitress, not so much because it’s about prostitution, but because I’d like to see it again and think you should, too. And one of its high points is a sweet, funny, and uncommonly apolitical scene with a hooker.

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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

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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.

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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

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