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Kingdom of Hollywood

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A note before we get started — the LA Times has long, and irritatingly, kept its entertainment coverage behind a paid-subscription wall. Well, it looks like they’ve finally realized what a terrible idea that it — CalendarLive is finally accessible to everyone (included us) who don’t treasure the LA Times‘ coverage enough to shell out for it, but who’ll happily check it out for free.

051005_orlando"Kingdom of Heaven"‘s tepid box-office draw this past weekend seems to indicate that America, at least, has no interest in a lavish epic with enough of a conscience to make the majority of its characters, Muslims and all, well-meaning liberal-humanist types. In a now-available LA Times article, Patrick Goldstein is frustrated both by the passivity of Ridley Scott’s chosen hero and by what he sees as Scott’s sidestepping the similarities between the bloodier, greed-driven moments of the Crusades (that would be most moments) and current events. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Jones is far more fond, starting off by saying he went in expecting a fabulously tacky exercise in bad taste, considering the subject matter, but instead finds that Scott makes a good point: we’ve essentially slipped back into medieval times, fighting holy wars, and that "if we’re going to lose the Enlightenment we might at least rediscover chivalry."

For more dire than "Kingdom"’s suggestions that we have not learned from the past and are indeed doomed to repeat it are what it’s BO numbers mean for Hollywood. "Kingdom" was a lush historic epic, with epic battles featuring CG knights hacking each other to death for the fellas and a rising waifish heartthrob of a star for the ladies, and yet it will probably end up at best breaking even after its DVD release. Sharon Waxman in the New York Times reports on how the weak weekend marks eleven weeks in a row of declining movie attendance and revenue compared with last year, and how the studios are, like, stressed. We gave you ORLANDO in CHAIN MAIL! they shout. What else do you people want?!

A.O. Scott suggests that we really want the indulgent fantasy that comes from comic books, in his Sunday NY Times piece on the genre:

Indeed, one might go so far as to say that as a cultural figure, the superhero is the opposite – the nemesis, the secret alter ego, the evil twin, the Bizarro-world double – of the movie star. And in their battle for world domination… the superheroes are winning.

"Kingdom" is being read by many as a lesser-"Gladiator," lacking the beefy leading-man shoulders of Russell Crowe to hold it up. But "Kingdom" and "Gladiator" are far different movies — after all "Kingdom" is a movie about someone having to discover what heroism is in a morally ambiguous world. "Gladiator" is, essentially, a superhero movie, in which Russell Crowe martyrs himself for revenge after brooding and suffering alone. And let’s be honest, the brooding and solitude are easy — actually interacting with people is far harder, and far less interesting to watch in a film.

Anyway, Time magazine has a look at what’s next for out, blockbuster trend-wise: "What has changed in the past few years is that instead of escaping into novelty (that shark! that spaceship! that dinosaur!), we now flee to the familiar." So, welcome to the great age of the remake. When outward-looking pop culture doesn’t seem to stick, it’s always safe to look inward.

+ How’s this for a Crusades concept? (LA Times)
+ What the Middle Ages did for us (Guardian)
+ Hollywood Worries as Decline Continues (NY Times)
+ Heroes vs. Stars: Revenge of the Nerds (NY Times)
+ Once More, With Feeling (Time)

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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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