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The week’s critic wrangle.

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050605_orlando"Kingdom of Heaven": An odd cultural artifact, if not a great movie, most of the critics agree. As La Manohla puts it, the film is "an ostensibly fair-minded, even-handed account
of one of the least fair-minded, even-handed chapters in human history." The biggest problem, everyone agrees, it that Ridley Scott wants to have the film be a message about the futility of religiously-fueled warfare, while all the lusciously filmed, endless, bloody battles seem to say, as Stephanie Zacharek puts it, "But gosh, doesn’t it look cool?" No one is impressed by darling Orlando; the nicest anyone has to say about his performance is this two-edged compliment from LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas (who also has by far the most positive review of the film): "As Balian, Bloom is more minimus than Maximus, possessing about as much native authority as a postal clerk, and he’s effective for that very reason." Zacharek thinks he "looks in danger of blowing away any minute," and Anthony Lane compares his final rallying of the troops speech to "a head prefect addressing a school assembly." In the NY Press, Matt Zoller Seitz at least finds the battles sequences exhilarating; David Edelstein, on the other hand, thinks "’Gladiator’ had lousy, disjunctive action, and Kingdom of Heaven is even more maladroit."

"Crash": To paraphrase En Vogue, "Prejudice, made a movie about it. Like to see it? Here it go." The film approaches the theme of racism with all the subtlety of writer/director Paul Haggis‘ last screenplay, for "Million Dollar Baby." David Edelstein says "Haggis is so relentless that you have to laugh. But you might also be
transfixed, because the cast of great actors is going full-throttle,
and the film makes such a gaudy show of its own momentousness." This is evidently the case with LA Weekly‘s Ella Taylor, who was not a "Baby" fan but who finds "Crash" both one of the best Hollywood films on race and on Los Angeles (as an added bonus, they tack on an extra essay by genuine black person Joy Mitchell, a USC sophomore). Roger Ebert also loves it. But both Stephanie and Tony find the movie well-meaning but painfully clumsy; as Tony puts it, "Crash" is a "frustrating movie: full of heart and devoid of life; crudely manipulative when it tries hardest to be subtle; and profoundly complacent in spite of its intention to unsettle and disturb."

"Mysterious Skin": Gregg Araki has finally grown up. No longer content to pluck pretty boys out of the food service industry and frame violent, sexy fluff films around them, he’s managed to make a rich, sympathetic film about a subject ripe for sensationalism: the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. Tony Scott calls it "the work of a onetime bad boy who has grown up without losing his
ardent sympathy for the wildness of youth. It’s also one of the best
movies I’ve seen so far this year," while two out of three indieWIRE/Reverse Shot reviewers find that the movie marries Araki’s previous and undeniable stylishness with, finally, a heart.

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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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