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Is this all there is to the circus?

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060605_madagascarA few safe weeks after everyone started bemoaning the disappointing state of the 2005 box office, A. O. Scott at the New York Times weighs in (the term is fashionably late, no?). Rather than deal with the hard numbers, Tony O. first admits that yes, every year at around this time critics declare that mainstream cinema is gut-shot and thrashing around in the mud, a few brief but agonizing minutes from death (we haven’t had a chance to watch the "Deadwood" finale yet, so it’s on our mind, sorry), and that by winter everything’s canned peaches and opiates again. But this year, he insists, box office returns are suffering not because films are bad, but worse, because they’re mediocre, destined to be the fodder of cable network Saturday afternoons, to be watched in bursts between trips to the kitchen to check on the banana pudding you’re making from the recipe on the Nilla wafers box (Are these glimpses into our home life as boring for you as they are for us? We’ll stop, promise.).

"[T]heir mediocrity appears to be less a matter of accident than of design," Tony posits — the pressure to be light, pleasing, and inoffensive is killing off any interest the public might have in bothering with a film. He also returns to that Hollywood Reporter column about critically acclaimed Cannes films not finding US distribution that both he and Manohla were to bothered by. In other words, for Tony, Hollywood’s eagerness to pander to the broadest audience is the problem. A valid point, but one we’d like to dub, after reading this similar NYT squib about Roger Ebert, the "Cannes hangover."

At The Hot Blog, David Poland takes issue with this whole failing box office story trend, citing some numbers and titles from this time, 2000, and so on before going on to say:

The reason I am so endlessly enraged by this "the box office is falling" argument is that it is, first, not accurate. But more importantly, it is a wish fulfillment from the world of critics and journalists. The media always is happy to tell Hollywood that the sky is falling.

On his blog (found via MCN) Mark Cuban, dot-com billionaire turned "The Benefactor" turned production company firebrand, has his take on the box office slide/not slide.

But hey, at least it’s a pleasure to not hear theater owners and the movie industry blame piracy as the cause of the attendance slide.

He goes on to make some points about the over-importance of the opening weekend, before launching into suggestions for fixing the problem. Of course, he’s got his own agenda to sell here, as his company, 2929 Entertainment, is going to be pioneering giving films a simultaneous DVD/theatrical/television release. Still, an interesting read.

+ The Spring of Our Discontent (NY Times)
+ This Is Why I Rip The NY Times (The Hot Blog)
+ Movies and Theaters – Let’s make the Customer King and make more money (Blog Maverick)

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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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