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Lukewarm summer nights.

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Terrence Dashon HowardAs an interesting counterpart to Time‘s summer of docs section, Slate turns to the summer blockbuster, which looks, from all "sky is falling" box office reports, to be in its dotage. Tom Shone documents the rise of the reigning kings of the blockbuster, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and their "friendship," which, as he paints it, rivals the passive-aggressive smiling-though-the-secret-loathing competitive clinches of the most popular girls in middle school:

"He’s taught me a lot about creative compromise," Spielberg once said of Lucas, with a straight face. And when Spielberg repeatedly begged to direct one of the new Star Wars episodes, Lucas reported the story with the glee of a child keeping his favorite toy just out of reach. "I was getting ready to shoot in Australia," Lucas told reporters, "and Steven was whining on the phone all the time, ‘Oooh, I’m sitting here by the pool, and poor me, I don’t have a movie to direct … ‘ "

Slate‘s film critic David Edelstein and the Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern have kicked off what looks to be a week’s worth of diary-style discussion on the topic of "Did George Lucas and Steven Spielberg Ruin the Movies?" Having grown up in age of blockbusters, it’s odd for us to imagine a time when there weren’t extravagantly marketed big events strewn across four calendar months like guests star-scatter’d on the grass (though the bloat is undeniable at this point). It’s a promising discussion, and we’re looking forward to what Morgenstern, a long-term critic who’s worked before and after "the changeover," as Edelstein puts it, has to say about the future of mainstream film. But lay off "Top Gun," Edelstein. Ridiculous, cheesy, and oddly homoerotic it may be — it also sums up all we’d want in a summer movie. Which well may be the problem you’re going to discuss.

In another worthy article, Christopher Kelly examines the mainstreaming of the "independent" film, using as his example "Hustle & Flow," which was produced by John Singleton and which was bought by Paramount Classics as part of the biggest deal in the history of the festival at Sundance this year (a reported $9 million, with an additional $7 million for Singleton to produce two more similar films).

But the remarkable success of the movie thus far, and its likely haul in theaters this summer, point to larger matters: It’s a sign that Hollywood’s blockbuster ethos has now completely infected the indie/art-house landscape. In a curious case of Hollywood’s Stockholm Syndrome, the indies have learned not just to love their captors, but also to emulate and refine their ways. Brewer and Singleton’s movie looks so familiar that it takes a little while to realize that we’ve never seen anything quite like it before: the indie blockbuster.

As a side note, it’s hard for us not to find the very idea of this film, which we haven’t seen, repugnant. Writer/director Craig Brewer has attempted an uplifting success story about a pimp with a heart of gold who really just wants to be a rapper. You know, make him a cruel, funny antihero, maybe. But we find the sentimentalizing (Terrence Dashon Howard getting teary-eyed in a church in the trailer) sickening and insulting. "Pretty Woman," it ain’t.  But, hey, check out the plot for Brewer’s next project. Maybe he’s just the most ironic person in the pseudo-indie film world.

+ Lucas vs. Spielberg (Slate)
+ Summer movies (Slate)
+ The Pimp Who Saved Hollywood (Slate)

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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.


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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