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Two legs good, three legs bad.

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War...what IS it good for?

"War of the Worlds" is rated PG-13. Much of the earth’s population is wiped out, leaving very little time for sex or bad language.
—A. O. Scott, New York Times

In many ways, the movie reaches its peak with its chilling portraiture of mass panic, from the astonishing road hog exposition sequence (Cruise‘s terrified dad trying not to explain to his kids what’s going on as he weaves in and out of stalled traffic and to and from the camera) to the image of a crowd tearing into an SUV’s shattered windows with bloodied hands.
—Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

True, it has a ham-fisted script, a bewildering objective for its hero (it involves getting from New Jersey to Boston), and an ending that—given the level of tension—isn’t cathartic enough. But this is a blockbuster that transcends summer blockbusters. In all the ways that matter, it’s pure.
—David Edelstein, Slate

The thing is, we never believe the tripods and their invasion are practical.
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Steven Spielberg‘s "War of the Worlds" is the ugliest little movie of the summer.
—Stephanie Zacharek, Salon

What’s driving us (and, it seems, several of the above critics) nuts, besides Roger Ebert’s odd recent insistence on discussing practicalities (see his "Land of the Dead" review — has the man forgotten what summer films are like?), is that no one can explain the reasoning behind Spielberg’s apparently very heavy-handed and frequent references to 9/11. It all seems to hover on the verge of being a statement — after all, as several reviews point out, this film is better read as a brutal counterpoint to Spielberg’s 1977 "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," with its aliens as figures of magic, mystery and music, than in relation to the 1953 "WotW."  Nearly thirty years after Spielberg told us "We are not alone," we’re given tripods emerging from beneath the pavement where they’ve been lying dormant, a fight and flee narrative, and near silence as a backdrop.

So we’re at a different place, culturally, than we were back then, and what Spielberg thinks we want is darkness and massive destruction. Fine. But, as Stephanie Zacharek puts it:

At one point the camera scans a wall covered with fliers of missing loved ones (presumably humans who have been abducted or just plain disintegrated by the marauding aliens), as direct a reference to post-9/11 New York City as you could make. I can’t possibly divine what Spielberg intends by that shot. Are we meant to nod solemnly, jolted by the recognition that this alleged bit of summer fun has a real-life parallel?

And Michael Atkinson asks:

Is it exploitation of our experience, or is Spielberg forming a statement? At the very least, the presumption, pace Roland Emmerich, seems to be that we have, after a four-year rest cure, regained our consumer’s appetite for destruction. You may have.

Spielberg’s a smart cookie, and he know that just dropping references does not make for any greater meaning. So what is this to be read as except laziness? Or pretension?

We’re feeling a bit put off by the whole thing at the moment.

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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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