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The unavoidable religion in film post.

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Kais NashefYes. Films. Religion. Together at last. Brave new world, such people in’t, et cetera, et cetera. It’s been a reoccurring entertainment news story even before the world flocked to see JesusSnuff, and we’ve generally avoided the topic just because no one seems to say anything new (and we’re hard pressed to believe that it’s such a continual revelation that there are religious people out there who are also interested in watching movies), but there’s been some interesting stuff of late, particularly with "Ushpizin" opening last week and "Paradise Now" opening tomorrow.

Andrew O’Hehir notices as much in Salon, where he talks to "Ushpizin"’s Israeli director Giddi Dar about the fact that his film, the "first feature film made within the closed world of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community," is going to playing in the same New York theater as "Paradise Now." "It’s like something from above," Dar says. O’Hehir admires the two films, both of which are notable for shooting in extremely difficult conditions.

Ella Taylor at LA Weekly and Sharon Waxman at the New York Times also talk to Dar about his film, which is actually a light-hearted, farcical comedy.

Damon Smith at the Boston Globe surveys "Paradise Now" and the ”The War Within," and talks to directors Hany Abu-Assad and Joseph Castelo about why they chose to make films about suicide bombers, and how they’re responding to the inevitable controversy surrounded them.

Abu-Assad, born in Nazareth and now living in Holland, says he was intrigued by stories he’d heard about various bombers, details that weren’t widely reported in the media — ”it’s amazing how shocking reality is, more so than film" — and began scripting Said’s character with his co-writer and producer, Bero Beyer, based on his research. But he curtly dismisses the suggestion that ”Paradise Now," in connecting the would-be bombers’ profound sense of despair to living under the shadow of Israeli force, inadvertently makes him an apologist for terror tactics. ”Was Francis Ford Coppola, when he made ‘The Godfather,’ an apologist for crime? Nonsense."

Anthony Kaufman, in an older piece in indieWIRE, looks at the economics behind and bitter invective facing Warner Independent’s release of the film:

Warner Independent has received messages like "Muslim = Death" and angry missives like this one: "Why do you glorify the sick Arab homicide bombers who kill innocent civilians? . . . Maybe you should have named your movie ‘The Barbarians.’"

We totally swooned over "Paradise Now" at the New York Film Festival and we maintain our state of swoonage — it’s a fierce piece of filmmaking.

Kevin Maher at the London Times reports on Ismaël Ferroukhi‘s less hot-button but no less interesting "Le Grand Voyage," about a sparring father and son taking a lengthy a road trip to Mecca.

Alan Cooperman at the Washington Post looks over Sony Pictures plan to bypass theaters entirely and release "Left Behind: World at War" (so that’s where you got to, Lou Gossett Jr.!) exclusively in churches.

And Catherine Gander in the Guardian examines the challenges facing (and we’re trying so hard to envision this pitch meeting) 20th Century Fox’s planned adaptation of "Paradise Lost." But who’s the perfect Miltonian Satan? For some reason we keep picturing Stuart Townsend. Anyone got a better suggestion?

+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Holistic Healer (LA Weekly)
+ How an Outsider Told a Hasidic Story From the Inside (NY Times)
+ Sympathy for the devil? (Boston Globe)
+ The Palestinian Invasion: Will "Paradise Now" Be the Biggest Arabic-Language Film Ever? (indieWIRE)

+ To haj and haj not on the road to Mecca (London Times)
+ Coming Soon to a Church Near You (Washington Post)
+ Lost in translation (Guardian)

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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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