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Much ado about not that much.

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Aimee Mullins and Matthew Barney.A bit of a slow news day today, which gives us the opportunity to look at two rather lengthy and literary musings on sets of films one normally wouldn’t bother with.

Devin McKinney has got this week’s big essay at the Village Voice, and he writes about how "Flightplan" is the latest narrative to make use of the reoccurring urban legend of the Vanishing Lady, in which two family members/loved ones are away from home, one vanishes, and everyone denies being aware of the missing person’s existence when the other searches for him/her.

"Flightplan"’s renewal of the legend may resonate with humanity’s recent losses to terror attack and natural disaster—just as the story’s popularity throughout the 1920s may have been a specter of the Great War and the influenza epidemic of 1918. These too have been years of wholesale loss and sudden, inexplicable grief for millions.

"There must be more than that . . . there must be an explanation." In popular fiction, always; in life, almost never. It may be that, in its eternal return, the Vanishing Lady is a myth not of resurrection but of loss repeated through infinity. It’s true that the Lady, whatever shape or sex she assumes, is always found at the end of the story. It’s also true that she is always, come the next telling, lost again.

Over at Slate, Aidan Wasley makes his case for the "Star Wars" trilogies adding up to "the greatest postmodern art film ever." Check this:

"Star Wars," at its secret, spiky intellectual heart, has more in common with films like Peter Greenaway‘s "Prospero’s Books" or even Matthew Barney‘s "The Cremaster Cycle" than with the countless cartoon blockbusters it spawned. Greenaway and Barney take the construction of their own work as a principal artistic subject, and Lucas does, too. "This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level," one of John Ashbery’s works begins. "Star Wars," we might say, is concerned with plot on a very plain level. Everything about the films, from the opening text crawls to the out-of-order production of the two trilogies, foregrounds the question of plot. As an audience, we grapple with not just the intricate clockwork of a complex and interwoven narrative, but, in postmodern fashion, with the fundamental mechanics of storytelling itself.

We’re not convinced, but it’s kind of a great read.

Over at the LA Times, Robert W. Welkos reports on a ridiculous tiff going on between two indies with the same title. Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou‘s "Take Out" is a gritty drama about an illegal Chinese immigrant trying to pay off his debts working as a restaurant delivery boy — it’s done well in the festivals and managed to get picked up by CAVU Pictures, a small distributor. Seth Landau‘s "Take Out" is a comedy about a man trying to rid the nation of chain restaurants. And thus begins the battle of the $3000 and the $13,000 film, which, one would imagine, is rather like two starving people having a food fight. (No) money quote:

And while Landau’s backers complain about NYU film grads with "high priced" lawyers writing cease-and-desist letters, [CAVU’s Michael] Sergio and [Isil] Bagdadi point out that the lawyer who wrote the letter in question is Stephen Baker of the law firm Baker and Rannells, P.A., who also happens to be the co-director’s dad.

And over at the New York Times, Sharon Waxman talks to Peter Lalonde, the producer of "Left Behind: World at War,"  which, as the Washington Post reported two weeks ago, was released by Sony Pictures Entertainment exclusively in churches across the country. Waxman’s angle is that Sony, who attached a $1.2 million marketing budget to the film, has been uncomfortable and thus hesitant to push a Christian film, a theory that so enrages Movie City NewsDavid Poland that he’s penned a furious screed in response.

+ Fright Plan
(Village Voice)
+ Star Wars: Episodes I-VI (Slate)
+ ‘Take Out’ for party of two (LA Times)
+ Sony Effort to Reach Christians Is Disputed (NY Times)
+ What Is The Problem??? (The Hot Blog)

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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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