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Brokeback in Baby’s Arms.

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"That sounds VERY manly!"Rejected headlines: Baby Got Brokeback, Brokeback to the Future, If It Ain’t Brokeback, Don’t Fix It, It’s All Coming Brokeback to Me Now.

We apologize if we’re a little irregular and scattered over the next few weeks — one of our colleagues left and we’re picking up her workload until they hire someone else, which is kind of putting a damper on our blogging schedule.

We’ve finally made it to the week of the most-hyped film of the year thus far — "Brokeback Mountain" is beloved to nearly all who’ve written about it as yet, and while we didn’t think it was perfect, we certainly liked it lots ourself. We’re in the process of writing a review with Matt to post later in the week, but in the meantime, a few thoughts:

We don’t buy David Thomson‘s half tongue-in-cheek thoughts that this is the grand cowboy-on-cowboy romance that was always waiting to burst out from beneath the coded subtext of "Rio Bravo," "Red River" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (well, okay, scratch that last one), but "Brokeback Mountain" does derive much of its significant power from how it toys with that particularly cinematic American icon: the taciturn, masculine, denim-clad cowboy. The film is a romance between two people who stumble into a great love and simply don’t have the words for it. Heath Ledger, whose performance is every bit as good as it’s been talked up to be, plays Ennis as a man who can hardly find it in him to participate in conversation, much less be open in a relationship, and he’s heartbreaking, particularly in the scene when he first says goodbye to Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Jack. After rebuffing Jack’s attempt for a "same time, next year," he send him off with a nod, and then, after watching him drive away, runs to throw up in an alley and bloody his knuckles against the side of the building. Violence, physicality, and, with a refreshing lack of coyness, sex, are all things that come far more easily than words to Ennis. It’s the best inarticulate screenplay we can think of.

Also, it’s inherent to a romance to have interference — if people live happily ever after in the first half hour of a film, what are you going to fill the next 60-90 minutes with? And so misunderstandings occur, wacky hi-jinks ensue, one party thinks the other party can’t stand them, or is already attached, or is…something. In a way, "Brokeback Mountain" has more in common with, oh, "Pride & Prejudice" than any other recent romance we can think of, because at least in Austen, below all of the plot happenings, there is always the very real problem of societal differences to overcome. For years since the fading away of the aristocracy, filmmakers have wracked their brains to come up with new reasons for why two people would have such trouble making a connection when they ostensibly are in love, and here we finally arrive at what must be the unforced, undeniable obstacle of any tragic romance writer’s dreams. Love is never the issue in "Brokeback"; at the same time, we see the world Jack and Ennis live in, and never doubt that, even if they got to walk off into the sunset, hand in hand, it’d be impossible for them to live happily ever after.

Anyway, at indieWIRE, Strand Releasing’s Marcus Hu discusses waiting on the film since he first read the short story in 1997:

Personally, even after four viewings, I still get a lump in my throat by the film’s conclusion. While the "New Queer Cinema" has produced some substantial GLBT films, this film just feels like an intelligent, smart piece of cinema that happens to have at its core a gay love story.

At the Chicago Tribune, Robert K. Elder sums up post-screening questions fielded by Ang Lee and producer James Schamus, while Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times (link via Ray Pride at Movie City Indie) takes a look at "Brokeback" and Tommy Lee Jones"Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" as neo-neo-Westerns.

+ First Person: Marcus Hu on "Brokeback Mountain" (indieWIRE)
+ Lee sees his ‘Brokeback Mountain’ as a unifying force (Chicago Tribune)
+ The Cowboy rides again (Financial Times)

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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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