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The week’s critic wrangle: We heart race relations!

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"Well, Pete, the ants are eating your friend."
+ "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada": Praise always seems less impressive in the DV dullness of January and February than it does in the breathless celluloid splendor of December, and so, despite much critical love here for Tommy Lee Jones‘ directorial demi-debut, it already has an air of fading from the screens to it (perhaps because it lurks in the shadows of a certain other prominent cowboy film)

Those who are fondest: Manohla Dargis, Roger Ebert (feh), the Chicago Reader‘s Jonathan Rosenbaum and the LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas (who muses that the film "may not be a love story per se, but for my money it’s the most deeply affecting portrait of cowboy camaraderie to be found on movie screens this season"). Dargis calls it "less an act of revisionism than one of reconsideration," and Rosenbaum also finds it refreshing in its tweaking of old Western tropes:

There’s the taken-for-granted dysfunctional social context, and there’s the visceral macho unpleasantness, which feels dishonest in movies such as Henri-Georges Clouzot‘s "The Wages of Fear" (1953) and Peckinpah‘s "The Wild Bunch" (1969) and "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" (1974). I have to admit I still like those three films a lot, and I suspect that what I appreciate most in this movie is the nuance Jones gives these and other shopworn notions.

Nearly everyone cites Peckinpah in general and "Alfredo Garcia" in particular as an influence on this film.  The New York PressMatt Zoller Seitz liked the film at first, then rewatched Peckinpah’s work, which leads him to declare that "After revisiting the originals, I find ‘Three Burials’ to be little more than a pretty good tribute." Anthony Lane at the New Yorker finds the film lost him in its second half, mainly due to the character Tommy Lee Jones plays: "The film’s plea for old-fashioned pride and racial tolerance is muffled by a plain, unanticipated fact: Pete Perkins is out of his mind." And Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice also has beef with Jones, calling the cinematic persona he’s cultivated over the years "our living neocon nightmare."


Flowery!+ "Something New": Most interesting thing about the surprisingly good reviews this modest interracial romance is garnering: that several critics find it a far better depiction of race issues in LA than the hysterics of "Crash." Manohla Dargis:

The filmmaker has a nice sense of some of the less cinematically exploited areas of Los Angeles, like the upscale black neighborhood where Kenya lives and power walks, and the Magic Johnson Starbucks where she first meets Brian on a squirmingly uncomfortable blind date that says more about racial anxiety than the entirety of "Crash."

Mark Holcomb of the Village Voice:

The plotting may be familiar and mundane, but that’s precisely what makes "Something New" work: Its thorny, mostly unresolved questions of identity and racial affiliation are couched in identifiable everyday concerns, like dealing with job and family stress and worrying that a suitable mate may never turn up. In the end, the film is a lucid, tender appeal for flexibility, and no amount of carjackings, LAPD shakedowns, or freeway conflagrations can rival the pleasure of seeing such a concept so engagingly explored.

Roger Ebert was also startled by the film’s nuances (it "respects its subject and characters, and is more complex about race than we could possibly expect."), though he, of course, does not leap on this prime opportunity to "Crash"-bash. Salon‘s Stephanie Zacharek is similarly charmed ("’Something New’ is the perfect date movie, not only because it explores a range of suitably romantic sentiments, but because it’s so canny sociologically, as well as being delightfully good-natured.") But Tim Grierson at LA Weekly parts from the crowd, finding the film unrealistic and unoriginal.

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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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