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Torture porn: hurray for nihilism!

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"I'm going to do something now they used to do in Vietnam."
David Edelstein flexes his new glossy mag muscles and attempts to float a sort-of think piece from his new perch over at New York, looking at the recent spate of extreme (and extremely profitable) violence in the multiplexes ("Hostel," "The Devil’s Rejects," "Saw," "Wolf Creek" and (heh) "The Passion of the Christ"):

Explicit scenes of torture and mutilation were once confined to the old 42nd Street, the Deuce, in gutbucket Italian cannibal pictures like "Make Them Die Slowly," whereas now they have terrific production values and a place of honor in your local multiplex. As a horror maven who long ago made peace, for better and worse, with the genre’s inherent sadism, I’m baffled by how far this new stuff goes—and by why America seems so nuts these days about torture.

He raises some interesting if scattered points on America’s new-found appetite for cinematic sadism, but we do think it’s a bit too easy (and too tempting) to see the new extreme cinema as some reflection on our national psyche. Isn’t this also just a natural progression for the genre? Horror films have the least enigmatic goals in terms of provoking an audience reaction — people are meant to leap out of their seats or watch with their hands over their eyes, peering through the gaps in their fingers. Comedy has changed, the weeper seems to have transformed into the righteously indignant film (even "Brokeback" had a solid spine of social injustice to it) (what got us thinking about this was a Korean film we saw on a flight actually entitled "Sad Movie," a soapy, enjoyable thing that consisted of four intercut and slightly related stories of sad things happening to people — our favorite was the fireman who kept wavering about marrying his beautiful girlfriend, and then right before he’s finally going to propose, gets called away to a fire where he dies, but not before being able to record a message saying "I love you" in sign language on a camera that mysteriously survives the flames).

What we were talking about again?

If horror films rest on being able to shock audiences, then of course there’s going to be a creep further and further into whatever territory has been left untread. Thus the nihilism of recent fare, where, as Edelstein points out, "the ‘final girls’ in ‘Wolf Creek’ and ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ die ghastly deaths" — if the "Scream" flicks set out to meddle with genre conventions by acknowledging them as they occurred in the films, a steady-eyed refusal to allow the relieved exhalation of traditional closure, to let anyone escape a grisly death is the new "No, please don’t kill me, Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!"

Luke Benedictus at The Age covers similar territory, and brings up the old arguments that these films, like the films of the 70s horror heyday, arise out of societal unease.


+ Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn
(New York)

+ When art imitates a sick world, it’s a horror story (The Age)

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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 IFC.com

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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.

Uncle-Buck

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…