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Oscars: Further “Crash” bashing, “Tsotsi”…poking?

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"You think you know who you are?" Mr. Reese Witherspoon, that's who.
There’s nothing left for us to say but: We wish we could quit "Crash."

As entertainment reporters feverishly twitch over their keyboards, critics slaughter their neighbors’ cats and study the entrails for further insights into the close races, and we near the end of the Oscar countdown, Cara Mia DiMassa at the LA Times is left to resort to talking to members of the non-film community about their opinions on Paul Haggis‘ front-runner:

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton has seen the film three times, and encouraged the deputy chief in charge of LAPD’s professional standards to pass copies around the department. But Joe Hicks, the longtime African American community activist, believes the movie so distorts the state of race relations that it could hurt Los Angeles’ reputation.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa loved the movie. His lawyer, a former member of the county Human Relations Commission, hated it.

So basically, some people really like it, and others really don’t. For a more resolved take on the film, we recommend Matt Zoller Seitz‘s lengthy, smart piece on why "Crash" is hurting America:

Haggis’ depiction of modern race consciousness is so wrongheaded in so
many ways that the film’s critical and financial success might actually
inflict damage on the culture, by making apoplectic, paranoid racism
seem like the norm and encouraging audience members (particularly the
young) to think Haggis is tearing off society’s mask and showing how
things really are, all of which will allow those same ticket buyers to
feel superior to the people in the movie and think themselves incapable
of "real" racism, the type depicted in "Crash."

And in an interview with Dan Persons here at IFC News, Three 6 Mafia (of "It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp" — every time we read that title, we think of the Dave Chappelle "I Know Black People" skit ("Is pimping easy?"), which may sum up all of "Hustle & Flow"‘s buying into its own bullshit. Still, we hope the song wins — who wouldn’t?) reveal that they’re pulling for "Crash."

And "Tsotsi" is now bearing the burden of being the favorite to win Best Foreign Language Film despite no one thinking it’s that spectacular of a film. David Edelstein in discussion with Lynda Obst at New York:

I have this theory about what wins the foreign-film Academy Award most
years. You start with a movie that feels really alien—the average Oscar
voter says, "What is this? Where am I? I can’t handle this." And then
gradually, the recognizable Hollywood formula kicks in, so by the end
they’re saying, "Who’s the director’s agent?" "Tsotsi" is set in a South
African shantytown and opens with a horrifying murder. The main
character has a face that’s unreadable at first—hard and cold, yet with
a trace of androgyny that suggests something more complex and
unresolved. Well, he steals a car and ends up with a baby and finds the
meaning of Christmas, etc. At test screenings there were standing
ovations. Oscar bait doesn’t come any more tempting.

Rory Carroll at the Guardian oddly takes "Tsotsi"’s pivotal carjacking as an excuse to offer up a history of the crime in South Africa, and tips on what to do if your car is hijacked in South Africa. We like: "If about to be shot turn to the side, reducing the target you present by a third. Lift your shoulders and pull your neck in. Do not turn your back – the front of your body has more bone and rib-cage to protect your internal organs."

Andrew O’Hehir‘s rather cynical in his "Beyond the Multiplex" column for Salon this week, which tackles the neutering of the Foreign Language Film category and the lifelong boringness of the Documentary category before looking at this year’s nominees. He’s one of the few we’ve come across who thinks "Sophie Scholl" will win (he’s also going against the penguin to predict "Murderball" will pull through among the docs). O’Hehir also takes to task Emma Forrest‘s poorly reporter Observer article on the "Paradise Now" fuss (a story that, in general, we’ve found so infuriating we’ve basically chosen to just ignore it).

The Observer article, which helpfully never asks Abu-Assad or anyone else involved with "Paradise Now" about their intentions, goes on to say that the real problem with Saïd’s character is Nashef‘s "Hollywood looks," which create an atmosphere of "sexy jihad" around his attack. His friend Khaled (Ali Suliman) evidently refuses to commit mass murder because he’s insufficiently hot. "Paradise Now" has less chance than it ever did of winning an Oscar (and it never had much). But that article deserves an award for cultural journalism at its most distinctively odious, combining slipshod reporting with half-baked postmodern theorizing. Congratulations!

And at his New York Times Carpetbagger blog, Dave Carr, in a delirium of packing and Oscar fatigue, spews out all of his dislikes about Oscar coverage.

+ Differing Views of Race in L.A. Collide in ‘Crash’ (LA Times)
+ Anything but this (The House Next Door)
+ In the footsteps of "Shaft": Three 6 Mafia talks bringing the Memphis sound to the Oscars (IFC News)
+ The Pre-Show Game (New York)
+ Carjacking: the everyday ordeal testing South Africa (Guardian)
+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Rant, The Musical (NY 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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