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"I'll see you at the parent-teacher conference."
We’ve been out of commission this week (er, "The Henry Rollins Show" and "Samurai 7," premiering tomorrow) but we thought we’d take a sec to babble about a few of this week’s releases.

Oh, hell, we just want to talk about "Brick," because we’re totally infatuated. At first blush, it’s easy to write off Rian Johnson‘s debut as gimmicky — it is. They’re high school kids, but they spout dialogue out of the hokiest 40s film noir. Locker numbers replace phone numbers, a minivan (with a lamp inside) stands in for a limo, the administration (naturally) becomes the law. The details are cute, but alone, they’d barely be enough to base a short on. What’s remarkable about "Brick," and what makes it so hugely enjoyable, is that in creating the film’s weird world, Johnson has managed to free it from the chokehold of irony.

True noir is near impossible these days — all of the visual signifiers that define it are so loaded that they’re near useless. You can’t have a femme fatale slink in on narrow heels, sucking on a cigarette anymore, because all that carries across is that she must have caught a late airing of "The Glass Key" the night before. Neo noir comes armed with the inevitable wink and nudge — in next week’s awful "Lucky Number Slevin," characters name-check films in lieu of character development (Lucy Liu stops just short of making herself a Nora Charles baby tee, but Josh Hartnett takes to a James Bond comparison a little too easily for an apparently dopey guy — ooh, spoiler alert). "Brick" is nothing neo at all — it’s a straight-faced throwback to the kind of convoluted storyline that had Howard Hawks wiring Raymond Chandler to figure out who killed Owen Taylor, only to be told that he didn’t know either. Because, after all, it’s the process of looking, and events unfolding, that was always more interesting than the wrap-up. The baby-faces of "Brick"’s plucked-from-TV cast (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, slowly freeing himself from "Third Rock from the Sun," Emilie de Ravin of "Lost," "Everwood"‘s Nora Zehetner) turn out to be well-suited to Johnson’s muttered machinations and heated declarations, because, well, when else in your life besides high school can you howl, with all angst and seriousness, "I couldn’t hack a life with you!"

There’s a gleeful enjoyment to these scenes, to the ones where Gordon-Levitt’s loner Brendan smart-asses the school’s jock aristocracy, or takes a beating just because he can’t bring himself to back down, or when Meagan Good vamps it up impossibly more in each scene until she delivering acid-tipped lines in full kabuki make-up, but what really works about "Brick" is its big, bleeding romantic heart. Even the bleakest noir, at its core, was filled with some kind of weary hope for the best, paired inevitably with the certainty that the world always disappoints.

And while we’re here —Jeff Feuerzeig‘s "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" is also very good  — a portrait of the artist as a manic-depressive novelty. We’re not so convinced of Johnson’s genius as a musician or an artist, and there are occasions where the regard of his "outsider" status comes across as a bit ghoulish (something he seems aware of  — he would stop taking his medication several days before playing a show), but the kaleidoscope of browned-around-the-edges footage from Johnson’s youth and onwards is amazing, as are the interviews with his loving, long-suffering parents.

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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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