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DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: “Friends with Money,” “4,” “On A Clear Day.”

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No longer just "Friends."
+ "Friends With Money": Despite reviews running from warm to lukecold on Nicole Holofcener‘s latest, no one is particularly excited about it, perhaps because hers are not the type of films one gets all giddy standing in line for. She is "a first-rate portraitist and something of a miniaturist," Manohla Dargis writes in the New York Times in one of the more fond reviews, though she does suggest that it is "greatly appealing if not especially adventurous, either for its director or for her admirers." In LA Weekly, Ella Taylor muses that "if it lacks the bitchy, enraged vitality of the terrific ‘Lovely & Amazing,’ that’s because it holds true to its more mature mood and theme." Armond White at the New York Press likes the film (and loves Holofcener), but thinks that she overreaches with her themes of class this time around: "[T]he problem goes deeper—too deep for Holofcener to resolve through her usual delicate methods."

David Edelstein at New York outlines the pluses and minuses Holofcener’s deadpan, nonjudgmental style, which he finds makes for many good moment that don’t come together, though he quick to point out that the film is still a remarkable rarity: "Warm, female-centric, socially conscious comedies with juicy
parts—characters you want to talk about—for fortysomething actresses
don’t grow on Hollywood palm trees." Of Ms. Aniston‘s latest indie turn, the Village Voice‘s J. Hoberman (who isn’t thrilled by the film’s episodic structure) writes: "Scarcely a character, Olivia idly phone-stalks her married ex, but she is also something of a saint— remarkably free of class envy and as easily bullied by the men she meets as Aniston is upstaged by the three avidly hard-boiled actresses with whom she shares the screen." And Roger Ebert, after a bizarre "Crash" mention (any excuse, apparently), complains that the film "lacks the warmth and edge of the two previous features" and is "more of an idea than a story," but does also make this great point:

Yes, it’s about how Olivia’s friends all have money, and at one point Jane suggests they simply give her some to bring her up to their level. As it happens, characters do exactly that in novels I’ve read recently by Stendhal and Trollope, but in modern Los Angeles, it is unheard of. If you have millions and your friend is a maid, obviously what you do is tell her how much you envy her. Working for a living is a charming concept when kept at a reasonable distance.

 

"What goes down better at three in the morning, vodka or blood?"
+ "4": The Reverse Shot troop (Lauren Kaminsky, Michael Joshua Rowin, Jeff Reichert, and Michael Koresky this week) at indieWIRE give Ilya Khrjanovsky‘s "4" the most positive reviews we’ve ever seen them give anything — they even call in an extra writer, as if a full chorus of voices would give their praise more weight. A sample from Kaminsky: "This film does not imitate life, it creates it — it lives and
breathes a little different from anything you’ve seen before, and yet
the result is somehow painfully recognizable." At New York Press, Matt Zoller Seitz calls the film "easily the most visceral work of art on screens right now," and though he has caveats, he does write that "For now, I’ll give this film the benefit of every doubt because it’s confident, mysterious and powerful, and because there’s a shortage of films that invite this degree interpretation and engagement." J. Hoberman at the Village Voice and Manohla Dargis at the New York Times are more restrained; Hoberman suggests that "’4”s most provocative quality is its ironic surplus of beauty," while also stating that "least one of the alcohol-infused lies [at the film’s beginning] turns out to be true," which is totally arguable. Dargis sums up the film’s symbolism thusly:

Sometimes a severed pig’s head is just a severed pig’s head, after all,
though sometimes a weeping crone yodeling mournfully about the Volga
River is also a symbol of a grotesque and nostalgic nationalism.

She also writes that while "4" is a "rather remarkable first feature," Khrjanovsky still has a lot to learn.

 

"You got made redundant — you should just face up to it like everyone else!"
+ "On a Clear Day": LA Weekly‘s Ella Taylor likes Gaby Dellal‘s debut feature about an unemployed shipbuilder who decides to swim the English Channel and ends up reaffirming his self-worth, and even she writes that "I can’t defend this film, except as an opportunity for the deliciously mawkish weep some of us require for optimal mental health." Jeanette Catsoulis at the New York Times is also fairly (and less self-deprecatingly) fond, suggesting that "while Alex Rose‘s screenplay immerses itself in idiosyncrasy and redemption, [Peter] Mullan and his director, Gaby Dellal, balance the sentimentality with a healthy dose of working-class vulnerability." Less generous is the Village Voice‘s Michael Atkinson, who, in a rare showing these days, dusts off the snark:

The only asset ‘On a Clear Day’ comes equipped to exploit is Peter Mullan as—and here’s where I lose you—Frank, a disgruntled, laid-off Glasgow dad who decides in his miserable torpor to justify himself by swimming the English Channel. Will he make it?!

But the New York PressMatt Zoller Seitz is unimpressed even with Mullan, writing that "Nine-tenths of Mullan’s acting consists of scrunching up his face to telegraph ‘depression’; the remaining tenth is subdivided between rueful smiles, manic motion and disoriented glancing about (to convey the idea that Frank is ‘lost’)… Even small roles that have ‘scene stealer’ written all over them are so weirdly misjudged that it’s as if you’re watching a film made by space robots that landed on earth last week."

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Final Countdown

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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Rev Up

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

Give Back

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…