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How do you solve a problem like Tribeca?

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"Dirty money belongs to anyone who has it."
That title is to be sung with a backup band of nuns, naturally.

With over 250 films, many mid-level ones arriving without any kind of buzz, airing twelve at a time at press and public screenings scattered throughout the city from 68th Street to Battery Park, the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival is enough to make a grown journalist cry. We’ve seen it.

Or perhaps we’ve done it ourselves. We haven’t had much luck so far with our picks, possibly because we’ve stuck mainly with the narratives when by most accounts the docs have been far stronger (which is becoming a truism of American festivals in general). A quick rundown of some of what we’ve seen so far, with forewarning that these are almost certainly going to be unnecessarily bitchy, we’re short on sleep.

"Shadow of Afghanistan"
Directors: Jim Burroughs, Suzanne Bauman
This documentary about Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion through to present day is as much about the act of covering the unrest and war in the country as it is about the events themselves, and the solid history and rare non-newsreel footage it presents are curiously marred by a tone of self-congratulation. The film is partially centered on Lee Shapiro and James Lindelof, a pair of documentarians who were killed filming in Afghanistan in 1987, and whose footage makes up the earlier part of the film — surviving member of their crew returns to Afghanistan with the "Shadow of Afghanistan" filmmakers to complete Shapiro and Lindelof’s work. Information about the difficulties of shooting in such tense conditions is interesting; a frequent voice-over reminding us of how dangerous what the filmmakers are doing is unnecessary, and some of the tossed-off lines ("Look at those smiles! These are such a resilient people.") are truly wince-worthy.

"The Yacoubian Building"
Director: Marwan Hamed
Based on a popular, controversial novel, "The Yacoubian Building" is being widely touted as "the most expensive Egyptian movie ever made," leaving unstated the fact that. given the frequency with which Egyptian productions grace US cinemas, it may as well be proclaimed "the only Egyptian movie ever made." Deliciously soapy, the film resembles (and is as enjoyable as) a Cairo version of "Tales of the City," a sprawling look at the intrigues of the varied inhabitants of a once-grand apartment building now populated by fading gentry, the newly (and perhaps suspiciously) rich, and the poor (confined to former servants quarters on the roof). "The Yacoubian Building" shocked Egypt with its grim assessment of nationwide corruption and its open depiction of a homosexual character; US audiences may be more startled to see a character’s descent into religious fundamentalism and terrorism being merely the fodder for further melodramatics.

"The Promise"
Director: Chen Kaige
Proving that talent from Korea, Hong Kong, mainland China and Japan can
unite to make a truly terrible flick, the most expensive film in ever made in China is surprisingly lousy looking. A florid fantasy that harkens back to the earlier, cheesier days of wuxia,
"The Promise" follows a princess (Cecilia Cheung), who, as a girl, made a deal with the goddess Manshen (who sports a fairly fabulous CG-assisted hairdo): she’ll grow up to be a celebrated beauty, but in return will lose every man she ever loves. There a puppy-eyed slave (Jang Dong-Kun) who can run very fast; an arrogant general (Hiroyuki Sanada) so manly his weapon is literally a pair of brass balls; and an evil duke (an awesomely campy Nicholas Tse) who is, as far as the film is willing to admit it, way gay. Unintentional silliness abounds — everyone sports some kind of garish costume (many involving feathers); sets float in darkness in a fashion that approaches Expressionist; characters talk about the sentiments of "the people" when, as far as we see, every single person in "The Promise"’s universe is either nobility or a soldier serving nobility.

"Land of the Blind"
Director: Robert Edwards
A political satire with the subtle delicacy of two stoned porn shop
workers trying to beat each other to death with giant dildos, Robert
Edwards’ feature debut delights in broad, equal-opportunity abrasion
without purpose. Ralph Fiennes stars as a prison guard in a grim near future who is drawn to a political prisoner (Donald Sutherland)
and ultimately enlisted in his plan to overthrow the reigning corrupt
dictatorship. Of course, the new regime turns out to be just as
oppressive as the old. Edwards throws in references to the current
North Korean autocracy, "The Manchurian Candidate," the Cultural Revolution, "Brazil," Islamic and Christian fundamentalism, "1984,"
and the Bush administration, but is content to let them hang there
without commentary or any accumulated meaning, making the film nothing more than the "Scary Movie" of dystopian imaginings.

"Journey to the End of the Night"
Director: Eric Eason
Eason gathered one hell of a cast (Brendan Fraser, Scott Glenn, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Mos Def) and landed one hell of a location (São Paulo). The result is, unfortunately, one hell of a howler about a drug deal gone wrong in the gritty streets of a city we barely glimpse. Moreno has little to do but look pensive or cry as the young wife of Glenn’s brothel-owner who’s been making plans to run off with her stepson (Fraser). Fraser snorts coke and hurls phones around gamely, but has been saddled with the bulk of the film’s worst lines; Mos Def, playing a saintly African immigrant, is immensely likable as always.

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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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