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Shohei Imamura, 1926-2006.

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Koji Yakusho.

Director Shohei Imamura, who portrayed modern Japan’s downtrodden in raw realism and eroticism and became the first Japanese to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes twice, died of cancer.

He was 79.

Often considered the top Japanese director since the late Akira Kurosawa, Imamura was a pioneer of the country’s New Wave movement, moving away from classical themes to focus on prostitutes, ex-convicts and other characters from the underground.

Others will eulogize Imamura with far more knowledge and poetry than we ever can (and some have already), but we…we will always associate him with the extremely prosaic (and ever limited) foreign film section of the local Hollywood Video of our suburban youth. We’d pore over the unchanging selection on the single shelf (one whose contents, we imagine, are echoed in every rental chain in the country: dozens and dozens of dusty copies of "Au Revoir, Les Enfants" star-scattered across the strip malls of America) and choose a title, and sometimes it was forgettable, and sometimes it was anything but.

We haven’t been in a video store (chain or not) in ages — "Black Rain" and "Vengeance is Mine" and other standards of our formative years likely aren’t standards anymore, gone with the days of VHS. Still, the memory of picking up "Black Rain," "Vengeance," "The Eel" for the first time is as strong in our mind as watching the films — that feeling was the promise of something weighty and great. Imamura’s films are hopelessly (and rightly) entangled with our early sense of quality cinema, and time and hundreds of other films have yet to change that.

+ Japanese director Imamura dies at 79 (AFP)

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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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