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“The King.”

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"I need to get right with God."
Screenwriter Milo Addica likes his themes big and biblical (or Greek): Death. Redemption. Rebirth. "The King," the third film he’s scripted (after 2001’s "Monster’s Ball" and 2004’s "Birth") has a similarly grand wingspan: Directed by doc veteran James March, the film is about a Southern Gothic tale about David, a born-again preacher (William Hurt) who’s visited by a ghost from his less-than-righteous past, a son he fathered and abandoned in Mexico who’ll end up offering him a near-impossible test of his beliefs.

We never see that resolution: as the title implies, this film is about faith (and about family, in a sense that approaches Oedipal), but it’s also about Elvis — that’s the unfortunate name of David’s cast-off son, played by Gael García Bernal, who finishes a stint in the Navy and sets off to find his father, and whose blithe efforts to insinuate himself into the family (ultimately destroying it) are the film’s focus. David has made a place and a name for himself in Corpus Christi, TX, heading up the kind of church with a lighted marquee outside to attract passers-by from the busy road and living in immaculate suburban bliss with his serene wife (Laura Harring) and their teenage son (Paul Dano) and daughter (Pell James). David’s not pleased when Elvis shows up when he’s with his other unsuspecting children, and gives him the brush-off, but the insouciant Elvis is not dissuaded, getting himself a cheap room in town, a job delivering pizzas, and a girlfriend — Malerie, his half-sister.

Ah, incest. Ah, eventual multiple murders. Elvis is our guide towards and the effector of inevitable tragedy, but he’s a complete enigma, ever earnest and unruffled, even when he’s faced with Malerie ill with the knowledge that he knew they were related before he took her virginity. His actions are inexplicable — he’s not malicious; he seems to be beyond any conscious morality. Is he the embodiment of unatoned-for sins come home to roost? Is he, er, Satan? Has he merely been studying up on his Sophocles? If Elvis is a little creepy, he’s also appallingly charming and guileless (and, as he’s played by Bernal, extremely nice to look at).

But for all of the dread the story entails, "The King" drifts by on unexpectedly blissful scenes of beauty — Elvis and Malerie going wading in the river on a sun-drenched afternoon; the doe-eyed Paul Dano, in the lights of a stage, delivering a heart-stoppingly earnest speech on the wrongs of the theory of evolution. Marsh is content to sometimes simply turn the soundtrack up and let a song carry a scene along, a device that can work deliriously well even if it seems at odds with the script’s heavy hand.

"The King" opens today in New York and LA.

+ "The King" (IMDb)

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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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