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Yo ho, yo ho, a critic’s life for me.

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"It's the greatest movie I’ve ever seen..."
At his blog, Dave Kehr writes about the New York Daily News’ decision not to renew the contract of film critic Jami Bernard, and then rants about the paper in general:

During my tenure at the news – seven years that I keep hoping will
disappear down an Ambien hole and never disturb my troubled sleep again
– Jami and I suffered unbelievable interference from the editorial
higher-ups, all of whom seemed to believe that they were vastly more
capable of registering the “populist” perspective on a given film (in
DN speak, “populist” is a term of art meaning “barely sentient”) than
the people they’d somehow (and clearly, mistakenly) hired as experts on
the subject. I recall one managing editor flying off the handle because
Jami had failed to recognize the cultural and aesthetic importance of
“Sudden Death,” a 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme film about terrorists
taking hostages during an NHL game (if only we had listened then!).
“It’s the greatest movie I’ve ever seen,” the editor announced,
betraying not a hint of irony. One editor-in-chief became notorious in
our small department for rejecting any review of a Disney film that
suggested something less than complete enthusiasm, on the ground that
the DN was a family newspaper and Disney – an indisputable fact – made
family movies. Hence, no possible grounds for criticism.

Awesome! We’re not particularly a fan of Ms. Bernard’s work, but we loathe this trend of moving away from staff critics — a key part of the pleasure of reading reviews is coming back to someone’s writing again and again.

At The House Next Door, Jeremiah Kipp interviews Film Freak Central‘s acid-tongued (Er, penned? Er, keyboarded? Curse you, metaphors!) and very smart Walter Chaw:

JK: How would you respond to the perception of you as a “bomb-thrower”, or a guy who employs hyperbole to get a rise out of people?

WC: Is that the perception of me? I think that’s the easy way out of assessing what it is that I actually write about in my work. Maybe I don’t succeed—I certainly don’t for those folks. Let me say that in my mind the “guys who employ hyperbole to get a rise out of people” are the Earl Dittmans and Jeffrey Lyons and Larry fucking Kings of the world who call every neo-Stanley Kramer piece of leaden dreck that floats down the bilge the “best film of the year” or “a masterpiece” or “the first great. . . of the year”. When I look at what I write (and I seldom have to, thank god), I hope that what I’m seeing there is a real, throbbing outrage at films that are out to do harm and, on the other side, a real live joy at films that feed me. Stuff that’s just out to make money off of easy stereotypes and nakedly shilling to robotically-demarcated demographics of imaginary people – and looping back around, here, offering up all this feckless garbage to the blind eyes of the vast majority of the critics in lofty positions that I (if no one else) hope are manning the gates—makes me exhausted.

This is older, but we missed it the first go-round: at, Aaron Aradillas interviews Entertainment Weekly‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum:

[W]hat I don’t get is this:
years after Kael’s death, why are we still talking about Kael vs.
Sarris as if choosing a team color is Topic A? As if, indeed, any
serious movie critic must declare a team in order to play? Why does the
mention of Kael, in particular–and the declaration for or against on
the part of an army of male critics (it’s predominantly men who get het
up about the subject)–still generate so much ink? I’m being a little
provocative here for the sake of, oh, I don’t know, pantsing the
keepers of the flame, but I’m also serious: The humorless orthodoxies
of the competing teams baffle me.

And New York‘s David Edelstein has an immensely entertaining dispatch about serving on a Tribeca Film Festival jury with Rosie Perez and Moby.

+ Another One Bites the Dust (
+ Keep up, or get out of the way: an interview with film critic Walter Chaw (The House Next Door)

+ Entertaining Weekly (
+ Tribeca Jury Duty (New York)

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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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