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“District B13.”

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"He's like a bar of soap."
"District B13"‘s characters are as developed as a damp Polaroid. The film simplifies and makes kind of goofy the very real problems of Paris’ poverty- and crime-ridden banlieus. The plot exists to string us between various scenes showcasing parkour, the sport of "free running" founded by David Belle (one of the film’s stars) and familiar from any of a variety of stylish commercials on a television near you.

It’s great. We’d see it again in a heartbeat.

"District B13" is Euro action by way of "Ong Bak" — its stars, Belle and professional stuntman Cyril Raffaelli, perform all chases, fights, and improbable bounding around concrete apartment blocks in Romania (standing in for France with, according to the press notes, cheaper insurance) themselves, perfectly assured that acting, dialogue, and other developments always come second to making audience members clutch each other in fannish bliss and proclaim: "Oh, that was so cool."

Belle plays Leïto, a sort of benevolent gang leader who has managed to keep his apartment block an oasis of safety in the otherwise dystopic neighborhood of the title. It’s 2010, and the banlieus have gotten so bad that the city has walled them off and placed armed guards outside. The police and other public services are pulling out, and violence and chaos reign. When Leïto attempts to turn local drug kingpin Taha (Bibi Naceri) over to the cops, they’d rather set Taha free (and allow him to make off with Leïto’s sister) than bother fighting back against his well-armed men. Leïto piddles around in jail doing upside-down sit-ups until he’s recruited by Damien (Raffaelli), an idealistic officer, for an urgent mission — to retrieve a "clean" nuclear bomb that’s somehow been stolen and ended up in Taha’s possession.

Belle and Raffaelli aren’t the most charismatic of actors, but they’re not terrible either, and the cleverly choreographed action sequences soar, shot unfussily to highlight the spectacular feats of athleticism performed by the pair. Leïto, running from Taha’s men, uses the housing project setting like a personal playground; Damien infiltrates an underground gambling den and neatly takes out something like 35 men, leaving us wondering how necessary the whole "undercover" aspect of the operation was, but impressed regardless. Together, they leap over cars and fight someone named "Yéti" and uncover a terrible cover-up and (spoilers) save Paris.

But the main charm of "District B13" comes from its unpretentious, stripped-down style — directed by first-timer Pierre Morel and shot on the relatively cheap (given the film’s scale), there’s a scruffy leanness to the picture, aided by minimal use of digital effects. Even the earnest emotional appeals, when they come, are kept nicely underplayed, thank God — no time for sniveling here, these are buildings to be leapt.

Opens June 2 in limited release.

+ "District B13" (Official site)

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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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