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The week’s critic wrangle: “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Jerri Blank did.

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Even for a long weekend, this one’s packed — here in New York, beyond the films below, we count at least six other indie openings, including Takashi Miike’s "The Great Yokai War," Iraq doc "The Blood of My Brother," Bollywood superhero flick "Krrish," pedophilia (!) comedy "Say Uncle," IFC’s own arty bull riding doc "Rank" and Kyle Henry‘s Independent Spirit Award nominee "Room"…and all of these are in addition to "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Superman Returns." It’s both exhilarating and frustrating — more movies (and many of them worth seeing), it seems, then there are people to see them.

We all did.
+ "Who Killed the Electric Car?": Ah, yet more doctivism. But Chris Paine‘s debut effort may be "one of the more successful additions to the growing ranks of issue-oriented documentaries," as Manohla Dargis at the New York Times writes. She finds his tale of corporations and government corruption quashing zero-emission vehicles familiar, but still lauds it as "a story Mr. Paine tells with bite." At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir notes that the film is "a straightforward work of advocacy that wouldn’t pass muster as journalism. But so what?" While he find that "Electric Car" "isn’t an especially dynamic or visually engaging film," he still insists that "By the end you’ll be worked into a lather one way or another. Paine crams in more theories, ideas and arguments than the movie can easily hold, but that’s OK with me."

Rob Nelson at the Village Voice is unimpressed (to say the least) with Paine’s fondness for celebrity talking head interviews (most notably Phyllis Diller):

The real question is why this purportedly impassioned documentary investigation of a great subject—the culture’s conspiratorial dismissal of eco-friendly alternatives to the gas-guzzler—would assume such massive viewer disinterest that it coats the pill with C-list celebrity NutraSweet, including Martin Sheen voiceovers ("As the 20th century gathered speed . . . ") that would sound unforgivably hackneyed even on basic cable.

At indieWIRE/Reverse Shot, Kristi Mitsuda is generally bemused by the lack of aesthetic sense most new documentaries (including this one) show, she concludes that

Looking down from the director’s helicopter at the carcasses of crushed EV1s– so threatened was GM by evidence of its creation that it had existing models destroyed–damned if I didn’t leave the theater in furious mourning for the loss of a car the existence of which I hadn’t even been aware two hours prior.

And Michael Koresky muses that "Paine’s entertaining expose often plays less like a raise-the-roof Michael Moore rampage than an extended ’20/20′ segment."


"Not THAT Megawati Sukarnoputri."
+ "Strangers With Candy": Oof…in New York, few heart Amy Sedaris’ big-screen resurrection of the canceled cult TV series. Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice writes:

The movie, for those unfamiliar with the show, represents a particular varietal of arrhythmic, conscientiously anti-witty comedy. Andy Kaufman is the style’s St. Joan, occupying the borderland between blackout yuks and discomfiting performance art. Often enough, overripe unfunniness is the joke.

He also wonders at the way the film "regularly lampoons junkie-reparation melodramas and after-school specials, but with so little focus it’s never clear what the film, or even Sedaris’s vaudeville buffoon incarnation, is supposed to be parodying. That may be its fascination for some—it’s a satire without a baseline, free-floating in its own self-indulgent ether."

At the New York Times, A.O. Scott is somewhat more forgiving:

Like many feature films based on small-screen, short-form comedy, it feels more like a long, sloppy "very special" episode than a movie. Still, devotees of the series, admirers of Ms. Sedaris and fake-news junkies who can never get enough of Mr. Colbert will find reasons to see it and to convince themselves that it is funnier and more satisfying than it really is.


"That means you're in love with me."
+ "The Motel": Michael Kang‘s Sundance favorite opened at the Film Forum on Wednesday. Michael Atkinson (who seems to be on a bit of a tear) growls that "American indies are trapped in a ghetto of second-class homogenization, less pandering than Hollywood but just as conservative," and while noting it’s not fair to fault a lone film for this, moans that "the underwhelming syncopation of make-nice clichés is too familiar." Stephen Holden is more fond, if less interesting, labelling it "a small, perfectly observed portrait." Most enthusiasic is Andrew O’Hehir, who writes "All the ingredients of this coming-of-age fable are individually familiar, but you rarely see them come together so well…There were half a dozen occasions, maybe more, when I roared out loud with laughter. This just may be a filmmaker with great things in him; this one’s pretty damn good."

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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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