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Fifteen snakes on a dead man’s chest.

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Now, who's up for some sushi?
Oh Tony, Tony, Tony. The "Do critics really matter?" discussion is so very last month. Still, nothing will stop the New York TimesA.O. Scott from martyring his chosen profession:

…Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but the judgment of critics almost never makes the difference between failure and success, at least for mass-release, big-budget movies like “Dead Man’s Chest” or “The Da Vinci Code.”

So why review them? Why not let the market do its work, let the
audience have its fun and occupy ourselves with the arcana — the art —
we critics ostensibly prefer? The obvious answer is that art, or at
least the kind of pleasure, wonder and surprise we associate with art,
often pops out of commerce, and we want to be around to celebrate when
it does and to complain when it doesn’t. But the deeper answer is that
our love of movies is sometimes expressed as a mistrust of the people
who make and sell them, and even of the people who see them. We take
entertainment very seriously, which is to say that we don’t go to the
movies for fun. Or for money. We do it for you.

While we appreciate the ideas being expressed, there’s something a bit insufferable about the article — though it’s possible we’re just in a bad mood, as it’s 6,000 degrees in New York and we have no air conditioning in our apartment and this weekend we sprawled on the couch praying for death and watching "The Chronicles of Riddick" on TV because it was too hot to find the remote, and an extended sequence in which Vin Diesel bulgingly rock climbs his way up a mountain to escape the sun on some ill-advised planet where daylight burns you to a CG cinder was completely ineffective as we’d already been outside that day and experienced that unpleasant sensation in real life.

We had a point to make somewhere…yes, the film that prompted the article, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," continues to defy unimpressed critics, breaking record after box office record, but there isn’t the critical hostility greeting this fact that one would expect — maybe because no one expected the first film to be particularly good, and the fact that it was watchable was a pleasant surprise. The consensus with "Dead Man’s Chest" is that it’s a flashy, overlong mess, but there are worse cinematic sins. At Cinemarati, there’s a smart, lengthy and entertaining discussion of the film that kicks off with this key observation:

Is Captain Jack Sparrow the Doctor Frank-N-Furter of the new millennium? Will (Bloom) and Elizabeth (Knightley) here seem to channel Brad and Janet, zero chemistry between them, each deeply focused on Depp’s boozy brigand deviant. Explaining the state of pure Will’s heart to Davy Jones, Jack exposits, “He’s in love…” and quickly adds “with a woman…” Uh-HUH.

At Salon, Aemilia Scott chronicles the continuing adventures of "Snakes on a Plane," which we is striking us as the most joyless, calculated experiment in movie marketing imaginable, and the true thing critics should fear — films that abandon all pretense of art at all in favor of artificial and crowd-dictated camp appeal. If it can even be called camp (WWSSD: What would Susan Sontag do?).

This reveals the meaning of the cult classic. The C factor lies not in the shittiness of the film but in the agreement between moviemaker and moviegoer on the film’s shittiness. The moviegoer goes to see a movie and thinks, "Wow, this movie is going to be terrible for X, Y and Z reasons." The bad movie delivers reasons X, Y and Z. The cult film responds, "Oh yeah? You think you know X, Y and Z? We’re gonna show you some X, Y and Z!"

"Snakes on a Plane" is an agreement, but one born of an unlikely power shift. It’s an agreement between moviegoer and Hollywood. It’s an agreement between David and Goliath, where Goliath slips up and calls himself a knuckle-dragging retard giant.

Incidentally, as Josh Tyler at Cinema Blend reports today, "Snakes on a Plane" will not be screened for critics. Of course not! There’s no room for critics, even grumpily ignored ones, in this equation. Tragic.

+ Avast, Me Critics! Ye Kill the Fun: Critics and the Masses Disagree About Film Choices (NY Times)
+ Cinemarati Summit: POTC: Dead Man’s Chest
+ Hissy fit (Salon)
+ Snakes On A Plane Hidden From Critics
(Cinema Blend)

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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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