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Whither that web?

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An "indie soap opera for the Web."
Richard Schickel seems to deliver compulsive little love taps to the film blogging world every time he’s given the opportunity to review the work of a print critic — his latest assault is tucked away in an LA Times review of the collected essays of Gary Giddins:

To write seriously about topics — movies, jazz, popular fiction — that many people regard as peripheral or totally irrelevant to their lives is among the least gratifying of occupations. That’s particularly true now, when the pendulum seems to be permanently stuck at the burbling end of the spectrum, where the bloggers — history-free and sensibility-deprived — weekly blurb the latest Hollywood effulgence and are rewarded by seeing their opinions bannered atop movie display ads in type sizes elsewhere reserved for the outbreak of wars and the demise of presidents.

Even in the dwindling realm where critics still attempt to make fine distinctions, there are problems, mostly of tone. For my sins, I enjoy the wise-guy riffs of Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, but I have to admit that his manner is not well-suited to the middle range, where many of the movies that are most interesting to write about uneasily reside. At the spectrum’s other end is Stanley Cavell — the professor Irwin Corey of film studies — who has never met a movie he cannot obfuscate with a viscous prose style that reaches ever higher levels of unintended risibility. Where, I’ve often wondered, is a critic who wears his erudition lightly, writes with an impeccable combination of verve and sobriety and, above all, makes you see (and hear) the objects of his ruminations? Is it possible to find such a critic whose medium is prose (always slow-footed in comparison, say, to a Bryan Singer movie) and topics evanescent: a perfect cut between scenes in a movie, for example, or a four-bar melodic fragment in an arrangement of Gil Evans’ song "La Nevada."

A fair enough wish — but why must it come with such a petty opening? Worse, it convinces us that Schickel has never actually read a blog; if he’s truly objecting to the blurbization of film reviews, his real enemy would be the economic and editorial forces in print media conspiring to make the capsule review the norm.

Whatever. While we’re on the topic of the web: John Clark at the New York Times writes about the realities of making the leap from having web-cred to having an actual studio deal:

Whether the Internet will ever become a seed bed for full-length movies remains to be seen. The independent filmmaker Joe Swanberg (“Kissing on the Mouth,” “LOL”), who was hired by to create what he describes as an “indie soap opera for the Web” called “Young American Bodies,” said the Net is the wrong place to watch a conventional narrative of conventional length.

“I have a hard time focusing on the computer screen for 90 minutes,” Mr. Swanberg, 25, said. “A feature film isn’t interactive. I think a theater is still the best venue for that.”

Very nice, Mr. Swanberg!

And some goodies new to the Internet of late:

Trailer for Ridley Scott‘s "A Good Year" on Yahoo, here: Strange to see a slimmed-down Russell Crowe looking bookish; his love interest is Marion Cotillard, who played the memorably sexy-crazy Sophie Kowalsky in "Love Me If You Dare."

Full trailer for "The Fountain" on Apple, here: Good lord, it’s looking even more of an ambitious, grandiose mess. We’re dying to see it.

Trailer for the new Brothers Quay film, "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes," up here.

Trailer for Ryan Fleck‘s much-loved-at-Sundance "Half Nelson" here.

Teaser for John Cameron Mitchell‘s porn-is-art, art-is-porn, let’s all cry about it "Shortbus" here.

And, it’s doubtless been around a while, but is still worth a watch: A clever ad for Canal+ inspired by "March of the Penguins" (via YouTube, of course), here.

+ A master craftsman (LA Times)
+ Hollywood Clicks on the Work of Web Auteurs (NY Times)
+ Trailer: A Good Year (Yahoo)
+ Trailer: The Fountain (Apple)
+ Trailer: The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (Zeitgeist Films)
+ Trailer: Half Nelson (
+ Trailer: Shortbus (iFilm)
+ March of the Penguins (YouTube)

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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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