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Morning bits.

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Kids on Fire.
We didn’t get to a critic wrangle last week (relatives in town for the weekend), so perhaps we’ll put together a late one today. Some bits and pieces while we regroup:

The London TimesPeter Whittle  profiles Hayley Atwell, the young British actress who was recently cast alongside Ewan McGregor in Woody Allen‘s next project, and labels her "Woody Allen’s latest muse." Does Allen not engage mere "actresses" anymore? Only the other day everyone was calling Scarlett Johansson his muse — poor girl, her feelings will be hurt.

Weinstein Watch (it’s been a while!): Via the New York Daily News’ Rush and Molloy:

… Former Miramax head Harvey Weinstein got the name "Harvey
Scissorhands" for the way he insisted that directors snip overlong
films. But it didn’t stop there. When Toni Collette was filming "Cosi,"
"Miramax wanted me to shave my underarm hair, which I did not want to
do," she tells Webster Hall’s Baird Jones. "I was playing a junkie. I
did end up keeping it. I felt that since I was creating the character,
I should be in control of all bodily hair."

Michael Moore‘s Traverse City Film Festival screens documentary "Jesus Camp" despite distributor Magnolia Film’s attempts to pull the film (which centers on a pentecostal North Dakota summer camp) and concerns that the Moore connection would taint the film as it approaches it’s theatrical release date. Via Eugene Hernandez in indieWIRE:

Moore called the move to take the film out of his festival "one of the worst publicity stunts I’ve ever seen," saying that he was "begged" to show the movie but then received a letter requesting the cancellation a day before the screening. Magnolia however, maintained that moves to pull the film began back in mid-July after it acquired the film. In a conversation with indieWIRE on Friday, Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles reiterated, "I don’t want the perception out in the public that this is an agenda-laden film."

Filmmaker Heidi Ewing (who directed the film with Rachel Grady) says dryly that "As far as the rest of it, Rachel and I have three words: slow news day."

Empire breathlessly heralds an exclusive reports on how M. Night Shyamalan wanted his name removed from "Lady in the Water." This turns out to be not nearly as exciting as the promise of self-Shyamalan-awareness warrants:

"When I
was thinking about doing ‘Life Of Pi,’ I was very worried about putting
my name on the project. It’s an amazing book that has a twist ending,
but if I put my name on it, it would immediately lose the balance of
the novel. So it’s something I struggle with. I said to my wife that ‘Lady…’ may have benefited from my name being removed. At least then
it would have signaled to people to look at the movie with a new
language in mind."

The L Magazine names its 5 Worst and 5 Best New York Movie Critics; it’s an interesting list, if one that rehashes everyone’s old complaints — from the "Worst":

Rex Reed, New York Observer Star-fucking, name-dropping, recycled cocktail-party bitchery, and a miraculously total ignorance of film art and history.
Armond White, New York Press Hopelessly muddled reactionary politics, insufferably accusatory moralizing, taste transparently forged in opposition to the anticipated position of his ideological counterparts. Used the phrase “alleged torture” in his review of Road to Guantanamo. And he writes in such ugly, brutish sentences.
New Times Syndicated Critics, Village Voice  Aside from the general blandness (or worse) of the New Times critics the Voice has been forced to use at the back end since the takeover budget slash, what smarts is the choking-off of one of the best opportunities available to the city’s wide pool of up-and-coming freelancers.

Production news: Via Tatiana Siegel in the Hollywood Reporter, George A. Romero will write/direct the thriller "Solitary Isle," based on a short story by Koji Suzuki ("The Ring," "Dark Water"). Via Borys Kit in the same place, Jerry Lewis will voice at least two characters in an animated, direct-to-video version of "The Nutty Professor" for The Weinstein Company. Via Big Screen Little Screen, source-of-apparent-controversy Wes Anderson‘s next film (post-"The Fantastic Mr. Fox") will be entitled "The Darjeeling Limited," will be set in India and will star Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody. It’s like, too much!

The BBC reports that Aleksandr Sokurov‘s superb "The Sun," which depicts Emperor Hirohito in the last days of World War II, finally opened in Japan in the midst of considerable controversy:

The film’s distributor said the delay occurred because of fears that conservatives would protest at the portrayal of the Hirohito and the royal family.

"People were really worried about the chance of violence from right wing groups, so companies were fearful of buying the rights," said Michio Koshikawa, head of distribution firm Slow Learner Ltd. "But I think the movie will be a good chance to discuss the whole issue of Emperor Hirohito," he told Reuters news agency. "Being able to talk freely about Emperor Hirohito would show that things in Japan had finally normalised."

In the Japan Times, Philip Brasor delves into the controversy:

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Embracing Defeat," John Dower documented how Hirohito was absolved of his responsibility for The Pacific War and allowed to remain on the throne because he was considered useful to the Americans’ plans for Japan. The Emperor’s postwar reputation is that of a man who was either deceived by his military or didn’t have the will to rein in its expansionist designs. Authors Herbert P. Bix in "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan" and Edward Behr in "Hirohito: Behind the Myth" have challenged this orthodoxy, saying that the Emperor was very much involved in the planning and execution of the war.

Consequently, reservations about representing Hirohito in dramatic works may have less to do with leftover sentiments regarding his status as a god than with this public relations effort to shape him for history as a man of peace. For that reason, the theatrical release of "The Sun," in which the Emperor disavows his divinity and throws himself on the mercy of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, is significant.

Charles Lyons at the New York Times shares some crumbs about Neil LaBute‘s remake of "The Wicker Man" (about which the original film’s director Robin Hardy continues to publicly voice his displeasure).

Finally, at Digital Dretzka, Gary Dretzka starts a positive review of "Quinceañera" off by taking the LA Times to task for burying its review of the film and leading with "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby":

No amount of praise or ridicule in the Los Angeles Times — or any other newspaper north or west of Little Rock, for that matter — could possibly influence ticket sales for this most critic-proof of comedies. The same probably could be said about an animated film about anthropomorphic cows, pigs, chickens and mules … except, maybe, in Wisconsin and Iowa.

Did anyone at Times even consider putting "Quinceañera" out front, and sticking "Barnyard" in the nether regions of the section, where it belonged? We’ll never know.

A great point (if doubtless a futile one) — still, putting aside our dislike of the film for a moment, isn’t it presumptive to assume, as Dretzka does, that the film has built-in Hispanic appeal because it happens to be about Hispanics? It still struck us as an obvious, prototypically Sundance film made by two white guys who seized upon what they saw as prime camera fodder: sassy barrio girls getting dolled up in lacy dresses and doing formal dances…hmm, maybe we didn’t put our dislike aside at all. Still, to quote Lisa Schwarzbaum‘s review in Entertainment Weekly, " It’s suds being sold as ethno-sensitive reality, a case of coveting thy neighbor’s fiesta."

+ Going straight to the top (London Times)
+ Some Jews are Mel’s chosen ones (NY Daily News)
+ When A Fest Strategy Goes Awry: Traverse City Screens "Jesus Camp" Against Magnolia’s Wishes (indieWIRE)
+ M. Night Shyamalan On Lady In The Water (Empire)
+ Best of NYC: FILM (The L Magazine)
+ Double duty for Romero on ‘Solitary’ (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Lewis in ‘Nutty’ Weinstein toon (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Casting update: Adrien Brody in The Darjeeling Limited. (Big Screen Little Screen)
+ Hirohito film makes Tokyo debut (BBC)
+ Shaping Hirohito on film
(Japan Times)
+ Remake ‘The Wicker Man’? Now That’s Scary (NY Times)
+ With luck, ‘Quinceañera’ could prove to be a coming-of-age story for Hispanic audiences (Digital Dretzka)

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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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