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The week’s critic wrangle: Grime, crime and turn-of-the-century Vienna.

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"All I want to do is get my check and get drunk."
"Factotum": The combination of Norwegian director Bent Hamer ("Kitchen Stories"), great American raconteur of dissipation Charles Bukowski and Matt Dillon is apparently a potent one; LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas writes that "it’s the closest any film has come, outside of the Bukowski-scripted Barfly, to distilling the author’s world of lonely barrooms at noon, $500 cars, and desperate men and women who cling to each other less out of love than out of terror of loneliness." He likes Dillon’s performance as the author’s alter-ego Henry Chinaski, as does Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, who thinks that "[l]ike the film itself, Mr. Dillon’s performance works through understatement… Mr. Dillon’s phrasing carries the weight of such feeling, as does the hypnotically slowed gestures that give him the aspect of a man sitting at the bottom of a pool and thinking about drowning."

At Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman also has nice things to say about Dillon’s Chinaski (which sounds vaguely dirty, or is that just bleary us?), but not such nice things about the direction: "It’s too bad that the film was directed by the Norwegian minimalist Bent Hamer, who makes a fetish of building scenes around silence. As Chinaski’s derelict muse, Lili Taylor calls up the poetry of desire, but this is the sort of movie in which nothing happens — in the worst sense." And of Reverse Shot‘s weekly three, Nick Pinkerton and Justin Stewart are unimpressed ("’Factotum”s primary flaw is not egregious, but it’s all too common among adaptations — it simply goes through the motions," writes Stewart), while Nicolas Rapold finds it a modest success.


+ The "Pusher" trilogy: The wiseness of releasing all three films in Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Danish crime trilogy at the same time and in the same theater remains to be seen, but most are impressed by the "Pusher"s. Nathan Lee at the New York Times allows "Given an appetite for grisly crime flicks, they make for a delectably nasty epic." Lee thinks the films get better as they go alone, and that "Mr. Refn’s final iteration of his pattern achieves the hard, bright light of an archetype from hell." The Village Voice‘s Michael Atkinson finds that "the ‘Pusher’ movies play less like features than like the nastiest hit TV series HBO never made," and seems to like the first film best. Andrew O’Hehir at Salon makes the same comparison, though a bit more fondly, and adds that "I doubt anything [Refn] can do with the ‘Pusher’ franchise at this point will outdo the penultimate scene of ‘Pusher III,’ which is one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to watch in a motion picture."


"Make us disappear!"
+ "The Illusionist": Coming somewhat out of nowhere to generated some surprisingly good reviews is Neil Burger‘s "The Illusionist," with stars Edward Norton as a magician who romances an aristocrat (Jessica Biel). Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader adores it, giving it four stars, dubbing it "a lush piece of romanticism" and calling out Burger’s "exceptional gifts as a storyteller and as a director of actors." Stephanie Zacharek at Salon allows that the film has plenty of flaws, but that "ultimately, by God, I succumbed to the picture’s faux-laudanum haze":

In its best moments, "The Illusionist" doesn’t feel simply like an old-fashioned movie (it employs some charming technical touches, like iris shots, that filmmakers rarely use anymore), but like a movie summoned up from another era.

At the New York Times, Stephen Holden is charmed by the film, while stopping short of the rapturous praise others give it:

If the parallel cat-and-mouse games Eisenheim (Norton) plays with the prince and policeman have all sorts of political, religious and historical implications, "The Illusionist," filmed in sepia, prefers to let them lie. This entertaining movie is content to be something a bit more modest: a pungent period folk tale that teases you until the very end.

The LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas is less amiable, though he has upgraded his opinion of the film from "torpid romantic mystery" at first viewing: "The Illusionist goes down easier the second time around, in large part because Burger’s tiresome fixation on whether or not the magician, Eisenheim, is endowed with supernatural powers falls away on a repeat viewing, making it easier to appreciate the movie’s elegant cinematic sleight of hand." Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly presents the film as a showcase for a great performance from Norton; Dana Stevens at Slate writes that it is "almost—almost—too good to be true. It’s an exquisitely crafted period picture." But she, along with (fair warning!) everyone else, dislikes the ending.

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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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