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The week’s critic wrangle: “Dahlia,” darling.

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Honestly, she terrifies us.
+ "The Black Dahlia": Sorry, Mr. De Palma, but your "dark side of vintage Hollywood film" is averaging out worse with the critics than "Hollywoodland," with added sighs of disappointment — this one, everyone really really wanted to like. On the plus side, the Village Voice‘s J. Hoberman writes that "Although the action set pieces are impressive, the exposition is sluggish. For all the posh dollies, high angles, and Venetian-blind crisscross patterns, The Black Dahlia rarely achieves the rhapsodic (let alone the delirious)." Wait, that’s the good side? At Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman, also fairly generous to the film, still thinks that "Somehow, it’s all dreadfully old hat…The Black Dahlia isn’t a cheat, it’s just a misfire, but the most surprising feeling it stirred in me was nostalgia for Brian De Palma’s old flamboyance." And there’s the dubious blessing of a rapturous Armond White at the New York Press, who insists that "L.A. Confidential and Hollywoodland—films that pretend to investigate our national fascination with movies—look like child’s play compared to Brian DePalma’s The Black Dahlia," and blames any problems on the "superficial sociology of author James Ellroy‘s source material."

It’s goes downhill from there: Scott Foundas at LA Weekly mourns that the film is "an ideal match of director, writer and subject, and The Black Dahlia has so many of the right moves, you wish the whole thing were better" — she’s one of several critics to pick out Hilary Swank‘s as the notable performance (the tomboy outvamps Scarlett Johansson!), though others aren’t so fond of it. At the New Yorker, David Denby calls the film "overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying"; David Edelstein at New York claims to be "stumped" by it: "I can’t tell you how it ended up such a stiff." Dana Stevens at Slate argues that the Ellroy novel that was "Dahlia"’s basis provides the film’s only worthwhile moments, and notes that "it almost doesn’t make sense to analyze the performances in The Black Dahlia since every actor seems cast in a movie of his or her own invention." For Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, most signs of life involve Swank and her character’s demented Hollywood-aristocrat family. And Stephanie Zacharek at Salon writes that "Mostly, the picture is curiously detached. It’s stylish in the De Palma mode, but not nearly as resonant as those of us who love him hoped it would be." Also:

In the past 10 years or so, I’ve had more casual conversations than I can count in which I’ve had to defend De Palma against charges of misogyny, or claims that he’s just a slick stylist who knows how to push buttons. De Palma does know how to push buttons, but I think what really enrages people is that he pushes buttons they didn’t know they had. He also trusts us, his audience, to do the work of thinking and feeling, and sometimes, through no fault of his own, we balk at the responsibility. In his greatest pictures — "Casualties of War" would be at the top, with "Blow Out" and "Carlito’s Way" hovering nearby — perhaps he’s asking us to relinquish some of our pride as moviegoers, as bright people hip to the trickery of the movie arts, in order to reinforce our dignity as human beings. No wonder so many people hate him.

"That's harmony."+ "Confetti": Mixed reviews for this improvised comedy, most dwelling on the inherent US/British comedy divide. Ella Taylor at LA Weekly is most generous, writing that:

Confetti comes not to emulate, but to rescue us from, the seemingly endless stream of cookie-cutter British comedies — the lazy-minded spawn of The Full Monty — about workers moving on up through soccer, song and dance, or flashing their tits for a good cause. And if nothing else, this affectionately off-the-wall confection offers exuberant confirmation of every suspicion you might have ever had that the English are charmingly eccentric. They’re barking mad.

Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly muses that "Yanks should be proud, I suppose, that American excess and vulgarity provide fodder for a charming Busby Berkeley finale. Equal opportunists, though, might wish [director Debbie] Isitt had set at least one of the three nuptials amid some truly wretched Brit pomp for a change." And Stephen Holden at the New York Times thinks that "’Confetti’ lacks [Christopher] Guest and his company’s shared understanding that each person is a miniature comic planet with its own quirky climate, whirling in its own eccentric orbit."


"The Last Kiss" movie mathematics: Tony Scott lede: "Is 30 the new 50, or is it the new 12?" Lisa Schwarzbaum lede: "If it’s true that, for women, 60 is the new 40, must it follow that, for men, 30 is the new 10?"

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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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