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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: October 27th, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Babel,” Paramount Vantage, 2006]

A round-up of the indie and indie-ish films opening in theaters this week.

“20 Centimeters”

Director Ramón Salazar taps into the “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” formula in this film about a narcoleptic transvestite hoping to rid herself of eight inches of junk to become the real woman she’s always dreamed of. Instead, she falls asleep and dreams up elaborate musical numbers in English, Spanish, and French. Stars the ballsy (er, no pun intended) Mónica Cervera of “Crimen Ferpecto.”

Opens in New York (official site).

“Absolute Wilson”

Katharina Otto-Bernstein documents the life, work, and creative genius of avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson, best known for his work with composer Philip Glass (particularly “Einstein on the Beach”). The film includes interviews with David Byrne, Susan Sontag and Tom Waits.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Babel”

Cate Blanchett takes a bullet to the stomach in the final installment of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “death” trilogy in which fate, destiny, and other stuff are linked by a horrific tragedy. The film premiered at Cannes to critical acclaim — if it gets the same reception when it arrives here, expect heaps of awards for the director and stars Brad Pitt, Blanchett, and (we hope) Gael García Bernal.

Opens in New York and L.A. (official site).

“The Bridge”

Eric Steel filmed the Golden Gate Bridge for a year, catching almost two dozen of the jumpers who make the bridge the world’s main suicide landmark. Steel’s is the second documentary this week to offer actual footage of death; it has generated it’s fair share of controversy, but other critics have spoken of its humanism.

Opens in limited release (trailer).

“Catch a Fire”

Our favorite Australian filmmaker (sorry, Baz) returns for his first feature in nearly four years, this time staging a political thriller set in 1980s and post-apartheid South Africa. Derek Luke (of “Antwone Fisher”) dons his finest African accent for a role that’s already getting Oscar buzz, as an oil foreman wrongly accused and tortured. Tim Robbins plays the cop attempting to protect himself and his family from a society unraveling at the seams.

Opens in wide release (official site).

“Climates”

Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan cast himself and his real-life wife in his latest film as a couple whose relationship begins to disintegrate while on vacation along the Aegean Sea. Ceylan’s film, which won the FIPRESCI Award at Cannes, has been both praised and mocked for its throwback arthouse themes; still, it’s one of the year’s most beautiful films.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Cocaine Cowboys”

Cocaine has been in our pop cultural lives for quite some time now, and Miami in the early 1980s was (as chronicled in a certain TV show) home to the American cocaine trade. In this documentary, director Billy Corben chronicles the development of the illegal drug trade with interviews of both law enforcement and organized crime leaders. “Miami Vice” composer Jan Hammer developed the film’s score, which is just awesome, mang.

Opens in New York and Florida (official site).

“Conversations with God”

Director Stephen Simon adapts Neale Donald Walsch’s popular books of the same title in which a man asks God some tough questions and becomes a spiritual messenger after hearing God’s answers. Not one of the Tarantino crowd.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Cruel World”

Edward Furlong of “Terminator 2” fame and Jaime Pressly from “My Name is Earl” star in this horror comedy about a deranged runner-up from a reality show who holds a group of sexy co-eds hostage on the set of his own fictitious show in which the losers suffer a deadly fate. Plot be damned, I believe official site).

“Death of a President”

Perhaps the most controversial film to premiere at Toronto this year (“Borat” makes it a tough call), this fictional documentary by British filmmaker Gabriel Range hypothesizes what would happen following an assassination of George W. Bush in 2007 — stronger racial profiling of Arab-Americans, stricter limits of the newly-passed Patriot Act 3, and the three most frightening consecutive words in the English language: President Dick Cheney.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Exit: The Right to Die”

Fernand Melgar’s documentary looks into one of the most taboo subjects in the United States today: legally assisted suicide. The film follows a group of volunteer “escorts” responsible for visiting clients and preparing the lethal solution in Switzerland, the only nation in the world to allow legally assisted suicide, and reportedly includes actual footage of a death.

Opens on Wednesday in New York (official site).

“The Genius Club”

Timothy Chey directs this film in which a group of the world’s seven smartest geniuses are forced to solve the world’s most important problems in a single night, including, and I quote from the film’s website, “hunger, war, cancer, terrorism, rush hour traffic, jerks, and finally the meaning of life.” The film stars the Baldwin from “Bio-Dome,” so there you go.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss”

It’s that oh-so familiar story of two lovers whose love (or lust?) cannot be…but this time, they’re seals. Yes, seals. In this animated tale for families or just family members who are dying for anything to plop their offspring in front of for an hour or two, William Shakespeare’s condemnation of social mores are thrown out the window for a cuddly romp with Romeo, Juliet, Friar Lawrence and Kissy the kissing fish.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Shut Up and Sing”

The Dixie Chicks turn badass in this documentary by Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County, U.S.A.”). The film follows the band after lead singer Nathalie Maines’ infamous Bush-bashing comments in Europe in 2003, tracing the lives and careers of the members as they faced political attacks, death threats and the question of the meaning of freedom of speech in post-9/11 America.

Opens in limited release (official site).

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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 IFC.com

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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.

Uncle-Buck

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…