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Ethics and cinema.

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"It's what the agencies are here for."
"The humour of humiliation has become distressingly popular. The success of the film Borat is the latest example. I disliked it and was angered by it," writes Marcel Berlins at the Guardian. "I admit to laughing quite often because parts of it are very funny, but those parcels of enjoyment were trivial when set against the film’s essential cruelty. I am not referring to the jokes that send up national, ethnic or religious stereotypes and characteristics. There were plenty of those, some of which were in bad taste and offensive but often hilarious. Fine. My objection is to the exploitation of the naive, the trusting and the ignorant for the sake of a joke… It may be acceptable to exercise such methods to expose, in the public interest, someone’s criminality, corruption or hypocrisy. To do so for the sake of cheap laughs is reprehensible." All this, and, as the New York Post‘s Richard Johnson informs us, "Borat" is also partially responsible for destroying a (surely fragile) celebrity marriage. Mein Gott, what is the world of film coming to?

But, looking beyond overblown "Borat" fervor, if we were to actually write a year-end wrap-up instead of just discussing writing one (more likely), one of the themes of 2006 would surely be that it is the year of rediscovered earnestness — the year of Hollywood’s newfound faith in the fact that movies can instill political, social and moral messages into the unsuspecting brains of audience members across the globe. Movies can change the world! Or maybe not, but they can at least be the focal point for some fundraising and activism. Kevin Maher at the London Times notes that even the act of production has become scrutinized, and several films from the last few years came paired with trusts with which to do right by their respective shooting locations.

Blood Diamond isn’t the only movie to be caught on the horns of this moral dilemma. The producers of The Constant Gardener, the Kenya-set John le Carré thriller, have established the Constant Gardener Trust, a charitable fund that has already completed sanitation projects in Kibera. Mel Gibson’s new Mayan action adventure Apocalypto contributed to housing projects in the impoverished and flood-damaged Veracruz state of Mexico. Even Pirates of the Caribbean shelled out for infrastructural work in the tiny island nation of Dominica.

Also in the Times, James Christopher takes a closer look at the Constant Gardener Trust.

At the New York Times, David M. Halbfinger survey the Sundance line-up and gets the following quote from festival director Geoffrey Gilmore:

“It’s a completely different horizon,” Mr. Gilmore said in an interview. “It feels as if we’re at the cusp of a new era. There’s a real change that’s gone on from the insularity of a decade ago. It really brings you back to a sense of a new form of American independent film as an engaged cinema. You start to watch films gradually think about not only that sense that the world’s about to change, but how to change it.”

Which may well be true — still, most news outlets are seizing on the rapey Dakota Fanning film, the zoophilia doc and the toothy vagina flick as ones with "early buzz."

+ Borat’s humour is immoral (Guardian)
+ How ethical is this movie? (London Times)
+ Film funds are being put to good use (London Times)
+ Coming to Sundance: New Crop of Engaged Indie Films (NY Times)

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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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