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Odds: Thursday – An auteur argument, 151 combined years, animated animals.

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"So here's something for you to argue with: Screenwriters regularly get screwed."
At the Onion AV Club, Keith Phipps and Scott Tobias discuss whether screenwriters get enough credit for their work. The film the debate centers on is, naturally, "Babel," since that very issue is what caused director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga to testily end their filmmaking partnership. Tobian writes (and we think many are with him here):

In Arriaga’s case, I think the "auteurs" label is appropriate, because he’s one of the few screenwriters with a distinctive voice and a continuity to his work. Yet along with credit comes blame, too. I’d argue that much of what is good about the Iñárritu/Arriaga collaborations—and everything that’s good about Babel—is Iñárritu’s dynamic, texturally rich direction and not so much the humorless machinations of Arriaga’s scripts. The best passages by far in Babel are the wordless sequences, like the disorienting pulse of sound and image in the Japanese discotheque, or the plaintive guitar that strums as an entire Moroccan village takes a wounded Cate Blanchett into its collective care. With a lesser director, I think you’ve got Crash 2, an inelegant, deeply contrived narrative about the ripple effects of violence across the globe, or some such pretentious nonsense. Noel Murray‘s review of the film declared "Hallelujah" at the news that the two were parting ways, and to that I can only add an "Amen, brother," though I’m not entirely convinced that the prudish Iñárritu will choose material best-suited to his undeniable skills as a pure filmmaker.

It’s an interesting exchange, and one that nicely illustrates one can discuss theory without losing the interest of anyone who’s a non-academic.

At The House Next Door, Matt Zoller Seitz dismantles "Harsh Times," a film that should  only intrigue those of you dying with curiosity as to what Christian Bale playing a thug is like:

Playing a white underclass hardcase who’s internalized Chicano street posturing (and learned to speak decent Spanish), he instead suggests a member of Max Fischer’s repertory company stumbling through a high school stage version of Bound by Honor – pronouncing “bullshit” as “boo-shit,” and crowing keepers like “I got a bone, Gracie!” and “Roll dat shit up!”

At the Telegraph, Tara Winter Wilson sighs over seeing Paul Newman and Robert Redford together again in photos, and then gets a little dramatic:

It’s men like Newman and Redford who make women want to give up the rat race – even, dare I say it, the desperation for equality. Why?

Because they are exceptional beings: they have morals made of steel, hearts made of gold, talent made of intelligence, and beauty made of angels. Perhaps I’m getting carried away.

Ian Johns at the London Times inspects this year’s "The Wild Barnyard Ant Bully who went Over the Hedge during Open Season":

“The similarity of some cartoons this year is undeniable,” says the director George Miller, whose eclectic career includes Mad Max, everyone’s favourite talking pig Babe, and now the Warner Bros cartoon Happy Feet. He admits that when his animators began work on the film, they tended to do low-rent imitations of hits from DreamWorks and Pixar, the CG brand leader behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

What would Walt do? At the Guardian, Jonathan Jones makes the claim that Disney was "one of the great American artists of the 20th century."

Disney’s supreme achievement was to give visual reality to the fairytales of the Europe that Americans growing up in the 1930s and 40s no longer knew, as their immigrant parents had. Of course, we can buy the original transcripts of peasant tales by the Grimms or Charles Perrault, or read retellings by Angela Carter. Yet Disney reached into folklore, grasped its essentials, and represented it for the modern child. When it comes to Snow White, can anyone separate the folk story from Disney’s version?

This strikes us a bit as forceful retroactive celebration of something that inextricable from modern culture whether it’s good or not, but it’s an interesting read regardless. And over at the Independent, Andrew Roberts reexamines another monolithic cultural icon: James Bond. Roberts looks at the first round of Bond casting, and the earlier actors who’d been considered for the role:

A few years earlier, the rights to Moonraker were owned by the Rank Organisation, which was scrutinising Fleming‘s work with a view to providing a vehicle for Dirk Bogarde, and in 1958 James Mason was even scheduled to star in a television adaptation of From Russia with Love. EON Productions founded in 1961, started by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, also considered Mason, for the first Bond movie, Dr No. Cary Grant was in the running too, but was reluctant to commit to a sequel.

+ Crosstalk: Do screenwriters really matter? (Onion AV Club)
+ On safari: Christian Bale in Harsh Times (The House Next Door)
+  Why we love them the way they were – and still are (Telegraph)
+ Toontown heads for double trouble (London Times)
+ ‘One of the 20th century’s great artists’ (Guardian)
+ The Bond bunch: the failed contenders for coveted role (Independent)

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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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