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Odds: Thursday – Squirm comedy, fest failures, Rivette.

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"We didn't succeed in finding a title. It's without meaning. It's only a label."
MSNBC, lately fond of declaring potential Oscar candidacies, has Erik Lundegaard writing up reasons why Sacha Baron Cohen should get a Best Supporting Actor nod. We’re not talking "Borat," here, we’re talking "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." But on to the unavoidable "Borat" (we hope the moviegoing public likes the film as much as the press), David Edelstein is inspired by the film to write a great feature in New York on "the new wave of squirm comedy":

As someone with an admittedly low tolerance for watching the humiliation of others—I find it hard to look at the faces of baseball players after they’ve struck out—I’m spending more and more time squirming, cringing, averting my eyes, and plugging my ears. It’s worse, obviously, when real people are getting burned—although on something like American Idol the contestants at least know what they’re in for. But even fictional works are becoming harder to endure. In both its British and American incarnations, The Office revolves around the relentless degradation of a cretinous middle manager who’s desperate to be liked. Its brilliant creator, Ricky Gervais, now plumbs the depths of his (apparent) self-hatred on Extras. Curb Your Enthusiasm requires you to identify with a man who shrinks might say has a narcissistic personality disorder, and whose sense of entitlement has a way of escalating the most casual negotiations of modern society into appalling confrontations. And we’re not talking about one scene per episode. It’s virtually every scene.

Ah, we are so there with our hands over our eyes, Mr. Edelstein. After giving it some thought, here’s what the film really evoked for us: watching a video about the Milgram experiment in Psych 101 during which, halfway through, people started laughing; about two-thirds of the way through we had to leave for a little bit. We’ve got no tolerance.

At Time Out New York, Melissa Anderson writes about the Museum of the Moving Image’s complete Jacques Rivette retrospective, which will include a two-day screening of his 12-and-a-half–hour 1971 film "Out 1."

At the LA Times, Rachel Abramowitz interviews Chad Lowe, who’s pushing his feature directorial debut, "Beautiful Ohio": "Although he won an Emmy at 25 for his portrayal of a teen dying of AIDS on the series ‘Life Goes On,’ Lowe was better known as the slightly less handsome younger brother of pretty-boy former Brat Packer Rob Lowe, or later as the husband of two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who infamously forgot to thank him when she won her first statuette." Oof. At LA Weekly, prep for AFI Fest includes A-Y blurbs about the films, critics’ picks, and Scott Foundas‘ musings on the ghost of the festival’s predecessor Filmex, a.k.a. the Los Angeles International Film Exposition, and the current fest’s shortcomings:

Who loses out in this equation is the audience, the sort of intelligent Los Angeles filmgoers AFI Fest purportedly seeks to attract. I am admittedly writing from a position of privilege, having the good fortune, as part of my job, to spend a fair part of the year attending and reporting from film festivals great and small all around the world. In other words, I know what’s out there, and I know what you’re missing out on. I also know that these are crisis times for the exhibition of foreign and independent films in America, and thus festivals like AFI Fest have grown in their importance, in many cases providing the only opportunity for theatrical showings that many films will ever have.

At the Japan Times, Rob Schwartz has his own programming worries about just-finished Tokyo International Film Festival:

[T]he specter of commercialism at the festival only grows more daunting. Starting next year TIFF will incorporate itself into a larger "International Contents Carnival." This amorphous event is aiming to promote Japanese video games, music, anime and film theoretically to markets abroad. Rather than striving for film of higher quality, the move appears to be pushing TIFF toward easily accessible commercial film that can be (somehow) sold to distributors in the West. This concentration on business was driven home by the Closing Ceremony speech of Akira Amari, Minister of Industry, Trade and Finance, who pompously declared: "I believe Tokyo will be the Mecca for contents in the 21st century."

Ah, the future: commercial and inappropriately plural. Also at the Japan Times, Philip Brasor surveys the fest’s Competition and notes that of the 15 films, "three contained serious drug use, four school bullying, three sub-plots dealt with incest, three dead or dying fathers; three had scenes in which a character killed or threatened another with a knife, and three featured people who slashed their wrists — two on screen." Mark Schilling rounds up the Japanese Eyes section.

At the New York Times, Sharon Waxman checks in on "Bobby," another Oscar hopeful.

Kevin Maher interviews Adam Beach, of "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Smoke Signals," in the London Times.

And at the Guardian, an utterly strange but also strangely appealing piece from Matthew Hays about director gaydar:

Tim Burton‘s film Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) is sheer camp at its best. The film’s central character is an adult man wearing pancake make-up who is stuck at age nine. Still, it was possible to dismiss the tremor on my film-maker gaydar by attributing Pee-Wee’s quirks to the actor who created and played him, Paul Reubens. But then came Batman (1989), in which an art-deco Gotham City was threatened by the real star of the film, a garish, operatic Joker played by Jack Nicholson (who made references to The Wizard of Oz); and Edward Scissorhands (1990), in which Johnny Depp portrayed an adolescent unable to fit in due to attributes beyond his control. This I read as an obvious queer parable.

Alas, my film-maker gaydar was off again. Burton is a tried-and-true heterosexual, as I would learn when I interviewed him about his 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. I asked Burton if he’d considered introducing any homosexual ape characters into the movie; the thought had never crossed his mind.

+ An award for Sacha Baron Cohen? Darn right (MSNBC)
+ So Funny It Hurts (New York)
+ Ways of seeing (Time Out New York)
+ Picking up the pieces (LA Times)
+ AFI Fest, A to Y (LA Weekly)
+ Critics’ Picks (LA Weekly)
+ Missing the Ex-Factor (LA Weekly)
+ This lens lacks focus (Japan Times)
+ Theme of dysfunction runs thick (Japan Times)
+ Some ‘eyes’ keen, some crossed (Japan Times)
+ A Hopeful, Rather Than Sensational, Look at a Politician (NY Times)
+ Flying the white, blue and Red flag (London Times)
+ Mad about the boys (Guardian)

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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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