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The week’s critic wrangle: Better late than never.

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"Mrs. Miniver Meets Chewbacca."Wanted to pop our head in for a quick overview of Steven Shainberg‘s "imaginary portrait," the most noteworthy film of a not-so-noteworthy but certainly release-heavy week.

+ "Fur": "’Fur’ is a folly, though not a dishonorable one," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. For her, a major problem is the present of Nicole Kidman, "whose talent cannot obscure that she has been grievously miscast and left to indulge her mannered coyness." David Denby, at the New Yorker, points out in our favorite review of the film that "The movie is meant to be an erotically charged version of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ but it comes off as Mrs. Miniver Meets Chewbacca." Hah! But really:

[T]he filmmakers behind “Fur” sentimentalize Arbus, bringing her back into the comfort zone of a woman who is more sensitive than other people to the trials of the unfortunate–exactly the kind of soft fifties liberalism that she knocked to pieces with her conquering stare.

The thing is, "Fur" is interesting — as Dana Stevens concedes in an otherwise scornful review at Slate, "if you see it with a smart friend, it’s a blast to hash over afterward." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly calls the film "a truly boggling sophomore slump, one of those infamous second-act follies, like Steven Soderbergh‘s Kafka, made by a director blinded with ego and overreach." Armond White at the New York Press sighs that "Shainberg proposes that the freakish images that give many viewers pause about Arbus’ photography mirrored Arbus’ view of her own freakiness. That’s not romanticism; it’s sentimentality." He finds Kidman an actress who "is as expressive as an automaton model and whose career is distinguished by little talent, poor taste and huge ambition."

David Edelstein at New York notes of the moment when Diane begins her building wanderings:

What a change in the color scheme! The Arbuses’ flat is all cream and ash and oak, with occasional dabs of pale (Fiestaware) mustard, blue, and pink; whereas Lionel’s den explodes with lurid greens and crimsons and a dwarf. Hold on, sorry–a dwarf isn’t a color. Well, come to think of it, he is a color. And so are the giant and the woman with no arms. They’re not characters, anyway. They’re décor.

At the Village Voice, J. Hoberman compares the film to "Secretary" and finds it similar but seriously lacking: "Fur uses a similar tale of successfully sublimated masochism to dramatize Arbus’s artistic awakening. In this case, though, the scenario is both foolishly allegorical and painfully literal-minded." Nick Pinkerton at indieWIRE allows that though "slim credit is due to ‘Fur’ for showing enough restraint to leave alone the most sensationalistic aspects of Arbus’s life (I’m saying this about a movie that shows her shaving, then fucking a dogman…), there’s just nothing to recommend here."

On the fonder side, Stephanie Zacharek at Salon
finds the film a kind of flawed but "fancifully embroidered tapestry of
wishful thinking," one more generous than she thinks its subject
deserves. And Scott Foundas at LA Weekly writes that "much of the film is as strange and oddly beautiful as one of Arbus’ own photographs, bold in its attempt to find new ways of cracking the biopic chestnut and sensitive in its portrayal of a 1950s woman who, like so many of her contemporaries, finds herself imprisoned in a Good Housekeeping nightmare."


[Actually, we’d also like to note that "Linda, Linda, Linda," one of our favorite films from this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, is playing at the ImaginAsian theater, and should be seen by all.]

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Rev Up

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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Give Back

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…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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