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The week’s critic wrangle: “For Your Consideration,” “Fast Food Nation.”

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Home for Purim.
+ "For Your Consideration": Critics are undecided as to how sharp a satire of Hollywood Christopher Guest has managed in his latest (and firmly non-mockumentary) effort. Nathan Lee at the Village Voice salutes the film for the way in which it "pulls off the neat trick of skewering the movie industry while remaking it in its own image." Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly writes that "the level of tender, ruthless, inspired, lethally accurate study that has gone into the follicular expression of each and every character in Christopher Guest’s latest hilarious cultural corrective is something inspiring to behold." (She does acknowledge that this film is "more inside baseball" than Guest’s biggest hits.)

On the other side, Scott Foundas at LA Weekly
bemoans that the film "doesn’t risk ruffling any feathers, and that’s
exactly what’s wrong with it: It’s less a satirical bite at the hand
that feeds Guest than it is a toothless nibble, and it isn’t
particularly funny." He goes on to writes that many of the points will seem "five-minutes-ago to anyone who’s ever seen an episode of Extras or Entourage," and that "[t]his is the first of Guest’s movies that has felt calculated to me." Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader expresses a similar complaint, calling the film "far too mild to threaten any of [the actors’] industry standing," and warning that it "has its moments, but don’t expect many fresh insights." At the New York Times, Stephen Holden allows that "For Your Consideration" is "by far the broadest comedy Mr. Guest and company have made. Despite its merriment, it is also the flimsiest." At the New York Press, Armond White snipes that the film "never grasps contemporary Hollywood’s cultural decline: It smirks at how Hollywood divas connect their egos to money, their insecurities to fame, their work to prizes. Instead of shaming Hollywood vanity, For Your Consideration becomes part of the problem. Nothing’s sadder than useless satire."

That said, everyone adores Catherine O’Hara (even White, who sighs while proclaiming that she’ll never get an Oscar). Schwarzbaum insists that "laurels and swag ought to be handed over to O’Hara for her brilliant portrayal of aging-actresshood." At New York, David Edelstein writes that she "has never been so physically daring and emotionally open. You’ll laugh and cry as the talk of a nomination wakes her character up from a hoarse, withered stupor and turns her into something too foolishly hopeful to bear."

And then there are those who see something deeper in Guest’s films, like Michael Koresky at indieWIRE, who writes that

Catherine O’Hara…owns it from the first frame, in which she brushes her bundle of tawny hair while watching and trying to emulate Bette Davis in "Jezebel," to the last–a close-up as terrifying as it is laugh-out-loud. The narrative is hers; her pathos sting, her slapstick sticks, and her facial contortions tickle even as they break your heart.

And Stephanie Zacharek at Salon likes the film, but finds it lacking after "A Mighty Wind," which she thinks "may well turn out to be one of the most perfect (and the most moving) comedies of the decade."

Our own Matt Singer was mighty unimpressed by the film.


"We all have to eat a little shit from time to time."
+ "Fast Food Nation": A.O. Scott at the New York Times notes that Richard Linklater and Eric Schlosser have "undertaken a much deeper and more comprehensive critique of contemporary American life" in a glowing review of the film. Given its lukewarm reception at Cannes, Linklater’s fictionalized take on Schlosser’s nonfiction bestseller has pulled some pretty good reviews stateside. The LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas writes that "if Linklater’s film is somewhat shapeless and rough around the edges, it is also, moment by moment, oddly elating, thanks to the intelligence of its script." He praises the film’s "humanism and understanding." Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader calls the film "angry and persuasive piece of agitprop." Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly likes that "the interwoven ensemble approach to storytelling works even though handled by someone other than Robert Altman," while at indieWIRE, Michael Koresky calls the film "terrific" and finds that its "sly, sad vision is about so much more than hamburgers: logos, prefabricated homes, frozen dinners, Nike, Chili’s, the Sunglass Hut, all with the stamp of anonymity."

David Edelstein at New York both thinks the film works and wishes it was better:

It gets the job done and then some, but it’s ugly and clumsily shaped, and every scene is there to rack up sociological points: When an illegal immigrant leans over a giant meat-grinder and you think, “There go his legs!” it would be surprising if there, indeed, did not go his legs.

And J. Hoberman at the Village Voice thinks that "[t]he movie is valiant, if curiously anemic. Its most galvanizing scene effectively undermines the argument: Bruce Willis has a lip-smacking cameo as the voice of cynical realism—a Mickey’s operative who mocks American ‘fraidy cats and shocks [Greg] Kinnear with the smirking assertion that ‘we all have to eat a little shit from time to time.’"

Our review is here; we’d have to agree with those who pointed out the Willis cameo — it’s without a doubt the best part of the film.

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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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