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Opening This Week: December 8th, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Apocalypto,” Buena Vista Pictures, 2006]

A round-up of mainstream and indie films opening in theaters this week.


Mel Gibson just can’t seem to escape controversy. Following his visually torturous 2004 megahit “The Passion of the Christ” and his drunk driving arrest this past summer in which he slurred the Anti-Semitic Remarks Heard Around the World comes the release of his latest film, in which he details the fall of the Mayan empire through the eyes of a young warrior. Gibson’s lost some serious credibility marks in the past few years, so we’ll see if “Apocalypto” will be the critical and commercial success he seriously needs.

Opens wide (official site).

“Blood Diamond”

Edward Zwick follows up his extremely mediocre 2003 film “The Last Samurai” with this thriller detailing the illegal diamond trade in Sierra Leone. Expect this film to be entertaining at best (mixed in with some decent Oscar-grubbing) with skilled acting courtesy of Leonardo Di Caprio, Djimon Hounsou, and Jennifer Connelly. The diamond industry’s already launched a counter-PR campaign in anticipation of the issues raised by the film.

Opens wide (official site).

“Days of Glory (Indigènes)”

This World War II film details the story of a group of North African soldiers enlisted to fight for the French as a part of an “indigenous” unit. Director Rachid Bouchareb is said to employ every war film cliché in the book for this film, but critics have generally found that the film’s modest budget and culturally diverse ensemble cast (which shared the acting prize at Cannes) allow the filmmaker to explore racial conflicts in a war-time setting.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“Family Law”

Argentinean director Daniel Burman (“Lost Embrace”) directs this family dramedy in which an attorney undergoes an identity crisis when he realizes he’s following in the same line of business as his father. Sitcom-like premise aside, the film won the Audience Award at the Mar del Plata Film Festival earlier this year.

Opens in New York (official site).


Julia Solomonoff’s debut feature tells the story of two Argentinean sisters who meet in 1984 after being separated for nine years. They discover a lost manuscript, written by their father, which details life in Argentina during the dictatorship and reveals numerous family secrets.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Holiday”

It’s the holidays, which we guess means another Nancy Meyers rom-com. This time, she enlists Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as women who are unlucky in love, and who switch their respective houses in time for the Christmas holiday. After their exchange, Diaz makes company with Jude Law in a winter cottage while Winslet finds humor in Jack Black and, in the end…you know what happens. With a serious dearth of Oscar-caliber films this winter, it looks like one of these two leading ladies might pull a Diane Keaton on us and nab a nomination. Our money’s on Winslet.

Opens wide (official site).

“Inland Empire”

David Lynch goes digital in his first feature since “Mulholland Drive” and casts Laura Dern, in what’s been called a monumental performance, as a married actress who starts an affair with her co-star Justin Theroux. Standard melodrama be damned — reports on the film call it bizarre even by Lynchian standards. Reviews were mixed on the festival circuit, but expect Lynch fans to rave as they usually do while the rest of us just scratch our heads.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Mr. Leather”

Premiering more than two and a half years after its first screening at the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Jason Garrett’s documentary on South Californian leather culture finally gets a theatrical release. This documentary charts the journeys of nine contestants in the Mr. L.A. Leather contest. Expect bears. Lots and lots of bears.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Off the Black”

Just reading the plot summary for this film gave us the heebie jeebies, but here goes: James Ponsoldt’s feature debut is a coming-of-age story about a young teenager (Trevor Morgan) who, unable to forge a relationship with his own distant father (Timothy Sutton), befriends his school umpire, a (disheveled), irascible drunk (Nick Nolte), who wants the boy to pose as his son at a high school reunion. We…just can’t picture Nick Nolte playing role model to any young person. Four years later and that mugshot still gives us the creeps.

Opens in limited release (official site).


Let’s face it, genocide is ripe fodder for films. From “Schindler’s List” to “Hotel Rwanda,” massive human murder is just ripe for melodramatic storylines and John Williams scores. International documentarian Carla Garapedian goes the “Night and Fog” route in her latest film about the Armenian genocides of the early 1900s and enlists the help of rock band System of a Down as they tour Europe and the US to spread the message. The film includes numerous musical tracks from the band and images of war-torn Armenia.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).

“Unaccompanied Minors”

A group of kids are stuck in an airport following a snowstorm on Christmas Eve without a single parent in sight. This year’s holiday movies have been awful (think “The Santa Clause 3” and “Deck the Halls,” or don’t) but this latest is in the careful hands of director Paul Feig, known as the creator of the fantastic “Freaks and Geeks” and the director of numerous episodes of “Arrested Development.” Stand-up comedian and “Daily Show” correspondent Lewis Black plays an airport official (and comedic foil), Wilmer Valderrama is a reluctant flight attendant.

Opens wide (official site).

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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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