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“Dump month.”

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"I want you to say four little words: I... Want... To... Die."
Not in any scatalogical sense (now there’s a film news story we’d like to see — no, actually, we really wouldn’t). At the Guardian, Jonathan Bernstein summarizes why January is the most dismal month for new releases — among his points:

The horror fan’s favourite brand of movie litters January cinemas but in a form he detests. This year, he gets to choose between a gore-free PG-13 werewolf romance (Blood & Chocolate), an unnecessary remake (The Hitcher with Sean Bean attempting to fill Rutger Hauer‘s cruel shoes), a serial-killer movie made for Christian audiences (Thr3e) and a movie with a trailer that claims to be the true story of a psychopath responsible for the slaughter of more than 300 victims without once mentioning that the killer is a giant crocodile (Primeval).

Of course, the lack of crocodile-free releases gives everyone plenty of time to chatter about awards (the latest are those for the National Society of Film Critics and the Online Film Critics Society, here). At the New York Times, A.O. Scott, Manohla Dargis and Stephen Holden offer their "ideal slate" of Oscar nominees, most of which would not have a tri-color snow cone’s chance in hell with the actual Academy. An interesting chance to compare the film-going tastes of the three critics, but it also raises the question of why one bothers with Oscar coverage if one isn’t willing to give oneself a hernia attempting to prognosticate Academy groupthink (which then raises the question of what the hell everyone would do in January if they ignored the Oscars — take a vacation?).

Weinstein watch: Also nestled in the New York Times’ special Oscar section is check-in with "Sun Tzu of Oscar warfare" Harvey, who, per writer David Halbfinger, pioneered Oscar-hype as marketing, but who now claims to have moved beyond such things:

“You leave when you’re ahead,” Mr. Weinstein said by telephone, likening himself to a football great like Jim Brown or, this season, Tiki Barber, getting out of the game while still at the top. “I created a streak that was — I hope somebody tops it, and I’ll be the first person to reward them, but it was not easy to get there. And it took a lot of time and concentration. I find myself interested in other things.”

Weinstein also addresses his ultra-early marketing of "Factory Girl," a film whose last-minute re-shoots and down-to-the-wire editing have surely prompted many critics to begin sharpening their long knives in anticipation…bwahahaha! But over at The Hot Blog, David Poland, who’s seen both the old and new cuts of the film, thinks that Weinstein has done wonders and is, we suppose, a bit of an auteur (he does sigh that "still not a very good movie").

The magical thing is, this is a pure Harvey Scissorhands job. No question that George Hickenlooper, his producer, and editor Dana E. Glauberman did the heavy lifting. But the changes scream, “Harvey was here.” Really, in this generation, there is no other producer with as clear an editorial voice… especially in movies that don’t really work… and occasionally and very painfully, in ones that did.

More Harvey from Tom O’Neil at the LA Times‘ Envelope, who seems to think that "Bobby" is back in the awards race. Weinstein: "I think it’s Rocky Balboa. It just got up again and fought its way back into the ring. The movie is in strong consideration to be one of the five for the best Oscar."

In other Oscar news, Luc Besson‘s "Arthur and the Invisibles," which consists of a mix of live action and CG animation, has been judged not sufficiently animated to compete for the animated feature award. Because of this, the number of nominees has been dropped from five to three. (Via Sheigh Crabtree at the Hollywood Reporter.)

At the Guardian‘s film blog, the end of the year and awards season have prompted some philosophical musings. Gwyn Topham wonders if it’s easier to forgive a film’s faults when it’s in another language: "That Penelope Cruz, now acclaimed again after Volver, never really impressed in English may not be down to her own language barrier as much as our own, endowing her with more sophistication when lisping in Spanish." Well, she’s also been offered/chosen dismal roles in English. Ronald Bergan, writing about the festival favorites he fails to see in the running for any awards, wonders if it’s time to stratify films:

Perhaps it’s time to separate films on the lines of music criticism into "classical" and "pop". No music critic is expected to review both Blur and Boulez. Thus with awards. The Baftas and the Oscars should be labelled what they are – the film equivalent of the MTV awards or the Eurovision song contest.

And we’ll end this post with Rex Reed, with his annual and ever unintentionally amusing New York Observer piece on who died in the past year and, more importantly, how he knew them. We could only dream to be posthumously name-dropped so lovingly ourselves some day — to start you off, here he is on Shelley Winters: "It seems like only yesterday that I was sharing five desserts with the blond bombshell at Elaine’s…"

+ Why January is a good month to bury bad movies (Guardian)
+ Online film critics pick "United 93" as best movie (Reuters)
+ And the Nominees Should Be… (NY Times)
+ A Sun Tzu of Oscar Warfare Resurfaces
(NY Times)
+ The Amazing Mr. Weinstein: Factory Boy (The Hot Blog)
+ The return of Harvey? (LA Times)
+ ‘Invisibles’ loses spot for ani Oscar (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Are foreign language films as good as we think? (Guardian Film Blog)
+ Great unseen films of 2006 (Guardian)
+ So Long, Farewell to Galaxy of Stars (NY Observer)

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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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