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The week’s critic wrangle: “Miss Potter,” “Comedy of Power.”

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In a New Year’s addition to bulk up our New Times-afflicted and release-overwhelmed critic wrangle, we’re adding Slant and the Onion AV Club to the round-up.

"Is there a cottontail wagging under those bustles?"+ "Miss Potter": Most are underwhelmed by "Miss Potter," the Beatrix Potter biopic from "Babe" director Chris Noonan. Stephen Holden at the New York Times declares "the cinematic equivalent of a delicate English tea cake whose substance is buried under too many layers of icing." Nathan Rabin at the AV Club does away with the metaphor and just calls the "Miss Potter" "oppressively twee" — he finds that the brief animated sequences are the only moments in which the film’s "whimsy seems not only palatable, but winning." Similar sentiments are expressed by Ella Taylor at LA Weekly, who also sighs that "I doubt whether Potter, a woman who battled her way to fame, wealth and a pioneering spot in the conservation movement in a world where women mostly sat and sewed, bore any resemblance to this serenely girlish figure."

David Edelstein at New York points out that there’s more snap to Potter’s friendship with Emily Watson‘s spirited spinster Millie Warne than her romance with Ewan McGregor‘s Norman Warne — alas, he writes, "there is no Sapphic sisterhood," but he still thinks that "’Miss Potter’ hardly deserves ridicule." Stephanie Zacharek at Salon finds it actually deserves praise; she writes that "’Miss Potter’ is a very gentle-spirited picture, but it’s not a self-consciously precious one," and she adds that it’s "pure pleasure to look at."

Addressing the dubious charms of Renée Zellweger:

Edelstein: Renée Zellweger has rounded gerbil cheeks and squinched-up eyes; she looks less like Beatrix Potter than a Beatrix Potter illustration.

Taylor: Bronzed and russet all over, with quaintly autumnal production design to match, Zellweger’s Beatrix bustles about, flashing the Zellweger sour-lemons smile, dispensing maidenly charm and no-nonsense practicality…

Holden: "In “Miss Potter,” Renée Zellweger, her face pickled in cheeriness, is Beatrix Potter…"

Rabin: Chris Noonan’s…follow-up to 1995’s Babe casts an insufferably precious Zellweger as legendary children’s author Beatrix Potter…"


"Do you know who I am?"
+ "Comedy of Power": A small and quiet release for Claude Chabrol‘s latest, which stars Isabelle Huppert as a magistrate investigating corporate corruption. Ed Gonzalez at Slant shares his theory "that every other Claude Chabrol production sucks," and writes that "we shouldn’t have to submit to such an unimaginative profile of a woman" (based on the theory, he does have high hopes for "La Fille Coupée en Deux"). Jim Ridley at the Village Voice is bemused by the film, which he thinks "has to be the most polite, untroubled conspiracy film since the genre first tapped a phone."

At the New York Times, A.O. Scott is fondest of the film, writing that

As ever, Mr. Chabrol’s style is delicate and precise. “Comedy of Power” is not his deepest or most ambitious film, and its stance of knowing resignation in the face of corruption can feel a little glib. But Ms. Huppert’s ferocity compensates for the director’s detachment; no French actress is as riveting to watch once the gloves come off.

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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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