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Odds: Wednesday – Serious critics, serious art.

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"You should be taking a dirt nap after that ragdoll today."
"Film criticism, as it has been observed, is the rationalization of taste into theory," writes Manohla Dargis at the New York Times. "No matter how involved the argument, writing about the movies almost always comes down to a question of personal taste, to that web of influence through which we filter each new film. In this respect there are no good or bad movies, just good and bad arguments." She’s writing about Film Comment Selects, a series of film, well, selected by the staff of Film Comment magazine, and kicking off today.

For serious critics, and the critics who write for Film Comment are nothing if not serious (and at times self-serious), the second-best thing to perfection is often the near-miss, the disreputable and even the despised. Next to discovering a new director, planting a flag in an uncharted national cinema or sitting next to Zooey Deschanel at an event, few things please a critic more than polishing a tarnished career or taking on a dubious cause, particularly if everyone else really hated it.

Ain’t it the truth? We can’t even keep track of whether or not we’re supposed to like Park Chan-wook these day.

At the Village Voice, J. Hoberman, writing about the Anthology Film Archives’ Peter Whitehead retrospective, notes that "This working-class Cambridge grad was the original rock’n’roll documentarian; with reckless camerawork matched by tumultuous editing, he plunged into London’s sex-drugs-and-protest counterculture with a frenzied there-ness."

At (by way of Defamer), Wilson Morales gets Nicolas Cage to defend "Ghost Rider" from the evil snark of Entertainment Weekly (who noted in a recent issue "We get a kick out of watching Academy Award winners being in movies that they have no business being seen in."):

They don’t understand the concept of what I would say is art. You have different styles and you can choose to be photo-realistic like ‘World Trade Center’ or you can be pop art illustrative. Why limit yourself to one style of acting, and especially when you look at ‘Ghost Rider’ you see a comic book story structure which digs a little deeper. It doesn’t take itself too seriously of course. It’s funny, but it’s coming from classic themes like Faust with Goethe or Thomas Mann or ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ It’s fascinating to take those story structures and reintroduce people to it in a pop art contemporary manner and a especially a comic book no less.

We like a good overly academic discussion of the themes and portents of "Heroes" as much as the next girl, but — hee! Themes are never the challenge, Mr. Cage. Expressing those themes amidst quips about feeling like your skull is on fire are.

Film Threat has "Lily and Jim" and "Ah, L’Amour," two short films from our aforementioned greatest animation crush Don Hertzfeldt, up to watch online here. We recommend "Lily and Jim."

At the Guardian, Michel Gondry talks to Xan Brooks about his films and his lucid dreaming sex life.

Robert Davis at Errata has penned a "cinematic valentine" to both filmgoing and his wife.

And at Looker, the good Mr. Lawrence Levi writes of his appearance on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show (which you can listen to here):

In discussing nominee Helen Mirren‘s oeuvre, Lawrence brought up her killer performance in 1980’s The Long Good Friday but couldn’t remember the name of that movieís director. Seconds after we were finished with our segment, a WNYC staffer alerted us that Martin Scorsese was listening, and had instructed his assistant to call in to tell us that the director of Long Good Friday was John Mackenzie.

IMDb has nothing on Marty.

+ A Film Festival as a Showcase for the Wacky, the Naughty and the Oh-So-Deep (NY Times)
+ Peter Whitehead Was There (Village Voice)
+ Ghost Rider: An Interview with Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes (
+ "LILY AND JIM" AND "AH, L’AMOUR" (Film Threat)
+ ‘It’s complexicated’ (Guardian)
+ My Cinematic Valentine (Errata)
+ On the Air (Looker)

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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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