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Opening This Week: February 23, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet
IFC News

[Photo: “Amazing Grace,” Roadside Atttractions, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“The Abandoned”

Horror films set across international waters seem to be all the rage these days (“The Grudge” and “Hostel” series hint that wherever you may go in this world, someone will want to kill you), and “Aftermath” director Nacho Cerda (best name ever) doesn’t seem to want to reinvent the wheel with this story of an American of Russian descent who returns to her homeland to uncover some family secrets. During her trip, she discovers that the farmland her family owns may very well be “…DAMNED” (emphasis added in the film’s press release), and if the studio tells you it’s scary, then it’s sure to be. Now please stop rolling your eyes.

Opens wide (official site).

“Amazing Grace”

“Seven Up!” series helmer Michael Apted directs a strong cast of English thespians — including Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell and “Infamous”‘s Toby Jones — in this historical epic about the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce. Early reviews have been pretty mixed, as critics hail Apted’s depiction of a difficult subject matter (slavery’s past) but feel that the film struggles to find a contemporary connection.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Astronaut Farmer”

Astronaut movies seem to bleed altogether, as it’s usually a small group of believers firmly set against a disapproving greater society (“October Sky”, “Space Cowboys” and, hell, “Armageddon” come to mind), so we’re not expecting too much, just judging by the plot of the film. But with “Northfork” director Michael Polish at the helm, well…you never really know what to expect.

Opens wide (official site).


For those who don’t know, the Glastonbury Festival is one of the longest running music festivals in the world, dating back to 1970 and regularly housing performances by wildly diverse bands such as David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, the Beat, the Pogues and Coldplay. Director Julien Temple has a history in music and film (he directed “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle,” dozens of music videos and “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten,” which premiered at Sundance this year), but reviews of “Glastonbury” have been mixed so far, as critics feel that it focuses too much on the performances and not on the festival’s overall impact on the musicians, the fans and the residents of the town of Glastonbury.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).

“Gray Matters”

“Gray Matters” is set in that indie film-dom romanticized New York (see “Kissing Jessica Stein” and “Sidewalks of New York”) that we just can’t seem to take the urine-soaked subway to here in reality. But first time director Sue Farmer’s Woody Allen-lite romantic comedy comes with a twist, as a brother and sister (Tom Cavanagh and Heather Graham, respectively) both fall in love with the same woman (Bridget Moynahan). We’re excited by the prospect of some hot Graham-on-Moynahan action, but five bucks says the film’s more dinner party than bedroom.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Number 23”

We certainly miss the manic, slapstick Jim Carrey of yesteryear (“Dumb & Dumber” especially), and we’re guessing Carrey’s got another non-comedic miss on his hands with this one. The film’s been saddled with both a silly plotline and the direction of Joel Schumacher, which is never a good thing. We do like the subtle “Twin Peaks” thing going on with Virginia Madsen, so…there is that.

Opens wide (official site).


African American filmmaker Pete Chatmon received serious attention from the film industry after his short film “3D” screened at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, as he now prepares for the release of his debut feature. “Premium” tells the story of a struggling black actor whose life is turned upside down when his ex-fiance returns into his life only 36 hours before she is to be married. Early reviews state that the film’s melding of satire and romantic comedy (think “Hollywood Shuffle” meets any Julia Roberts film) work mostly due to the film’s strong writing and acting. Chatmon may be a director to watch out for.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Reno 911!: Miami”

We love us some Deputy Dangle, and with all that “Borat” frenzy behind us, we’re hoping more movie studios greenlight projects from talented television comedy writers. “Reno 911!: Miami” follows the members of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department as they attend a law enforcement convention in Miami Beach shortly before a bioterrorist attack. And even more exciting, “Reno 911!: Miami” marks a reunion of the now-defunct mid-90s comedy group “The State,” as all of the members will appear in the film.

Opens wide (official site).

“Starter for 10”

“The Last King of Scotland”‘s James McAvoy seems to be everywhere these days — his latest project is an 80s-set British rom-com about a working-class student who aims to appear on the British Quiz Show and win the heart of his beautiful teammate.

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

“The Taste of Tea”

“Party 7” director Katsuhito Ishii returns with another film blending traditional live-action and animation in this story about an odd and quirky suburban family. An ordinary housewife develops a second life as a homemade animator, while the family’s young daughter begins to worry when she realizes she is being followed everywhere by a giant version of herself. Wackiness may very possibly ensue.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Wayward Cloud”

Tsai Ming-liang’s latest film re-connects his lead characters from 2001’s “What Time Is It There?”, returning them back to Taipei from Paris during a water crisis affecting the entire city. Minimalist plots and long shots are Tsai’s strong points, but the director also incorporates signature lively and imaginative musical sequences are interspersed throughout the narrative.

Opens in New York (IMDb Page).

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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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