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Looking for a new England.

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"At least he's just awkward, and not a pervert."
At the Guardian Film Blog, Danny Leigh sings the praises of director Shane Meadows and his uncommon devotion to chronicling life in "the real England" — which for Meadows means the east Midlands. 

Start listing English classics set outside the capital with just as strong a local flavour, however, and inspiration soon runs dry (or mine did, anyway). What’s striking about Meadows’ movies in this context is how London is scarcely even referenced. But as soon as I began to scribble down what I think of as the great, quintessentially English films, what I found was that almost all were either set in London or had at least one narrative foot in the capital… But why are Meadows’ ordinary lives still so exotic in British film? Does all inspiration really stop at the exits of the M25? Are there truly no stories to tell among England’s cul-de-sacs and shopping centres?

Of course, it’s this extreme Britishness that seems to be keeping Meadows from making much headway here in the US (a shame, because "This is England" is pretty damn good). Portraits of grubby urban living are easier to relate to than portraits of grubby regional living, which presumes context audiences aren’t often willing to learn.

On the other hand, Patrick Barkham, also at the Guardian, describes how the archetypal British film figure has become to much of the rest of the world Rowan Atkinson‘s Mr. Bean — to the point where one of the British sailors taken from the HMS Cornwall three weeks ago after it allegedly strayed into Iranian waters was taunted by his interrogators by being compared to the bumbling, speech impaired character. Barkham writes:

Agnès Poirier, the social commentator and author of Touché: A Frenchwoman’s Take on the English, has some consoling words. In some respects Mr Bean’s elevation to an icon of Britishness is a step forward for the way we are perceived abroad. "At least he’s not as seedy as Benny Hill. For years Benny Hill was the representation of the British man abroad. So it could be a relief it is now Mr Bean. At least he’s just awkward, and not a pervert," she says.

If the New York Times’ weekend article responding to Stephen Fry‘s speculation that Americans are softer on British actors because of their accents signifies anything, it’s that here we do still attach values of aristocracy, repressed emotions and superciliousness to our general idea of Britishness, even if it’s often put in service of camp — an effect that, as A.O. Scott wisely points out, is not about British Acting as much as it is about Acting British.

+ Why is Shane Meadows’ ordinary England so extraordinary? (Guardian Film Blog)
+ National buffoon (Guardian)
+ Jolly Good Show … Or Was It? (NY Times)

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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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