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Like Mike?

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"Hey-hey! Ho-ho! Private health care is sick-o!"
Whenever we rewatch "Roger and Me" or an episode of "TV Nation" or, in general, see Michael Moore deliver a well-timed smackdown to someone who seems deserving, we feel warm and benevolent toward the Michigan gadfly. It’s when he starts in with serious promotion of a new film that our good will starts to crumble. There’s no question that Moore has changed the face of documentary film and raised awareness of the genre immeasurably, and part of how he’s managed that is his cannily audacious way with publicity and his immediately recognizable public persona — but goddamn, do we hate the grandstanding. 

Yesterday, Moore held a "Sicko"-inspired rally on the steps of California’s State Capitol building in Sacramento with the backing of 1,000 bescrubbed, chanting members of the
California Nurses Association.
Joe Garofoli at the San Francisco Chronicle quotes:

"I always set out to make a movie that people will enjoy, have a good time watching on Friday night," Moore told The Chronicle on Tuesday. "I’m asking for a little something here. I’m going to provide the entertainment, but I’m hoping that a certain percentage of the audience will be thinking about the issues that I raised, and a certain percentage of them will go out and do something."

All admirable, practical-minded and, for once, nonpartisan, which Moore himself acknowledges, while pointing out the even ol’ Roger Friedman at Fox News liked the film. So why, the day before, did Moore have to saddle up with Harvey Weinstein and attorney David Boies for a press conference to dramatically cry harassment because of the Treasury Department’s investigation of the in-film trip to Cuba? From Gregg Goldstein at the Hollywood Reporter:

"In my 25 years in the movie business I’ve never seen anything like this, where the government has tried to impact a movie like ‘Sicko,’ " Weinstein said. Moore added that a separate negative of the film, including the 15 minutes of Cuban footage, was sent to Canada in case the government attempts to seize it "like they could seize 10,000 Cuban cigars."

Health care issues haven’t quite the allure of inflammatory investigations of the presidential administration, which explains why Weinstein would want such a stunt. But Moore, it seems, would want anything but to play the aggrieved political martyr, particularly for such a relatively paltry issue —  the dubious violation of an old trade embargo isn’t much of a rallying point. "Fahrenheit 9/11" was meant to enrage and provoke a receptive audience into actually going out to vote; if "Sicko" is supposed to inform and provoke beyond the usual preaching to the choir, you’d think Moore would keep his hot button self out of the way this time around (as he reportedly does for large chunks of the film) and let the issue speak for itself.

The NY Post has a Q&A from Cannes that centers on details of the Cuba trip. At New York, Logan Hill uncovers the secret of the director’s weight loss:

How did you take [the weight] off?
Actually, Roger Ebert told me about this book called the Pritikin diet. In three months, I lost 30 pounds.

At Newsweek, Tony Dokoupil looks into another segment of the film, in which Moore, anonymously at the time, donates $12,000 to the founder of anti-Moore site, Jim Kenefick, after he posts a plea for help paying the premiums  on his wife’s health insurance.

If you had known it was Michael Moore giving you the money, would you have accepted it?
I think so. It’s obviously not a problem for him that Moorewatch exists, which is kind of commendable if you think about it. He seemed genuinely interested in keeping us online. I can handle the heat generated by being used in the movie as some kind of "gotcha" moment, and in the end, that $12,000 made our lives a little easier. In the end it reduced the stress on my wife, and taking away even one of her worries—in this case it made it possible for us to pay off everything faster than we’d planned—is worth a lot. Besides, Mike’s not the devil or anything. It’s not like Joe Stalin made me an offer! He’s a guy who sees value in us being out there, analyzing his work and asking questions.

Update: Ed Pilkington at the Guardian runs down some of the cases.

+ Moore lobbies Sacramento for healing (SF Chronicle)
+ Moore, distrib lash out at gov’t ‘Sicko’ probe (Hollywood Reporter)
+ One-on-One at Cannes with ‘Sicko’ Director Michael Moore (NY Post)
+ Medicine Man: Michael Moore (New York)
+ Poor No Moore (Newsweek)
+ A state of ill health (Guardian)

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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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