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“The Jane Austen Book Club”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: Emily Blunt and Marc Blucas in “The Jane Austen Book Club,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2007]

The oft-quoted critic Robert Warshow once wrote “A man watches a movie, and the critic must acknowledge that he is a man.” That man has no place in the new chick flick “The Jane Austen Book Club,” a movie so thoroughly anti-dude for most of its running time that the only sensible male reaction to it is guilt.

The movie is about a group of disgruntled women (and one brave man) who form a book club to read the works of Jane Austen. Though they all have problems, they all manage to find salvation through Ms. Austen’s work, which apparently has all sorts of handy practical applications. I must acknowledge that I, like all the male characters in the film, have never read a Jane Austen novel. In my defense, I loved the recent adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice.” Plus, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for “Clueless.”

It’s refreshing to see a movie that promotes literacy and, like the women of “The Jane Austen Book Club,” I also know the rush of excitement that comes from recognizing yourself in a great work of art. But is that feeling ever really as simple as this film makes it out to be? Does every single aspect of our lives have a correlation to the works of Jane Austen? Can every worldly dilemma be solved by picking up a copy of “Mansfield Park?”

The answer, as evidenced here, is yes. Austen can teach a bad lover to be better, or a bad listener to be better, or a bad husband to be better. You may sense a pattern, since, as in the style of so many chick flicks, nearly all the male characters are total pricks, from Jimmy Smits’ cheating bastard to Marc Blucas’ thoughtless bastard. The only likable guy in the bunch is Grigg (Hugh Dancy) a sci-fi nerd and potential suitor for a few of the JABC members, and he’s made out to be a Lycra-wearing buffoon. I’m not sure what’s more aggravating: that all the men are so horrible or that they all are magically rehabilitated through the power of “Emma.” Why don’t psychiatrists prescribe this stuff to their patients?

So the man watches the movie, and the critic must acknowledge that he is a man, and that, in this case, the movie is not for the critic or the man. Jane Austen fans might love the film, and maybe the movie will encourage others to start their own book clubs, which could only be a good thing. But, to me, this feels like a well-made Lifetime movie. But then, how would I know what a Lifetime movie looks like? That’s TV for women, and I’m a man.

“The Jane Austen Book Club” opens in limited release on September 21st (official site).

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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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