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Critic wrangle: “Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten.”

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A few confessions regarding the impossibility of critical impartiality due to Clash fandom precede reviews of "Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten," a doc from Julien Temple, who previously chronicled the Sex Pistols in "The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle" and "The Filth and the Fury." Among those ‘fessing up, Andrew O’Hehir at Salon, who suggests that "Temple’s film will inevitably be viewed by people of roughly my age and with roughly my background as a kind of generational myth, which is likely to irritate the crap out of everyone else," but who nevertheless labels it "the most powerful documentary I’ve seen all year, and one of the two or three best films ever made about an artist or musician." And A.O. Scott at the New York Times writes that "It’s likely that I would have been stirred and moved by ‘Joe Strummer:
The Future Is Unwritten,’ even if it were the straightforward,
VH1-ready rock star biography it might, at first, appear to be." According to him, it’s "much more than a biography of the Clash’s guitarist and lead singer: It’s history, criticism, philosophy and politics, played fast and loud." Nick Schager at Slant, on the other hand, not a Clash fan, finds that
film’s focus on Strummer rather than his music "means that those
unconvinced about the greatness of ‘London Calling’ and ‘Rock the
Casbah’ will likely remain so. Yet the director’s ability to capture
Strummer’s complex, idiosyncratic personality is so compelling that it
barely matters whether one believes what the film is saying; the point
is that one feels it." Armond White at the New York Press suggests that "Temple shows how the music expressed Strummer’s experiences. The ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ sequence ought to set the standard for artistic/biographical interpretation. Every music lover should see it—and so should Todd Haynes."

Glenn Kenny at Premiere quibbles with a few of the interview choices before concluding that "one wondrous thing about the movie is that, true to its title, it doesn’t feel in the least bit nostalgic. At its best, it throbs with immediacy, just as Strummer did." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly does feel that nostalgia: "The Future Is Unwritten made me long for the era when a rock star could burn — and even burn out — this brightly."

"The Future Is Unwritten is as overstuffed as Sandinista!, but it races ahead like ‘White Riot,’" writes the Onion AV Club‘s Noel Murray, while Nick Pinkerton at indieWIRE declares that the film "is no radical departure in content from most print-the-legend rock docs… What merit it has comes mainly through hooking onto the momentum of the Clash’s music–the editing decoupages archived rehearsal video over excerpts from Zero de conduit, Orwell adaptations, and streetfighting footage, making for a crackling melange of generalized ‘rebellion’ that fits the band’s own fist-in-the-air bosh." Jim Ridley at the Village Voice finds that "The Future Is Unwritten is less a eulogy than a wake, and one in which the subject is startlingly present." A disappointed David Edelstein at New York disagrees, writing that "the late rocker doesn’t carry the movie… You only get a taste of what made the Clash for a brief period the most exciting band on that side of the Atlantic (the Ramones dominated ours) in an early live performance of ‘I’m So Bored With the USA,’ which makes you want to pogo up and down and throw up your fists."

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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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