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DID YOU READ

Critic wrangle: “Lions for Lambs.”

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"Never have I seen such lions led by such lambs."
There seems to be something admirable about how pugilisticly didactic Robert Redford’s "Lions for Lambs" is, with its spoonful of high-octane star Splenda to make the liberal guilt go down. And the film does have its unanticipated fans: Stephanie Zacharek at Salon acknowledges that it’s "self-righteous, didactic, dramatically and visually static and, in places, extremely boring," yet also finds it works:

Redford and [screenwriter Michael Matthew] Carnahan clearly intend it as a call to arms, which explains why the movie sometimes feels like a civics lesson, albeit one given by a moderately entertaining instructor. Still — like a good civics lesson — the picture adamantly spins out questions rather than answers.

Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman writes that "Lions for Lambs is so square it’s like something out of the gray twilight glow of the golden age of television…Yet Carnahan’s writing ignites familiar issues with vigor and snap; there’s audacity in its attempt to seize us with nothing but a war of rhetoric." Ella Taylor at the LA Weekly allows that "The movie is awful — and also oddly touching, even
adorable in its dogged sense of responsibility, its stubborn refusal of
style." "Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs is the clunkiest, windiest, and roughest of the [new antiwar pictures]," writes David Edelstein at New York. "Most of it is dead on the screen. But its earnestness is so naked that it exerts a strange pull. You have to admire a director who works so diligently to help us rise above all the bad karma."

And surprise defender Armond White at the New York Press declares that "As you think along with the film’s presentation of ideas and watch characters caught in moments of moral and political tension, Lions for Lambs starts to articulate the stress of this political era." "Cruise, Streep and Redford do what movie star-artists are supposed to do," he adds. (No "smug"? No "condescending"?)

Elsewhere, a lukewarm Roger Ebert sighs "Useful new things to be said about the debacle in Iraq are in very short supply. I’m not sure that’s what ‘Lions for Lambs’ intends to demonstrate, but it does, exhaustingly." Adds Anthony Lane at the New Yorker, "It winces with liberal self-chastisement: Redford is surely smart enough to realize, as the professor turns his ire on those who merely chatter while Rome burns, that his movie is itself no better, or more morally effective, than high-concept Hollywood fiddling." Manohla Dargis at the New York Times writes that the film "tells us everything most of us know already, including the fact that politicians lie, journalists fail and youth flounders."

"For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the point of all this onscreen palaver is supposed to be," writes Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer. "Of course, we should all be better human beings. So what else is new? And is a time-coded movie talkfest the best way to persuade us?" Dana Stevens at Slate suggests that "Lions for Lambs appears to have been created by someone who’s never seen one of these newfangled contraptions called ‘movies,’ or for that matter, witnessed that phenomenon known as ‘speech.’" Slant‘s Nick Schager adds that "it runs a brisk 88 minutes in large part because it doggedly, frustratingly refuses to truly delve into the issues it brings up, mistaking newspaper headline-based speeches full of tired talking points for thrilling, incisive debate." And we’ll give the last word to Nathan Rabin at the Onion AV Club, who concludes that "All talk and zero characterization, it doesn’t even feel like a real movie. Just because a film’s premise is ripped from the headlines doesn’t mean it needs to feel like an op-ed piece."

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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 IFC.com

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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.

Uncle-Buck

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…