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Real life gangsters.

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"See, ya are what ya are in this world. Either you're somebody, or you ain't nobody."
We don’t expect so much from Sir Ridley Scott these days — we know, we know, that 17-hour director’s cut of "Kingdom of Heaven" is supposed to be so totally awesome that it could broker its own Israeli-Palestinian peace accord — but we had hoped "American Gangster" would be badass fun. It’s not. It is, for the most part, plodding and circumspect, packed with faux-70s grit and so in love with the dapper, restrained gentleman side of its drug lord Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) that it implies his downfall is mainly the result of being forced to wear a chinchilla coat by his wife. It does come to a conclusion that seems so goofy and implausible it couldn’t not be true, and so it seems to be: Richard G. Jones in the New York Times talks to actual cop-turned-prosecutor Richard M. Roberts, played in the film by Russell Crowe, about his friendship with Lucas, who refused to speak to the reporter. "’I can’t explain it,’ Mr. Roberts said with a shrug and a wan smile when asked about his friendship with Mr. Lucas. ‘What he did disgusts me. But here we are.’"

Meanwhile, three New Jersey cops quibble with "Gangster"’s timeline and treatment of Roberts to Adam Nichols at the New York Daily News, to which Lucas does respond: "’I’m not going to credit them with getting me,’ said Lucas, who became an informant under Roberts’ prodding. ‘Those three cops couldn’t catch a cold.’"

Over at MTV, Shawn Adler talks to a few of the rappers who play side characters:

"It’s called ‘American Gangster,’ understand?" Brooklyn rapper RZA declared. "We’ve all got this American dream. Black, white, Asian … it doesn’t matter. I think [Lucas] really fits that American dream, even though it’s the negative side. He brought his whole family up from the South. Thanksgiving, everybody got a turkey. All that kind of stuff is the American dream."

Josh Rottenberg at Entertainment Weekly chats with Crowe and Washington (who actually share very few scenes in the film):

Well, if someone was looking for political overtones in American Gangster, they could certainly find some.
CROWE: With this next movie I’m about to do with Ridley [the espionage thriller Body of Lies,
costarring Leonardo DiCaprio], he said to me, ”I see your character as
the embodiment of American foreign policy. You’re fat, pustulant, and
you have a weeping sore. Are you okay with that?” I said, ”No
problem, mate.” [Laughs] You know, I worked with Leonardo when he was 18 [on the Western The Quick and the Dead].
He was a virgin, and he would talk about that constantly. So I’m hoping
we have some time so he can fill in what’s happened in between. Maybe
show some photos. Because I’m sure life’s different now.

WASHINGTON: He’s a good actor, man. Done some good work.

+ A New Jersey Crime Story’s Hollywood Ending (NY Times)
+ 3 ex-N.J. police say ‘American Gangster’ rewrites history (NY Daily News)
+ RZA, Common Realize Their Own ‘American’ Dream: To Act (MTV)
+ Clash of the Titans (Entertainment Weekly)

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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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