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Opening This Week: December 14th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Nanking,” THINKFilm, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks”

Here we have yet another major motion picture studio’s attempt to destroy our collective childhoods with this cinematic update of the classic 1980s children television series it’s likely we all hated anyway. What looks to be a celluloid crime against parents and hipster doofuses everywhere comes courtesy of Tim Hill, director of the sequel “Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.” “My Name is Earl”‘s Jason Lee gets enlisted as the human Dave who watches over the mischievous musical chipmunk trio, who if the trailer is to be believed, like to eat their own feces.

Opens wide (official site).

“Goodbye Bafana”

Danish director Bille August helms this true story about an white South African prison guard (Joseph Fiennes) whose life was profoundly changed by a black inmate he guarded for 20 years whose name was (wait for it) Nelson Mandela (Dennis Haysbert). The film was awarded the Peace Film Award at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Half Moon”
Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi wrote and directed his latest drama about an old musician’s plans to give one final concert in Iraqi Kurdistan. The film won a bevy of awards at the 2006 San Sebastian International Film Festival, including a prize for best cinematography and the Golden Seashell Award for best film.

Opens in New York (official site).

“I Am Legend”

While we’d line up to watch Will Smith beat the crap out of anything — this latest film finds the Fresh Prince kicking both vampire AND zombie ass! — we’re not so crazy about the direction of Francis Lawrence, whose previous credits include the ho-hum Keanu Reeves vehicle “Constantine” and a host of Jennifer Lopez music videos. Regardless of whether the film is any good, however, it’s safe to expect any Will Smith actioner to dominate the holiday box office. Smith stars as Robert Neville, a man who finds himself to be the lone survivor of a biological attack that leaves New York with a swarm of zombies during the day and vampires at night. “I Am Legend” is the third adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, following 1964’s “The Last Man on Earth” and the 1971 Charlton Heston sci-fi flick “The Omega Man,” and is the first to use Matheson’s original title.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Kite Runner”

Khaled Hosseini’s wildly popular 2003 novel finally hits theaters courtesy of “Finding Neverland” director Marc Forster. The film follows Amir, an Afghani who returns to his homeland after spending two decades in the United States following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to investigate the disappearance of his childhood friend Hassan. Kudos to the filmmakers for sticking with mostly local Afghani actors, though the studio is now in a bit of a PR mess after threats made to three of the child actors forced a delay in the film’s release. Regardless, we expect the film’s Afghani flavor meshed with Forster’s gentle direction to at least be better than a bloated lecture from a ham-fisted Tom Cruise.

Opens in limited release (official site).


“Detroit Rock City” writer/director Adam Rifkin helms this drama pieced together from surveillance cameras, creating the illusion that no matter where you are in the United States, you’re being watched. The film premiered earlier this year at the CineVegas International Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Award.

Opens in limited release (official site).


Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s documentary tells the story of The Rape of Nanking, the tragedy that occurred during the 1937-1938 Japanese occupation and resulted in the deaths of 200,000 Chinese men and women and the rape of tens of thousands more before a small group of Westerners formed a safety refuge to save the lives of 250,000. The film won the Documentary Film Editing Award earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Perfect Holiday”

All a young girl wants for Christmas is a new husband for her harried mother (Gabrielle Union) in this holiday comedy from director Lance Rivera. Rivera is best known for 2004’s “The Cookout,” though we barely remember it.

Opens wide (official site).

“Youth Without Youth”

Francis Ford Coppola’s long anticipated return to filmmaking finds the “Godfather” director returning to his film school roots… sort of. Coppola’s latest is a deeply personal adaptation of a Mircea Eliade novel about a professor (Tim Roth) who’s targeted by Nazi agents after he presumably discovers a formula for immortality in World War II-era Europe. Now if only Coppola could start working on the long-rumored “Megalopolis”…

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (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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