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Sundance 2008: “Choke.”

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"You can't fool people into loving you."
We’d group "Fight Club" in that fierce minority of film literary adaptations that turned out better than the novels on which they’re based ("Silence of the Lambs" is in there too, as is "No Country for Old Men"). It’s got something to do with the mix of David Fincher’s prodigal filmmaking abilities, the way the conceit behind the twist works better visually than on the page, a lack of obligation to hew too closely to the source material and the fact that, at least for us, writer Chuck Palahniuk’s ideas have always been better than his writing. Case in point: "Choke," the directorial debut of actor Clark Gregg and the second adaptation of one of Palahniuk’s books, demonstrates that without an audacious filmmaker behind them, most of those ideas don’t seem more remarkable than any in the average Sundance quirk-off. Not that "Choke" isn’t amusing, salacious and halfway touching, but its elements of working in a colonial-themed tourist attraction, pretending to choke in restaurants so that strangers will take an interest in you and picking up women at sex-addition group meetings do blend into the festival’s other offerings of abused agoraphobic porn addicts and orphaned professional suicide note writers.

Sam Rockwell plays Victor Mancini, the ragged-looking, perpetually horny practicer of the activities listed above. His mother, Ida (Anjelica Huston), is dying of Alzheimer’s, and Victor struggles each month to make the $3,000 needed to keep her in private care, with the added wrinkle that the new doctor (Kelly Macdonald) at her facility thinks she has a cure for Ida, and it involves said doctor being impregnated by Victor in order to use the genetic material. The film is generally episodic, with Victor’s adventures with his best friend, fellow sex-addict and colonial coworker Denny (Brad William Henke) giving way to flashbacks of Victor’s troubled childhood with the glue-sniffing, on-the-run Ida, from whom he’d get taken by the police and deposited in a foster home, only to get kidnapped back. There’s a flubbed bit about Victor’s possibly divine parentage, and the flashbacks become problematic — they never have the scale or coherence to get across what’s meant to be years filled with uncertainty and chaos and also excitement, and so Victor’s many issues don’t read as deserved or symptomatic. But Rockwell, who manages to be the most convincing sleazebag no woman can resist, can sell most anything, and brings a spark of grounded poignancy to the film despite its general aimless jokiness. Denny warns Victor that "You can’t fool people into loving you" as the two settle in for one of his Heimlich scams at a restaurant, but both the sex and the choking turn out to be ways of approximating just that.

"Choke" was acquired at the Sundance by Fox Searchlight but a release date has yet to be set. and will be released August 1st, according to a recent announcement.

+ "Choke" (Sundance)

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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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