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Critic wrangle: “Stop-Loss.”

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03282008_stoploss.jpgNine years after Kimberly Peirce’s first film “Boys Don’t Cry” hit theaters, her follow-up, “Stop-Loss,” opens, an unlikely MTV Films take on the Iraq War. (My review of the film from SXSW is here.)

Scott Foundas at the LA Weekly suggests that Iraq-themed films are following the same arc as Vietnam-themed ones, which means that “Stop-Loss” serves “for today’s audience, roughly the same cathartic purpose that movies like Coming Home and The Deer Hunter did for audiences of the ’70s.” Too much so, for him: “[T]he film so effectively reconstitutes its own Vietnam-homecoming touchstones that we can anticipate its every move well before it makes them.” He deems the film “sincere without being especially memorable.” Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly calls the film “heartfelt” while concluding that it “holds so much of its rage in check — and keeps such a nervous eye on the attention span of its audience — that it ultimately strangles itself.” “This is a picture that takes a serious subject everyone in America should care about,” adds Salon‘s Stephanie Zacharek, “and turns it into drama so aggressively mediocre that you’re forced to guilt yourself into caring about the characters in front of you. This is a movie about pain and suffering (both the emotional and physical kinds) that never lets its own guard down for a minute.”

A.O. Scott at the New York Times finds the film becomes “confused,” but that “this confusion can be seen as a measure of its honesty”: “It is an imperfect movie — marred, if anything, by its sincere affection and undisciplined compassion — about the imperfect young men who keep returning to a war the rest of us would prefer not to think about.” “This is still a fantasy,” writes Armond White at the New York Press. “Peirce conflates war tragedy with her own sense of melodrama, making Stop-Loss a coincidentally sexy polemic. It could be worse.” Nathan Rabin at the Onion AV Club finds it couldn’t be much better: “Stop-Loss is a human story first and foremost, and Peirce and her stellar young cast ensure that the message never gets in the way of the storytelling.”

[Photo: “Stop-Loss,” Paramount Pictures, 2008]

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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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