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Opening This Week

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03102008_blindmountain.jpgBy Neil Pedley

This week, our cup runneth over with a “Karate Kid” knockoff, a shot-for-shot remake and more documentaries than Michael Moore can shake an overpriced hot dog at.

“Blind Mountain”
The recipient of plenty of acclaim at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, director Li Yang has a casual yet immediate style that’s been touted as something of a Chinese answer to Ken Loach. “Blind Mountain” offers an uncomfortable but powerful indictment of China’s one child policy and the sex trade that has flourished under it. The film follows the desperate struggle of a young woman who accepts a job in a remote mountain village, only to discover that she has unwittingly been sold into marriage as a slave.
Opens in New York.

Before anyone had heard of Angelina Jolie, model-turned-actress Rhona Mitra was the original face of “Tomb Raider”‘s Lara Croft. Ten years later, she’s traded in pixels for pictures as the lead in director Neil Marshall’s post-apocalyptic fusion of “Mad Max” and “Escape From New York,” playing the head of an elite commando unit tasked with finding a cure for a deadly virus plaguing Scotland.
Opens wide.

“Flash Point”
Director Wilson Yip teams up with Donnie Yen to retool the tried and tested Hong Kong cop thriller formula with the “Iron Monkey” star playing an undercover cop looking to bring down a deadly Vietnamese crime syndicate headed by three dangerous brothers. In addition to his acting duties, Yen choreographed the film’s innovative fight sequences, which combine six different fighting disciplines into what the action veteran hopes is the dawn of a new breed of martial arts film.
Opens in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“Dr Seuss’s Horton Hears A Who”
After the very adult “The Number 23,” Jim Carrey puts his quest to be taken seriously on hold to voice Horton the Elephant, who protects the tiny Who civilization from the predators of the jungle. Steve Carell and Carol Burnett also lent their voices to this playful animated adventure based on the Dr. Seuss book from Blue Sky Animation, the team behind the “Ice Age” series and “Robots.”
Opens wide.

“Funny Games”
Austrian writer/director Michael Haneke remakes his own 1997 German-language film of the same name, which tells of a vacationing family at a lake house who become the victims of a home invasion by two malevolent teenagers bent on a series of cruel and torturous games. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts face off against Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt in this darkly comic thriller. Despite being a shot-for-shot remake of the original, the U.S. incarnation earned an R rating while the 1997 “Funny Games” was never granted an MPAA rating. Apparently, everything really does sound that much scarier in German.
Opens in limited release.

“Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise”
An official selection of the Montreal Film Festival, this all-access documentary takes us into the private world of one of rock’s most enduring stars as he takes to the road for his 2007 “Seize the Night” world tour. Director Bruce David Klein captures a frank portrait of the musician’s frequent battle with depression, exhaustion, personal demons and declining health as he’s faced with the prospect of calling time on a 35-year career and countless millions in record sales. In other words, it’s your typical rock doc.
Opens in New York.

“Never Back Down”
With the massive explosion in mainstream popularity being enjoyed by the UFC and mixed martial arts, it’s amazing this movie took so long to arrive. “Never Back Down” seems a Pat Morita cameo away from being “Karate Kid V: The Octagon”: Sean Faris stars as Jake Tyler, the new teen in town who gets his head handed to him by the local badass when he tries to chat up a girl. Tired of the endless beat downs, Jake seeks the sage advice of a retired fighter (Djimon Honsou) who trains Jake to get his revenge at the upcoming local tournament.
Opens wide.

“On Broadway”
Premiering at the Independent Film Festival of Boston to rave reviews before working its way down the New England coastline, “On Broadway” is writer Dave McLaughlin’s directorial debut. The film follows Boston carpenter Jack O’Toole (Joey McIntyre) as he attempts to reach out to his estranged father by writing a play inspired by the death of his beloved uncle. “On Broadway” boasts a strong supporting cast that includes the likes of Eliza Dushku, Robert Wahlberg (brother of Mark & Donnie) and “Saturday Night Live”‘s Amy Poehler.
Opens in Boston.

Visual effects wrangler Bill Maher (“Mars Attacks,” “Batman & Robin”) makes his directorial bow with this drama about a family struggling to reconnect. Nick Stahl stars as James, a man forced to confront his long-buried demons regarding his father (Dennis Hopper) after his older sister, Joleen (Charlize Theron), abandons her 12-year-old daughter (Anna Sophia Robb), leaving her in his care.
Opens in limited release.

“Sputnik Mania”
On the heels of the well-received “In the Shadow of the Moon” comes another doc about the space race, this time about the American reaction to the launch of Sputnik, the former USSR’s first Earth orbiting satellite. Liev Schreiber narrates David Hoffman’s elegant, detailed story of how new technology inevitably leads to new terror and how that technological innovation impacted our entire way of life, then and for the 50 years that have followed. “Sputnik Mania” was the recipient of an International Documentary Association Award for best use of news footage in a documentary.
Opens in New York.

“Towards Darkness”
A slick and intricate abduction thriller, “Towards Darkness” is a non-linear chronicle of the events of 90 minutes in the life of a kidnap victim from a multitude of different perspectives. Roberto Urbina stars as Jose, the terrified victim who contemplates his life and seemingly imminent death while his father Carlos (Tony Plana) tries to secure his release with the aide of some covert American mercenaries. Director José Antonio Negret draws on the numerous personal tragedies of his own family for his directorial debut, which also stars and was executive produced by “Ugly Betty” herself, America Ferrera.
Opens in New York.

“War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death”
Filmmaker Jeremy Earp joins forces with Loretta Alper to continue his exploration of the media’s symbiotic relationship to politics and their complicit role in selling war to the American people. Sean Penn narrates what is Earp’s third film on the subject, which employs archival news footage spanning 50 years of American foreign policy, illustrating the parallels between Vietnam and the Iraq war as they argue that the more things change…
Opens in New York.

“Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub”
For over 12 years, the Tribeca-based Wetlands Preserve Rock Club provided a venue for a unique fusion of music, environmentalism and political activism that brought people together in celebration of free spirit and independence. The club helped birth such classic acts as the Dave Mathews Band, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and many more, all the while funneling their profits into environmental and humanitarian causes all over the world. Filmmaker Dean Budnick makes his debut bringing us the untold inside story of this legendary establishment and the people who helped to make it so.
Opens in New York; Opens in Los Angeles on March 28th.

[Photo: “Blind Mountain,” Kino, 2007]

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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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