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Opening This Week

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03172008_boardinggate.jpgBy Neil Pedley

SXSW recently concluded a week-long unveiling of some of the best and brightest new talent that indie film has to offer, but that didn’t deter established players from forging ahead with the fine traditions that have this week brought us an Owen Wilson kiddie comedy, a poker mockumentary and an imitation of whatever Asian cinema was doing four years ago.

“Boarding Gate”
Three-time Palme D’Or nominee Olivier Assayas delivers a sleek and sexually charged thriller that stars the irresistible Asia Argento as a gal on the run from Europe to Asia as she indulges in affairs with both Michael Madsen’s high-flying financier and the hit man sent to target him. If you can take your eyes off of Argento, keep one eye open for a supporting turn by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
Opens in limited release.

“Drillbit Taylor”
Judd Apatow tries to appeal to the kiddie crowd with this slapstick comedy co-written by Apatow associate Seth Rogen about a troupe of high school nerds who hire Owen Wilson’s bungling bodyguard to protect them from bullies. While Wilson’s apparent suicide attempt in August 2007 has made this a hard sell for Paramount, the film is filled with funny faces including Leslie Mann, Danny McBride and Lisa Lampanelli. Indie film fans should take note of the casting of Alex Frost as one of said bullies — he played a bullying victim turned assassin in Gus Van Sant’s controversial 2003 film “Elephant.”
Opens wide.

“The Grand”
We’ve been spared a Will Ferrell jai alai satire (so far), but there are few sports that have yet to become the basis of a sports comedy. In this most recent example, “The Grand” lampoons poker’s newfound image as the coolest game in town with a variety of numbskulls and deluded wannabes competing for the grand prize in a tournament at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. In addition to a galaxy of poker’s finest players dealing themselves into the action, the film boasts a cast including the likes of Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines and (yes!) Werner Herzog.
Opens in limited release.

“The Hammer”
Perhaps it’s fitting that the reunion of “Kissing Jessica Stein” writer/actress Heather Juergensen and director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld is for this bizarre but affectionate comedy about second chances. Did we mention it stars “The Man Show”‘s Adam Carolla? The radio host reportedly drew from his own life experience to pen the story and to star as Jerry Ferro, an ex-amateur boxer turned construction worker who decides to put the gloves back on and launch a bid for Olympic glory as he approaches 40.
Opens in limited release.

“Love Songs”
Novelist, playwright and children’s author Christophe Honoré continues the renaissance of the modern day musical with this tale of young love in Paris starring Louis Garrel and Ludivine Sagnier as a couple who attempt to kick start their stalled romance with a ménage-a-trois that only succeeds in complicating matters further.
Opens in New York.

“Meet the Browns”
Tyler Perry may not be earning cred with the critics, but he has snagged his first Oscar-nominated lead in Angela Bassett, who stars in Perry’s latest parable as a woman struggling to hold her family together following the death of her father, who she never knew. Audiences might already know about “the Browns” from its run as a play in 2004, but after a two-film absence, Lionsgate is hoping an appearance by Perry’s signature character, Madea, will be cause for celebration.
Opens wide.

“Planet B-Boy”
Filmmaker Benson Lee makes his debut with this colorful documentary looking to shed some light on what he feels is the criminally misunderstood phenomenon of break dancing. Lee takes us around the world, charting the history of the dance, its relationship to martial arts, its courtship by pop culture and its free-flowing, improvisational nature as a form of self-empowerment and free expression. Frankly, we’re in favor of anything that makes us feel less ashamed of loving “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
Opens in limited release.

Jonah Markowitz writes and directs this melancholic tale of self-sacrifice and forbidden love that was an acclaimed staple of the gay and lesbian film festival circuit last year. Trevor Wright stars as Zach, a young man forced to put his life on hold to care for his younger brother. When love blossoms between himself and his best friend’s brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), Zach is torn between his obligations to his family and the hopes and dreams he still harbors for himself. If nothing else, the art direction should look great — Markowitz cut his teeth in the art department on films ranging from “Saw” to “House of Sand and Fog.”
Opens in limited release.

Now that Hollywood has exhausted the Japanese horror genre, the producers behind “The Ring” and “The Grudge” have turned their attention to Thailand with this remake of Banjong Pisanthanakun’s 2004 thriller of the same name. A young couple (Joshua Jackson & Rachael Taylor) honeymooning in Tokyo discovers ghostly images lingering in their vacation photographs. Incidentally, the U.S. is not the first country to remake “Shutter” — last year, the Tamil film industry adapted a version of their own, entitled “Sivi.”
Opens wide.

“Under the Same Moon”
While the immigration debate rages on all around us, filmmaker Patricia Riggen’s tender family portrait focuses on the loving bond between mother and child that even thousands of miles of separation cannot break. After his grandmother passes away, a young boy has no choice but to risk the treacherous journey across the U.S. border in the hope that he and his mother can be reunited. This is Riggen’s first dramatic feature, following her debut documentary that received a short filmmaking award at Sundance 2005.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Boarding Gate,” Magnolia, 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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