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Opening This Week

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04142008_anamorph.jpgBy Neil Pedley

With such variety this week, we could be tempted to go nuts and combine them into one super movie. Osama Bin Laden would have 88 minutes to paint an anamorphic picture that disproved Darwinism while riding the winner of the Kentucky Derby through ancient China with his gay lover who is also an Oscar nominated composer moonlighting as a zombie stripper…we smell a Golden Globe!

Utilizing the painting technique of anamorphosis, whereby the nature of an image changes depending on the viewer’s vantage point, filmmaker Henry Miller marks his directorial debut with this intricate and cerebral thriller that reads like “Saw” by way of “The Da Vinci Code.” Willem Dafoe stars as the dogged but haunted Detective Aubray, on the trail of carefully placed clues and elaborate puzzles, trying to catch a serial killer whose crimes bare a striking resemblance to an old case he is desperate to forget.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on May 2nd.

“88 Minutes”
Producer and occasional director Jon Avnet helms his first feature for 10 years — a ticking-clock thriller starring Mr. Shouty himself, Al Pacino, as a forensic psychiatrist with a checkered past who’s targeted by a copycat serial killer and told he has just 88 minutes to live. Though Pacino’s character may not have long to live, the film itself has actually sat on the shelf since 2005, but after pirate copies of the international release found their way into the U.S., Sony, along with the film’s — are you ready? — 19 producers, had to rethink the release date and spare Al the indignity of going straight to DVD.
Opens wide.

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”
Veteran character actor (“Bueller? Bueller?”) and recently christened New York Times op-ed columnist Ben Stein is turning his outspoken advocacy for intelligent design theory into the backbone of this controversial documentary. Stein, who co-scripted along with Kevin Miller and Walt Ruloff, highlight what they believe to be a relentless campaign of persecution within the scientific community directed against anyone who attempts to contradict Darwinist theory. While they build a case that their claim is far from baseless, the film has already sparked a backlash from some participants and interviewees who claim that they were misled as to the film’s intentions.
Opens wide.

“The First Saturday in May”
Filmmakers Brad and John Hennigan capture the inside track of horse racing’s most prestigious annual event, the Kentucky Derby, through the eyes of six trainers, and document what it takes to breed, train and maintain a thoroughbred that has a chance to win this most coveted prize. The film also explores the colorful galaxy of people that populate the racing world, complete with sporting hats that cost more than most people’s rent.
Opens in limited release.

“The Forbidden Kingdom”
Rob Minkoff, the man behind “The Lion King” and “Stuart Little”, is going PG-13 with this highly anticipated clash between two of martial arts’ greatest icons, which pits the elegant finesse of Jet Li against the circus acrobatics of Jackie Chan as the two rival fighters must escort an American teenager transported back in time to ancient China by a mystical weapon that must be returned to its owner. The film is (very loosely) based on “Journey to the West,” one of the most cherished works of Chinese literature, which makes one wonder even more why it took an American production to finally bring Li and Chan together.
Opens wide.

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”
Sarah Marshalls around the country won’t soon forget the guerrilla marketing campaign for the latest Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy, involving posters blaring “You suck, Sarah Marshall.” But even they might need to check out their namesake, played by Kristen Bell, as she ditches her boyfriend for a pop singer, only to discover that her ex is staying at the same hotel in Hawaii. Jason Segel, who stars as the jilted party, wrote the film’s script and based it on real life experiences.
Opens wide.

“Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts”
Scott Hicks, who received an Oscar nomination for “Shine,” returns to music to follow a hectic and eventful year in the life of composer Philip Glass. Shot to commemorate Glass’ 70th birthday, the film looks back at his life and illustrious 40-year career and divides his story into twelve separate chapters, slowly building to a pulsating crescendo that celebrates the work of one of the great composers of our time — but in a way that doesn’t overdo it, of course.
Opens in New York.

“Kiss the Bride”
Tori Spelling rarely makes the pilgrimage from the small screen to the big screen, so imagine our excitement when we saw that the star of “Mother, May I Sleep With Danger” shows off her comedy chops in this low-budget gender reversal rom-com from the pen of first time writer-director Tyler Lieberman. Philip Karner stars as Matt, a man who sets out to crash the wedding of his high school buddy and secret sweetheart, Ryan (James O’Shae) and his bride-to-be Alex (Spelling). Joanna Cassidy and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”‘s Amber Benson are there for the nuptials, even if Spelling finds herself the odd woman out.
Opens in limited release.

“The Life Before Her Eyes”
After his no-frills adaptation of “House of Sand and Fog,” director Vadim Perelman is turning his lens towards Laura Kasischke’s eerie novel, with Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood splitting the lead role as Diana, a once capricious and restless teenager who’s haunted later in life by an event from her past. As the anniversary of the tragedy approaches, Diana’s adult life begins to fall apart and the line between perception and reality becomes more and more illusory.
Opens in limited release.

“Heroes” own Peter Petrelli, Milo Ventimiglia, takes center stage as a promising med student who enters into one of the country’s top pathology programs, and by extension, a competition in which each student proves their expertise by committing the perfect, untraceable crime. Of course, Ventimiglia discovers his fellow classmates, led by Michael Weston and Alyssa Milano, might be one scalpel short of a full operating table in this dark and moody gothic thriller from German director Marc Schoelermann and the producers of “Crank.”
Opens in wide release.

“The Tiger’s Tail”
It’s fitting that this enigmatic tale of guilt and capitalism in the height of Ireland’s economic booms snuck up on us, because otherwise we would have spent weeks obsessing about the reunion of Brendan Gleeson with “The General” director John Boorman. Gleeson stars as Liam O’Leary, a successful Dublin businessman who begins to believe he’s being stalked by a malicious doppelganger with dark intentions in Boorman’s darkly comic portrait of Ireland’s princes and paupers at a time when rich and poor were deeply divided. We expect co-star Kim Cattrall to look fabulous, even if her “Oirish” accent isn’t pitch perfect.
Opens in limited release.

“Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden”
After taking on the evils of McDonald’s, the public education system and…er..Christmas, Morgan Spurlock, goes after his most high profile target yet, Osama Bin Laden. Traveling through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Israel and Pakistan, Spurlock uses his unpretentious approach and trademark humor to hunt for the world’s most wanted man while gaging the climate and engaging the people. Though the film’s cinematographer Daniel Marracino told Variety “we’ve definitely got the Holy Grail,” we may just have to settle for seeing Spurlock rock a full-on chin curtain.
Opens in limited release.

“Zombie Strippers”
Robert Englund (a.k.a. Freddy Krueger) slaps the scenery between two pieces of bread and takes a huge bite in this tongue-in-cheek (at least we certainly hope so) horror comedy that, much like peanut butter cups, combines two of the average twenty-something male’s favorite things. When a secret government virus is accidentally released onto the sleepy town of Satre, Nebraska, the resulting zombie stripper becomes the town’s new sensation, which leaves co-star Jenna Jameson and her cadre of living dead ladies of loose morals to run wild.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Anamorph,” IFC Films, 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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