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Opening This Week

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04212008_babymama.jpgBy Neil Pedley

While we pace the carpet back and forth in anticipation of the fast-approaching Tribeca Film Festival (kicking off on Wednesday), we can bide our time with a puppet kidnapping, some Bollywood royalty and an Ewan McGregor sighting.

“Baby Mama”
If the fad of pregnancy movies began with last year’s “Knocked Up,” it reaches its second trimester with “Baby Mama,” which stars comedy goddess Tina Fey as a wannabe mom who’s fast approaching 40 and Fey’s one-time Weekend Update deskmate Amy Poehler as the uncouth oddball who offers up the use of her womb in exchange for a bit of cash. Appropriately enough, former “SNL” scribe Michael McCullers makes his directorial debut with the offbeat comedy, which could serve as “Juno” for people deemed too fuddy-duddy to find the term “home skillet” amusing. “Baby Mama”‘s also serving as Tribeca’s opening night film.
Opens wide.

Gil Cates Jr. follows in the shaky footsteps of Curtis Hanson (“Lucky You”) and John Dahl (“Rounders”) with this tale of a young cardshark (“Reaper” star Bret Harrison) and his mentor (Burt Reynolds) who seek an upset at the World Series of Poker. Real life part-time poker mavens Jennifer Tilly and Shannon Elizabeth round out the cast, and we have to give credit where it’s due — this is the first film we’ve ever seen that used pullquotes from poker champions in its marketing campaign.
Opens in limited release.

Ewan McGregor stars as an awkward accountant inducted by Hugh Jackman’s smooth talking lawyer into a secretive world of anonymous sexual encounters in this debut feature from director Marcel Langenegger that’s part erotic thriller and part elaborate heist. Michelle Williams further complicates matters for McGregor’s character, who quickly realizes that his new friends might not be all that they appear when he becomes chief suspect in the disappearance of a woman (Maggie Q) he knows only as S.
Opens wide.

“Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay”
Following their 2004 sleeper comedy hit, Kal Penn and John Cho reprise their roles as the Cheech & Chong of the MySpace generation in another absurd and surreal stoner escapade. After a mix-up on a flight to Amsterdam, the pair are mistaken for terrorists and shipped off to Cuba, where they duly escape. “Daily Show” vets Rob Corddry and Ed Helms are hot on their trail, along with the returning Neil Patrick Harris, who is officially as camp as a row of tents, reprising his role as himself in a way that just begs for an action figure, complete with unicorn accessory.
Opens wide.

“A Plumm Summer”
Caroline Zelder makes filmmaking debut with a family adventure laden with an eclectic cast that appears so wholesome it should by rights only exist in a pastry dish cooling on some old lady’s open window ledge. Based on an actual event that occurred in Montana in 1968, this idyllic vision of Americana stars Billy Baldwin, Henry Winkler, Clint Howard and former Fox Sports announcer Lisa Guerrero as residents of a small town that’s rocked when their beloved local kids TV star — a puppet, Froggy Doo — is kidnapped and held for ransom. Jeff Daniels narrates.
Opens in limited release.

Following up his gruesome and disturbing debut serial killer thriller “Wolf Creek,” writer-director Greg McLean returns to the vast, untamed wilderness of the Australian outback. Radha Mitchell stars as a feisty tour guide who leads an embittered travel writer (Michael Vartan) and a boat full of tourists into forbidden waters where they are stalked by a gigantic, ancient man-eating crocodile. Perhaps because of the lukewarm reception the film received at the Aussie box office, “Rogue” is getting a smaller release than its predecessor in America, which can only be good news for Australia’s tourism industry.
Opens in limited release.

“Roman de Gare”
This multi-stranded tale of friendship, fate and murder was self-financed and shot under a pseudonym, only revealed to be the work of acclaimed French director Claude Lelouch upon its release at Cannes. In fact, identity is a theme of the 70-year-old filmmaker’s latest film, which tells the story of a mystery writer (Fanny Ardant) who is a bit mysterious herself, since her books are ghost written by Louis (Dominique Pinon), an enigmatic ex-teacher who may or may not be a real life serial killer called “The Magician.” In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Standard Operating Procedure”
The nonstop slew of films examining the Iraq war continues, this time courtesy of Oscar-nominated filmmaker and self-proclaimed “detective director” Errol Morris. “Standard Operating Procedure” takes us inside the notorious Abu Ghraib POW camp via reenactments, seeking to uncover the truth behind one of America’s most shameful military scandals. With testimony from witnesses, those implicated by evidence of prisoner abuse, and those who tried to speak out, Morris explores the psychology of such an institution and asks how such activities could go unchecked for so long.
Opens in limited release.

“Stuff and Dough”
After the international success of his 2005 film, “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” Romanian writer/director Cristi Puiu’s darkly comic debut is riding the Romanian New Wave to a limited U.S. run, seven years after its initial release. A low-budget road movie that racked up awards on the European film festival circuit, “Stuff and Dough” follows an ambitious young hustler and his two friends in their beat-up van and listen in as they travel to Bucharest to deliver a strange package to a local gangster. In Romanian with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

One of the most eagerly anticipated films in its native India, “Tashan” pairs Bollywood royalty Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor on screen together for the first time since they became a couple in real life. The celebrated couple stars alongside Akshay Kumar as three strangers taking a journey across India together under the watchful eye of Anil Kapoor’s sadistic gangster. In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Then She Found Me”
Helen Hunt told the audience at this year’s SXSW that everything that was important to her could be found in her big screen adaptation of Elinor Lipman’s novel about a school teacher who yearns for a child of her own when she is reunited with the mother she never knew (Bette Midler), a woman determined to get to know her daughter, whether she wants to or not. In addition to starring in the film, Hunt also gets behind the camera for the first time to direct. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from Salman Rushdie.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Without The King”
Documentary filmmaker Michael Skolnik travels to Swaziland, a country that has earned the dubious designation of having the lowest life expectancy of any place on Earth, thanks to an out of control HIV epidemic. The African nation is also home to the world’s last remaining absolute monarchy where King Mswati III lives in ignominious luxury while his people struggle in abject poverty. With access granted by both the king and his subjects (who are plotting his ouster), Skolnick juxtaposes the struggle of the people and the increasingly volatile political climate with a monarch who is out of touch with reality. The film earned a Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs 2007.
Opens in New York.

[Photo: “Baby Mama,” Universal 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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