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Opening This Week

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05192008_childrenofhuangshi.jpgBy Neil Pedley

It’s a battle of filmmaking titans this week, the kind of event that comes around once in a lifetime — Steven Spielberg and Uwe Boll will duke it out at the multiplexes. (Forgive us, but that might’ve been our only opportunity to ever get to put those two names in the same sentence.)

“The Children of Huang Shi”
Set during the Japanese occupation of China during the 1930s, this sweeping historical epic comes from Roger Spottiswoode, the director behind both “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” and the narrative remake of “Shake Hands with the Devil.” The first official co-production between Australia and China, the film tells the true story of Australian nurse (Radha Mitchell), who with the aid of a British journalist (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), escorts 60 orphaned children 700 miles through the Liu Pan Shan Mountains to evade Japanese secret police. “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” co-stars Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat reunite onscreen to lend their support as sympathizers to the cause.
Opens in limited release.

“The Edge of Heaven”
A year removed from its win for best screenplay at Cannes and a subsequent bid as German’s official entry for the Oscars, “The Edge of Heaven” is writer/director Fatih Akin’s three-chapter tale that links two divergent cultures through companionship, love and tragedy. When an unlikely relationship between Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), an elderly widower in Hamburg, and Yeter (Nursel Köse), a jaded prostitute, ends in a fatal accident, Ali’s son Nejet (Baki Davrak) travels to Istanbul in search of Yeter’s daughter, unaware that she’s already in Hamburg searching for her mother. In English, German and Turkish with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull”
Harrison Ford dusts off his fedora for the return of the world’s most athletic archaeologist. Although there’ve been fears that Indy’s whip might have lot some of its snap in the intervening years (not to mention co-creator George Lucas’ regrettable track record with revisiting past works), there are plenty of other indications that Dr. Jones needn’t be retirement-bound just yet. 19 years have passed since the events of the “Last Crusade,” and the Nazis have faded into history, leaving Indy to battle the Soviet Union across the jungles of South America in a race to capture an ancient and powerful Mayan relic. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” veteran Karen Allen is joined by Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf and Ray Winstone, who’ll hopefully breathe life into the franchise and give way to new fears for Indy such as, ‘Stairs, why did it have to be stairs?’
Opens wide.

A young New York filmmaker falls in and falls out with the mob in this debut movie written and directed by Jerry Schram.
Opens in New York.

“A Jihad For Love”
At a time when Islamic culture is increasingly scrutinized, gay Muslim filmmaker Parvez Sharma lifts the veil on a dark underbelly of the faith and challenges a society where homosexuality is not only illegal but also punishable by death. Filmed in 12 different Muslim countries, “A Jihad For Love” explores homosexuality in relation to the Muslim faith and shows the daily struggle of those who live in fear for their lives. Despite premiering at Toronto Film Festival to great acclaim, the film has sparked controversy and was banned from screening at the Singapore Film Festival due to its taboo subject matter.
Opens in limited release.

“The Machine Girl”
Long-suffering schoolgirl Ami has been taking care of her brother since their parents killed themselves after being falsely accused of homicide. When he’s murdered by yakuza-fathered bullies who also take her arm, she snaps on a prosthetic machine-gun limb and before you can say “Holy Cherry Darling!” she… oh, just watch the trailer. In Japanese with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

Statistically speaking, Uwe Boll should have accidentally made a good film by now, given the sheer number of cracks he has been given, but given what our own Alison Willmore said in last week’s podcast, we’re inclined to think “Postal” won’t improve Boll’s batting average. Partially based on an ultra-violent video game that began life as one game developer’s April Fool’s joke before popular demand made it a reality, “Postal” stars Zack Ward as a slacker who enlists the help of his uncle Dave (Dave Foley) and his cult to rip off a local amusement park where he unexpectedly winds up doing battle with the Taliban. Recently, the “world’s most hated director” claimed that exhibitors have reduced the number of screens “Postal” will play from 1500 to four because of the film’s political content — all we know is there’s a nation of grateful cats who didn’t want to be used as gun silencers.
Opens in limited release.

“War, Inc”
Loosely inspired by the work of political lefty Naomi Klein, this John Cusack pet project envisions the world’s first totally outsourced war. Set in the not-too-distant future in the fictional country of Turaqistan, the film finds Cusack once again plays a troubled assassin sent by the U.S. vice president (Dan Aykroyd) to off a rival war profiteer named Omar Sharif. This scathing satire directed at companies who make a killing from foreign wars is the narrative feature directorial debut of documentarian Joshua Seftel, but Cusack co-scripted, produces and stars along the likes of Ben Kingsley, Joan Cusack, Marisa Tomei and Hilary Duff, who manages to send up both foreign policy and Britney Spears as a Russian pop star. And in case you’re wondering, Cusack crony Tim Robbins didn’t make the cast, but the film was scored by his brother, David.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

[Photos: “The Children of Huang Shi,” Sony Pictures Classics, 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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