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Opening This Week

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06022008_dreamswithsharpteeth.jpgBy Neil Pedley

Among this week’s offerings: The pregnancy comedy goes pre-natal, the fate of all the jungle rests in the hands of the world’s most lethargic endangered species, and Dario Argento has a new film, rendering the rest of this list mostly unnecessary.

“Dreams With Sharp Teeth”
Author Harlan Ellison is widely regarded as one of the finest writers of the 20th century. He is also, as this documentary readily highlights, abrasive, petulant, egotistical and prone to fits of belligerent rage. Collecting together more than two decades worth of footage and interviews, “Grizzly Man” producer Erik Nelson lifts the dust jacket off one of literature’s genuinely larger than life characters and a man who has filed more lawsuits than the ACLU, proving that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction, even Ellison’s sci-fi tales.
Opens in New York.

“The Go-Getter”
On paper, it sounds like the dictionary definition of a Sundance Film (coming of age story, acoustic-indie soundtrack, quirky characters), so it’s no surprise this whimsical road movie played the festival in 2007. Lou Taylor Pucci stars as a disaffected teen who steals a car and rediscovers his estranged brother by proxy as he tracks him across the country to tell him of their mother’s death. Zooey Deschanel is the sympathetic owner of the stolen vehicle who aids his journey, and though she might have lost a car, Deschanel gained a singer-songwriter partner offscreen in M. Ward, who scored the film and joined her to form the musical duo She & Him following the shoot.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Kung Fu Panda”
Movie theater patrons have already been acquainted with Po the Panda as the bear who bursts onto the screen just before the feature and threatens to kick your ass if you don’t quit texting your buddy sitting two seats away. Looking to bolster DreamWorks’s bottom line in the absence of a certain big green ogre this summer, the studio’s first animated film in Cinemascope tells the epic story of Po (Jack Black), a slacker chosen by prophecy to be trained to be a warrior to battle against an evil snow leopard (Ian McShane). Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan help to round out an eclectic, all-star voice cast.
Opens wide and in IMAX.

“Miss Conception”
It appears that Hollywood has birthed yet another pregnancy comedy, though this one takes place across the pond. Desperate to be a mum, a flighty London professional (Heather Graham) has one month to get herself pregnant, since her family has a history of early menopause. Providing ample opportunities to mock the British for pre-conceived notions of their repressed attitudes towards sex, the film has supplied Graham’s Georgina with a best friend, played by Mia Kirshner, who arranges for her to pounce on an ever more terrified selection of unsuspecting men.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Kahn”
Don’t let the fact that this was the official Kazakhstan [insert obligatory “Borat” gag here] entry into the best foreign film category at this year’s Oscars fool you — this Eurasian epic is about as international as they come. Boasting a Russian director and Chinese and Japanese leads, this sweeping melodrama chronicles the legendary warlord’s childhood, his struggle to survive in the wake of his father’s assassination and his subsequent ascension to overlord of an empire stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Naturally, two hours can’t cover such an epic life, but fret not, a second installment chronicling the final years of his life is currently in development.
Opens in limited release.

“The Mother of Tears”
Also known as “The Third Mother,” this elegant supernatural thriller is the concluding installment of Italian director Dario Argento’s “The Three Mothers” trilogy, which arrives a mere 28 years after the last installment, “Inferno.” The final chapter of this gothic horror trifecta sees an American art restoration student, played by Dario’s daughter, Asia, disturb an ancient urn containing cursed relics, the release of which heralds the return of the beautiful yet malevolent sorceress Mater Lachrymarum (Moran Atias). As frequent readers of the site may know, we’ll see just about anything with Asia Argento, but don’t take our word for it — non-horror fans might recall none other than Juno MacGuff prefers Dario Argento to Herschell Gordon Lewis. In English and Italian with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“On The Rumba River”
Out of one of the most war-torn countries on Earth comes the truly remarkable and inspirational story of Wendo Kolosoy, a man credited with pioneering the Congolese Rumba and one of the godfathers of African music. Against the backdrop of a 2004 reunion concert for Papa Wendo and his band, French filmmaker Jacques Sarasin charts Wendo’s humble beginnings as a boat mechanic, his battles with the Belgian colonials who considered him subversive, his fall from grace and time spent as a beggar on the streets and his dramatic comeback under a new regime in the late ’90s. In Lingala with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Operation Filmmaker”
The issue of media responsibility as it relates to the war in Iraq takes on a whole new meaning in this documentary from Nina Davenport about a young Iraqi filmmaker named Muthana Mohmed, who’s taken under the wing of Liev Schreiber after the actor/director hears that his Baghdad school has been bombed. However, Mohmed finds that his job as a production assistant on Schreiber’s film, “Everything is Illuminated,” isn’t what he had hoped for, and Schreiber and company are displeased to find their charity case is fond of partying and George Bush. As the reality of Mohmed’s temporary status looms ever closer, Davenport documents how, much like the larger situation in Iraq, sometimes even the best of intentions can go seriously awry.
Opens in New York.

“The Promotion”
Writer/director Steve Conrad, the screenwriter behind “The Weather Man” and “The Pursuit of Happyness” once again goes to the well of somewhat failed men and their questionable professional accomplishments, this time adding a more comedic edge. John C. Reilly and Seann William Scott star as two competing grocery store employees, each vying for the job of manager of the new store opening in town while trying to conceal vast chasms of incapability. Debuting at this year’s SXSW Festival, the film pulled sharply divided early reviews, with SpoutBlog calling it “one of the best comedies in years” and The Hollywood Reporter calling it “one of the unfunniest comedies ever.”
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy”
With a release set to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the New York senator’s tragic assassination, Shane O’Sullivan’s investigative documentary explores the controversies surrounding the shooting and the conspiracy theories that persist to this day. Expanding on his reports for the BBC, O’Sullivan uncovers fresh forensic analysis and inconsistencies in the official account of the murder, and speaks to convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan’s only surviving relative in an effort to discover the true sequence of events that took place. O’Sullivan is also going the Errol Morris route and publishing an accompanying book, “Who Killed Bobby Kennedy?” to reach shelves to tie in with the release of the film.
Opens in New York.

“Sarkar Raj”
Ram Gopal Varma’s highly anticipated sequel to the acclaimed Bollywood hit “Sarkar,” finally arrives, but while that film was a re-imagining of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” Varma has loosely built this follow-up around the shady goings-on in the build up to the Enron scandal. Yet “Raj” is still a family affair, with Varma directing Amitabh Bachchan, Bachchan’s son Abhishek and Abhishek’s real-life wife Aishwarya Rai, who plays an ambitious CEO outside the family who gets in cahoots with Abhishek’s clan leader to navigate the various factions populating a corrupt political minefield as they seek to establish a power plant in the local province. In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Take Out”
One of the creative forces behind the inimitable “Greg The Bunny,” writer/director Sean Baker teams with fellow NYU grad Shi-Ching Tsou for this contemporary, neorealist slice of life. Ming Ding (Charles Jang), a Chinese immigrant who makes his living as a takeout deliveryman, gets in over his head in debt to the loan sharks who helped smuggle him into the U.S. and is given 24 hours to make good on the cash. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Nashville Film Festival, the film drew much praise on the festival circuit for its commitment to a documentary-style aesthetic and its aversion to overt, clichéd sentimentality.
Opens in New York.

“When Did You Last See Your Father?”
After flirting with helming “The Golden Compass,” director Anand Tucker adapts the far more intimate autobiography of poet Blake Morrison — think “Big Fish” minus Tim Burton’s fairytale gallery of the grotesque and you have some idea. Colin Firth stars as the conflicted son who looks back on a lifelong struggle to reconcile his feelings for his distant father (Jim Broadbent) during his dad’s final weeks battling terminal cancer. Matthew Beard co-stars as the young Blake and Juliet Stevenson as his mother.
Opens in limited release.

“You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”
For comedy fans, only “Tropic Thunder” has more stars aligned this summer than the writers of “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” which teams former NYU roommates Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow with “Saturday Night Live” stalwart Robert Smigel, in the latter’s feature writing debut. “Zohan” provides perhaps the most definitive answer for those who wondered what might have occurred had Derek Zoolander opted for a career in the Israeli Mossad as opposed to strutting it on the catwalk. Sandler stars as a metrosexual Jack Bauer who fakes his own death so that he can escape to New York to pursue his dream of becoming a hair stylist, but becomes the target of a bungling sleeper cell. Sandler regulars Rob Schneider, John Turturro, and Kevin Nealon all show up to lend their support.
Opens wide.

[Photo: “Dreams With Sharp Teeth,” Creative Differences, 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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