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Opening This Week

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06092008_beautyintrouble.jpgBy Neil Pedley

On offer this week is a veritable gallery of the eclectic and the eccentric as M. Night Shyamalan goes R-rated, Edward Norton goes green, Werner Herzog goes to the Antarctic, and two of Herzog’s fellow countrymen go to California to climb a big rock very, very quickly.

“Beauty in Trouble”
Czech director Jan Hrebejk and writer Petr Jarchovský continue their longtime collaborative partnership with this dense ensemble drama loosely inspired by Robert Graves’s poem of the same name. This time, the duo who balanced humor with drama in the Oscar-nominated Holocaust-set “Divided We Fall,” turn to the devastating series of floods that swept Prague in 2002, and tell the story of Marcela (Anna Geislerová), an overworked mother of two living in squalor. When her ne’er do well husband is taken in by the police, she’s courted by a well-to-do businessman (Josef Abrhám) and Marcela is forced to choose between family and the stability he offers.
Opens in New York.

“Chris & Don: A Love Story”
This intimate documentary from filmmakers Tina Mascara and Guido Santi chronicles the 33-year romance between novelist Christopher Isherwood and portrait artist Don Bachardy, who was 30 years younger than the “Berlin Stories” author. Employing a blend of archival footage, home movies, reenactments and animation narrated by a reminiscing Bachardy, the film celebrates their enduring and bittersweet tale of love and commitment.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on July 4th.

“Encounters at the End of the World”
Billed as “not another penguin movie,” this documentary finds Werner Herzog continuing his fascinating, career-long exploration of man’s relationship to the great untamed wilderness, venturing out into earth’s final frontier, and in doing so becoming the first director to have shot on all seven continents. As part of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, Herzog travels to McMurdo Station, the NSF’s base of operations in Antarctica, where he meets the 1,100 people who choose to call it home and prove to be every bit as breathtaking and enigmatic as the land they live on.
Opens in limited release.

“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”
Originally a novel first published in 1965, Yasutaka Tsutsui’s high-concept meditation on fate and causality has survived more incarnations and adaptations than Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Now an animated film, this update tells of Makoto Konno, a high school girl who discovers the power to go back in time and re-do events in her life. Realizing she can only do this a finite number of times, she attempts to make things right for everyone in her life with chaotic and unexpected results. Despite a modest showing at the Japanese box office, the film was a hit on the festival circuit, picking up a multitude of nominations and awards for animation.
Opens in limited release.

“The Grocer’s Son”
French filmmaker Eric Guirado feeds off his previous experience as a documentarian for his sophomore narrative feature, which captures the stalwart bucolic lifestyle of the French rural countryside. Nicolas Cazalé stars as Antoine, a city-dweller who reluctantly returns to the sleepy village from which he fled in order to run the family grocery business after his father is hospitalized. Joined by his big city friend Claire (Clotilde Hesme), Antoine is slowly charmed and disarmed by the serenity of the small community and the gentle and colorful nature of its people. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“The Happening”
After a tell-all book aired out the dirty laundry of his messy divorce from Disney and his last film (“Lady in the Water”) hung him out to dry, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is back and hopes to scare more than studio chieftains with his latest. Armed with the first R rating of his career, Shyamalan has penned a paranoid apocalyptic thriller starring Mark Wahlberg as a high school science teacher who flees with his family in a bid to outrun a mysterious and deadly phenomenon.
Opens wide.

“The Hulk”
Back in 2003, Eric Bana told audiences that they wouldn’t like him when he was angry, and the relatively poor showing of the Ang Lee-directed “Hulk” proved he wasn’t wrong. Marvel has since explained it away as a dry run, insisting that the real Hulk franchise starts here and handing the reins over to another NYU alum in “The Transporter”‘s Louis Leterrier, who directs while Edward Norton stars as the not-so-jolly green giant who must abandon his quest for a cure to his condition in order to save mankind from Abomination (Tim Roth), a devastating creature born from Hulk’s own DNA. Liv Tyler co-stars as Hulk alter ego Bruce Banner’s girlfriend Betty Ross.
Opens wide.

“My Winnipeg”
Canadian auteur Guy Maddin once again indulges in his love affair with German expressionism and the avant garde by applying it to his own life in this quasi-autobiography (or whatever you call it when you cast B-movie icon Ann Savage as your mother). Using a whimsical, stream-of-consciousness narrative technique that’s as outlandish as it is beguiling, Maddin’s self-described “docu-fantasia” takes the audience on a tour of Maddin’s formative years in Winnipeg. Blending fact with fiction, the historical with the imagined, “My Winnipeg” is both a serenade and an exorcism directed at Maddin’s childhood and the city that has been his home since his birth in 1956.
Opens in New York.

“Quid Pro Quo”
Following Jodie Foster’s “The Brave One,” working in public radio has never been so much in vogue, as Carlos Brooks demonstrates in his directorial debut starring Nick Stahl as a budding NPR muckraker who’s paralyzed from the waist down and becomes curious when he hears of a man who actually wants to be a paraplegic. Having premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the film may draw unwanted comparisons to David Cronenberg’s autoeroticism (in the most literal sense) drama “Crash,” as Stahl enters the deviant subculture that covets and fetishizes human pain and suffering, including a “wannabe” amputee played by Vera Farmiga.
Opens in limited release.

“To The Limit”
Oscar-winning filmmaker Pepe Danquart chronicles the escapades of German speed climbing brothers Thomas and Alexander Huber, two men of boundless energy, audacious courage and somewhat questionable sanity. No stranger to sibling rivalry himself as the twin of another filmmaker, Danquart uncovers a fierce professional rivalry behind this pair of extreme sports icons as they prepare to mount a record breaking assault on the 3,000-foot high “Nose” of the El Capitan Summit in Yosemite National Park, where the duo looks to put the three-day climb to bed in a leisurely two hours and 45 minutes. In English and German with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

[Photo: “Beauty in Trouble,” Menemsha Films, 2006]

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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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