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Critic wrangle: “The Exiles.”

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07112008_theexiles.jpg“The Exiles,” Kent MacKenzie’s 1961 black and white film about a Native American couple living in a now-demolished Los Angeles neighborhood, has been restored and finally gets a theatrical release today from Milestone Films, the company that last year brought Charles Burnett’s long-lost “Killer of Sheep” to cinemas and plenty of critics’ top ten lists. “The Exiles,” while getting a fair amount of love, doesn’t quite have “Killer of Sheep”s cinematic holy glow.

Manohla Dargis at the New York Times calls the film “a beautifully photographed slice of down-and-almost-out life, a near-heavenly vision of a near-hell that Mr. Mackenzie situated at the juncture of nonfiction and fiction.” She does point out “the film’s great flaw” — the characters have “no sense of the larger world, no politics, no exit, and neither does the film, which swaddles its subjects in shadows and ravishing despair.” Andrew O’Hehir at Salon describes it as both “an awkward, somewhat dated blend of fiction and documentary” and “an astonishing, heartbreaking viewing experience.” “The Exile’s modest but elegant style (sometimes awkward acting and off-sync dialogue) never detracts from its impact; every gesture is redolent of effort and aspiration,” counters Armond White at the New York Press. “If there’s a flaw, it’s that there’s little of the leavening wit in Killer of Sheep’s daily-life panoply.”

“It would oversell this movie to say it’s still as fresh as it must have seemed in its day,” writes Noel Murray at the Onion AV Club. “Better then to admire The Exiles for its specific docu-realist elements, which preserve places and moments that viewers won’t find in any other film.” But Jim Ridley at the Village Voice finds “this 50-year-old film about a Los Angeles neighborhood on the skids and its barely tethered dwellers stands as the freshest movie in theaters.”

For Amy Taubin at Art Forum, the film (and the acclaim it has received) comes with more than a whiff of exploitation:

I have no doubt that Mackenzie was committed to honestly documenting a ghettoized, desperately impoverished minority that a wealthy city chose to ignore, as well as to finding moments of wild poetry in the experience of people with whom he empathized. Still, I could not help but notice that what was on the screen was in fact a bunch of drunken Indians–not Indians acting drunk and pawing at women but, well, the real thing, aided and abetted by the film’s director. I didn’t need to read in the production notes that “8% of the budget went for alcohol” to understand what I was seeing.

A more positive spin of a related sentiment from Steven Boone at the House Next Door:”The film’s conclusion left me longing for a sequel, or some once-a-decade check-ins. Whatever happened to Homer and Yvonne? I mean the real ones as much as their characters. It’s that kind of movie.”

[Photo: “The Exiles,” 1961 – Milestone Films]

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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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