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Opening This Week: British gangsters, mock doormen, Lou Reed

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07142008_averybritishgangster.jpgBy Neil Pedley

This week sees the opening of “The Dark Knight.” Advance marketing and coverage might have you believe that that, apparently, is all, but there are other films coming out this week well worth your time. (Besides, “The Dark Knight” is totally going to be sold out.)

“A Very British Gangster”
With Britain in the midst of a youth crime epidemic, Irish investigative reporter Donald McIntyre takes an unflinching look at Dominic Noonan, a granddad of the English gangland who’s spent over half his life behind bars. Having legally changed his name to Lattlay Fottfoy (an acronym of the Noonan motto — “Look After Those That Look After You; Fuck Off Those That Fuck Off You”), the openly gay head of Manchester’s most notorious crime family shows off his gentler side as a man who uses his reputation to position himself as a “problem solver” more concerned with the state of his local community than his own image.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Before I Forget”
Jacques Nolot concludes his loosely strung together sexually charged trilogy (preceeded by “L’Arrière pays” and “Porn Theater”) with a practical consideration of homosexual life in this frank and unabashed tale of an aging gigolo. Shot in long takes to capture the passage of time, “Before I Forget” features Nolot both behind and in front of the camera as Pierre, a man who’s been HIV-positive for 24 years and finds himself nearing destitution as he contests his sugar daddy’s inheritance and wastes away his days in the company of friends who can afford more imaginative and expensive ways to indulge their pleasures.
Opens in New York.

“The Dark Knight”
The days of Joel Schumacher’s garish batastrophe, with its pantomime villains and nippled batsuit, now seem like just a bad dream. Continuing to lead the phoenix-like resurrection of a franchise once dead and buried, “Memento”‘s Christopher Nolan once again orchestrates the chaos in Gotham City as Batman (Christian Bale) joins forces with D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to battle the twisted Joker (Heath Ledger) while both Dent and Batman’s alter ego battle each other for the heart of Bruce Wayne’s childhood sweetheart, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). With some theaters reporting to have sold out their opening night as far back as two weeks ago, Warner Brothers knows they’ll have a captive audience for trailers to the new Ridley Scott thriller “Body of Lies,” next summer’s “Watchmen” and “Terminator Salvation,” which also happens to star Bale.
Opens wide and in limited release in IMAX.

After penning scripts for Hollywood films such as “Fracture” and “Mad Money,” Glenn Gers uses his sophomore feature to explore some real world women’s issues in this tender dramedy about friendship and self-image. Overweight sales clerk Lydia (Deidra Edwards) meets with a support group once a week, not looking to get thin, but seeking acceptance for being fat. After the group rejects an application from Darcy (Staci Lawrence), a recovering anorexic, because she’s not actually fat, the two women strike up a friendship and discover a happy medium in the process.
Opens in New York.

“The Doorman”
Filmmakers Wayne Price and Lucas Akoskin claim they were inspired by the underrated Belgian serial killer satire “Man Bites Dog,” yet their debut feature is more likely to inspire comparisons with “Borat.” This mock doc focuses on Trevor, a bungling, English-impaired gatekeeper to New York’s most exclusive clubs and events. Akoskin stars as the little Hitler on a power trip who pulls back the velvet rope to a documentary film crew chronicling his evenings as guardian of the Manhattan party scene, all the while struggling to avoid telling them he’s in fact been fired. Peter Bogdanovich, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” personality Thom Filicia are among those who find themselves on the wrong side of the rope.
Opens in New York.

Former Batman Val Kilmer has a summer movie to call his own, albeit by way of a supporting role. Former Hollywood stuntman Ric Roman Waugh directs this violent prison drama that stars Stephen Dorff as a man convicted of manslaughter while attempting to protect his family. Behind bars, he must cozy up to Kilmer’s psychopathic cellmate to protect himself from a brutal prison guard (“Oz” alum Harold Perriineau). One can only imagine that it was the former “Real Genius” star’s name in the credits that pushed this by-the-numbers genre movie towards a brief detour into a handful of theaters on its way to an August 12th debut on DVD. Then again, Waugh must be proud of it — he used the “Alan Smithee” pseudonym on his first film, “Exit.”
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Lou Reed’s Berlin”
Lou Reed originally planned a stage version of his 1973 concept album back when it was first released, but poor critical reception saw those plans shelved. Almost 33 years later, the album is considered by many to be a bona fide classic and Reed’s vision could finally be realized. Director and fan Julian Schnabel filmed “Berlin” over five nights at St. Ann’s warehouse in Brooklyn in 2006, adding a series of video installations that chronicle Reed’s musical journey of a couple’s romance doomed by drugs and depression. The former Velvet Underground singer also enlists the help of a 30-piece band, the New London Children’s Choir, Sharon Jones and Antony of Antony and the Johnsons.
Opens in limited release.

“Mad Detective”
Director Johnnie To and writer/director Wai Ka-Fai collaborate once again on this hard-boiled psychological police drama. (Apparently, To wouldn’t have it any other way, as he told IFC’s own R. Emmet Sweeney.) After being unceremoniously forced into retirement, intuitive Inspector Bun (Lau Ching-Wan) takes on one last case when he learns his ex-partner Chi-Wai is possessed of many spirits, each embodying one of the seven deadly sins.
Opens in New York.

“Mamma Mia!”
The four members of ABBA reunited at the Swedish premiere for “Mamma Mia!” last week, but reiterated their resolve to not reunite on stage, meaning fans of the iconic ’70s pop sensation will have to be content with this screen adaptation of the hit musical. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” producer Tom Hanks returns to the Grecian theme with the stage production’s original writer (Catherine Johnson) and director (Phyllida Lloyd) in tow. Although Meryl Streep is required to sing, it isn’t exactly “Waterloo” near the Acropolis when her soon-to-be-married daughter in the film (Amanda Seyfried) invites a trio (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd) of her mother’s ex-lovers to the wedding to try to discover which one of them is her father.
Opens wide.

“Space Chimps”
Watching a bunch of juvenile chimps lark about like frat boys as they train to be (reluctantly) sent into space, it’s difficult to discern if this is a children’s adventure story or just a collection of animated deleted scenes from Michael Bay’s “Armageddon.” “Shrek” producer John H. Williams is certainly hoping for the former as he looks to blast his Vanguard animation company into orbit with the medium’s big boys after the studio’s maiden voyage, “Valiant,” was a misfire. Sent in search of a missing NASA probe, former circus chimp Ham III (Andy Samberg) joins the courageous Lt. Luna (Cheryl Hines) and the tightly wound Titan (Patrick Warburton) to face off against the evil cosmic dictator Zartog (Jeff Daniels).
Opens wide.

Shifting back and forth from past to present, writer/director Charles Oliver’s debut feature offers a heady and cerebral meditation on justice, revenge and the death penalty. As Ana (Minnie Driver) makes the difficult drive to a prison in the desert to witness an execution, she recollects the day that she and her son met Saul (Jeremy Renner), a hounded and desperate man forced to accept a deadly proposition in exchange for wiping away a gambling debt.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on July 25th.

Now that the likes of “Wolf Creek” and “Turistas” have engrained into moviegoers the idea that stepping outside our borders invariably leads to a gory and painful death, the notion of vacationing somewhere exotic and only being targeted by ruthless drug smugglers actually sounds quite appealing. So it is with genre-jumping helmer Brad Anderson’s slow-burning thriller centered around a naïve American couple (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) who hop aboard a train from Beijing to Moscow and strike up a friendship with fellow travelers, Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and Abby (Kate Mara), who are not all that they appear to be. Matters are complicated when Sir Ben Kingsley’s Russian narcotics officers comes on board.
Opens in New York.

[Photo: “A Very British Gangster,” Anywhere Road Entertainment, 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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