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Critic wrangle: “In Search of a Midnight Kiss.”

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08012008_insearchofamidnightkiss.jpgIt’s been over a year since Alex Holdridge’s “In Search of a Midnight Kiss” premiered at Tribeca 2007, in which time his “misanthrope seeks misanthrope” blind date romance has rounded the film festival bases from Edinburgh to Sarajevo to Mill Valley to Austin to Thessaloniki. Now in theaters, it’s attracting some interestingly considered, if mixed, reviews (and is the lone focus of the New Yorker‘s film column this week), with many calling out its portrayal of Los Angeles. Take Scott Foundas at the Village Voice, who leads with “Did Los Angeles sign with a new agent?” He finds that “Holdridge’s film oscillates wildly between low-key romantic comedy and antic slapstick and doesn’t always hit the mark, but it has charm to burn, as well as a welcome eye for the timeless in a rapidly changing metropolis.”

Andrew O’Hehir at Salon writes that the film “has a gutter purity that makes you root for it all the way and forgive its patches of ultra-indie awkwardness.” “While ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss’ has its derivative moments along with awkward patches — the inelegantly shaped climax tries to force uninteresting parallels between the two central couples — it manages the difficult task of creating a sustained, plausible and inviting world,” agrees Manohla Dargis at the New York Times. At indieWIRE, Kristi Mitsuda counters that the film’s hint at larger themes of isolation and technology “never amasses enough complexity, and begins to seem like just so much narrative clutter meant to lend heft to a slight story which, like the city it celebrates, conveys an aura of gritty glamour that only goes skin deep.”

“[I]n Holdridge’s movie there is as much to repel as there is to allure, and I cannot imagine leaving a screening of it in anything less than two minds,” writes Anthony Lane at the New Yorker. But he find something in the mix of romanticism and anti-romanticism:

That pretty much sums up the mixed mood in which Holdridge’s film unfolds, and which makes it such a neat distillation of what we mean by American independent cinema: the compulsion to proceed by nudges and sidelong glances, to build a character through the accumulation of quirks, and to gesture toward the deep end of human behavior and then dart quickly away. If mainstream Hollywood cleaves to the story arc, indie creators prefer the story sine wave, with a trough for every peak.

At the New York Observer, Andrew Sarris declares that the film’s “tempestuous love story, with its heartbreaking complications, is well served by a cast of comparative unknowns.” But Noel Murray at the Onion AV Club finds it “shows enough flashes of brightness that its more conventional business is all the more dispiriting,” and Nick Schager concludes that the characters’ growing closeness is “handled admirably by the two leads (whose relaxed charm helps offset their characters’ needy self-absorption and thumb-twiddling sulkiness), even if it mostly feels like the foregone conclusion of a contrived, overly precious narrative that must inevitably climax with a New Year’s Eve smooch.”

[Photo: “In Search of a Midnight Kiss,” IFC Films, 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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