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Oh, Mr. Lee.

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08212008_bamboozled.jpgWhen asked about the omission of a seemingly obvious interview choice for “The Black List: Volume One” by Steven Zeitchik at the Hollywood Reporter, Elvis Mitchell said “Spike Lee is kind of the go-to guy. And Spike Lee is very good at promoting Spike Lee. We wanted to show people you might not see as often.” Which seems more than fair enough, particularly in light of Lee’s summer newspaper spat with Clint Eastwood that so delicately illustrated the director’s ability to race-bait and drum up publicity at the same time.

Still, over at the Onion AV Club, Nathan Rabin turns in a 2,000-plus word reconsideration and defense of the film that found Lee at the height of his go-to guyness, 2000’s “Bamboozled.” It’s a great piece that outlines much of my frustration with/love of Lee’s work, and actually has me wanting to rewatch a film I found excruciatingly shrill the first time around:

Lee long ago appointed himself the indignant conscience of black America, a role that has won him countless detractors. The irony, of course, is that after Do The Right Thing, his magnum opus and a film defined as much by its ambiguity as its rage, Lee’s best films have had primarily white casts: Summer Of Sam, The 25th Hour, Inside Man. Lee has shown infinitely more mastery as a filmmaker and storyteller than as a polemicist. It’s his films that try to say something profound and sweeping about Black America–She Hate Me, He Got Game, School Daze, Girl 6–that have gotten him into trouble.

With Bamboozled, Lee channeled the ornery, muckraking spirit of Peter Finch in Network and hollered, “I’m mad as hell about television’s treatment of black America, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Finch’s legendary catchphrase is referenced repeatedly in Bamboozled, a film that joins Network in Movie Jail for crimes against subtlety. Having just suffered through the 213-minute director’s cut of Nixon, I can assure you that Oliver Stone deserves eight consecutive death penalties for his even more egregious crimes against subtlety. Bamboozled is as subtle as a jackhammer. But sometimes you have to yell just to make yourself heard.

[Photo: “Bamboozled,” New Line Cinema, 2000]

+ The joy of having Elvis (and Timothy) in the building (Hollywood Reporter)
+ My Year Of Flops, #116 Case Files And A Mule Edition: Bamboozled (Onion AV Club)

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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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