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Opening This Week: Charlie Kaufman directs, Kristin Scott Thomas speaks French

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10202008_changeling.jpgBy Neil Pedley

A run-up to Halloween week that’s surprisingly light on the gore gives way to some refreshingly subtle visions of terror, both real and imagined, taking their place alongside some of the award season’s more established heavy hitters.

Nothing rings the Oscar bell quite like a Clint Eastwood period drama, and by now we all know exactly what to expect from the old master — another superbly crafted, slightly cold exercise in melodrama where fate casts an icy glare on someone quite undeserving, and then buries him or her under a tiny mountain of misery. (Divided audiences to follow.) Based on the infamous Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, the film stars Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, the single mother wronged by police who return a strange boy to her as her missing son, and then attempt to quiet their mistake by quieting her. John Malkovich co-stars as the activist preacher who exposes the police department’s corruption.
Opens in limited release; opens wide on Oct. 31st

“Fear(s) of the Dark”
An alum of the recent Fantastic Fest in Austin, this omnibus anthology of animated id exploration comes out of France, courtesy of several premier comic book artists and graphic designers. Instructed to animate the “rhythm of their fears,” six graphic artists (Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti and Richard McGuire) treat audiences to a black and white barrage of charcoal terror, kooky shadow play and anime nightmare tied together with narration from French actress/director Nicole Garcia. In French with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year”
Not even Vanessa Hudgens’ accidental overnight transformation from good girl to sex kitten, thanks to those now infamous leaked photos earlier this year, has seemed to derail the Disney Channel’s flagship franchise, which is making its leap to the big screen for its third and presumably final chapter. Director Kenny Ortega brings Hudgens and the rest of the East High class together to negotiate the tricky hurdles of prom, a basketball championship and a spring musical to cap things off in style as wall-to-wall pop music accompanies them. Next stop, college (musical).
Opens wide.

“I’ve Loved You So Long”
French novelist and literature professor-turned-screenwriter Philippe Claudel adds another string to his bow with this celebrated directorial debut centering on crime, punishment and the introspection of the guilty. Kristin Scott Thomas, in what some have called a career best performance, stars as Juliette, the elder sister of Léa (Elsa Zylberstein), who returns home after a 15-year incarceration. As Léa and her family tiptoe around the damaged Juliette, the gravity of her situation slowly reveals itself and she begins to question if there is any road back from her terrible crime. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

04282008_lettherightonein.jpg“Let The Right One In”
Winner of the Best Narrative Feature award (and positive notices) at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s enchanting, bittersweet, pre-teen love story offers the perfect alternative for Halloween couples seeking something a little less traditional. Adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 gothic page-turner, Alfredson’s film chronicles the gentle, innocent courtship of Oskar (KÃ¥re Hedebrant), a 12-year-old punching bag to school bullies, and the enigmatic Eli (Lina Leandersson), a 200-year-old vampire trapped in the body of a child who comes to Oskar’s aide. In Swedish with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

As far as popular entertainment is concerned, the post-9/11 commercial passenger plane has slowly but steadily transformed into something akin to the creepy old house on top of the hill. “Nine Lives” director Rodrigo García takes a break from helming female ensemble dramas to make this supernatural drama starring Anne Hathaway as Claire, a grief counselor brought in to help survivors of a plane crash and finds herself inexplicably drawn towards the most elusive, Eric (Patrick Wilson). When accounts of the incident begin to conflict and the remaining survivors start to disappear, Claire begins to suspect there may be more to the mystery that first appeared and that Eric may hold the key to it all. Equally mysterious is the film’s fly-by-night release, which is being handled by TriStar, the Sony arm that can count Lindsay Lohan’s “I Know Who Killed Me” and Al Pacino’s “88 Minutes” among its recent efforts.
Opens in limited release.

“Pride and Glory”
Based on his own experiences hanging around his father’s NYC police precinct in his youth, “Tumblewoods” writer/director Gavin O’Connor’s hard-hitting multi-generational cop drama finally arrives after seven years in development hell. Edward Norton stars as the dogged investigator tasked to investigate the slayings of several corrupt officers under the command of his brother (Colin Farrell). but learns that following the clues leads him closer to home than he ever dared imagine. Jon Voight co-stars as the father trying to prevent his family from being torn asunder.
Opens wide.

“Roadside Romeo”
In a year where their live action slate has been more miss than hit, Bollywood’s Yash Raj Films looks to diversify, entering into a distribution deal with Disney for their first foray into animation. Employing state of the art pixels from India’s Visual Computing Labs, veteran Bollywood player Jugal Hansraj scripts and directs this animated song and dance romance that tells of cool and cocky mansion-dwelling mutt named Romeo (Saif Ali Khan) who finds himself stripped of the high life after being accidentally left behind on the streets of Mumbai, where critters live in fear of Charlie Anna (Javed Jaffrey), the evil don of the area. Could “Bombay Chihuahua” be far behind? In English and Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Saw V”
With audiences seemingly over the whole torture porn thing, the world needs a continuation of this franchise like another dip in the stock market. With Jigsaw having been killed off two movies ago and Shawnee Smith, the actress who played his surviving apprentice, stating she was never even on set this time around, trying to follow this sorry story has become an exercise in futility. Suffice to say, it will be nasty as all hell and for anyone but the most ardent gore fanatic, sitting through it will be marginally less unpleasant than being caught in one of Jigsaw’s heinous devices of death yourself. Marginally. “Dexter”‘s Julie Benz, Meagan Good and Betsy Russell are potentially among the fresh victims onscreen.
Opens wide.

“Stranded: I Have Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains”
Uruguayan director Gonzalo Arijon’s award-winning doc reunites the living survivors of the tragic crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 that marooned 27 people in the heart of the Andes for over two months in the winter of 1972. Aided by dramatic reconstruction to illustrate key events, the survivors and their loved ones return to the crash site and narrate their remarkable bid to stay alive, the impossible choices forced upon them, and the weeklong hike through the mountains to Chile that ultimately saved their lives.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on November 7th.

“Synecdoche, New York”
Making his much-anticipated directorial debut, Charlie Kaufman again plays fast and loose with conventional narrative in delivering another melancholic, mournful slice of life from an alternate plane. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as theater director Caden, whose obsession with mortality and the human condition leads him to create a gigantic mockup of his city where he invites an ensemble cast of thousands to reflect upon the transient nature of their lives. Catherine Keener and Samantha Morton co-star as Caden’s estranged wife and muse, respectively.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“The Universe of Keith Haring”
In the year that would have marked his 50th birthday, director Christina Clausen’s affectionate documentary offers a celebration of the life and work one of New York’s most seminal artists, tragically struck down by an AIDS-related illness at the tender age of 31. Mixing new and archival interviews with the likes of Madonna, Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono, as well as audio excerpts from the artist himself, Clausen invites the Haring’s family and friends to share their insights of one of the most influential figures of the ’80s New Wave art scene.
Opens in New York.

[Photo: “Changeling,” Universal Pictures, 2008; “Let the Right One In,” Magnet Releasing, 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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