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Critic wrangle: “JCVD.”

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11072008_jcvd.jpgGenius? Overrated? Jean-Claude Van Damme plays “himself” in Mabrouk El Mechri’s meta-drama “JCVD,” caught in a bank robbery gone wrong in a trip back to Brussels to recuperate. It’s a film I enjoyed the hell out of, though general critical word is mixed, or perhaps just more bemused. At New York, David Edelstein calls it “the most amazing piece of acting I’ve ever seen by a martial artist. But the film itself doesn’t rise above the level of a good try.” Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club sums the film up as “a canny piece of autobiography that looks at the man behind the legend and the legend behind the man,” but finds that once “the film’s self-reflexive moments disappear… JCVD looks too much like the recent duds from which Van Damme hopes to extricate himself.”

At the New York Times, A.O. Scott shrugs that “JCVD” is an “odd, almost-clever film”: “Some of this is affecting, some of it tedious… Still, as a foray into self-mocking, self-aggrandizing career rehabilitation, ‘JCVD’ shows some promise and holds some interest.” J. Hoberman at the Village Voice, like Scott, wonders if the film is deliberately reminiscent of fellow Belgians the Dardenne brothers’ work. “What exactly is JCVD? Comedy? Confession? Confusion? No one will ever mistake these backstage shenanigans for Irma Vep. But as a self-regarding expression of masculine angst, it’s a Damme sight more fun than Synecdoche.” Snap! On that note, Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly writes that “But the clever, stylish perception-teaser of a comic drama JCVD — a reality-twisting cousin to Being John Malkovich — showcases a Van Damme who’s sly like a fox about his own image.”

[Photo: “JCVD,” Peace Arch, 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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