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Opening This Week: Horrorfest, a bridal comedy and the best damn Mexican Mennonite drama ever made

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01052009_thebroken.jpgBy Neil Pedley

There’s a welcome change of pace this week, with nary a Nazi in sight. Character actors go to work both in front of and behind the camera, there’s a white wedding, a black comedy and a bizarre love triangle in Plautdietsch just over the Mexican border.

“8 Films to Die For: After Dark Horrorfest 2009”
For one week only, nasty niche distributor After Dark Films terrorizes 300 screens across the country with their third annual “Horrorfest” showcase featuring a selection of eight indie horror films. This year’s selection comprises of: “Autopsy,” the Lena Headey-Richard Jenkins’ thriller “The Broken,” “The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations,” “Dying Breed,” “Perkins’ 14,” “Slaughter,” the Korean frightfest “Voices,” and “From Within,” which Alison Willmore noted during its Tribeca premiere wasn’t exactly for God-fearing types. Eight films to die for is what they say — we’ll settle for being made to perhaps feel a bit sick afterwards. Check your local listings.
Opens in limited release.

“Bride Wars”
It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a Richard Gere or a Hugh Grant on board, but quite honestly, what’s a wedding comedy minus the men? Much like actual weddings, this one is all about the bride. Anne Hathaway, who between this and the universally applauded “Rachel Getting Married” must be developing a taste for prop wedding cake, co-stars with Kate Hudson as a porcelain pair of lifelong friends who crack up when they discover only one of them will be able to have their wedding at their dream venue. “Tadpole” director Gary Winick helms this battle of the bridezillas.
Opens wide.

“Just Another Love Story”
Despite a somewhat innocuous title and a plot that bears more than a passing resemblance to Sandra Bullock’s dreadfully vanilla rom-com, “While You Were Sleeping,” Danish helmer Ole Bornedal has darkened the mood with something of a lurid farce littered with betrayal and dead bodies. Anders W. Berthelsen stars as Jonas, a crime scene photographer who visits the hospital room of Julia (Rebecka Hemse), a woman left comatose from a flaming car wreck that he was involved in. With Julia’s family convinced that Jonas is her longtime boyfriend Sebastian, Jonas pretends to be him even after Julia awakes until her violent past reemerges and some unpleasant people looking for the real Sebastian (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) come knocking. In Danish with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Not Easily Broken”
Perhaps best remembered as a former Schwarzenegger cohort from “Predator” and “Commando,” Bill Duke has enjoyed a long and distinguished career filling out roles that typically come with phrases like “dogged” and “hard-nosed” attached. Lesser known as a director, he’s been honing his skills on films like “A Rage in Harlem” for almost thirty years, and shows a softer side to his game with this uplifting adaptation of T.D Jakes’ novel. Morris Chestnut stars as Dave Johnson, a former baseball star whose marriage woes are exacerbated when his wife (“Benjamin Button”‘s Taraji P. Henson) is hurt in a car accident and Dave befriends her physical therapist (Maeve Quinlan).
Opens wide.

“Silent Light”
This latest offering from provocative Mexican writer/director Carlos Reygadas has positively cleaned up during its two-year festival run, nabbing most notably a Jury Prize at Cannes en route to a nod for best foreign film at the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards in February. Set in a Mennonite colony in Mexico, this elegant, ecumenical drama tells of Johan (Cornelio Wall), his wife Esther (Miriam Toews), and their crisis of faith as they persist with their marriage in the face of Johan’s full and frank disclosure of his ongoing affair with Marianne (Maria Pankratz). In English, French, Spanish, and Plautdietsch with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“The Unborn”
From the underappreciated “The Crow: City of Angels” to the “Blade Trilogy” with a cult classic like “Dark City” in between, if it’s a grungy, gothic sci-fi flick or a comic book film that’s actually any good, chances are you’ll find David S. Goyer’s name somewhere on the screenplay. Clearly more comfortable banging away at a typewriter, Goyer’s more likely counting money from “The Dark Knight” than recovering from the reviews for previous directorial outings such as “The Invisible” and “Blade: Trinity,” and while this psychological horror yarn is unlikely to raise his profile as a director, it should be good for a scare or two. The film stars Odette Yustman as a girl who’s slowly being taken over by the malevolent spirit of her twin, who died while still in the womb. It also has Gary Oldman as the girl’s spiritual adviser, which automatically makes it 13% better.
Opens wide.

“Yonkers Joe”
With a dash of “Ocean’s 11” and a smidge of “Rain Man,” Robert Celestino’s life-affirming story of familial reconciliation bubbling underneath the “one last big score” pizzazz of a casino scam might strike a chord with viewers looking for something, well, a little less Holocausty. Chazz Palminteri plays the titular Joe, a “mechanic with dice and cards” who must find enough cash to send his son with down syndrome (Tom Guiry) to a special school after he’s kicked out of his old one and into Joe’s care. Christine Lahti, Michael Lerner, and Linus Roache fill out Celestino’s underworld.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “The Broken,” After Dark 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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