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A SoCal gang doc, an Elmore Leonard adaptation and a Hitchcock retake

A SoCal gang doc, an Elmore Leonard adaptation and a Hitchcock retake (photo)

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This week, a strong international lineup stacks up alongside some domestic B-movie madness and traditional big-budget nonsense.

“California Dreamin”
Despite being technically unfinished at the time of its 27-year-old director’s tragic and untimely death in a car accident in 2006, this raucous satire from the late Romanian filmmaker Cristian Nemescu ably illustrates what a great young talent was sadly lost. Partly a slight of American hegemony, partly a where-do-we-go-from-here meditation on his homeland post-Cold War, Nemescu’s darkly comic tragedy was inspired by true events. Unfolding against the backdrop of the Kosovo conflict, the story centers on a train carrying NATO military equipment through Romania before being delayed in a station by a corrupt railway chief in order to exploit its cargo and the U.S. Marines guarding it.
Opens in New York.

“Crips & Bloods: Made in America”
Having previously chronicled the origins and the history of surf culture (“Riding Giants”) and the genesis of the pro skateboarding scene (“Dogtown and Z-Boys”), documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta turns his attention from the beach to the streets of South Los Angeles for this look at the proliferation of the city’s most notorious gangs. With unprecedented access garnering candid and damning testimony from past and present members, as well as community activists and academics, Peralta examines the storied and bloody rivalry between the Crips and the Bloods, and the hundreds of lives lost to it over the course of 40 years of violence, and searches for answers.
Opens in New York.

“Donkey Punch”
Despite a title that implies some kind of lowbrow Latin American hijinks with Rob Schneider (it is, in fact, a dangerous theoretical sex act), British ad director Olly Blackburn’s feature film debut is a lurid, morbid “good-timers in peril” thriller in the spirit of “The Beach” and “Turistas.” Julian Morris fronts a group of well-off but unrefined guys on the prowl in sunny Spain, while Nicola Burley heads the trio of inebriated gals they entice onto their private yacht. After one of their number is killed with the titular offending act, bonds of trust and friendship morph into violent paranoia as the men sober up and seek to scheme their way out of responsibility when this idyllic cruise quickly descends into a deadly battle of a sexes.
Opens in limited release.

A movie version of a book that espouses deference to great literature and essentially tells its pre-teen target audience to stop watching movies and go read a book is quite the thematic conundrum. Brendan Fraser also has quite the conundrum on his hands as Mo Folchart, a father gifted with the ability to bring characters from books into the human realm whilst trapping a real person between the pages in their place, which poses a problem when he reads his wife into the fantasy novel “Inkheart.” When his daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) is also kidnapped by one of the book’s characters, Mo must rifle through its pages while fending off threats from an evil Andy Serkis. Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany and Jim Broadbent also star in this adaptation of the first of German author Corneila Funke’s trilogy of fantasy novels.
Opens wide.

Witness the resurrection of director John Madden’s nearly four-year-old adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s small-time crime drama, thanks to the resurrection of its star’s career by someone else. Following the success of “The Wrestler,” recent Golden Globe winner Mickey Rourke stars as an over-the-hill hitman partnered with a hotheaded scam artist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who threaten the livelihoods of an unsuspecting husband and wife (Thomas Jane and Diane Lane) when they innocently run afoul of the ruthless pair and find they are being used as pawns in a dangerous federal investigation.
Opens in limited release.

“The Lodger”
Considering the first and most famous adaptation of Marie Belloc Lowndes’ gothic page-turner is a silent screen classic by Alfred Hitchcock, French Canadian helmer David Ondaatje has set himself no small task in crafting an adequate retelling for his feature debut. Set in present day Los Angeles, the film follows a cat-and-mouse game between a dogged police detective (Alfred Molina) and a Jack The Ripper-copycat killer. At the same time, an emotionally disturbed woman (Hope Davis) finds herself inexorably drawn to her dark and mysterious lodger (Simon Baker) who seems intent on hiding something.
Opens in limited release.

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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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