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Sundance 2009: “The Carter.”

Sundance 2009: “The Carter.” (photo)

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“The Carter” doesn’t try to argue that Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., is, as he himself has claimed, the “best rapper alive.” “Best” and “alive” aren’t always long-lasting qualities in the world of hip-hop anyway. Instead of making the case for Wayne the artist, Adam Bhala Lough’s documentary focuses on capturing the incredibly, frighteningly of-the-moment ocean of celebrity through which he wades, a diminutive 25-year-old from New Orleans with a multi-platinum album and, for now, all the talent and swagger in the world, as well as one of its more distinctive drug habits. “The Carter” follows Lil Wayne unblinkingly on tour, as he bounces from Amsterdam to Atlanta and back again, apparently unmoored and eternally on the road, recording in hotel rooms and buses with the equipment that’s always with him, high all the time on weed, on codeine cough syrup cut with soda. That’s why Wayne’s manager and friend refuses to ride of the bus with him — he can’t stand to see Wayne as groggily fucked-up as he occasionally gets during the film.

But Wayne’s not the careening most-likely-to-become-the-next-music-biz-casualty he could be. For one, it’s the music he really cares most about, recording like a man possessed, over a thousand songs, he estimates, telling a reporter he doesn’t have time for sex, just music and money — and if you don’t quite take him at his word, you do take his point. And for another, Wayne’s knows that half of the people gawking at him would gawk the same way at his tattooed, codeine-soaked corpse. “The Carter”‘s biggest hat-tip to DA Pennebaker’s “Dont Look Back” is its love of footage of Wayne sparring with interviewers at every stop on the road, sullen in some, playing up the persona in others and tossing the guy who would musicologically force “Tha Carter III” into some New Orleans tradition out on his ass with no further explanation. They tend to sound ghoulish, the journalists — circling his outlandish lifestyle, asking about the “famous syrup,” about whether he’s thought about how he’s going to die, asking about the time he accidentally shot himself — and Wayne’s aware that his fame can be commodified without him being around to benefit from it. He doesn’t write his lyrics down, he says, because he doesn’t want the papers auctioned off a la Kurt Cobain. And whether or not you think that he’ll retain that type of fame in ten or 15 years — I’m pretty ambivalent, myself — Wayne’s certainly enjoying what he has now, never better exemplified than in the stunner of an opening shot of him preening in the spotlight, eyes upraised, or in the moments when he turns to the camera and doesn’t-quite-lip-sync along to his own tracks, his life as close to a music video as you can get. As fast as adoring fans can turn into devouring crowds, or worse, indifferent masses, it looks pretty good to be Lil Wayne right then.

[Photo: “The Carter,” QD3 Entertainment, 2009]

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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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