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Ten Performances We Can’t Wait to Watch This Spring

Ten Performances We Can’t Wait to Watch This Spring (photo)

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Ziyi Zhang in “Horsemen”
Directed by Jonas Akerlund
Opens March 6

The trailer and the premise — a detective on the trail of a killer (or killers) murdering people in homage to each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — make this look like one JASK-y movie (that’s “Just Another ‘Se7en’ Knockoff”). But then there is the against-type casting of Ziyi Zhang (or Zhang Ziyi; there’s so much continued confusion over how this poor woman prefers to be credited that even the “Horsemen” trailer and poster disagree about it) as a suspect in the case. Western audiences are mostly familiar with Zhang in martial arts epics (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hero”) playing unquestionably moral characters. There’s something quite unsettling — and thus quite interesting — about seeing her cast in a darker role, acting sexily demure while gruff Dennis Quaid tries to interrogate her, or in some kind of weird snuff film, whispering in the victim’s ear, “Do you feel expendable yet?” This movie might have been without her. Thanks to Zhang, it’s one to keep on the radar.

02182009_Watchmen_billycrud.jpgBilly Crudup in “Watchmen”
Directed by Zack Snyder
Opens March 6

It may have been a struggle for Billy Crudup to create the near-omnipotent, often totally naked Dr. Manhattan — performing his scenes in a white mocap suit covered in blue lights had to be so precise that Crudup told Entertainment Weekly that if he “caught the slightest glimpse of [himself] in any reflecting surface, the illusion was crushed” — but the results look remarkable, if the trailer’s anything to go by. Not only does the finished character look exactly like the Dr. Manhattan of the “Watchmen” comic books, it still bears an eerie resemblance to Crudup himself.

Writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’ conception of Dr. Manhattan was a man given the gift of god-like powers at the cost of his humanity. “Why would I save a world I no longer have any stake in?” he asks dispassionately. Crudup and director Zack Snyder’s interpretation appears to remain faithful to its source — that important line appears in the film’s latest trailer — but in seeing the early glimpses of their work, there could be potential here for additional metaphors Moore and Gibbons never intended about the nature of computer generated imagery, which can give movie directors god-like powers in crafting digital performances that are technically flawless and utterly inhuman.

02182009_Hunger_michaelfass.jpgMichael Fassbender in “Hunger”
Directed by Steve McQueen
Opens March 20

Steve McQueen’s Camera D’Or-winning picture from last year’s Cannes Film Festival about the true story of a hunger strike in a Belfast prison earned sterling notices across the board, but everyone I spoke to about the film in the South of France only wanted to talk about one thing: the performance of Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, the leader of the strike and the first of ten prisoners who died during it. The performance required an enormous amount of both physical and mental preparation. To approximate Sands’ starvation, Fassbender pulled a reverse “Raging Bull,” dropping more than 50 pounds over the course of a ten-week diet of nuts and berries. For a scene between Sands and a priest (played by Liam Cunningham) that McQueen wanted to shoot in an unbroken 20-minute take, the actors rehearsed 15 to 20 times a day during the week leading up to the shoot. “When we arrived on set we just went straight into it,” Fassbender told the Belfast Telegraph. “Take one, 23 minutes, right through. We did four takes, and they used the fourth.” Judging from the critical response so far, it was well worth the effort.

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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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