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High Kicks From Both a Chorus Line and Jason Statham

High Kicks From Both a Chorus Line and Jason Statham (photo)

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This week brings a bumper crop of indie and arthouse releases with something to suit all tastes, even if their added box office is outdone by “Crank: High Voltage.”

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“American Violet”
In our politically expedient, hyper-ADD times, director Tim Disney reminds us African-Americans had it tough in the post-civil rights era long before Katrina with this Texas-set drama based on true story. As much a legal thriller as anything else, “American Violet” stars Alfre Woodward as the steely mother of Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), a woman wrongly scooped up from the projects amidst a mass drug raid and harassed into a plea bargain. With the help of an ACLU attorney (Tim Blake Nelson) and an ex-cop (Will Patton), she must go up against a callous district attorney (Michael O’Keefe), who’s playing a numbers game in pursuit of federal money, seemingly indifferent to the human cost of his action.
Opens in limited release.

“Ante Up”
Part wish fulfillment fantasy and part meditation on the new millennium’s male insecurities, Jonathan Salemi’s no-budget debut illustrates that concept is still king with a story as simple as it is preposterous. While watching his friends bag the babes as he whiles away the evenings with his chaste girlfriend Julie (Angela de Malignon), Frank (Scott Harris) compensates by regaling his circle with a series of tall tales. Having cried wolf one time too many, he finds his friends don’t believe him when he claims to have discovered a magical light switch in his apartment — one that’ll turn anyone in the room into his willing love slave.
Opens in limited release.

“The Butterfly Tattoo”
Rolled out on the back of the shiny digital fireworks show that was “The Golden Compass,” this big screen adaptation of “The White Mercedes,” Philip Pullman’s first book for young adults, may not have that same Blu-ray demo disc wow factor to it, but keeps to similar dark revenge themesm minus the fantasy elements. Brit helmer Phil Hawkins oversees the perplexing romance of sweet-natured Chris (Duncan Stuart) and cute Manchester cupcake Jenny (Jessica Blake), who hook up at an Oxford ball unaware that each has a dark past that’s about to come back to haunt them.
Opens in limited release.

“Chasing The Green”
After holding almost every job imaginable on a film set, Russ Emanuel gets his second session in the director’s chair for this cautionary rags-to-riches-to-rags tale about two tech industry entrepreneurs in the early ’90s who are singled out by bigger rivals that use their political clout to put the brakes on their flourishing company. Jeremy London leads a cast of veteran small screen players, including Ryan Hurst, Heather McComb and William Devane.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Crank: High Voltage”
You’ve really got to hand it to Jason Statham; he’s nothing if not a good sport. It’s hard to imagine anyone, even Sly circa “Stop or My Mom Will Shoot,” getting the script for a film with the eventual tagline “He was dead…but he got better” and not speed-dialing their agent in a desperate search for contractual wiggle room. Under the watchful eye of returning co-writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Statham reprises his role of scowling, ultra-violent hit man Chev Chelios for another relentlessly silly stunt reel that sees Chev in hot pursuit of the baddie who stole his heart and replaced it with an artificial one that requires constant jolts of electricity to continue functioning.
Opens wide.

“Desert Dream”
On the desolate Mongolian steppes, Chinese helmer Zhang Lu finds a strange poetry to the breathtakingly slow pace of life, transcending subject and geography to showcase the universal language of compassion. Planting trees to hold off the encroaching sands from his farm, Hungai (Bat-ulzii) is abandoned by his wife, who leaves with their hearing-impaired daughter in search of a doctor. A North Korean political refugee arrives with her son, seeking sanctuary, and slowly bonds with Hungai and his rural way of life despite the constant and unassailable language barrier that exists between them. In Korean and Mongolian with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Every Little Step”
There’s a deliciously Ouroboros irony to this documentary that follows the hopes and dreams of wide-eyed hopefuls desperate to be plucked from background obscurity by landing a role in the Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line” — the classic tale of wide-eyed hopefuls desperate to be plucked from background obscurity by… In 2006, James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo were on hand to capture the casting of the revival of the late Michael Bennett’s famed musical, which whittled down nearly 3000 would-be stars to two dozen slots in the spotlight. The grueling process is intercut with archival footage of the origins of this celebrated story.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“The Golden Boys”
Writer/director Daniel Adams returns with his first film in 12 years, an adaptation of Joseph Lincoln’s 1915 page-turner “Cap’n Eri” that demonstrates that while the body may whither, the heart remains ageless. Bruce Dern, Rip Torn and David Carradine star as a trio of salty seadogs-turned-cantankerous crusty barnacles on Cape Cod who deem the only way to keep their house in order is for one of their number to get married. A quick ad in the paper leads to the arrival of a mail order bride (Mariel Hemingway) whose presence upsets their plans when the wrong captain falls in love.
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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