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Cannes 2009: “Thirst.”

Cannes 2009: “Thirst.” (photo)

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“Thirst,” Park Chan-wook’s plague-vampire-priest-black-comedy-gothic-family-drama-noir, has enough going on for at least an entire other movie, if not two. Its developments are impossible to predict, but that’s because half are unnecessary — by the time clergyman-turned-secular-bloodsucker Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) and his lover Tae-joo (Kim Ok-bin) are hiding a body in the closet before hosting their weekly mahjong game, I could barely remember how everything started (Sang-hyun volunteers to be part of an experiment to cure a virus killing celibate male missionaries in Africa, and is unknowingly given a transfusion of vampire plasma that staves off the sickness). The disinterest in the wherefore of Sang-hyun’s vampirism is played for laughs — he’s more troubled by the ethical dilemmas of drinking blood, which he rationalizes his way around by claiming one comatose victim had been dedicated in consciousness to feeding the hungry, and by planning on preying upon already suicidal targets he’ll find by taking confession and on the internet. It doesn’t make for a particularly effective vampire movie, though it’s one in which only some of the usual rules apply: no fangs or bats (though “Bat” is the literal translation of the Korean title), but sunlight is deadly and strength superhuman.

Despite initially setting up a conflict between faith and physically mandated murder, “Thirst”‘s major contention becomes one between Sang-hyun and Tae-joo, who’s been the punching bag/slave of the woman who raised her when her parents abandoned her as a child, and who was married off to the woman’s cherished, sickly son as soon as she was of age. Tae-joo is irresistible to the newly awakened Sang-hyun, and she sees in him an escape from the life to which she’s been chained. Victims in Park Chan-wook’s films often prove themselves to be just as ruthless as their oppressors when given the power, and as a vampire, Tae-joo has no problems killing anyone she feels like snacking on. The ramp up to Grand Guignol is a steep one, and “Thirst” becomes just a stylish shriek in its final third. Stylish, at least, is something Park has always done well. Coherence and emotional appeal, less so.

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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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