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Cannes 2009: “Vengeance.”

Cannes 2009: “Vengeance.” (photo)

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We’re far enough away from the golden age of Hong Kong John Woo action excess that a little nostalgia is warranted, and Johnnie To’s “Vengeance” is meant to fondly recall every operatic slow-mo shoot-em-up of the era, though until that sinks in, it just looks ungainly. Singer Johnny Hallyday, who’s often shorthand summed-up as France’s Elvis equivalent, plays Francois Costello, a Parisian restaurant owner with a dark past and real talent for wearing a Burberry trench coat with the collar popped. He comes to Macao to avenge his daughter (played by Sylvie Testud, who despite top billing has maybe five minutes of screen time), who was severely injured in a hit on her Chinese husband that also resulted in the death of their children. “It’s a miracle she survived,” the doctor tells him, and it really is, as in the flashback we see her getting four shotgun blasts to the chest — characters in “Vengeance” handle bullet wounds uncommonly well.

Costello enlists the help of three hitmen (To regulars Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Lam Suet and Lam Ka Tung) he serendipitously meets when a job brings them to his hotel hallway, and from there lifetime loyalty is as easy as the exchange of a wad of euros, some spaghetti and manly bonding over weaponry. “They killed your daughter’s family, we killed your enemies, now we’re best friends,” Lam Suet’s character summarizes at one point for the benefit of anyone who arrived late. There are two singularly stupid-smart gun battles, one in the woods as the full moon peeks in and out of the clouds and the other in a garbage dump, with hoards of Triad enforcers sheltering themselves by rolling giant blocks of compressed garbage in front of them. Costello and the hitmen communicate in their common language, English, with which they’re different degrees of uncomfortable, but Hallyday looks like waxwork in the same unblemished suit from scene to scene and acts just as impassive — his role is chiefly to stand, imposingly — so the awkward dialogue delivery isn’t discordant. Late in the game, Costello’s briefly mentioned brain damage comes into play, and he has to navigate, “Memento”-style, with polaroids and notes, leading to a farcical but bloody climatic showdown. The sloppiness is part of the fun, though it’s adds up to less than the sum of its parts. To’s better at deconstructing than deference.

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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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