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Meat Puppetry

Meat Puppetry (photo)

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This can’t possibly be the best of weeks for California’s governor. Not only did Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget packages get shot down in flames by the state’s voters, thereby forcing him to make service cuts that can only further brake his bid for higher office, but Friday’s premiere of “Terminator Salvation” threatens to remind its millions of viewers, including the Governator himself, of the relatively bucolic life he forsook for schmoozing with legislators and managing decline. This new, jump-started “Terminator” rubs it in by inserting a cameo of Schwarzenegger’s lizard-eyed countenance and bulging torso lifted through CGI magic from the 1984 Movie That Started It All. Seeing his digital surrogate, however briefly, is enough to remind you of the simpler, goofier pleasures he offered in those days.

“Terminator Salvation” (pick your shorthand: “T-Salvo,” “T-Sal” or maybe just leave it at “T-S”) may also recall to audiences old enough to remember that first film how it was possible to make clever, emotionally engaging science fiction movies without blowing everything to kingdom come, budgets included. But the first sequel, 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” raked in so much dough by ramping up the chase sequences that just about every popcorn fantasy franchise in its wake has invested more in metallic carnage than nuanced interaction. When compared with “T-S,” “T2” seems positively Chekhovian.

We’ve since had a “T3” and a (pretty good, if recently, erm, terminated) TV series spun off from the franchise. But you could lose whole minutes of your life wondering if “T-S” is a prequel or a sequel, since its storyline basically takes place before the events of the first “Terminator.” John Connor (Christian Bale), now firmly in center stage of what’s become a century-spanning apocalyptic epic, is struggling to lead what’s left of the human race in battle against shape-shifting machinery bent, if you will, on perpetuating its own soul-savaging dominance. He’s now searching the scorched continent for a teenager named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), who’s supposed to grow up someday and head back in time to have sex with Connor’s mother and help spawn the boy who becomes… John Connor.

05212009_TerminatorSalvatio.jpgThe movie has the grace to acknowledge the looniness of its inherited premises. But that’s where any notion of “grace” reaches its end. Director McG established his action-director rep with the candy-coated “Charlie’s Angels” series and he shows here, as he did in that franchise, that he knows how to do everything with a set-piece except make it slide home. The metal menaces swoop, stomp and stalk their meat-puppet prey with hard rock relentlessness familiar by now to anyone who’s seen “The Matrix” and its direct successors. But while McG ably maneuvers the pitch and yaw within each of these chases and fights, they connect to each other in a desultory manner, slugging their way to abrupt and staggered conclusions.

And except for a potent prelude in which a condemned murder and future cyborg (Sam Worthington) makes a fateful pact with a dying geneticist (Helena Bonham Carter), McG’s not at all nimble with the nonviolent interludes. In fact, he seems so bored with things like content and theme that he’d rather get back to the machines. Should we use metal detectors and magnets to find out of McG and the rest of “T-S”‘s production team are cyborgs, too?


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


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.


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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…