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Glorious “Bastards”

Glorious “Bastards” (photo)

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Nothing quite stings the throat and refreshes the nasal cavities like a Seijun Suzuki film, if like most of us you’re mired in contemporary pulp with an idea of style that amounts to digital inorganicity, monochromatic images, lunkhead muscles and stolid inexpression. Style is something filmmakers seem to think a lot about these days, without having any sense of what it is: not merely crisp lighting and short shots and frozen beauty, but also personality (of the actors and the filmmaker), invention, energy, pacing, wit, attitude, language, culture. (In brief, you could say that Quentin Tarantino, for better or worse, has style, but high-priced hacks like McG, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, etc., do not, and neither do most placid indies and mumblecorists.)

In the ’60s, when he’d often spurt out three or more movies a year, Suzuki had style to use up in a blue flame — typically, his wide-screen fumed and dashed with ironic cruelty, surreal juxtapositions, inappropriate bursts of raw color, abrupt dolly shots, lovely ugliness, raving performances and so on. There’s a pervasive, party-hearty irreverence to Suzuki, howling out of the heretofore little-seen “Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards!,” just one of four films he made in 1963, like a siren. (The title is even more expressive in the Japanese credits, which switch the two halves.)

A double-cross-crazed gangster saga, Suzuki’s movie begins with a Pepsi truck shattered by gunfire, and a frame-filling burning car, and gangsters waiting outside a police station in broad daylight with “legal!” hunting rifles in anticipation of a rival mobster’s release. (Later, scores of gang thugs with swords and rifles barrel around the city clustered on top of flatbed trucks, like revolutionaries wading into battle.) Infiltrating one gang is a rogue detective the police are happy to use and let die, played by Suzuki avatar Jo Shishido. With his swollen, hording-squirrel cheeks, sloppy grin and melodramatic glare, Shishido is one of the most uproarious and distinctive action heroes in cinema history, here seen doing his own gymnastic stunts and running from machine-gun blasts in a three-piece silk suit, and even getting roped into a cheesy nightclub song-&-dance. Like the movie, Shishido’s maverick never drives and stops when he can speed and skid (in a convertible sportster, naturally), and he is blissfully, kitschily iconic.

06022009_gotohellbastards.jpgThe movie around him takes place in a world where the only bylaws are outrageousness and incongruity; it indulges in as mythical a view of the criminal underworld as Louis Feuillade and early Fritz Lang (but often in rooms of acrylic red and yellow), while boppy, Vince Guaraldi-ish jazz plays non-stop, even behind the firefights. At 86 and still making films today, Suzuki was in his heyday skilled at massive wide-screen narrative efficiency — if being efficient about harebrained hysteria is the way you want to phrase it. And “Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards!” isn’t even one of the filmmaker’s best ’60s films. It’s just typical.

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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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