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More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye (photo)

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This week in theaters, everyone seems to have opted to go dark, with cinemas offering up grieving families, persecuted immigrants, endangered pop singers and the slow death of intimacy in the internet age. This is… supposed to be summer, right?

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“Afghan Star”
With the American version still able to compel 30 million people into a zombie-like trance each week, “Pop Idol” is the latest craze sweeping the nation of Afghanistan, where contestants are subject to a campaign of intimidation that puts Simon Cowell’s abrasive jibes in perspective. Having snagged both the Audience Award and a Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, director Havana Marking goes beyond the bright TV lights to follow four of the season’s finalists, including female contestants under constant threat of violence and death. In English, Pashtu, and Dari with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Break-Up Date”
The feature documentary debut of writer/producer/director Collin Souter, “Break-Up Date” offers a potential contemporary correlation as to why people are staying single longer and longer. Mining a host of heartbroken twenty- and thirty-somethings for their worst break-up stories, Souter ponders the future of a society gripped by social networking and cultural fads (what kind of impatient git goes speed dating anyway?) that have transformed coupling into a global audition process.
Opens in Chicago.

Between director Stephen Frears, scripter Christopher Hampton and a principle cast including Kathy Bates and Michelle Pfeiffer, this lush period piece carries with it the kind of prepackaged awards season prestige that makes us wonder at its June release date. Based on one of French novelist Colette’s high society page-turners, the film stars Bates as a madam who commands her spoilt offspring Chéri (Rupert Friend) to end his longstanding affair with her sultry former colleague and courtesan, Lea (Pfeiffer), so that she might reap the social benefits of his arranged marriage to the dull and virginal Edmée (Felicity Jones).
Opens in limited release.

“The Crypt”
One-man-indie-horror-band Craig McMahon has carved out a career taking swaggering, good-looking teens, marooning them in an eerie locale and promptly tearing them to pieces. His latest supernatural thriller finds a group of thieving beauties breaking into a labyrinth of catacombs on a mission for Depression era treasure buried with the locals, who are surprisingly keen to hang on to their loot.
Opens in limited release.

“The Hurt Locker”
Kathryn Bigelow has evolved into one of the most popular and successful female directors working today due in part to her preternatural insight into what makes alpha males tick. Her latest, scripted by former journalist Mark Boal (who provided the story for “In the Valley of Elah”) follows an elite army bomb disposal unit in their daily dance with death. Jeremy Renner stars as the headstrong Staff Sergeant William James, who leads subordinates Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) and Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) into a high stakes battle of nerve on the streets of a war-torn Iraq.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Life is Hot in Cracktown”
Adapted from his own collection of short stories, jack-of-all-trades Buddy Giovinazzo narrows down a quarter of vignettes for the big screen, depicting the hardscrabble existence hacked out by the denizens of a drug-ravaged ghetto. Victor Rasuk co-stars as Manny, who works at an all-night bodega and moonlights as a security guard at an upscale hotel, where pre-teen Willy (Ridge Canipe) begs for change outside. Meanwhile, a pre-op transsexual named Marybeth (Kerry Washington) turns tricks to pay for the operation, while petty thug Romeo (Evan Ross) terrorizes the neighborhood at large. Brandon Routh, Illeana Douglas, Desmond Harrington and Lara Flynn Boyle co-star.
Opens in limited release.

“My Sister’s Keeper”
Having demonstrated a deft hand at so-called women’s pictures with “The Notebook,” director Nick Cassavetes turns Jodi Picoult’s somber page-turner into a screen weepie of epic proportions. Pint-sized thespian Abigail Breslin stars as Anna, who sues her parents for emancipation after she discovers she’s been deliberately conceived as a supplier of bone marrow to her leukemia-stricken sister (Sofia Vassilieva) and can stop the painful treatments to help her. Jason Patric and Cameron Diaz co-star as the guilt-stricken parents.
Opens wide.

“New York”
Having made its name peddling bright and cheery song-and-dance romances, Indian outfit Yash Raj Films coughs up a darker take on the immigrant experience post-9/11. Helmer Kabir Khan (“Kabul Express”) chronicles the lives of a trio of NYU students (John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh) who’ve acclimated very nicely to a Western way of life until they suddenly find themselves the victims of prejudice and persecution in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks. In English and Hindi subtitles.
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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