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Deadgirls and Grouchy Gurus

Deadgirls and Grouchy Gurus (photo)

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A small smattering of romantic fare amongst the new releases this week lines up alongside some caustic political satire, a couple of dark chillers, somber documentaries, and a string of grouchy gurus.

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“The Answer Man”
Having quietly transformed himself into one of the most versatile character actors working today, Jeff Daniels returns to leading man duties for this romantic indie, the feature debut of writer/director John Hindman. Daniels plays Arlen Faber, the author of a worldwide bestselling page-turner on spirituality who’s spent the following 20 years living the life of a reclusive malcontent. Lauren Graham of “Gilmore Girls” fame co-stars as a widowed chiropractor with a troubled son who reawakens Faber’s erstwhile interest in people.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“California Company Town”
With the Golden State scrambling to avoid bankruptcy, performance artist and filmmaker Lee Anne Schmitt offers a striking visual retrospective on the debilitating legacy of California’s boom-bust economic cycles. Characterized by found photography, wild sounds and somber narration, the film tours a multitude of abandoned corporate-owned ghost towns that once housed working communities, delivering a pointed if one-sided assessment on the failings of unregulated capitalism.
Opens in New York.

The “Saw” franchise aside, the torture porn wave has thankfully crested, which makes this belated entry from co-directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel almost retro cool. Tantalizing pubescent boys everywhere with the most logistically ridiculous plot since “Captivity,” our helming duo deliver an unsettling parable on the naiveté of teenage sexuality. A pair of unfashionable youths clowning around in the basement of an abandoned mental asylum (as one does) encounters the deadgirl (Jenny Spain) chained to a table and elect to make her their own personal sex object. One for the romantics, then.
Opens in limited release.

“The English Surgeon”
With the debate over health care reform currently raging in the halls of Congress, director Geoffrey Smith’s documentary paints a discouraging portrait of the socialized alternative. Whether it be the stifling bureaucracy of the British National Heath Service or the underfunded and inadequate facilities in the Ukraine, Smith charts the failings of the European system while singling out the underlying human kindness found within it. Following the activities of renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Henry Marsh, who has been donating his services to the Ukraine for almost 20 years, Smith uncovers a compassionate and self-deprecating man haunted by his limitations in a field where saving someone’s life and rendering them a vegetable is a nerve-shredding matter of millimeters.
Opens in New York.

Things have been quietish on the Bruckheimer front since the all-conquering “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy (although number four is on the way), but judging by the way they’ve been tossing his name around in the TV spots, Jerry is damn proud of this — his first 3-D movie. Seamlessly blending computer animation and live action for a riff on “Mission Impossible,” the film features Sam Rockwell, Penélope Cruz and Tracy Morgan as the voices of a crack commando unit of guinea pigs who end up at a pet store after their covert ops activities are nixed.
Opens wide and in 3D.

“In The Loop”
Offering proof positive that swearing is in fact both big and clever, Glaswegian satirist Armando Iannucci conjures up a scathing indictment of our self-serving political system via a farcical, imagined preamble to war. Adapted from Iannucci’s own hit British television series “The Thick of It,” the comedy stars Tom Hollander as an inept back-bench MP who’s committed the terrible faux pas of making a definitive statement on an issue. Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, David Rasche and Anna Chlumsky co-star.
Opens in limited release.

“Loren Cass”
After drumming up praise on the festival circuit for almost three years — and earning a “Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You” nomination at the Gotham Awards in 2007 — writer/director/actor Chris Fuller’s debut about teen malaise and racial friction in St. Petersburg, Florida finally makes it to theaters. Fuller, now a ripe 26 years old, pulls no punches in his portrait of the town not long after the 1996 riots, punctuating his scripted tale with disturbing real footage of both the riots and of the 1987 televised suicide R. Budd Dwyer.
Opens in New York.

Regardless of how good or bad the actual film is, the dead-eyed portrait of young Isabelle Fuhrman that Warner Brothers has deployed for its poster campaign surely wins it the prize for most disturbing one-sheet of the summer. Following minor splashes with “House of Wax” and the supremely silly “Goal II: Living the Dream,” director Jaume Collet-Serra tries his hand at the creepy kid sub-genre with Fuhrman starring as the titular foundling who turns her adopted parents home into a breeding ground for chaos. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard fill out the stock roles of terrified mother and skeptical father.
Opens wide.

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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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