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Disney: Pillaging Russian fairy tales since 2009.

Disney: Pillaging Russian fairy tales since 2009. (photo)

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Never mind that 2008’s animated Bollywood venture “Roadside Romeo” was a flop — the Mouse House is now taking the plunge into its first Russian production.

“Kniga Masterov” (The Book of Masters) is an expensive-looking live-action, CGI-enhanced fantasy family flick made on the cheap — $7 million, according to a Variety report from last year. The folktale-based film’s a co-production between Disney and much-lauded actor/director Nikita Mikhalkov’s production company, which, depending on which English version of their name you run with, is called either Three-T or the unfortunate Studio Trite. Here’s the trailer, which just surfaced online:

My Russian’s not perfect, but the basic elements are pretty clear even sans subtitles: there’s an evil queen with a mirror, a young boy who must master the titular book in order to defeat her, and a love interest in the form of a mermaid who bitches about how men always leave after they see the lower half of her body. It looks as edge-free as any American equivalent would been, which, business-wise, is probably a good move. Like India, Russia’s audiences have expressed a preference for homegrown films, not Hollywood commodities, ever since “Night Watch” edged out the last “Lord Of The Rings” installment to become the highest-grossing Russian film of all time. The titles tend to be big and slick, intent on beating the big U.S. studios on its own terms (it’s no coincidence Timur Bakmambetov went on to make “Wanted”).

It’s Nikita Mikhalkov you have to wonder about. Mikhalkov was once a widely respected director who walked the fine line between representative of the state and internationally respected artist. Akira Kurosawa named his 1977 “An Unfinished Piece For Player Piano” as one of his 100 favorite movies, while more recently, “Burnt By the Sun” tied for the 1994 Grand Jury prize at Cannes.

After 1998’s “The Barber Of Siberia” was an international disaster (if a domestic hit), Mikhalkov retreated from directing, returning with 2007’s dreadful, hammy “12” — which Russia promptly submitted to the Oscars as official state art. Having survived the USSR, glasnost and the new Putin era, Mikhalkov now seems happy to do whatever it takes to keep himself a state artist, 40 years running. Glitzing up fairy tales for a mass audience is hardly a crime, but it sure as hell doesn’t look like serious art either.

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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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