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What people know when they say they know movies.

What people know when they say they know movies. (photo)

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Our friends at Time Out New York have whipped up a neat little alt-canon of 25 films most people wouldn’t think of as essential to cinematic knowledge in the way of “Citizen Kane” or “Battleship Potemkin” but which, according to them, should be.

Now, I applaud the TONY crew for digging deep into their personal loves and not pandering one bit: on their list, relatively well-known fare like “Barry Lyndon” rubs shoulders with rarities like Mikio Naruse’s 1964 “Yearning.” But mostly the alt-canon got me thinking about how dreary the idea of “canon” can be as a selection of the Movies That Changed Cinema Forever.

When I was a freshman at NYU’s film school, I took the mandatory “Language of Film” class, which is supposed to teach you how to watch and analyze films; in practice, it’s more a crash course in film history tailored to the taste of whomever is teaching it. My own professor had a heavy interest in marginalized and minority filmmaking, but before she reveled in “Smoke Signals,” she felt obligated to rush through the big stuff — in one night. In one of the most joyless sequences of clips I’ve ever seen, two hours was enough to show “Potemkin”‘s Odessa Steps sequence, key bits of “The Birth Of A Nation” and so on. This was supposed to be the most important stuff in film history, but she was treating it like an encumbrance to getting to what she really cared about.

Even as recently as 20 years ago, it was conceivable that if you started watching movies diligently and regularly, you might someday have seen all of the standard, accepted parts of what most would consider “the canon.” (Which some of the titles on TONY‘s list would definitely qualify as, in my opinion: Tarkovsky’s “The Mirror,” Bresson’s “Mouchette.”)

But that’s no longer the case: like English majors, film buffs now have to pick and choose their area of interest. And that’s what I dig about the idea of an alt-canon: it expands possibilities and shows how you decide on your own hallmarks of film — a nudge that says just because you’ve seen “The Godfather” and “Psycho” doesn’t mean you’ve even gotten started.

[Photo: “The Battleship Potemkin,” 1925]

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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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