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How to be good.

How to be good. (photo)

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This past Friday, 60-odd representatives of indie film gathered at MoMA for a state of the nation meeting about what’s going on in the world of indie film, whether there is a true crisis and how it can be fixed. Unlike earlier provocations like Mark Gill’s “The Sky Is Falling” speech from last summer, the Indie Film Summit was a private gathering, unpublicized, with attendees encouraged to speak off the record. As Gill said in his speech, “it’s fashionable to bitch in the independent film world. It’s what we do.” Coming up with actionable fixes has proven more elusive.

The Summit has reported on by Anne Thompson, Ira Deutchman and Scott Macaulay, whose pieces are all worth reading, since they complement and contradict each other in interesting ways.

A major issue is the idea of “quality,” which seems to befuddle everyone. Macaulay notes that there’s “a new audience,” one that may have different taste in what is “good” than the crowd in the room — and, as he points out, only two people in the room were under 30, so generation gap questions arise. Might the solution be in some kind of process in which the audience curates? Deutchman is s skeptical (“Have you seen the ‘People’s Choice Awards’?”), but the question (and that reaction) seems irrelevant. The very idea of a one-size-fits-all indie audience is outdated.

From the moment the Cahiers du Cinema gang declared war on the “cinema of quality,” it’s been impossible for people to agree on what, exactly, good storytelling might be. The reports note despair over the competition delivered by cable TV’s lock on narrative: “The Wire” is about as close to a consensus as people can get on what good storytelling is. When it comes to film, agreement is far harder to pin down. Personally, most of the indie films championed as privileging “good stories” tend to strike me as just as obvious, in their own way, as Hollywood blockbusters. (Cf. Jason Reitman’s career thus far — I’ll never understand the argument for “Juno” as “quality.”)

The reasons people gravitate toward the movies they do are mysterious, but one thing’s certain: the assumption that reasonable people can agree what “good” is (or that audiences can be nudged into acceding by critics and studios) is faulty. Any discussion that centers around winning back the “audience” through “quality” isn’t going to be helpful.

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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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