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It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad People’s Republic.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad People’s Republic. (photo)

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Earlier this year, the Chinese government’s media authority — the China Film Group — announced plans for 50 movies to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution. Worker heroes like “Iron Man Wang,” a nation’s moment of unity in the face of last year’s earthquake in Sichuan Province, and many more cultural touchstones from the last 60 years will receive the motion picture treatment. (I’m particularly keen to see the intriguingly titled “College Entrance Examination of 1977.” Maybe it’s a wacky college sex comedy.) But the centerpiece is undoubtedly “The Founding Of a Republic,” a Chairman Mao biopic focusing on Mao’s triumph over Chiang Kai-Shek. Clifford Coonan has an excellent report on the film in The Independent, which reports that the film is entertaining and wisely averse to any mentions of the Cultural Revolution. He picks apart the film’s potential political hints — it gestures towards an official ideological reconciliation with capitalist business practices, rather than the unofficial adoption it’s had in China — and generally provides way more context than I have the background for. (He also classifies “Independence Day” as the same kind of propaganda movie as “Triumph of the Will.” Ouch/awesome.)

Coonan notes that in some parts, “There are lots of policy debates and unadorned party politics, which makes for clunky viewing as characters outline the formation of endless committees.” This raises the rather intriguing prospect of a kind of state-sponsored film along the lines of Soderbergh’s “Che.” The trailer (see below), though, makes it fairly clear that the film is determined not to leave anyone in the cheap seats unsatisfied: there’s enough CGI trickery and epic spectacle to, in all likelihood, entertain just about anyone.

China’s taking steps to make sure the film succeeds. In the kind of stunt casting that was used in 1956’s “Around The World In 80 Days” and 1963’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” the movie is loaded from top to bottom with stars in cameos that range from a few minutes to a single glance. “The Founding of a Republic” has nearly 200 such participants, including people even famous in the U.S. (Jackie Chan, Zhang Ziyi, Jet Li). It’s hard to imagine any such method working a contemporary American movie: in a culture so fragmented that people can’t stop writing think pieces about it, could we scrounge up even 100 leading stars everyone in the audience would recognize? I think not. (All of the comedians always appear in each others’ movies anyway at this point.)

Better yet, as Coonan (an all-around Chinese film reporter, it seems) reported in Variety, the government’s giving out discounted tickets from Sept. 1-20 to anyone watching a domestic film in Beijing to encourage watching home-grown propaganda. And — since the media apparatus and the government are one and the same — making sure there aren’t other attractions that could suck away people’s attention and hurt the film’s financial prospects isn’t an option. The movie opens September 17, and October 1-8 will be a national holiday, with the government combining the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival and the self-explanatory National Day into an eight-day block — thereby presumably sending everyone into theaters. This is kind of genius. Coonan notes that the film seems poised to do well where most Chinese propaganda films are avoided by the masses; with that much effort put into it, you’d hope so.

The trailer’s below; it looks better than “Pearl Harbor” anyway:

[Photo: Jackie Chan, “The Founding of a Republic,” China Film Group, 2009]


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


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.


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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…