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Keeping the barbarians at bay.

Keeping the barbarians at bay. (photo)

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Every year someone makes a fuss over how snobbish/exclusionary/whatever the New York Film Festival is; this year’s money quote came from Jeffrey Wells, who complained that the festival committee had become “a gathering of Trappist monks who’ve been slurping too much goat’s milk with their granola.” (I keep meaning to bring mine to the screenings and forgetting.)

It’s nothing new — as Michael Guillen points out in his review of “Film Festival I: The Festival Circuit,” a journal dedicated to, yes, film festivals — those annual complaints haven’t shifted one bit since the festival’s founding in 1963.

Rahul Hamid reports, in one of the journal’s essays, that back in 1965, The New Republic‘s Stanley Kauffmann sniffed that the program descriptions were the product of a “limp mind and wrist,” and that festivals were for selling movies, not art, that the good movies would make their way into the world anyway. As time passed, Hamid argues, people forgot that NYFF’s intent was pretty much always to be self-consciously elitist, bourgeois and irrelevant — that is, “to give film a place in the cultural establishment of the city.” If that meant avoiding any competition or commercial aspects, so be it.

Times have changed; these days, few people would seriously argue that film isn’t an art form, with or without $20 ticket prices. In a lot of ways — no matter the nostalgia for the programming slates of ten, 20 or 30 years ago — NYFF’s programming agenda has remained consistent as the conversation surrounding it has broadened and changed. The slate would be taken seriously whether it screened in Lincoln Center or in the multiplex a few blocks away. Whatever the context, claims that NYFF has grown more elitist over the years just aren’t true: its very nature is to insist on showing great films at their most rigorous and commercially disdainful, in need of the most praise and attention as fast as possible before potentially fading away.

That’s, theoretically, the nature of every festival — but many festivals need Hollywood movies, with their attendant cash inflow, to keep going. Either way, the battle is the same one its always been — art vs. commerce, commercial vs. art.

[Photo: Actual Trappist monks in Belgium, courtesy of Wikipedia]

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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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