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Spike Jonze, Jason Reitman and the fearsome third.

Spike Jonze, Jason Reitman and the fearsome third. (photo)

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There’s two good profiles published in the last few days about polar opposite Great White Hopes of Hollywood film. The New York Times profiles Spike Jonze in anticipation of his adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are”; Anthony Breznican tackles Jason Reitman for USA Today in advance of “Up In The Air”‘s premiere in Toronto. As befits the man, the Reitman profile is competent and occasionally absorbing, but basically pedestrian; Saki Knafo’s take on Jonze is a great piece — if you think Jonze is a major American auteur, it’ll be the major piece to refer to in the years until someone writes a full biography (Sharon Waxman’s “Rebels on the Backlot” devoted a few chapters to the former Adam Spiegel); if he turns out to be a flash in the pan, this’ll be the peak of his career. Both profiles arrive on the eve of potentially make-or-break third films for each.

Jonze is only eight years older than Reitman, but there’s an era separating them. Jonze was part of the late ’90s group of directors that was supposed to invade Hollywood and change it, ’70s style. This didn’t precisely come true: Wes Anderson’s set up a niche for himself, P.T. Anderson works sporadically, Alexander Payne ditched the satire he was best at for soggy humanism. Knafo’s story paints Jonze as this idiot savant capable of dazzling technical wizardly because of his man-child existence; it’s a beguiling portrait, if a little condescending. Besides putting a fine point on Jonze being the guy who gave the world easily graspable versions of Charlie Kaufman scripts, Knafo treats Jonze with the same level of fascinating incomprehension most people lavish on David Lynch.

Though Reitman has cited all those ’90s directors as influences, the profile on the “Thank You for Smoking” director is a good deal more straightforward: he is extravagantly praised for working perfectly within the mid-budget “indie” genre, he explains the personal resonance “Up In The Air” has for him, and that’s that. He comes off as a much more stable choice of director than Jonze, whose problems with getting “Where The Wild Things Are” made are well-chronicled by Knafo: Jonze almost got fired, and no one will talk precisely about what made Warner Bros’ finally take an $80 million gamble on a movie that the author compares to Cassavetes and predicts might alienate audiences wildly.

However, whatever the result, Jonze is poised to be a full-blown auteur after this, finally making it clear what he himself stands for — something, I’m guessing, considerably more optimistic and less arch than his collaborations with Kaufman suggest. Kaufman gave him structure; on his own, precisely what does he care about besides skateboarding and technical challenges? Like Lynch, can Jonze deliver surrealism and deep emotions via naivete? We’ll see.

[Photo: “Where the Wild Things Are,” Warner Bros., 2009]

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Rev Up

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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Give Back

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…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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