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Welcome to Hugowood, where revolution rules.

Welcome to Hugowood, where revolution rules. (photo)

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Hugo Chávez is having a movie moment. The Venezuela president is the subject of a fawning Oliver Stone documentary. He’s had visits from Sean Penn, Danny Glover and Kevin Spacey. (And, of course, Tim Robbins, if it even needs to be said.) And, as I pointed out last month, his anti-golf politics have a lot in common with Alex Cox’s “Repo Man” sequel — trendy!

And now, Chávez has got his own film studio — La Villa del Cine — and they’re intent on pumping out movies that get behind his agenda. The official slogan: “Lights, camera, revolution!”

Mac Margolis’ Newsweek profile of the studio is pretty harsh. I’m not necessarily Chávez’s biggest fan, but Hitler/Mussolini comparisons seem, at the very least, premature. That said, it’s no surprise that Chávez is going as dictatorial over the Venezuelan film industry as he has been in every other aspect of the country’s life. Margolis offers an anecdote about director Jonathan Jakubowicz, who was sued for making 2005’s “Secuestro Express” — about Caracas kidnappers — for “undermining our revolution.” Shades of the USSR there, for sure.

But Margolis goes further, pointing out that “La Villa del Cine” means, like Mussolini’s “Cinecitta,” the “city of cinema,” which doesn’t come off as meaningful as he’d like. Until Venezuela closes itself off to the outside cinematic world and mandates watching terrible state-produced films (or, you know, throws its dissenting directors in the gulag), Hitler comparisons seem awfully alarmist. And La Villa’s biggest hit this year — “Libertador Morales, the Justice Maker” (taxi driver by day, crime-fighter by night) — grossed $200,000 to “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaur”‘s $11 million plus. Clearly cinematic fascism still has a way to go.

The real question here should be if Venezuelan cinema outside the state-run production is genuinely suffering, and that’s something Margolis doesn’t get around to answering. Comparisons to China — where a wrong cinematic move can lead to years of being officially prohibited from directing — would be closer to the mark.

In any case, thanks to Newsweek‘s accompanying slideshow of totalitarian cinema for pointing me in the direction of 1985’s “Pulgasari,” the last of the seven movies director Shing Sang Ok made after being kidnapped by Korean dictator (and avowed cinephile) Kim Jong-il, a “Godzilla-like film is about a corrupt ruler who starves his country’s peasants” that’s unconscionably, rubber-suit hilarious:

[Photo: “Libertador Morales, the Justice Maker,” Fundacion Villa del Cine, 2009]

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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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