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Boston, home of the new American noir.

Boston, home of the new American noir. (photo)

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Ben Affleck’s directorial debut “Gone Baby Gone” is one of the best American movies of the decade, though somehow most people never found out (it stalled at $20 million domestically). Its greatest achievement is its sense of place — shooting in Boston, Affleck spent a lot of time highlighting the terrifying alcoholic faces of the city’s poorer residents. “By rule you have to use a certain number of SAG people,” he explained. “But SAG extras have a certain look — they’re put together. So I said: ‘O.K., we’ll use the SAG actors. I just don’t want to see them.” What he got was some of the scariest verisimilitude this side of “The Wire.”

Boston’s become the setting of choice for utterly unromanticized noir. At the Boston Phoenix, Peter Keogh considers the resurgence of filmmaking in the city. For years, it was too dangerous to shoot in: teamsters would extort the productions, gunmen would steal film. Then Clint Eastwood rode in on his white horse to shoot “Mystic River” and changed everything. “If you stick me up, don’t stick me up too heavily,” Dennis Lehane recalls him saying. The film brought attention to Boston as a location, tax breaks were passed, and around 26 films have been shot in the area since.

Some flicks come to town for the tax breaks and get all generic: “The Proposal” added CGI mountains to turn Boston into Alaska, “The Pink Panther 2” went for Paris. Then there’s the Zakim Bridge, now in a dozen films and counting, becoming, as Keough notes, “our version of the Eiffel Tower.” Still, Boston qua Boston is a new noir playground: Affleck’s back shooting another crime movie (“The Town”), and Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” is on the way.

In tumultuous times like these, we need a new flavor of noir. And maybe, as Lehane puts it, that will mean “a darker kind of blacker, more Boston type of comedy. The idea that God’s a bit of a jokester — and we’re the punch line.”

[Photo: “Gone Baby Gone,” Miramax, 2007]

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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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