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Fantastic Fest: Uwe Boll, Auteur

Fantastic Fest: Uwe Boll, Auteur (photo)

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Two things spread quickly at film festivals: upper respiratory tract infections and buzz. And the buzz spreading around Fantastic Fest last week was that the impossible had happened: that Uwe Boll, the infamous director of notoriously (and, at times, enjoyably) terrible films like “Alone in the Dark” and “BloodRayne,” had made a good movie. Film School Rejects declared Boll’s new film “Rampage” “sick, violent, and fun”; /Film called it “not just good in comparison to the rest of his filmography, but a good movie in its own right.”

Usually Boll’s movies aren’t just bad, they’re splendidly bad. They’re lazily plotted, haphazardly shot and confusingly edited, and yet, somehow, in the alchemical confluence of all that badness they take on a certain transcendent magic. Many of his past efforts were financed through a now-defunct German tax shelter that, if I understand it correctly, only required independent film investors to pay taxes if their films turned a profit, providing a financial incentive for failure. Nevertheless, the buzz was quite insistent: “Rampage” was good. Lured by curiosity to the film’s final Fantastic Fest screening, I discovered that while “Rampage” is far more competently made than Boll’s worst films (or best, depending on your point of view), it’s also stripped of much of those earlier films’ charm and it tells a story that, while lucid (if ludicrous), is completely revolting. To put it another way, “Rampage” announces that Boll isn’t a terrible filmmaker, just a terrible misanthrope who hates humanity and wants nothing more than to see it destroyed.

“Rampage” is about a sullen young man named Bill (Brendan Fletcher) who’s grown tired of his coddling parents, his anarchist best friend and the guy who makes his macchiato in the morning with too little foam. Convinced by the mainstream media of the world’s impending doom at the hands of war, overpopulation and environmental decay, Bill, a Travis Bickle with no Iris to focus his madness upon, straps on a homemade suit of armor and goes on a killing spree in his hometown, taking revenge on the people who’ve crossed him (let that be a lesson in coffee making, baristas), as well as any random bystanders he happens upon.

10062009_Rampage.jpgThere are times when Boll seems to be critiquing the hypocrisy of killing someone in order to make a political point, an idea with more than a little relevance in our modern world. And only the staunchest of right-wingers would disagree that our civilization could very well consume itself into oblivion. But is genocide the best solution? “Rampage” seems to argue that it is. By replaying audio clips that recite our society’s excesses and misplaced values (the figure of 70 million new people brought into an already crowded world every year comes up quite a bit) and by filming Bill’s mayhem with a fetishistic macho zeal, Boll essentially argues that anyone who disagrees with his viewpoint is unworthy of the gift of life. You have to wonder if Boll, who’s been an enormous punching bag for much of his directorial career and has even taken to physically fighting his critics on occasion (including at Fantastic Fest), has come to genuinely despise opposing viewpoints. “Rampage” is a blast of pure venom at the viewer, a “Funny Games”-style provocation from a filmmaker who might not necessarily want to challenge his audience or make them question their complicity in the violence that takes place onscreen, but wastes no opportunity to show how much he simply and utterly hates them.

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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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