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How anonymity can work for you (and Richard Linklater).

How anonymity can work for you (and Richard Linklater). (photo)

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Over the weekend, two of ’90s indie cinema’s now-struggling emeritus directors returned to the cinematic landscape, one to far more noise than the other.

Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” finally opened nationally and came out soft, its per-screen average of $3,453 hardly much better than the animated flop “Planet 51.” Whether things will pick up or whether pure Anderson, uncut or no, is just too idiosyncratic to sell as a family film remains to be seen.

Richard Linklater’s long-delayed “Me And Orson Welles” was met with respectful but largely unenthused, hands-off reviews. Despite that, an opening weekend of $16,200 per screen is no joke for a film that took over a year to straggle to theaters. I was part of the crowd; I’m from Austin, so solidarity with Linklater’s work is key. As it happened, the theater was being polled by some diligent firm who gave a very cluttered survey breaking us down as demographics — age, race, where you heard about the movie. Before the screening, you were invited to contemplate which factor which drove you to the theater, what made you choose (underlined) “this movie”: Zac Efron? “The romance”? “Looks different from other movies out”? Perhaps, more modestly, “Richard Linklater, the director?”

The audience, as it turned out, was mostly middle-aged and more interested in seeing a good, proper piece of Oscar bait than either another laid-back Linklater film or a close encounter Efron’s dulcet pipes (though my viewing companion spotted six or seven Efron-tweens in the crowd). Though Efron gets to sing a song in his anachronistic Disney Channel-voice, he’s mostly kept in the background while Christian McKay’s enjoyable Orson Welles impersonation takes center stage. (With a bigger marketing budget, he’d be a nomination lock.)

11302009_orson3.jpgEven then, though, this is very much a Richard Linklater movie; his personality is stronger than anything on-screen. Like Ang Lee, he always errs on the side of understatement rather than risk overselling a moment, but sometimes too much underplaying is more conspicuous than a hard sell. Linklater likes to watch his Welles talk, but he’s just as much of a digressive, charismatic crackpot as any of the usual curious talky Linklater gang.

Linklater’s style — lacking any signature lighting, color schemes or anything, really, besides his basic editorial rhythms — can also be helpfully marketed as anonymously competent. If “Me And Orson Welles” can sustain its momentum past a stronger-than-expected opening weekend, it could be at least in part because of the presumable anonymity of Linklater’s technique; you can’t cover up Wes Anderson’s weirdness without refusing to release any stills or proper trailers. At a time when Linklater’s having trouble getting financing, that could be an asset.

[Photos: “Me and Orson Welles,” Freestyle Releasing, 2008]

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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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