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Ninjas, Princesses and Old Dogs

Ninjas, Princesses and Old Dogs (photo)

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Families arriving at the multiplex for a little pre/post-turkey entertainment have two choices — separate off into your respective age/gender demographics and indulge yourselves, or stick together in a tragic statement of family unity and purchase seven tickets for “Old Dogs.” The choice, it is yours.

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A selection at Cannes 2008 and this year’s Swiss Oscar hopeful, the sophomore feature from Ursula Meier centers on a middle class couple (Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Gourmet) that enjoys bringing up their children away from urban life in the French countryside. However, the construction of a highway near their home leads to a divide between the two on what’s best for their family as the pollution from the cars and the incessant noise begins to drive them a little mad.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on December 18th.

“Me and Orson Welles”
There is no doubt in our minds that if the great and seminal Orson Welles could return from the beyond for one last hurrah, he would take Zac Efron for a muse. But since Welles isn’t around, we’ll have to make do with Christian McKay, the star of a one-man show called “Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles,” who was plucked from the off-Broadway production to play mentor to the “High School Musical” star in the latest from Richard Linklater. While there’s no singing required, Efron takes to the stage once more to play Richard Samuels, an untested kid who snags a part in Welles’ Mercury Theatre Company staging of “Julius Caesar,” falls hopelessly for a production assistant (Claire Danes) and receives a tough lesson from the boisterous maverick on the harsh realities of that cruelest of all businesses.
Opens November 25th in New York and Los Angeles.

“Ninja Assassin”
Having honed his skills as second unit director on moody mindbenders such as “Dark City” and “The Matrix” trilogy, New Zealand-born helmer James McTeigue went solo in 2005 with the sorely underrated “V For Vendetta.” Reuniting with “V” producers Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, he must’ve seen something he liked on his supporting gig on “Speed Racer,” casting Korean pop star Rain in this bloody martial arts story of vengeance and betrayal. Here, the enigmatic singer/actor portrays a deadly assassin raised by a shadowy crime syndicate who flees into hiding after his former clan attempts to execute him, and returns with the aide of an Europol agent (Naomie Harris) to annihilate his would-be killers.
Opens wide on November 25th.

“Old Dogs”
As fine an example of aspirational four-quadrant family filmmaking as you’ll ever see is this calculated exercise in mass appeal from “Wild Hogs” director Walt Becker. This life lessons comedy sees the freewheeling pair of John Travolta and Robin Williams as best friends Charlie and Dan, forced to shape up when Dan’s ex (Kelly Preston) comes to town and dumps two kids he never knew he had in his lap. Clueless, the duo put themselves through a crash course of kid-centric outdoor activities, presumably to better facilitate scenes where characters get hit in the nuts. Besides serving as the film debut of Travolta and Preston’s real-life daughter Ella Bleu, “Old Dogs” also is the final curtain for the late, great Bernie Mac, who plays a kiddie entertainer named Jimmy Lunchbox.
Opens wide on November 25th.

“The Princess and The Frog”
Animated feature #49 didn’t come easy for Disney, with the last hand-drawn film from the Mouse House being the 2004 cow-centric clunker “Home on the Range.” Since then, Pixar’s John Lasseter took over the animation department and recruited “Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” writing/directing team Ron Clements and John Musker to reclaim some of that old 2D magic with a story featuring Disney’s first African-American princess. Set in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the film follows young heroine Tiana (voiced by “Dreamgirls”‘ Anika Noni Rose), who journeys deep into the Louisiana bayou in search of a 200-year-old voodoo priestess (Jenifer Lewis) who can lift the curse that has transformed her and her princely suitor into tiny amphibians (who are really good at dancing). Oprah Winfrey, Keith David, Terrence Howard and John Goodman lend their voices to the musical.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 25th; opens wide on December 11th.

“The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”
Battling fellow scion of literary royalty Rodrigo Garcia for supremacy in the women-in-crisis ensemble genre, Rebecca Miller (daughter of Arthur, wife of Daniel Day-Lewis) adapts her own novel for her fourth feature, a character study of one woman’s private nightmare of consumed identity. Pippa (Robin Wright) accompanies her publisher husband (Alan Arkin), 30 years her senior, into a premature stay in a Connecticut retirement community. Bored by having to settle into a daily routine, she reflects back on her life (played as a teen by Blake Lively) filled with memorable characters like her pill-popping mother (Maria Bello), her aunt’s dominatrix girlfriend (Julianne Moore) and her husband’s lunatic ex-wife (Monica Bellucci). Keanu Reeves co-stars as the bad boy who lures Pippa from her stupor.
Opens in limited release.

“The Road”
Families looking to quietly snooze off those turkey sandwiches in the dark can enjoy the ironic spectacle of hardscrabble, post-apocalypse starvation — not to mention some dodgy product placement — courtesy of “The Proposition” director John Hillcoat’s bleak and beautiful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s end-of-the-world page-turner. In yet another intensely committed physical performance, Viggo Mortensen plays the haunted, nameless father, scouring the scorched Earth for food and shelter, gradually surrendering pieces of his own humanity in a desperate bid to protect his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and somehow keep them both alive. Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Garret Dillahunt also make appearances.
Opens in limited release on November 25th.

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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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