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Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking Outside the Box (photo)

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A week loaded with oh-so-worthy awards season contenders is offset with the comic relief of Jim Carrey’s performance captured flailing, George Clooney’s self-deluded staring, and the teasing promise of an affordable(!) trip to the ballet.

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“The Box”
You could make the argument that if Richard Kelly could only get the whole world to come over to his house and listen to his record collection, he might not feel the need to make films at all. That said, his fall from grace following the flop of “Southland Tales” was so total that he went from the director anointed as the hipster’s David Lynch to the arthouse M. Night Shyamalan overnight. With much riding on this comeback, Kelly has turned to Richard Matheson’s short story “Button, Button,” previously immortalized as an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” for his source for this story of a mysterious stranger (Frank Langella) who presents a seemingly impossible moral dilemma to a financially troubled suburban couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden).
Opens wide.

“A Christmas Carol”
While the eerily artificial presentation of “The Polar Express” ultimately didn’t harm its box office numbers, the much-derided “dead-eye syndrome” that inhibited Tom Hanks ensured that Robert Zemeckis’ first venture into the world of performance capture films could only go up, qualitywise. Zemeckis is back for another crack at a Yuletide tale, this time with Jim Carrey donning the green-screen suit to play more than half a dozen different roles in this adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic. Most prominently, he inhabits the role of unrepentant miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who finds himself visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future (all played by Carrey), imploring him to change his ways.
Opens wide in 3D and IMAX.

Have chronicled both the Yes Men and the enchanting directorial exploits of Wisconsin’s own Mark Borchardt, filmmaker Chris Smith continues to gravitate towards indelible misfits and their attempts to get the world’s attention with this documentary portrait of noted doomsayer and self-described investigative reporter Michael Ruppert. Employing the same stream-of-consciousness confessional format as James Toback’s recent “Tyson,” Smith’s film takes the form of a series of grimly disturbing monologues in which the former Los Angeles police officer makes his case for the camera as to how our misguided energy policy and unregulated financial industry will ultimately bring about the collapse of western civilization.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on November 13th.

“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”
Let’s face it, even in a good economy, the high ticket prices of a ballet performance ensure that the closest most of us will ever get to see some pirouetting is tossing “Billy Elliot” into the DVD player. But now, thanks to legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman, we don’t just see the stage, but get to peek inside the hallowed halls of the Paris Opera for an intimate look at the world-renowned Ballet de l’Opera National.
Opens in New York.

With awards season in full swing, a quick glance at some of the potential Oscar-baiters confirms that this year apartheid is the new Holocaust. Focusing on the revolution as opposed to the conflict, “Vantage Point” director Pete Travis’ adaptation of journalist Robert Harvey’s book plays out far away from the political turmoil in South Africa in an idyllic country manner in Somerset, England. Brit thesp Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as ANC information director (and future South African president) Thabo Mbeki, who amidst tense negotiations with the National Party discovers a kindred spirit in Will Esterhuyse (William Hurt), a white university professor.
Opens in limited release.

“The Fourth Kind”
You’ve only got to look at the business “Paranormal Activity” is currently doing to understand why filmmakers return time and again to “found footage” and “documentary reenactment” as the medium of choice for their no-frills thrill rides. (It’s bloody cheap, for starters.) This feature debut from director Olatunde Osunsanmi (a Joe Carnahan protégé) announced itself via a meta-movie viral marketing campaign featuring star Milla Jovovich as herself. The Ukranian actress stars as Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist investigating patient reports of alien abduction in the sleepy town of Nome, Alaska. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and they’ll take her husband.
Opens wide.

“A French Gigolo”
Striking a more somber note than her other recent works, this bittersweet romance from French author, actress and filmmaker Josiane Balasko offers a wounded take on the adage that money can’t buy you love, but it does allow you to rent it for a little while. What begins as a simple business attraction between Judith (Nathalie Baye), a wealthy but lonely divorcée, and Marco (Eric Caravaca), a married, working-class gigolo, gradually evolves into a deeper emotional connection, highlighting the many parallels and the hypocrisies that exist between marriage and prostitution. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Make The Yuletide Gay”
The latest from queer cinema director Rob Williams, this gay relationship drama once again showcases that, as far as cinema is concerned, Christmas is little more than an excuse to accumulate a few hundred pairs of socks and a naff sweater from Grandma, and engage in a row with your family. Keith Jordan fronts this mug of Christmas cheer as Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, a gay college student who retreats into the closet when he goes home for the holidays, only to be dragged out kicking and screaming by his boyfriend (former “Degrassi: The Next Generation” star Adamo Ruggiero), who shows up unexpectedly on the Gunnundersons’ doorstep.
Opens in Los Angeles.

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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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