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This week sees an impressive list of heavy-hitters make a late December showing as Clint Eastwood and Peter Jackson deliver their latest, Werner Herzog assembles the unlikely pairing of Udo Kier and Verne Troyer, and Tom Ford unveils his directorial debut.

“According to Greta”
Hilary Duff adds the title of executive producer to her résumé by backing the feature debut of veteran music video director Nancy Bardawil. After demonstrating a dark side on “Gossip Girl” this season, Duff continues to shed her good girl image as a rebellious 17-year-old who proves to be too much of a handful for her mother (Melissa Leo) and is sent off to spend the summer on Jersey Shore with her grandparents (Ellen Burstyn and Michael Murphy), to whom she promises she will kill herself by her 18th birthday. In the midst of plotting her suicide, she begins a romance with a troubled short-order cook (Evan Ross) who leads her to rethink things.
Opens in Los Angeles.

Oscar season just wouldn’t be complete without a Clint Eastwood drama, and the Old Master shows no signs of slowing down despite being just a few months shy of his 80th birthday. He confounds expectations once more by trading the despair and tragedy of “Changeling” and “Mystic River” for hope and triumph with a drama cooked up from such unpalatable ingredients as racial politics, funny accents and unfathomable foreign sports. Having tried in vain for many years to bring Mandela biography “Long Walk to Freedom” to the screen, Morgan Freeman finally realizes his dream of playing the iconic leader in this adaptation of John Carlin’s account of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, during which time Mandela made the audacious gamble of uniting his fractured nation behind their underdog team, led by captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), on the unlikely chance that they could go all the way.
Opens wide.

“The Lovely Bones”
If any director is capable of infiltrating a big studio Oscar-baiter born out of weighty literature and smuggling out an art film brimming with ideas, then surely Peter Jackson is that man. Marrying the grisly subject matter that first garnered him acclaim with the ethereal, other-worldly spectacle that has come to define his recent work, Jackson, along with co-writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, bring to life Alice Sebold’s somber bestseller about a sadly all-too-literal heavenly creature, embodied here by the young “Atonement” star Saoirse Ronan. The unfortunate victim of a terrible murder, Ronan’s Susie Salmon peers down at her family from a celestial purgatory as her grieving mother and father (Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg) struggle to move on, and her inconspicuous killer (Stanley Tucci) prepares to murder again.
Opens in limited release.

“My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?”
Not waiting around for a distribution deal after it puzzled some audiences in Toronto, Werner Herzog’s second film of ’09 and his first collaboration with David Lynch (who’s an executive producer) stars Willem Dafoe as a detective who treads lightly onto the murder scene of the matriarch of the McCullum family (Grace Zabriskie). After being implicated in her death, her son (Michael Shannon) locks the doors to his own home across the street and takes hostages, all the while Herzog lingers on supporting players ranging from Udo Kier to Chloe Sevigny to Verne Troyer. Lynch is self-distributing through his Absurda label.
Opens in New York.

“Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year”
Given India’s status as the call-center capitol of the world, it’s somewhat surprising that the workplace comedy isn’t a more prevalent genre in Bollywood cinema, though the gray, soul-sucking cubicle isn’t perhaps the first stop on the quest for escapism. Still, Bollywood powerhouse Yash Raj Films wistfully blends office doldrums with a swaggering, hip-hop sensibility, courtesy of “Chak De! India” director Shimit Amin. Ranbir Kapoor stars as the eponymous desk jockey whose disillusionment with the suit and tie brigade leads him to brainstorm an idea to make the fast-exploding Indian economy work for him for a change (and no doubt sing about it). In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“A Single Man”
Colin Firth gives what’s being touted as a career best performance as the linchpin of Gucci guru-turned-first-time director Tom Ford’s adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s seminal gay novel where the Hampshire fuddy-duddy portrays a crushingly lonely fellow on the verge of suicide after the loss of his longtime companion (Matthew Goode) in a car accident. In the foreign sands of Santa Monica, Firth’s British ex-pat George quietly goes about putting his affairs in order on what he plans to be his final day, set to culminate with a dinner at the home of his old flame and confidant Charley (Julianne Moore), but before he can execute his carefully laid out plan, his head is abruptly turned by a sultry student (Nicholas Hoult).
Opens in limited release.

12072009_ViciousKind.jpg“The Vicious Kind”
The sophomore effort from Lee Toland Krieger shares executive producer Neil LaBute’s questioning of the delicate dance between genders with a blackly comic tale of Caleb, a construction worker (Adam Scott) who chaperones his brother (Alex Frost) and his brother’s new girlfriend Emma (Brittany Snow) to Thanksgiving eight years after their mother’s death. Things get complicated when Caleb attempts to dissuade his brother from seeing Emma, first because of his distrust of women following a recent break-up and then because he starts to feel attracted to Emma as the holiday wears on. Scott and Krieger recently picked up Spirit Award nominations for best actor and best screenplay, respectively.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Yesterday Was a Lie”
Metaphysical sci-fi noirs don’t come down the pike too often, but James Kerwin’s has been in the works since 2006 and premiering first at the Park City Film Music Fest in 2008 before a two-year festival run. Kipleigh Brown stars as Hoyle, the enigmatic gumshoe who is as much of a mystery to herself as the case she’s trying to crack when we’re first introduced to her, but begins to find an identity as she investigates the death of a diplomat and finds that her latest job has literally universal implications. Sharp-eared NPR listeners might want to pay attention for the voice of Robert Siegel, who has a small cameo.
Opens in Los Angeles.

[Additional photo: Adam Scott in “The Vicious Kind,” 72nd Street Productions, 2009]

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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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