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Running Amunk for the Holidays

Running Amunk for the Holidays (photo)

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Happy holidays, everyone! Those willing and able to drag themselves away from the huge pile of swag under the tree can enjoy the late Heath Ledger’s final performance, a Jude Law double bill and a drolly comic Romanian police procedural underneath among other holiday presents that await at the multiplex.

“Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”
With the tagline “Munk Yourself” sounding more like a threat than a come-on, the high-pitched trio of singing rodents return just in time for exhausted moms to plunk the rugrats down at the multiplex after the presents are unwrapped while they snore quietly in the back row. Betty Thomas, who has some kid-themed kid-themed hijinks with on her CV, steps in for the first film’s helmer Tim Hill and trades out her experience with real critters on “Dr. Dolittle” for these much less messy (not to mention non-union) digital substitutes. Jason Lee reprises his role as Dave, the caretaker of the furry three (voiced by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney) as Alvin and gang lose their musical supremacy and their hearts to the all-girl outfit, The Chipettes (voiced by Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate)
Opens wide on December 23rd.

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
A director who seems only happy when it rains, Terry Gilliam has matched his wits against studios (as on “Brazil”) and tornadoes on the set of his first crack at “Don Quixote” (as seen in “Lost in La Mancha”). But surely nothing could have prepared him for the tragic death of his lead Heath Ledger in the midst of shooting his latest film, which has become a memorial of sorts for the late star. Ever the pragmatist, Gilliam called on Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law to play the refracted versions of Ledger’s character Tony, a rascally amnesiac who, after being rescued from a botched execution, becomes the wild card in a final round of betting between the 1000-year old Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and a rasping Devil (Tom Waits) over the perfectly innocent soul of the doctor’s daughter, Valentina (Lily Cole).
Opens in New York and Los Angeles before expanding wide on January 8th.

“It’s Complicated”
After “Something’s Gotta Give” and “The Holiday,” Nancy Meyers returns to give the flagging rom-com genre a much needed shot of life and fly the flag for the under-sexed, underrepresented 50-plus crowd with a saucy story of second chances that goes to show you simply can’t put a clock on passion. Oscar magnet Meryl Streep stars alongside Emmy hog Alec Baldwin as Jane and Jake, a once-married couple who give each other a second look when Jake’s marriage to a much younger woman starts to fall apart. The venerable Steve Martin (being generous here Steve, don’t let us down) co-stars as the other other man, so to speak, in what is likely to be yet another dagger in the heart of Meyers’ real-life ex, director Charles Shyer.
Opens wide.

12212009_PoliceAdjective1.jpg“Police, Adjective”
Romanian writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu is fast becoming something of a Cannes darling, with this his sophomore feature matching the feat of his melancholic ensemble debut “12:08 East of Bucharest” in scooping a pair of prizes (FIPRESCI, Un Certain Regard) at the prestigious festival. This comically tinged police procedural also picked up the Transylvania Trophy in its native country, which we only mention here because it has a cool sounding name. Characterized by periods of silent observation punctuated by random arguments over semantics, Porumboiu’s morality play details the drudgery of police work as a young cop (Dragos Bucur) reluctantly stakes out a petty pot dealer, secretly hoping that the boy will lead him to a bigger fish. In Romanian with subtitles.
Opens in limited release on December 23rd.

“Sherlock Holmes”
Given his career-long fascination with swaggering, cockney wide-boys, it’s really not all that surprising that director Guy Ritchie gravitated to the character of Sherlock Holmes — arguably London’s first “geezer” problem solver — as merely a natural extension of his existing body of work. Cherry-picking some of the more cinematic (and less well known) character traits of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s renowned detective, Ritchie gives us a swashbuckling Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) who is as much a lover and a brawler as he is a master of deduction. Ably accompanied by his long-suffering stalwart, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), Holmes races around Victorian-era London in pursuit of the wily Lord Blackwood (the ever-more-impressive Mark Strong), a scheming occultist who fakes his own death to avoid Scotland Yard’s unwanted attention and take control of Parliament.
Opens wide.

[Additional photo: Dragos Bucur in “Police, Adjective,” IFC Films, 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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