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DID YOU READ

Eight to anticipate at Sundance 2010.

Eight to anticipate at Sundance 2010. (photo)

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“REBEL: This is the renewed rebellion. This is the recharged fight against the establishment of the expected. This is the rebirth of the battle for brave new ideas. This is Sundance, reminded. And this is your call to join us.” That’s the first thing you see when you visit Sundance’s website, where the 2010 festival lineup was unveiled a few hours ago.

Well, like, color me skeptical. Still, there’s always stuff to look forward to — based on nothing more than sifting the line-up for prior track records, guess-work and early reviews of stuff that’s already premiered, here’s eight to anticipate if you’re lucky enough to make it out to Park City this January:

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
“Lucky” (Jeffrey Blitz)
The premise isn’t extraordinary — “The story of what happens when ordinary people hit the lottery jackpot” — but a lot of people loved “Spellbound” and sadly ignored “Rocket Science,” Blitz’s uneven but often quite funny/moving narrative take on adolescent awkwardness. Since then he’s been killing time directing episodes of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” which can only be a good thing: more documentaries could use sharp comic timing. It’ll be a crowd-pleaser anyway.

“Smash His Camera” (Leon Gast)
Leon Gast has a truly all-over-the-place resume — anyone want to come over and watch all 131 minutes of “The Grateful Dead,” a concert doc from 1977 co-directed with Jerry Garcia? But in 1996 he gave us “When We Were Kings,” one of the sharpest, most rhythmically attuned uses of archival footage to capture a world-historical moment — Ali/Foreman, 1974 — in all its dimensions, be they cultural, musical, pugilistic or just Muhammad Ali rapping about the importance of flossing. Gast’s subject this time is Ron Galella, paparrazo extraordinaire. Wikipedia’s career highlights include being “punched in the jaw by Marlon Brando in Chinatown, beaten up by Richard Burton’s bodyguards in Mexico, hosed down by friends of Brigitte Bardot in Saint Tropez, [having] his tires slashed by Elvis Presley’s guards in Queens and [being] sued twice by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.” Hopefully Gast will get his editorial rhythm on and tie together 50 years of pop cultural time-surfing into something intoxicating rather than dutifully plodding, rushing through footage and highlights.

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
“Holy Rollers” (Kevin Taylor Asch)
OK, listen: “A young Hasidic man, seduced by money, power and opportunity, becomes an international Ecstasy smuggler.” Sounds like a New York profile stretched to dubious length; also, the screenwriter is Antonio Macia, whose other feature credit — “Anne B. Real” — is ranked #48 on IMDB’s “Bottom 100″ and is described as the coming of age story of a young female rapper, who finds her inspiration by reading the Diary of Anne Frank.” So there’s reasons to be wary. On the other hand, it stars Jesse Eisenberg, currently our reigning champion for interpreting nervous young men on the cusp of life-changing moments. I’ve personally watched him almost single-handedly rescue Fred Durst’s “The Education of Charlie Banks”; there’s pretty much nothing he can’t do at this moment. Or, you know, it could just be “The Wackness.”

“Lovers of Hate” (Bryan Poyser)
Bryan Poyser was an up-and-coming cause célèbre when I left Austin, alongside other scene mainstays like Kyle Henry, Alex Karpovsky and Bob Byington. 2004’s “Dear Pillow” received good reviews all round from trustworthy types for its non-sensational portrayal of an 18-year-old’s friendship with the fiftysomething ex-porn director next door, apparently avoiding the twin traps of hysteria and quirkiness. “Lovers of Hate” has a cast that includes Karpovsky — hilarious in both “Beeswax” and “Harmony and Me” — and will perhaps be Poyser’s break-out feature. Also, it’s cute that Sundance is dipping its big toe into something that could vaguely be classified, by virtue of cast-list alone, (sorry guys) “mumblecore.” Welcome to the party guys; what took you so long?

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
“Last Train Home” (Lixin Fan)
Chinese documentary cinema is pretty much where it’s at right now — cf. Jia Zhangke’s documentary work, NYFF 2009 selection “Ghost Town” — and I’m told we’re not even close to scratching the surface at this point. Lixin Fan’s doc follows factory workers struggling to get home to celebrate the new year, which sounds like a perfect micro premise for a macro portrait of contemporary China and its disconnect from area to area. indieWIRE‘s Eugene Hernandez caught it at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (where it won best feature length doc) and noted its “stunning” cinematography, which bodes well: unlike their US counterparts, Chinese docs (the few I’ve seen, anyway) tend to have a formalist jones that serves them well.

“The Red Chapel” (Mads Brügger)
This is just nutty, and sounds like a joke: “a documentarian and two comedians walk into North Korea…” But it’s not. If nothing else, this will be some extremely rare footage of one of the world’s most tightly sealed countries. But — by all accounts — this is also one seriously twisty piece of work, where the original agenda of making hay devolves into an ethical query about what’s happening, not just a travelogue. Like, is it OK to use a comedian with a speech impediment to confuse the authorities? Is this brave or just grandstanding? I can’t wait.

“Secrets of the Tribe” (José Padilha)
Padilha’s 2002’s “Bus 174” was a super-rigorous piece of cultural and media analysis, working through a one-day bus hostage situation in Rio de Janeiro. 2007’s “Elite Squad” won the Golden Bear at Berlin, but a lot of people I know accused it of being fascist, and for 2009’s documentary “Garapa” Padilha admitted he’d let his impoverished, malnutritioned subjects starve from the camera before turning it off and throwing them some cash, which is ethically shaky, to say the least. But he’s fearless in the face of controversy, which is what makes him perfect to do a documentary about academic anthropologists arguing about potential exploitation of Amazon Basin Indians. No, seriously: this is a big deal (anyone who’s had to take an intro to anthropology class knows this), and his instincts will surely be for the visceral and passionately argued rather than the academic.

WORLD CINEMA NARRATIVE COMPETITION
“Four Lions” (Christopher Morris)
Strictly because it’s directed by Christopher Morris, who’s a huge deal in the UK for his work on shows like “The IT Crowd,” writing one of Steve Coogan’s first big hits (“The Day Today”), etc. Armando Iannucci’s leap from small-screen comedy to features (“In The Loop”) rocked Sundance (and my world) last year. So I’ll take this one on faith.

[Photo: “The Red Chapel,” Zentropa Productions, 2009]

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Final Countdown

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 IFC.com

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Rev Up

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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Give Back

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…