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The right-wing year in film.

The right-wing year in film. (photo)

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Over at The Awl, there’s a grimly funny round-up of altered posters from right-wing message board designed to promote the viewpoint that Barack Hussein Obama is the real “Liar Liar,” Pelosi and Obama are engaged in “Duplicity,” etc. etc. This reminds me that Big Hollywood launched on January 6 of this year, and my life’s never been the same since.

Founded by Andrew Breitbart — who’s trying to do for the blogosphere what Rush Limbaugh does for talk radio in terms of sheer presence, unifying everyone under one wing — Big Hollywood‘s ostensible focus is the intersection of film and politics of the tea-party sort.

This has led to all kinds of insanity, though it didn’t have to be this way. One of the central tenets of BH is that there’s a a “New Blacklist” against conservatives in effect. No matter that Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer and James Woods’ careers continue apace; it takes “courage” to “come out.” Hence, all kinds of voices are welcomed, no matter how C-list or incoherent.

Ex-“Law and Order” star Michael Moriarty is a recent addition to the roster, though my favorite mainstay is certifiable ex-“SNL” ’80s cast member Victoria Jackson, who writes things like “Obama’s speeches are all fake and they say nothing. Cotton candy for stupid people. But, you Glenn Beck, you are a thinker. Like me. You are unbiased. Like me. You are simply seeking Truth, just like me.”

When the site started, editor-in-chief John Nolte used to review each week’s major releases, but he’s apparently gotten too busy to keep up. So reviews come from every which way, and only a few films have emerged as certifiably free of liberal propaganda and good for American families. Championed, repeatedly and at length, were the early year’s surprise hits “Taken” and “Gran Torino,” something worth thinking about without smirking, at least momentarily.

12072009_taken.jpgOf the many essays BH published on these movies — paragons of political incorrectness, natch, with Eastwood telling it like it is and Liam Neeson kicking some towelhead ass — the definitive ones are probably Leo Grin’s “‘Taken’: The World’s Oldest Profession is Father,” which seriously proposes that a) ” the male of the species is a killer, the keeper of a bloody heroic ideal” b) Liam Neeson is a hero for staring down “the nemesis of everything he holds dear as a Judeo-Christian, as an American, and as a father. Against that evil, blood is the only disinfectant.”

Meanwhile, Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI) wrote a whole essay about “‘Gran Torino’ Conservatives,” where he manages to dismiss Clint Eastwood’s character’s racism in precisely one sentence before proposing Walt Kowalski is a “cultural conservative” who “rises to instill order upon disorder to secure justice and liberty within his community. “

Both these readings strike me as ludicrous, but I can see how they’d make ideological sense to die hard self-proclaimed “independents.” These are both undeniably conservative movies. And yet: I suspect the reason they were surprise hits wasn’t because the American public was hungering for a dose of conservative realpolitik in ass-kicking form. In fact, it seems like most audiences viewed most movies as comedies of excess (certainly that was the case at my screening of “Gran Torino”), the same way most of us watch old Charles Bronson movies.

If anything, that reveals the BH mentality in a nutshell: outdated ideas of vengeance and brute masculinity are meant to be taken seriously and unambiguously. That’s what they want every year in film; that’s why “300” and “The Dark Knight” are part of the modern canon.

Oddly, they’re mixed on “The Blind Side” — this year’s big, Christians-are-people-too movie — because of one measly Bush-bashing joke, which gives the game away. Big Hollywood positions itself on the Glenn Beck side of things (obviously), which doesn’t have anything to do with the heartland values it claims for itself; it’s all about kicking ass and taking names for moral righteousness. Happy nearly-one-year anniversary, guys; that best-of list is going to be a doozy.

[Photos: “Gran Torino,” Warner Bros., 2008; “Taken,” Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 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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