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When “Fight Club” and “Shawshank” push Hitch to take a hike.

When “Fight Club” and “Shawshank” push Hitch to take a hike. (photo)

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The other day Big Hollywood took some time out of ranting about how Obama destroyed class (again please?) to post something so idiotic even the site’s commenters weren’t having it. went too far even for the commenters who love to rant about cultural elites ramming David Lynch down our throats or something. In a post on the “Top 10 Most Overrated Directors of All Time,” young Ben Shapiro (a kind of twentysomething Bernard Goldberg) started with Ridley Scott and ended up with Hitchcock at #1(!). In between were, among others, David Lean and Darren Aronofsky, back-to-back.

Dwelling on the list’s stupidity at any length is self-evidently unnecessary (though Victor Morton does so interestingly elsewhere). But what was interesting was the assumption that the playing field had been leveled so fast; that you could, in fact, equate the reputations of Lean and Aronofsky (or, hell, Scott and Hitchcock) and find them equally overrated (or great).

Absurd on its face, perhaps, yet it’s absolutely true to my short-lived time in film school. The first thing I learned when I got to NYU is that the overwhelming majority of the students didn’t really care about anything older than, say, “Wayne’s World.” And that a lot of them were drawing the outer parameters of art cinema at “Lost in Translation” probably shouldn’t have surprised me.

What did surprise me was that a lot of the professors didn’t seem to be much better informed. I took a mandatory screenwriting class where we watched “Wall Street” because it’s apparently a perfectly structured movie. (Maybe in some kind of Platonic structural sense, but it’s still stupid.) Later on, we watched “The Usual Suspects,” our professor pausing every so often to announce where the act breaks and plot beats were; in the room right next door, with the music bleeding and overlapping, was a class on film scores, also focusing on “The Usual Suspects.” Which — I mean this nicely — is nowhere close to being one of the great films of all time, or our time, or the ’90s, or even 1995.

Nonetheless, it’s part of a certain group of movies produced in the last 20 years or so have somehow achieved parity with a small, select group of movies still in circulation as The Classics (“Citizen Kane,” “The Godfather,” “Rear Window,” maybe “The Graduate,” if you’re feeling artsy). You know the ones: the collected Tarantinos, “Fight Club,” “Memento,” “Requiem For A Dream,” “Snatch,” “Garden State” (though there may have been a backlash since I left school), and of course that crowning masterpiece of our times, “The Shawshank Redemption.”

I don’t really mean to be a snot: I’m on team Tarantino in a big way, and as far as “Fight Club” goes, it’s aged a lot better than I’d expected. But how these came to be the tightly-packed set of movies found in recurring clusters on people’s Facebook profiles, I don’t know.

Shapiro’s post is laughable for all kinds of reasons, but it’s symptomatic in a very real way: there is a whole generation of people my age and younger who really think these movies aren’t just prospective canon candidates but are the canon. And it’s not just a lack of historical perspective if a lot of the professors are agreeing with them — which they are — it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[Photos: Alfred Hitchcock public-domain via Wikipedia; “The Usual Suspects,” MGM Home Entertainment, 1995.]

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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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