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“44 Inch Chest” hard guys and Harry Nilsson

“44 Inch Chest” hard guys and Harry Nilsson (photo)

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Movies about hard guys are always best when they expose great weaknesses in the tough characters they depict. And not weaknesses like alcoholism or drugs or a penchant for violence against women – all of which are just cheap and easy character traits that only glorify the hard guy more. I’m talking about the real, pitiful flaws of a man that lie below all of that, the stuff you only get with good writing.

[The crew L-R: McShane, Wilkinson, Winstone, Hurt, Dillane]

“Sexy Beast” writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto certainly indulge their characters in plenty of drugs, alcohol and violence in “44 Inch Chest,” but there’s something more here too – aside from the misogyny I mean, of which there is also plenty – there is great character. Five of them in fact, played by Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane and John Hurt as hilariously disturbed Old Man Peanut. Joanne Whalley joins as the object of Winstone’s, shall we say, affections. Here, Mellis and Scinto do some probing into the fragile loneliness of a man who’s only value lies in his love for his wife, his woman, without whom he is just a sad pathetic hulk, with cynical friends in a wretched world.

This is made plain immediately in the opening sequence that makes excellent use of Harry Nilsson’s soaring lament, “Without You.” The song was originally written by UK’s Badfinger in 1970, and great as it is, Nilsson’s version is more forlorn, somehow weepier and works better here.

“Without You” – Harry Nilsson.

“Without You” – Badfinger.

Disappointingly, aside from the incredible flashback moments – like when Mcshane encounters Victor Maitland Steven Berkoff and the two go out on the town, gambling and cutting colossal lines of blow ” the size of a Tobleroné” – the film doesn’t achieve many creative cinematic heights afterward, but plays out like a stage production, really going no where even with a score by the great Angelo Badalamenti intimating that maybe something is about to happen. This is exacerbated by the fact that, once the cat is out of the bag so to speak, there is only one question that remains and the action stays confined in one location.

It’s just too bad they don’t get to hatch a caper or something while they deal with one guy’s hideous anguish. It’s odd this has come after “Sexy Beast,” it feels like a precursor. However, like a good stage play, it’s all about the characters, and though tossers all, they are great ones.

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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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