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When talking about your influences works against you.

When talking about your influences works against you. (photo)

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Quentin Tarantino — after years of enthusiastically proselytizing on behalf of his favorite films (all 3,000 of them) — seems to finally be getting a little edgy about discussing his influences. And for good reason. “Every time [critics] review my movies,” he complains to Patrick Goldstein at the LA Times, “it’s like they want to play chess with the mastermind and show off every reference they can find, even when half of it is all of their own making. It feels like the critics are IMDB-ing everything I do. It just rubs me the wrong way because they end up using it as a stick to beat me down with.”

It’s fair. If you’re going to attack Tarantino, the first thing you typically do is cite him for plagiarism, which for me is missing the point — the locations and sequences he films are always slowed down to his distinctive pace.

So why is Martin Scorsese celebrated for his cinephilia while Tarantino’s is held in evidence against him? Maybe because it’s rare for Scorsese to directly quote, although he’s allowed himself to do so more frequently as his career’s moved along. Still, in “Raging Bull,” you can see where all that love of Kenneth Anger went during the boxing sequences, and the most typically Scorsese-an films (the ones with De Niro and the retrotastic “The Departed”) have more of those, linking back to past films Scorsese loves and has made.

Tarantino has no problem borrowing dialogue and shots and whole musical cues (including, in both “Jackie Brown” and “Inglourious Basterds,” the the theme songs from other movies). And he’s done this from the get-go, making it all his own, but certainly not hiding his references. It’s worth noting that the almost-as-controversial Wes Anderson is equally overt in what he cops, both in terms of shots and soundtracks, the difference being that because he swipes from widely respected, highbrow-approved films, people are willing to give the benefit of the doubt sight unseen. With Tarantino, the fanboy frame of reference automatically places him under slightly greater suspicion.

02162010_catpeople.jpg’90s directors more circumspect about their film geekery get a pass in general. For all his Altman love, P.T. Anderson’s never restaged any of his sequences. Richard Linklater adores Bresson, but it’s hard to pick up on that in his films if you don’t already know (he has the same preference for placing awkward non-professionals at the center of attention).

Because Scorsese draws upon more respectable sources, he goes unquestioned. But the very nature of the cult films Tarantino talks up is to have brilliant bits buried in the middle of tedium; of course harpy critics will suspect he just strung a bunch of those bits together. And people distrust geekish cinephilia in general — it’s less fashionable now than during the ’70s. That goes double for overt quotations.

[Photos: “Shutter Island,” Paramount, 2010; “Cat People,” 1982, Universal]

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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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