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Summer (Business) Hours.

Summer (Business) Hours. (photo)

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Tom Hanks’ production company is planning a remake of Olivier Assayas’ “Summer Hours,” news that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Assuming someone can get it together for an adequate rewrite, the result won’t be remotely the same movie. It might not be any good either, but that has nothing to do with trying to transfer over imaginary French intangibles.

“Summer Hours” takes work seriously — in its story of a three adult siblings gathering to divide and dispose of their mother’s house and possessions, we’re constantly being reminded of who works in what business in what country — and no, they’re not all book-critics and lollygagging workshirkers, as the stereotypes have it. (One of the children manages a Nike plant in Beijing, which is about as red-meat American business as you could ask for.) And the movie takes this seriously: it presents us with people whose work has a tangible but not overbearing presence in their lives.

None of which is true in the average American movie. Office jobs can be a mixture of tedium, camaraderie and (if you’re lucky) occasionally interesting work, but for some reason, in movies, the most ever see of your average workspace is in romcoms — the better to inappropriately demonstrate ebullience/despair in a professional context, or to prance through on the way to the next date.

That is, unless you’re always working, in which case you’re probably one of those terrible, heartless harried fathers always leaving your kids’ ballet recital/spelling bee/soccer event to take a phone call or a meeting (probably the single most mindlessly manipulative cliche that exists in family movies). Or unless you’re a police officer, or a writer, or a politician, or Michael Douglas, or… you get the idea. There’s cinematically appropriate employment that can ground whole movies. But if you work your average, keep-your-head-down kind of job, good luck with that.

02162010_goodcompany.jpgThe only movie I can think of of a fairly recent vintage that tries to take work seriously is 2004’s “In Good Company” — not a perfect movie, by any means, but one which tries to seriously figure out what it means to work in the midst of the middle class while trying to wrap your head around globalization and the implications of the changing face of business. It works the texture of employment concerns into family life, something most American movies can’t be bothered to do. (And on the Amerindie end, only those operating under conditions of crushing poverty or artistic pursuits need apply.)

I suppose in “Summer Hours, American EST,” any businessmen involved won’t talk intelligently about the implications of their job; they’ll just be checking their BlackBerries and failing to bond with their kids. It speaks volumes about how much most Americans feel about their jobs, and how completely they try to erase it from their lives when they’re out of the office.

[Photos: “Summer Hours,” IFC, 2008; “In Good Company,” Universal, 2004]

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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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