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Continuity is boring.

Continuity is boring.  (photo)

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One of the most famous edits in film history is “Lawrence of Arabia”‘s pun-tastic “match cut” — a term normally referring to edits that keep objects and people in the same spatial area, but in this case a legendary cut from a match being blown out to a hot desert sun.

But that wasn’t important in film school, when a professor pulled out the laserdisc and asked the students to identify the blindingly important continuity error in the scene that builds up to that. Peter O’Toole and Claude Rains are chatting and — in a very discreet cut — something in the background changes location. The person who saw this took great glee in pointing it out — more so than in the actual pleasure of the legendary cut.

The odd thing is that I’ve been looking at this part of the film over and over for ten solid minutes now — it’s around 7:40 here — and can’t find it. If you do find it, congratulations! You’re now smarter than David Lean!

This kind of self-assertion is the pettiest kind of assertion of self over film, the technical equivalent of saying some widely beloved classic isn’t actually all that because it’s “boring.” It comes dressed in the clothing of objectivity. Hence a site like, which exists for the sole purpose of pointing out problems. The people behind this — if Barry Newman’s profile in the Wall Street Journal is any indication — are all certifiably insane, preferring to scour the background for continuity problems rather than actually paying attention to the bulk of the film’s actual content. The argument is that such mistakes “yank you out” of the film (or something) — especially when freeze-framing in high resolution is easier than ever — but it’s nonsense. It’s a decision made by the viewer to prioritize “good technique” over all else.

03252010_pickpocket.jpgIts that kind of film-school mentality that can drive otherwise sane people completely round the bend, like a friend of mine who declared he couldn’t get into Bresson’s “Pickpocket” because the lighting was too simple and amateurish. It’s the kind of thinking that leads to strange threads about how Martin Scorsese is a lousy filmmaker because his cuts don’t match. (I can think of plenty of things to object to in Scorsese, but that’s not one of them.)

And it’s nonsense, finally. You think critics have big egos? Whatever. But what could be more egotistical than the death of a thousand cuts these viewers inflict upon movies in the name of “good production values”? It’s absurd.

[Photos: “Lawrence of Arabia,” Sony, 1962; “Pickpocket,” New Yorker Films, 1959]

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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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