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A decade with Michael Douglas.

A decade with Michael Douglas. (photo)

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Evgenia Peretz of Vanity Fair wins the prize for funniest parenthetical of the week. In her profile of Michael Douglas, dwelling on the actor’s 1987 annus mirabilis, she drops this: “he came at audiences with the one-two punch of ‘Fatal Attraction’ and ‘Wall Street’–which have come to define the decade (note the sushi cameos in both).”

Ah, to imagine a time when sushi wasn’t so ubiquitous as to be in every last college town and plenty of supermarkets. Not that Michael Douglas was the first person to use sushi as a class signifier — Molly Ringwald brought her sushi and chopsticks to detention and to the mainstream moviegoers in “The Breakfast Club” two years earlier. Things have changed: between 1988 and 1998, the number of US sushi bars increased by 400%. I like how Peretz reminds us how what was once a marker is now commonplace.

Contrast that with the hilarious but ham-handed gag in the “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” trailer, where Douglas’ no gigantic ’80s mobile phone tells us exactly how long he’s been in jail. I hope they revisit the sushi bar so that Douglas can splutter in outrage at the visiting plebeians.

As the VF article points out in passing, Douglas had a remarkable string of hot-topic roles for roughly a decade, bookended by two dickish millionaire types: Gordon Gekko in 1987, Nicholas van Orton in 1997’s “The Game,” which basically redeemed his entire persona. In between, Douglas went to Japan in 1989’s “Black Rain,” implicitly addressing fears of a Japanese takeover of American business à la Michael Crichton in “Rising Sun,” who Douglas would hook with for 1994’s “Disclosure,” where the sexual-harassment-lawsuit hysteria effectively peaked.

03032010_fallingdown.jpgAnd let’s not forget “Falling Down”‘s depiction of White Rage or “The American President”‘s embodiment of mid-90s Clintonian liberalism, with plotlines about gun-control bills and its production help from Bill Clinton. (“The American President”‘s website still lives, by the way. You’ll need Netscape 1.1 for optimum results! I recommend the crossword puzzle.)

In passing, let’s note that recreating the ’80s on screen is far more than just funky hair-dos or the donning of a pager. There’s a whole language of screen conventions. I’m not the world’s biggest “American Psycho” fan, but there’s one small moment in there that just kills me. In an establishing shot of downtown, we get one of those indelibly smarmy helicopter shots flying through the overwhelming skyscrapers of Big Business — soundtracked to “Walking on Sunshine.” That says ’80s to me more than any Huey Lewis monologue ever could.

[Photos: “Wall Street,” 20th Century Fox, 1987; “Falling Down,” Warner Bros., 1993]

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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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