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Why Robert Pattinson is no James Dean.

Why Robert Pattinson is no James Dean. (photo)

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Reviewing today’s much-anticipated-by-ironists romantic drama “Remember Me,” the AV Club‘s Scott Tobias notes in passing that the film attempts to turn Robert Pattinson “into the millennial James Dean.” That’s an interesting thought — Dean is one of those icons rooted in his time, not someone who created a living archetype that people still try to inherit.

According to John Swansburg’s Slate appraisal on the 50th anniversary of Dean’s death, “Morbidity has always been at the heart of the James Dean cult.” Like displaced Keatsians, Dean fans celebrate a Romantic-era notion of beauty nipped in full flower (as opposed to Brando, who blew himself up career-wise and in real life). But more than that, Dean invented the moody teenager as anti-hero — a previously unknown figure. It persists in music, and legions of teenagers still read and over-relate to “Catcher In The Rye.” But film is a different story.

03122010_rebel.jpgDean’s three films (wrongfully) have become time capsules rather than ones passed down (though, in general, few movies older than “The Godfather” has retained emotional currency for many people so continuously and pervasively). The volatile method approach to acting that Dean was initially accused of copying from Brando was extended by the latter, briefly adopted by Warren Beatty as he was starting out, and then basically went extinct. The brooders and shouters that succeeded had a better sense of humor (Pacino, Nicholson) or wielded neuroticism like a weapon without the physical violence (Hoffman).

Then the ’80s came and John Cusack stripped the violent component out entirely; tortured leading men are now more fluffy and/or ineffectual than violent. As a counter-reaction, you can read weird pieces about how John Krasinski is too nerdy to be an action hero or comment threads about how “Hollywood is importing badasses from Australia.” What James Dean had was the sensitivity and dangerous in equal proportion; now, the two traits have been separated.

[Photos: “Remember Me,” Summit Entertainment, 2010; “Rebel Without A Cause,” Warner Bros., 1995]

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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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