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Kevin Smith mouths off to his critics.

Kevin Smith mouths off to his critics. (photo)

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“Clerks,” Kevin Smith’s debut, was a funny, acute and influential indie about slacker careers of desperation. But in subsequent years Smith has given us one mixed bag after another. “Mallrats” is a toxic if incidentally amusing mess, “Chasing Amy” a mix of potent relationship drama (both male-male and female-male) and fanboy stupidity; after that, I checked out until “Clerks II,” and we all know how that turned out.

Smith is all id as a writer, which takes him to weird and honest places but also means he indulges bad ideas about pop culture blather on a regular basis. He’s the social realist of the Aint It Cool aesthetic.

I haven’t seen “Cop Out” yet, but the idea of Smith as a director-for-hire is counter-intuitive. His films are infamously indifferent visually. “Chasing Amy” has to be the ugliest movie ever to be validated by Criterion — I particularly remember an appalling shot where a close-up of one man’s head cuts him off right about the forehead, an incompetence of framing so severe it’s amazing no one on the set caught it. And that’s why Smith’s fight with EW critic Owen Gleiberman (taking place in the always tough to verify comments, though Smith later says “I’ve posted verifiable links on my messageboard and Twitter. Yes, those first few posts are moi”) speaks to a strange moment in his career:

Kevin Smith | Wed 2/24/10 05:40 PM

I’m starting to feel like Jim Garrison: look at the crazy, sellout, pointing out inconsistencies in his life choices – that crackpot! How dare a celebrity defend himself online from mere peasants!! But I’ll take “crackpot” anyday over the human-weasels that say I did this for money. Sweet whistling Moses – only an angry fan could ever think a celebrity who has already made enough money doing this for a long while would make a movie like this for a paycheck.

03012010_copout.jpgAs a speaker, Smith is a witty and appealing guy. I’ve seen some of the DVD in which he holds forth, and there’s a reason he made it to Carnegie Hall — as an on-the-spot raconteur, he’s gifted. But it’s also indicative of why Smith would be better off not directing his own work (let alone anyone else’s) — directing is in the eyes, not the mouth. That’s why this tiff is so unpleasant. It’s an assertion of self about his weakest element.

[Photos: “Clerks II,” The Weinstein Company, 2004; “Cop Out,” Warner Bros., 2010]

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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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