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The U.N. wants to be in pictures.

The U.N. wants to be in pictures. (photo)

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is in Los Angeles this week, wooing Hollywood and trying to get creative types to, in his words, “have the U.N. message coursing continually, and spreading out continuously to the whole world.”

To this end, he’s been meeting with some of the politically conscious luminaries of the film world (Demi Moore! “The Last Samurai” director Ed Zwick!) and had a day-long series of panels yesterday, one highlight of which was “Hotel Rwanda” director Terry George.

Looking to “encourage film and television story lines about issues high on the U.N. agenda, such as climate change and violence against women” is all well and good, but the U.N. itself could certainly use some refurbishing, as far as its image on film goes.

Hollywood and the U.N. go way back — former child star Shirley Temple was a U.N. ambassador (appointed by Nixon!), and these days Angelina Jolie’s role as a Goodwill Ambassador (and attendant penchant for adoptions) is a well-known source of jokes for lazy late-night hosts. In recent years, notable UN-related projects have included Abbas Kiarostami’s “ABC Africa” — a DV documentary of the Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans’ efforts and a film admired by many, but one which didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

03032010_interpreter.jpgThe most significant recent effort was the late Sydney Pollack’s unfortunate last film “The Interpreter,” in which, for the first time, cameras were admitted into the United Nations Headquarters, only to serve a wan assassination/conspiracy thing involving the fictional country of Maboto and Nicole Kidman looking more starched than usual. Kofi Annan said that the film was intended “to do something dignified, something that is honest and reflects the work that this Organization does.” Which apparently means the United Nations is the single dullest place in the entire world.

The U.N. building — tall, looming and oddly ominous — is the organization’s biggest legacy on film (think of “North By Northwest”‘s disorienting overhead view of Cary Grant escaping his pursuers). Either that, or ineffectuality — what, pray tell, was George doing at a U.N. panel when “Hotel Rwanda” makes a case for the UN as well-meaning but fundamentally hamstrung when it comes to actual on-the-ground intervention? The goals here seem a little fuzzy. If “The Interpreter” is the shining example of the U.N. on screen so far, then uh…yeah. Things aren’t looking good.

[Photos: “North by Northwest,” MGM, 1959; “The Interpreter,” Universal, 2005]

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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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