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Disney, proud supporter of the auteur theory.

Disney, proud supporter of the auteur theory. (photo)

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There I was, stuck in traffic, when an ad for “The Last Song” came on the radio, complete with a Miley Cyrus track in the background, an obligatory mention that it’s “based on a bestseller by Nicholas Sparks,” a few bon mots of romantic longing and a blaring end note: “Directed by Julie Anne Robinson.” This last part caught me off guard. As a connoisseur of drive-time movie commercials, I know that it’s rare that the director gets mentioned unless they’re James Cameron or Peter Jackson. And of all the studios, Disney prizes the whole being more than the sum of its parts, taking pride in putting together a homegrown star (Cyrus) with an on-the-lot production team (Adam Shankman’s Offspring Entertainment) in a wholesome package that will ultimately be sold to young girls with the studio brand. So why take precious time out of a 30-second spot for “The Last Song” to highlight Robinson, a little-known Brit director who isn’t likely to draw any additional moviegoers to the multiplex?

Well, maybe it’s stipulated in Robinson’s contract, but it could also signal a cheaper alternative to grooming directors rather than movie stars at a time when the star system is on the wane. Disney seems to be leading the charge on this front — last summer, the “G-Force” trailers inexplicably overenunciated the participation of Hoyt Yeatman, the veteran visual effects artist-turned-director whose name didn’t exactly send ripples through the audience except for those that knew he destroyed France in “Armageddon.” Meanwhile, the upcoming “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” trailer doesn’t mention stars Nicolas Cage or Jay Baruchel by name until the end credits tag, but you’ll notice that this is not only a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but also a Jon Turteltaub film, he of the “National Treasure” franchise and noted arch-hack.

04012010_ZachSnyder.jpgOne could argue that Disney is merely just trying to be generous in giving credit where it’s due, but as the premier studio in brand management, it’s a pretty savvy solution to finding a point person for your film that’s not necessarily your lead actor as blockbusters increasingly turn to lesser-known names to cut costs. That’s why in the coming months you’ll hear “Tron Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski touted as a visionary à la Zack Snyder and Neill Blomkamp before he even finishes his first film.

And not only are other studios following suit, but they’re retroactively auteurizing their back catalogs — as /Film‘s Peter Sciretta tweeted, the 2002 Warner Bros. thriller “Insomnia” will now be known as “Christopher Nolan’s ‘Insomnia'” for its release on Blu-ray, nevermind that Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank starred in it. This probably wasn’t what Andrew Sarris had it mind when he was adapting Cahiers du Cinéma in the ’60s, but it may be the way forward for marketing departments who can pitch a CG Kraken in the trailers, but can’t wrest it from sea to do publicity rounds.

[Photos: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Disney, 2010; “Watchmen,” Warner Bros., 2009]

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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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