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DID YOU READ

The shameful case of Jafar Panahi.

The shameful case of Jafar Panahi. (photo)

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There’s a certain sickening inevitability to the news that Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been arrested, confined and in danger of a heart attack. He’d been flirting with danger for a long time — first with a series of films uniformly banned in Iran, then by wearing the long green scarf signifying solidarity with the protesters at festivals. By effectively becoming the international cinematic voice of the opposition, something like this seemed only a matter of time in coming.

But it’s still incredibly disturbing. Panahi’s brilliant series of films from 1995’s “The White Balloon” (his first feature) onwards have steadily ramped up the contentiousness. After “Balloon” and “The Mirror,” Panahi ditched children altogether (normally the standard way of avoiding censorship) and began focusing on adults — specifically, those damaged and abused by society. “The Circle” and “Offside” focus on women (enough said), and “Crimson Gold” manages to indict an entire society through the desperation of one pizza-delivery guy. Observing from a chilly distance, Panahi gives the disenfranchised a voice in the traditional visual language of the contemporary arthouse film — until, all of a sudden, he’s in the same spot as the people he’s filming.

04052010_whiteballoon.jpgWhat makes Panahi brilliant (and dangerous to the regime) is that he’s a visceral filmmaker above all. in his masterful feel for the hustle of urban Iran, he has the same snap, crackle and pop as “Dirty Harry,” “The French Connection” or any number of ’70s films that derive their propulsive energy from unblinking engagement with a squalid and restless city. Those movies felt urgent because they were looking at a society with urgent problems. Panahi does the same thing.

Panahi is one of the great filmmakers working (or, more precisely, unable to work) today, who’s figured out how to balance social activism and aesthetic pleasures — a rare trick more people should figure out. His imprisonment is drawing outsize attention to the plight of the many other people in jail — or, according to Amnesty International, the 388 straight-up executed last year. He’s becoming symbolic shorthand for the cruel repressive tendencies of an authoritarian regime. And that’s sickening. The urgency of his case can’t be overstated.

[Photos: “Crimson Gold,” Wellspring Media, 2003; “The White Balloon,” October Entertainment, 1995]

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Final Countdown

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 IFC.com

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Rev Up

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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Give Back

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…