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Sympathy for the multiplex.

Sympathy for the multiplex. (photo)

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In “My Winnipeg,” there’s a moment where Guy Maddin, for once, ditches the faux-archival black and white footage to register his disgust at the destruction of the old Winnipeg Arena. His father worked in the Arena, Maddin has memories of the place, and it was demolished in 2004.

For Maddin, this destruction is such an outrage he can’t even recreate it. He instead cuts to ugly video footage of the arena’s destruction before ranting about how the MTS Centre, which replaced it, is charmless and will never house childhood dreams. He does overlook one thing — the MTS Centre may look like a cross between an airport and a mall, but the old Winnipeg Arena, with its boxy brick walls, looking like an out-of-date public-school, was no beauty either. The two buildings are ugly in different ways, but Maddin’s fondness for the old arena is entirely subjective.

This all came to my mind while reading Elizabeth Meyer’s article at about the ever-increasing struggles of non-multiplex movie theaters — the arthouses, the old cinemas, the single screens, the ones with their silent-era organs intact.

05052010_multiplex.jpgTo be sure, an old theater is a beautiful thing. Yet it’s not necessarily to demonize the multiplexes driving them out of business. The corporate machinations behind that are one thing, but the actual theaters themselves are perfectly capable of sustaining love and affection for their otherwise unremarkable spaces.

Depending on where you live, for example, you might still have access to those weird transitional theaters built in the ’80s and ’90s, when seven screens counted as a full-blown multiplex. There was one like that in Austin when I was growing up, and its biggest auditorium could seat 500 people — it wasn’t old-school majestic, but it was close. At the back, meanwhile, were the tiny theaters, that looked like glorified screening rooms, so small as to make it seem a rip-off to be charged full price. Personality aplenty.

Even the sprawling, 16-to-32 screen behemoth — where, unnerving, layouts can mean that you won’t encounter another soul for a quarter-mile at a time — has its charms. There are the opportunities offered for easy, all-day theater-hopping, the broad array of crap to chose from, and the fact that if you’re growing up in the suburbs, there’s not always a whole lot else to do. You don’t have to love the idea of the multiplex to love your own particular multiplex, just as anything you have to put up with for a while becomes, one way or another, part of the fabric of your life.

[Photos: MTS Centre via Wikipedia Commons, photo by Lee Fehler, 2009; AMC Multiplex in Ontario, California via Wikimedia Commons, photo by “Coolcaesar,” 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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