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Playing games with Omar Sharif.

Playing games with Omar Sharif. (photo)

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This isn’t precisely news, but if you’re in London looking for something to do Saturday night, and have between £100-365 to spare, you could do worse with your time than attending the 10th Annual Omar Sharif Poker & Backgammon Tournament. The low-end price gets you food, drink and spectatorship; the full buy enters you into a charity tournament. In any case, you’ll be at a club (in both senses) featuring a large statue of copulating Greyhounds. And you’ll be gambling with Omar Sharif! What could be more exciting?

To promote this event, Sharif has given a brief but delightful interview in which he basically says he only cares about sports and opera. As for movies, he almost never sees any: “I choose it carefully, because I must be sure that I will like it!” He’s seen three “wonderful movies” in the last 30 years: “E.T.,” “Billy Elliot” and “Amadeus.” Something he does have the time to watch regularly is Larry King. It’s a spectacular display of disinterest in everything except the finer things in life which, in his case, mostly means gambling. Sharif is well known as a bridge player, though he claims in recent years to have sworn it off. At his peak, he had bridge games on multiple computer game platforms, co-wrote a bridge column and got in an argument with a Paris roulette croupier. He also disapproves of American policy in Iraq and claims to have spoken with W. about it. His mustache remains, after all these years, resplendent.

05072010_mars.jpgWhat I’m saying here is that it’s time to officially declare Omar Sharif a cultural punchline, the same way, say, Tim Burton valorized Tom Jones in “Mars Attacks!” or The Monkees ran through Victor Mature’s hair in “Head.” For a guy who essentially was only globally famous and respected for seven years (from his “Lawrence of Arabia” break-out in 1962 up through “Funny Girl” in 1968) and who spent most of his career in films like 1980’s “Oh Heavenly Dog” and 2008’s “10,000 BC,” he’s still remarkably famous. Like Jones and Mature, he’s a man whose image is so dated it’s actually become kind of charming. He’s too strange to imagine persisting as a real star; his particular brand of touchy charisma and brooding masculinity was always close to self-parody, and now he’s just odd. He apparently has no sense of humor about himself and is very proud of his mostly unremarkable work. His persistence is inspiring.

Here’s Sharif promoting one of his poker products in 1987. It’s uncomfortably awkward viewing. And yes, they play “Lara’s Theme” from “Doctor Zhivago” (just out on Blu-Ray, by the way):

[Photos: “Doctor Zhivago,” Warner Home Video, 1965; “Mars Attacks!,” Warner Bros., 1996.]

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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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