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Repertory cinema’s self-perpetuating cycle.

Repertory cinema’s self-perpetuating cycle. (photo)

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After some uncertainty in its opening stages, the inaugural Turner Classic Movies Film Festival held in Los Angeles at the end of April went off, by all available accounts, with great success. At The House Next Door, Dennis Cozzalio goes long on his time there, in the process tangentially collating a nice portrait of what going to repertory cinema is like these days.

There is much to think about in the piece, although most of them stem from seemingly immovable facts: New York and L.A. are havens of repertory cinema where dedicated cinephiles have to flock for sustained rep cinema; any screen star, no matter how octogenarian or nonagenarian, is a bigger draw than the actual film; there are always forgotten movies from deep within the studio vaults that are as good or better than the established classics, which in most places consist of “the occasional showing of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ or ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ or (shudder) ‘Grease’ on an outdoor screen at some city-sponsored summer family-oriented gathering.” (Add “The Big Lebowski” to the list.) Film history is also finding itself constantly rewritten, both in anecdotal history and scholarly form, by rep viewers.

05102010_grease.jpgComprehensive as it is, there’s pretty much only one thing Cozzalio doesn’t touch upon. It’s pretty certain that if you’re an aficionado of the most demanding contemporary formalist filmmakers out there — the ones that attract rabid fans, festival attention and typically little financial reward — you are almost certain to be very serious about film history as well. However, the converse isn’t true: there’s definitely a certain kind of rep viewer that’s unapologetically nostalgic in outlook and has no interest in the present day. In fact, one of the reasons rep cinema isn’t more pervasive could have to do with the musty aura and self-perpetuating air that can surround the more esoteric rep screenings, where there’s always more discoveries and obscurities to sort through.

What Cozzalio’s piece records is that young kids are, in fact, showing up to rep cinema as long as it’s attractively packaged as an “event,” something to build your weekend around. And this logic basically works for every film festival in the world when it comes to packing the locals in. But it’d be great if these people weren’t just interested in “old movies” as a genre, but as a gateway for all the viewing options they might not even know about. The TCM Festival is, of course, restricted to the past, but it
suggests a potentially closed loop of cinephilia where compulsive sifting for new discoveries in back catalogs results in an ignorance towards what’s going on in the here and now — something that needs to be addressed if new audiences are to be found.

[Photos: “Singin’ In The Rain,” Warner Home Video, 1952; “Grease,” Paramount, 1978.]

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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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