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You should totally see this dark, difficult movie!

You should totally see this dark, difficult movie! (photo)

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Writing about Sundance favorite “Winter’s Bone,” which Roadside Attractions will release in theaters next week, the LA Times‘ John Horn hits on all of the usual points that come up whenever a big publication covers a scrappy, genuinely indie film and makes it sound like cinematic equivalent of steamed spinach mixed with shards of glass.

He notes it’s based on “an acclaimed but little-read Daniel Woodrell novel” (which describes a sizable chunk of novels turned into films, not just micro-budget indies) and lists its other uncommercial factors, like the “sometimes violent main characters” who “subsist on methamphetamine,” and the fact that its teenage protagonist “played by the unheralded actress Jennifer Lawrence.” Hey, last time I checked “Alice in Wonderland” starred the unheralded Mia Wasikowska, whose name is harder to spell, and it still made $1 billion.

In any case, the main point of the article is sound. Small distributors have been imploding as fast as newspapers these last few years, yet Roadside Attractions — thanks to a combination of modest overhead (less than $2 million annually), a mere 16-employee staff and some modest hits (“The September Issue,” “Super Size Me”) — is more or less thriving. As far as it goes with “Winter’s Bone,” Horn emphasizes that the best part of Roadside’s pitch — they beat out six other offers — was their idea of blatant bait-and-switch marketing, making the movie look like a more standard thriller in the trailer:

The result is something that’s kind of… dire. With its thudding nu-metal guitars, generic title cards (“between what you see and what you hear lies the truth you’re not meant to know” — wait, so the difference between your two senses will uncover the truth?) and general sense of nothing-new-here, there’s no glimpse in the trailer of the movie that’s been about as universally acclaimed as any Sundance premiere of recent years.

06042010_wintersbone5.jpgMost interestingly, Horn wonder “whether highbrow moviegoers will patronize an art film in the summer movie season.” Well, first they’d have to know it existed, preferably via some means other than the trailer. In that way, the misdirectiony marketing makes sense — the kind of person who’s pumped about “Winter’s Bone” has already been reading about and waiting for it. You can take those viewers for granted: they’ll be there for your Hou Hsiao-Hsiens and your Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s as well. These ad dollars are all about seeing who else can be brought in.

But do “highbrow moviegoers” really go into a temporary explosion coma during the summer just like everyone else? In my experience, that’s not the case. The real question: how do you bring people into a movie they might conceivably like but would be terrified of if described as, you know, “OH NO NOT METHLAND!” Surely there’s a balance to be reached between hiding the true nature of the film and making it sound like a masochistic self-flagellation test.

[Photos: “Winter’s Bone,” Roadside Attractions, 2010]

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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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