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French directors, coming and going.

French directors, coming and going. (photo)

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News surfaced today that Luc Besson is shopping a love story around to the studios — which, as The Playlist astutely pointed out, means he’s “looking to return to the world (and financing) of Hollywood filmmaking.” He wouldn’t precisely be returning, per se: all of Besson’s English-language films (“The Professional,” “The Fifth Element,” “The Messenger”) were, in fact, mostly financed by the French.

Despite his widely noted success as a one-man producer of Eurotrash action films for the global market (here most visible in “Taken” and the “Transporter” films), there comes a time when every man wants Hollywood money, and lord knows Besson has proven his instincts as to the kind of action movies that sell worldwide are fairly impeccable.

The Besson factory is also a training ground for action directors who can then be shipped over to the US. EuropaCorp (co-founded by Besson and Pierre-Ange Le Pogam in 1985) has helped break directors like Alejandre Aja (who went from “Haute Tension” to “The Hills Have Eyes” and the upcoming “Piranha 3-D”), Louis Leterrier (from the first two “Transporter” films to “The Incredible Hulk” and “Clash of the Titans”) and Xavier Gens (who graduated from the Europa co-produced “Hitman” to the upcoming “The Divide,” which features the killer cast of Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette and Courtney B. Vance), with more surely coming our way as more and more of the globally successful action films.

Arguably the Besson factory has proven better at training and seeding competent action guys than Hollywood. We’re poised to get as many French directors as there were Hong Kong action guys bouncing around in the ’90s. (But do American action dudes ever end up getting called abroad? Particularly if they’ve spent years stuck in development hell and might be eager to get out.)

06232010_brotherhood.jpgThere are, however, limits to what these imports will put up with. As fewer massive blockbusters are made (at greater prices), there’s only so much patience these filmmakers will have before high-tailing it out of the country, back to the efficiencies of the Besson method. Witness Christophe Gans: not actually a Besson graduate (he got his start working with Brian Yuzna, noted schlock horror producer/director), but still the director of the second-highest-grossing French film in America of the last decades, “The Brotherhood of the Wolf.”

Having made “Silent Hill” and been stuck since trying to get samurai-vs.-demons video game adaptation “Onimusha” off the ground, Gans has had it. So back he’s going to France for “Fantomas,” the 12th (!) version of the insanely durable series about a mastermind sociopath.

Lesson learned here? Talent can flow to Hollywood from France, but — per Besson’s example (who was here for three years in the ’80s, then went back) and per his patronage as well — it won’t necessarily stay here. Screw around with them and they’ll just fly back. Who can blame them?

[Photos: “Transporter 2,” 20th Century Fox, 2005; “The Brotherhood of the Wolf,” Universal, 2003]

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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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