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Los Angeles is getting to play itself again.

Los Angeles is getting to play itself again. (photo)

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There’s been an increase in movies, shows and commercials are being shot in LA — 16% more this quarter, according to the Los Angeles Times. It’s part of an ongoing recovery after Hollywood staged a retreat from itself, in search of bigger and better tax incentives elsewhere.

For most moviegoers, there’s not going to be a noticeable difference. Up through the ’80s, a lot of movies that didn’t require elaborate locations were shot in California. Movies shot in New York seem to automatically celebrate that. Movies shot in LA (not on a sound stage, but just around the city) tend to make it seem like any other city. Just check out “Marked for Death” — Steven Seagal’s supposed to be in Illinois, but everyone seems unfazed by the abundance of palm trees in the background.

For those of us who don’t live in LA, learning from movies what’s in the city — aside from obvious landmarks like the Griffith Observatory — is hard. LA landmarks tend to be smaller and more eccentric in original purpose than, say, NYC’s Empire State Building. The best LA movies exploit that shaggy-dog quality.

There have been a few recent movies that are specifically regional. They tend to be indies, as Variety‘s Peter Debruge notes. “Greenberg”‘s down to earth and sticks to the less glamorous neighborhoods. “The Kids Are All Right” pits Julianne Moore and Annette Bening’s Venice vs. Mark Ruffalo’s Silverlake. “Cyrus” and “Mother and Child” similarly use neighborhoods specifically and almost symbolically.

But the city’s most memorable iconography on-screen remains Thom Anderson’s monumental 2003 documentary “Los Angeles Plays Itself,” a three-hour visual tour that clarifies a lot — Anderson knows everything about LA film). Here’s a very cool part about the Bradbury Building:

[Photos: “Marked for Death,” Twentieth Century Fox, 1990]

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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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