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“Meskada,” Reviewed

“Meskada,” Reviewed (photo)

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This review originally ran as part of our coverage of the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.

Like many a film that has its premiere at Tribeca, “Meskada” is earnest and unremarkable, with a cast stacked high with semi-known actors, like Nick Stahl as small-town detective Noah Cordin, or Rachel Nichols from “Alias” as the sheriff’s deputy partnered with him on a sensitive case, or some guy from “The Black Donnellys,” or some guy from “Twilight,” or “Boondock Saint” Norman Reedus. Its ace in the hole, in terms of publicity hooks, is that it’s the film debut of Grace Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep.

To give credit where it’s due, the film, the second from writer/director Josh Sternfeld (“Winter Solstice”), has ambitions reaching beyond being a straightforward police procedural, and they lead to glimmers of something interesting that never quite materializes. Cordin is pulled in to investigate a home robbery gone wrong that left a child dead in Hilliard, which, we’re reminded several times, is a prosperous place. (One of the film’s major obstacles is that Hilliard, the affluent town, and Caswell, the poor one, don’t look all that different.) Facing pressure from the community and from the boy’s grief-stricken mother, an influential member of the county government, Cordin follows a clue to Caswell, where he grew up, to account for the whereabouts of anyone who’s had to travel toward Hilliard to find work. Given the dismal prospects in the town, that seems to be half the male population.

04232010_meskada1.jpgWe know from the start who’s responsible for what was an unfortunate accident — a pair of young men (Jonathan Tucker and Kellan Lutz) scrabbling to get by until the manufacturing plant the town’s been trying to lure in brings with it a few hundred much-needed jobs. The dead boy’s mother takes revenge on Caswell by interfering with that deal, and soon the battle falls into the lines of “White trash!” and “Rich folks!”, fought out in the unlikely arenas of county commission meetings.

These ungainly specifics might make you think “Meskada” is based on a true story — it’s not — but everything is weirdly shorn of regional details, and it’s not until we get a glimpse of an addressed envelope that we’re given any clue as to what state, or, for that matter, region of the country we’re in. Maybe that’s deliberate, to underline the film’s intentions to Say Something About America, but it just creates a “Twilight Zone”-esque gap between the realistic and generalized minutia, where every character seems to overidentify with their everytown because those towns are drifting in orbit, loosely tethered together, somewhere above the Midwest.

As for Ms. Gummer, she looks, at some angles, strikingly like her mother, but doesn’t yet share her mother’s comfort in front of the camera. The other performances are fine, with the MVP being Reedus, who makes a nicely slithery sleazeball.

“Meskada” will open in limited release December 3rd.

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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 IFC.com

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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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…