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Can’t Be At Cannes 2011, Thursday Edition

Can’t Be At Cannes 2011, Thursday Edition (photo)

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It sucks not being at the Cannes Film Festival. To keep you up-to-speed on all the latest developments with the minimum amount of pain and jealousy, we’ll be providing frequent roundups of all the biggest news and best reviews. This is the first; future installments, along with all our Cannes coverage, can be found here.

Woody Allen’s 458th film (estimated), “Midnight in Paris,” kicked off this year’s Cannes Film Festival with the best reviews of any movie the legendary auteur has made since 2005’s “Match Point.” Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter says the film, about a screenwriter (Owen Wilson) vacationing in Paris who discovers a way to journey back to the city circa the 1920s, has “the concision and snappy pace of Allen’s best work.” Stephanie Zacharek went even further over at Movieline, where she calls it “the best Allen movie in 10 years, or maybe even close to 20.” What what whaaaat? I will let Stephanie explain further:

“Allen has often made a practice of pouring himself into his lead characters, sometimes with embarrassing, unwatchable results (as in the case of the aspiring comedy writer played by Jason Biggs in ‘Anything Else’). Wilson is an unlikely vessel for this sort of thing — and yet he’s the perfect one, illuminating some aspects of Allen’s persona that have often lain dormant and others that, perhaps, Allen only wishes he had. “

If you want to spark your own Woody Allen career consideration of the sort surely going on up and down the Croisette today, you can find excerpts from the “Midnight in Paris” press conference over at Anne Thompson’s blog or pour over Scott Foundas’ lengthy interview with the director in LA Weekly. Foundas is on the “Midnight in Paris” bandwagon too, by the way, calling his new work “as sublimely enchanting as any Allen film since 1985’s ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo.'”

The one big dissenting voice on “Midnight in Paris” I’ve read online so far comes from Mike D’Angelo over at The A.V. Club. He wasn’t a fan:

“Frankly, the Bill and Ted movies demonstrated more creativity than Allen manages here; as is often the case with his late work, I had the distinct impression that I was watching a first draft. But maybe I was just thrown off by the hideously uncharitable portrait of McAdams’ anti-imaginative fiancée. Literally everything she says or does makes her out to be the world’s pre-eminent killjoy (the better to drive Wilson into a romance with ’20s flapper Marion Cotillard). Thirty years ago, Woody was capable of introducing Diane Keaton as an insufferable know-it-all (in ‘Manhattan’), then revealing the credible human being underneath the amusing caricature. Now, not only is he content with a single dimension, he can’t even be bothered to give his shrewish Wrong Gal any first-class zingers.”

D’Angelo also weighs in one of the other two early heavy-hitters at Cannes, Julia Leigh’s “Sleeping Beauty.” We previously covered the film’s intriguing trailer on, and though D’Angelo isn’t completely won over by Leigh’s work (he grades it a C+ on the A.V. Club’s scale) his description of its story about a sex worker played by “Sucker Punch”‘s Emily Browning who “agrees to be repeatedly drugged into unconsciousness and left naked in a bed, where elderly men can use her in any way that doesn’t involve penetration” is certainly an attention grabber. Peter Bradshaw namechecks all kinds of cinematic heavy-hitters in his review for The Guardian, comparing the film to everyone from Kubrick to Buñuel to Haneke, a fascinating stew of influences if I’ve ever heard one. Meanwhile The Telegraph compares it to a hybrid of Jane Campion (who is credited as a presenter of the film) and Lars von Trier:

“Browning’s performance is utterly fearless, suffused with mystery, cold as ice. Leigh’s spare screenplay trusts the audience to fill in the imaginative spaces, and her framing is precise and economical. Fast-rising composer Ben Frost contributes a potent score. What a strange, ensnaring achievement, not least for a first-time feature, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is: no male director could have made it.”

Last but not least there’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” from “Ratcatcher” director Lynne Ramsay and based on a novel by Lionel Shriver. The film stars Tilda Swinton as the mother to the titular troubled character played by Ezra Miller, the talented teenage star of recent indie films like “Afterschool.” At indieWIRE, Eric Kohn says Swinton is “breathtakingly fragile” in “a sensationally moving evocation of the ultimate dysfunctional family.” Brad Brevet from Rope of Silicon says “the sound design, the editing, the cinematography, the direction and Swinton’s performance are Oscar caliber.”

I’m going to be very careful not to say too much more here because I already feel like I’ve had some of the film spoiled by a few loose lipped critics. Keep your own inclinations toward spoilers in mind as you link over to those articles. We need to talk about Kevin, guys, but maybe we should be just a little bit less specific about it.

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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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