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The week’s critic wrangle: “Zoo.”

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Apologies, we’re not going to have time to do a full critic round-up today, but we did get this far:

Animal love.
+ "Zoo": What can you say about a 45-year-old man who died? That he loved Seattle and engineering, his family, and having sex with full-sized Arabian stallions? Robinson Devor‘s documentary "Zoo," which circles the well-documented death of Kenneth Pinyan and looks into his life and lifestyle, attempts to strip sensationalism from a ripe topic by using a poetic, aesthetically striking approach (our review from Sundance is here; an IFC News interview with Devor is here). For Dana Stevens at Slate, it works, and she declares the film "manages to take this tabloid-ready incident and turn it into a lyrical reflection on nature and longing." She also addresses the question — which seems incidental to the film, really — of whether what Pinyan (referred in the film only by the handle "Mr. Hands") and his colleagues engaged in is indeed cruelty to animals, an issue central to the media uproar that ensued following Pinyan’s death. Nathan Lee at the Village Voice continues on this theme:

Let’s not pretend we domesticate animals for anything other than our pleasure (emotional and ethical), and in doing so inflict all manner of unnatural things on them in the name of their health and happiness. Did the Enumclaw zoophiles pervert the nature of their animals any more than some Chihuahua-toting bimbo?

Lee, also a fan of the film, writes that "The picture’s sympathy is rooted in a belief that all human experience is of interest, no matter how extreme or transgressive."

Jeff Reichert at indieWIRE, finding the film "generally terrific," is impressed by the handling of interviews in which most of the subjects insist on staying off screen: "Devor’s impressionistic take on taboo, and how those who practice desire outside culture’s slim margins of acceptance, is a case of physical necessities breeding aesthetic ingenuity."

At New York, David Edelstein "quite likes" the film, with some allowances: "The artiness—and the ambient drone—of Zoo becomes oppressive, but it’s still a ride like no other." Manohla Dargis at the New York Times is ambivalent, musing that "[i]t’s hard to know what Mr. Devor is after," and that he doesn’t manage to express what seems to be his message: "Reality is in the eye of the beholder, and so too, Mr. Devor would seem to have us believe, are death and deviance." And at Salon, Andrew O’Hehir writes that "I’m not sure ‘Zoo’ is a great film, but it is a morally significant one, precisely because it invites us to suspend judgment (however briefly) and consider that guys who like to get slammed by horses are people too, with complicated life histories and motivations we hadn’t thought about."


Rev Up

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.


Give Back

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…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.