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The week’s critic wrangle: “Crazy Love,” “Ten Canoes.”

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"Even Hitler has friends. Whaddya gonna do?"
+ "Crazy Love": Everyone we spoke to at Sundance, where "Crazy Love" had its premiere, was of the opinion that Dan Klores and Fisher Stevens too-good-not-to-be-true doc told a great story not particularly well, a complaint that could be applied to many a contemporary documentary. This thought is expressed in some of the film’s reviews, though they’re overall pretty positive. Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir, fresh out of Cannes, notes that the "film is a standard-issue documentary, combining period footage with talking-head interviews." Still, he loves those talking heads, and writes that "Klores renders them as recognizable human beings, more like the rest of us than like incomprehensible monsters. Amid the horror and contempt, we also feel pity." At New York, David Edelstein salutes Klores’ "sly deadpan" and the way the movie "distills every functionally dysfunctional relationship you’ve ever had into one horrific case study." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly is rapturous: "It’s a freak show of a fairy tale, rendered by a filmmaker who knows how to pierce tabloid reality right in its anguished, bloody heart."

"Extra! Extra! Violence against women has its upside!" proclaims a not-won-over Rob Nelson at the Village Voice. "To be blunt, Crazy Love is a snappy, upbeat movie about sexual violence." Nick Schager at Slant shrugs that the film "has a tabloid story to kill for, and a basic nonfiction form to snooze over… Crazy Love dampens much of its bizarre particulars with blandly functional talking-head interviews and archival photos and newspaper front pages." Manohla Dargis at the New York Times finds the film "somewhat sickening, mildly gonzo" and sometimes just worthy of a few "ew"s. She muses:

In some respects “Crazy Love” belongs to that class of documentaries that might be called the family freak show. (Think of “Capturing the Friedmans.”) But it also belongs to the more familiar category of the misery documentary, those nonfiction works that poke into the ghastliness of other people’s lives like a finger rummaging inside a wound. Misery documentaries exist because sometimes other people’s pain is deemed newsworthy and because sometimes the people who make them sincerely want to inspire change. Mostly, though, they exist because watching other people suffer has always been a favorite human pastime. In ancient Rome spectators flocked to the Colosseum to watch the bloodletting; now we watch it on screen.


"I came from a water hole."
+ "Ten Canoes": Rolf de Heer‘s film, which won the special jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes last year, is also the first feature to be shot entirely in an Aboriginal language. Inherent anthropological interest inside, the film is generated near universal acclaim. At indieWIRE, Jeff Reichert writes that "Instead of the worst cliches about noble natives invested with quasi-mystical powers, a deep relationship with the land, and the tendency to speak in Yoda-worthy riddles, De Heer’s Yolngu are conflicted, jealous, earnest, horny, and often terribly funny (especially around scatological themes) – in short, all too perfectly human." Stephen Holden at the New York Times and Andrew O’Hehir at Salon both compare the film to "The Fast Runner." Holden raises a few questions:

Contemplating a film like “Ten Canoes” or “Atanarjuat,” you confront inevitable questions about the depiction of primitive peoples in feature films and documentaries. Where does detached observation end and emotional identification begin? At what point does admiration for the noble savage become condescending and sentimental? If the humor of “Ten Canoes” largely liberates it from ethnographic solemnity, it feels suspiciously contemporary.

O’Hehir is not sure that "Ten Canoes" succeeds in blending aboriginal storytelling tradition with a tradition film structure, but still finds "it’s a fascinating immersion within a highly ritualized Stone Age oral culture that, at least according to tradition, existed almost unchanged for thousands of years before the European arrival." At the Onion AV Club, Noel Murray agrees that "mostly, it’s a feat of immersive ethnography, explaining the dynamics
of hunter-gatherers by letting us share their dirty jokes and marital
spats. Like a lot of folk tales, Ten Canoes peters out into something
more prosaic than profound, but it flows like water, and has a
deceptively gentle pull that proves hard to escape."

Scott Foundas at the Village Voice writes that "Ten Canoes is a celebration of the art of storytelling, and of the power of stories to transcend all barriers of space, time, and language." Ed Gonzalez at Slant disagrees: "Ten Canoes is more homily than film, an educational exaltation of Australia’s Aboriginal past."


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.