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Sufjan Stevens takes “The BQE.”

Sufjan Stevens takes “The BQE.” (photo)

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Sufjan Stevens has become something of the elusive yeti of indie rock, popping up from time to time to turn in a Christmas album, lurking in the audience at unexpected shows, booking himself on an impossible tour of instantly sold-out small venues. So it was nice to see him, genial and in the flesh, at 92Y Tribeca on Saturday for the premiere screening of the DVD for “The BQE,” his film and “cinematic suite inspired by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Hula-Hoop.”

Commissioned by BAM, “The BQE” first screened for three nights in November 2007, with 36 performers providing a live soundtrack. It’s since grown into a multi-media project. The only live music on Saturday came before the film, from singer-songwriter DM Stith and string quartet Osso, who performed arrangements of songs from Stevens’ electronica album “Enjoy Your Rabbit.” Which, the guy sitting next to me, who’d also been at the BAM event, assured me was really for the better — on the DVD, the music and film met up perfectly, whereas such timing proved a lot trickier when dealing with a backing orchestra.

10272009_thebqe9.jpgAnd timing is everything for “The BQE,” a triptych of carefully assembled 16mm footage that tries to turn the concrete and traffic of what Stevens has described as “one of the world’s ugliest expressways” into art, using time-lapse, mirror effects and a trio of lazily hula-hooping girls to provide chapter breaks. “We spent, like, nine months of our lives on the BQE filming this,” Stevens said of the film, which is meandering and sometimes lovely, with a lot of the feel of letting yourself get mesmerized by the flow of cars past an overpass on a sunny afternoon, and gains a lot from his soaring score.

“The BQE” is now on sale, in various formats, some including the Stevens-penned “Hooper Heroes” comic book (!) and a View-Master stereoscopic image reel, via Asthmatic Kitty Records. The trailer:

[Additional photo: Crop of “The BQE” poster, photographed by Denny Renshaw and designed by David Stith]

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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.

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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…

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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.

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