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DID YOU READ

“The Square” and “Everyone Else”

“The Square” and “Everyone Else” (photo)

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Originality can be overrated. Nash Edgerton‘s Aussie thriller “The Square” doesn’t really have an original bone in its body, and I’m not sure it needs to. It belongs to that well-worn noir subgenre of adulterous lovers attempting to make a break for it — “Blood Simple” is an obvious influence — but Edgerton eschews the stylized aggressiveness of earlier films for something more lived-in, if not exactly realistic.

By the end of the opening scene, in which we see Ray (David Roberts) and Carla (Claire van der Boom), both married (though not to each other) making love inside one car while their dogs watch from another, you can probably guess much of the rest of the plot. Ray is stuck in a bland suburban marriage, while Carla is stuck in a decidedly bleaker working-class arrangement: She suspects that her roughneck husband Smithy (Anthony Hayes) might actually be up to no good, as evidenced by the duffel bag full of cash stashed in the attic. Carla suggests to Ray that they take the money, burn her house down, and live happily ever after. And away we go — as we’ve done so many times before.

And yet…”The Square” works. For starters, Edgerton, a former stuntman, has genuine filmmaking chops. He can build tension up to almost comical levels, but he also has an eye for more offbeat moments. A scene where the arsonist, perched atop a hill, looks out over the small community of buildings laid out before him and sees his handiwork burning in the distance has a truly haunting quality.

But there’s also a pointed everydayness to the film that resists the mythic overtures of genre (witness those dogs in the opening scene), resulting in something a lot more riveting than the umpteenth iteration of this familiar set-up would suggest. It makes sense that our lovers’ scheme has little to do with killing Smithy (no postmen need ring here, thanks) and more with just taking his dough. Even so, Ray is in way over his head and knows it — indeed, he initially resists Carla’s conspiring by correctly suggesting that he’s not the kind of guy who does things like ransack people’s houses.

To his eternal credit, Edgerton (who collaborated here with his brother Joel, who co-wrote and co-stars in the film) doesn’t seem interested in watching a well-executed plan go gradually off the rails. Rather, the whole thing starts off a mess and quickly gets worse.

04072010_SquareEdgerton3.jpgThis is less a thriller of adultery than a kind of surreal nightmare, where the central attraction isn’t the slow tightening of the noose but the snowballing clusterfuckery of our outmatched hero’s predicament — more “After Hours” than “Double Indemnity.”

True, the pleasures of this subgenre have often come from watching good men go bad, and Ray goes bad with the best of them. But even towards the end, as the bodies and the plot turns predictably pile up, we’re still basically with him. His soul may be corrupted, but we can still see the bewildered suburban schlub who stumbled into this mess lurking just beneath the surface. His total inadequacy gives the film a strange energy all its own.

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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.

Uncle-Buck

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…