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DID YOU READ

“Bellflower,” reviewed

“Bellflower,” reviewed (photo)

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A version of this review first ran as part of our coverage of South by Southwest 2011.

A broken heart feels like the end of the world. That’s the essential truth and the ingenious premise behind “Bellflower” an apocalyptic love story by Evan Glodell, a mad scientist of a filmmaker. Glodell wrote, directed, and starred in the film. He also custom built the camera he used to shoot the movie along with many of the film’s weird gadgets and weapons. Like any mad scientist worth his salt, Glodell occasionally loses control of his creation. But that’s what we like to see mad scientists do: invent something truly crazy and brilliant and watch it crash and burn. In this case, the crashing and burning is literal, courtesy the fire-spewing exhaust pipe of a muscle car called The Medusa. Glodell built that thing too. For the film’s premiere at South by Southwest, he actually drove it from Southern California to Austin.

There’s a long drive to Texas in the movie too. It’s undertaken by Woodrow (Glodell) and Milly (Jessie Wiseman) on their first date. The night before, they’d met at a bar during a bug eating contest; it’s love at first bite of cricket. Woodrow and his best bud Aiden (Tyler Dawson) spend all their days tinkering with gadgets and weapons they’re stockpiling in case the apocalypse ever comes to pass. “Mad Max” fans since they were kids in Wisconsin, they dream of the end of days, when they’ll rule the world with shotguns and flamethrowers and Medusa. They’re not necessarily violent guys; they dig destruction in the abstract. But when his relationship with Milly starts to fall apart, Woodrow finds something else to do with all those toys.

That’s the rough outlines of the narrative but a description doesn’t do the film justice, which is a good deal more than the sum of its plot threads. Synopses can’t convey the beauty of the film’s off-kilter cinematography (shot with three cameras Glodell built), the uncanny naturalism of its dialogue and performances, or the complexity of the film’s editing and sound design, which took two years for Glodell and three other editors to refine. I suspect some audiences will be turned off by a few of “Bellflower”‘s bat-shit crazy plot twists, and by the clash between the good vibrations of its first half and the ’til I die mega-bummer of its second. But the narrative’s rough-hewn quality fits the film. Apocalypses are supposed to be messy.

“Bellflower” bears obvious stylistic inspirations, but it’s a totally original and incredibly personal film; the emotions spewing out of Woodrow and Milly’s dissolution like propane from a flame thrower are so blue-hot intense, they’re borderline uncomfortable. Medusa’s a cool car, but it’s also one big honking metaphor (literally!) for a young man’s impulse to create something great and his self-destructive need to burn it all down. That’s another sign of a good mad scientist: all they leave in their wake is fire, ash, and memories seared into your brain forever.

“Bellflower” opens in limited release tomorrow. If you see it, we want to hear what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.

via GIPHY

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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