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NYAFF 2005: Green Chair.

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Shim Ji-ho as Hyeon"Green Chair" is billed as a racy forbidden romance between an older woman and an underage boy, and it is. Sort of. Director Park Cheol-Su doesn’t follow the narrative path we’d expect (or hope for?) in the story of divorced 32-year-old Mun-hee (Suh Jung, of "The Isle") and 19-year-old Hyeon (newcomer Shim Ji-ho) (and yes, the fact that the age of consent in Korea is 20 does take a little edge off the story) — the film starts off in medias res, after the meet-cute (over a CD in a music store, as we eventually glimpse in sparse flashbacks), the initial affair and the pair’s discovery. Mun-hee has been jailed for her taste for squab, if you will, and we see her, just released, greeted by a swarm of reporters, and, unexpectedly, Hyeon, who’s come to pick her up despite the fact that he doesn’t quite have his drivers license yet.

Mun-hee obviously didn’t expect to see Hyeon again, and the two, after some conversational awkwardness, abscond to a hotel for several sessions of nicely lit, imaginative sex. After that, she tries to leave him, but he pursues her to her friend’s house where they settle in to tentatively flesh out a relationship. We garner from Mun-hee’s insecurities that she had never even hoped Hyeon wanted something more permanent or emotionally involved, and now that he seems to, she’s torn, terrified and vulnerable.

If we were given more insight into Mun-hee’s past, Hyeon’s love for her and patient breaking down of her barriers might be more poignant. But, left only with the fact that she was unhappily married, lonely, and sad, it’s hard to see her erratic behavior throughout the film as caused by past trauma, and easier to just chalk it up to her being a hysterics-prone, schizophrenic bitch queen. Suh Jung has a wonderfully brittle edge to her beauty, but that doesn’t make many of her character’s actions (which include attacking her best friend based on a dream she had and throwing Hyeon’s phone out of the window) at all explicable.

Hyeon is no less of a cypher, a baby-faced, goofy, food-adoring extrovert who’s happy to be objectified by the women in the film as well as the camera (in a refreshing change of pace, we get to ogle the nude Shim Ji-ho far more than his co-star). We get a hint of unhappiness in his past, too, but it’s not until the film’s forced, didactic conclusion that his role really becomes clear.

Mun-hee and Hyeon hold a dinner party, inviting everyone involved in their lives, including their parents, Mun-hee’s ex-husband, the policeman who questioned them both, and a younger girl who’s been pursuing Hyeon. Each of these parties voices their concern about the couple directly to the camera, and each represents some aspect of constrictive traditional Korean society that the couple shrugs off, emerging triumphant, having won everyone’s support. Hyeon faces down Mun-hee’s chauvinistic ex, in the process revealing himself as a sort of idealized feminist construction of a lover  — young, virile, sensitive, gentle, protective, adoring of Mun-hee when she "doesn’t try to look younger," eager to commit, and a great cook. Hyeon might be intended as wistful template for a new generation of Korean men  — unfortunately, he never comes across as an actual human being.


+ NYAFF: Hana & Alice.
+ NYAFF: Three…Extremes
+ NYAFF: Princess Raccoon

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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

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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.

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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

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