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NYFF: “The Squid and the Whale.”

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Owen Kline and Laura LinneyWes Anderson reportedly created his 2001 "The Royal Tenenbaums" as a portrayal of New York as he imagined it, growing up in Texas, obsessed with the New Yorker. It’s a little eerie how much "The Squid and the Whale," the third film to be written and directed by Anderson’s "The Life Aquatic" co-writer Noah Baumbach (and based on Baumbach’s childhood), resembles Anderson’s film, stripped of all whimsy. But then, Baumbach actually does write for the New Yorker sometimes, and his mother was Georgia Brown, once a film critic at the Village Voice, so, pedigree-wise, he’s well-suited to produce a counterpart to Anderson’s golden-tinged world in which everyone is melancholy and has a book deal.

"The Squid and the Whale" also happens to be about the effects of a divorce on a family, particularly the children. From the opening scene, in which Joan Berkman (Laura Linney), the mother, is paired up with the younger son Frank (Owen Kline, son of Kevin) and forced into a ridiculously competitive family tennis match by her husband Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and teenage son Walt (Jesse Eisenberg), we get a feel for how bad things have gotten. The scenes between Joan and Frank corrode like acid — they try to keep things quiet in front of the boys, but anger spills out despite their efforts, a situation worsened by the fact that both are writers, one finally coming into her own and one whose star has faded and who’s stewing in resentment. Walt, who idolizes his father, lays blame for his parents’ crumbling marriage entirely at his mother’s feet (facilitated by Bernard’s less-than-appropriate informing him of Joan’s affairs); Frank clings to his mother, but both boys struggle with what’s happening to them.

Jeff Daniels is going to get the lion’s share of critical attention for his performance as the scruffy, amoral, amusingly monstrous Bernard, but it’s Linney who makes the film with her loving and complicated portrait of a woman struggling between treating her sons like fair-minded fellow adults, and sheltering them like the children they both still are. Linney’s is the only performance that generates much warmth — the drama within the family never fails to ring true, but the other Berkmans are a little too sharp-edged, too guarded and strange, and often just too dislikable to form a connection to. The dialogue is wickedly clever and dead-on throughout, particularly for Bernard, whose fondness of certain phrases ("dense," "interesting" and "it’s the filet of ______") nears a conversational twitch.

At 88 minutes long, "The Squid and the Whale" moves along briskly — too briskly, perhaps, with the end leaping up a little abruptly. Combined with the sense of emotional remove, it’s sort of the autumn afternoon walk of films: it’s bracing and there’s much to admire, but in the end you’re glad to be done and back home, warming yourself up.

"The Squid and the Whale" opens in New York on October 5.

Click here for all the NY Film Festival reviews thus far.

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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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