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"A Russian woman should be able to drink a liter of vodka."
How to describe the ineffable strangeness of Ilya Khrjanovsky‘s "4"?

How about "45 minutes of great film followed by an hour of toothless cackling crones," our initial summation as we staggered out of a screening feeling slightly ill from the film’s centerpiece’s woozy camerawork (admittedly, our own fault — we were sitting up front and to the side). Now, nauseau long subdued, we’re more inclined to elaborate: Khrjanovsky, in his first film, seeks nothing less than to create a vision of
Russia’s subconscious, and the results are both unforgettable and so
unflattering that the film reportedly created a minor furor in his home
country. He’s an extraordinarily gifted filmmaker, and "4," before it becomes infatuated with its own Boschian imagery and falls into excessive cronage (cronyism?) and artiness, is haunting, gorgeous and relentlessly bleak.

In "4," the streets of Moscow are frozen and empty except for packs of wild dogs, constantly whining as if in pain, and huge, menacing municipal vehicles, which whir in clusters through the night or come crashing down into the street to commence apparently random construction efforts. The film starts up in the small hours of the morning, but we never feel that the city is ever more lively; it feels hollowed out, as if most of the population has fled. A prostitute, a meat salesman and a piano tuner walk into a bar, and, as the bartender nods off, have a meandering conversation in which they each tell fantastical lies about what they do for a living — Marina, the prostitute, claims to work in marketing for a Japanese device that mysteriously improves one’s sense of well-being; Oleg, the meat seller, says he delivers mineral water to the Kremlin; Volodya, the piano tuner, launches into a story of how he’s a scientist working in a cloning program. The three part and drift off into their own listlessly phantasmagoric adventures, though the film quickly become subsumed by Marina’s trip to a rural village to attend her sister’s funeral. In crowded, dark rooms in the muddy town populated almost entirely by old women who make dolls for a living, she and her two sisters get caught up in a seemingly unending series of near-orgiastic wakes in which the crones get drunk, riotous and sentimental on moonshine, eat a pig, and smear grease on their aging flesh.

The theme of fours occurs through the story (four clones, four dogs, four sisters, and, one can’t help but think, four horsemen of the apocalypse), but none of the images, for all of their portentousness and sometimes provocative grotesquerie, ever gathers meaning beyond adding to the film’s sense of overwhelming dread and stagnation. For the most part, Khrjanovsky avoids easy gloom, blanketing his film instead in overwhelming torpor. His character never seem to make it out of early morning, ever stumbling, half aware, into whatever comes next, and it’s generally bad.

Also, round piglets? We love.

Opens in New York.

+ 4 (official site)

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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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