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NYAFF 2006: “Always – Sunset on Third Street.”

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"Life is not so easy."
Takashi Yamazaki’s "Always – Sunset on Third Street" is shamelessly sentimental (sort of admirably so) and gooey with nostalgia, in the fine tradition of many filmic representations of the 50s, which assure us that, for a decade, the world went slightly sepia-toned. The winner of 13 Japanese Academy Prizes (among them "Best Picture," "Best Director" and "Best Screenplay"), "Always" is a broad crowd-pleaser about the residents of a small neighborhood in Tokyo in the late 50s, when the promise of economic success was luring many into the cities, among them Mutsuko, a young girl from the countryside who accepts, sight-unseen, a job at an "automobile factory" that turns out to be a tiny car repair shop run by the hot-tempered Mr. Suzuki. Suzuki lives upstairs with his wife and young son, and turns out, like most of the characters, to actually have a heart of gold.

Across the street is Chagawa, a hapless would-be novelist who supports himself by running a dusty candy shop and writing boy’s adventure serials. He goes out drinking at the local bar run by Hiromi (model-turned-actress Koyuki, who played Tom Cruise‘s love interest in the unfortunate "The Last Samurai"), a former dancer who’s trying to leave her seedy past behind and run a legitimate business. Unfortunately, she’s just been burdened with the abandoned child of a former coworker of her — but, being a savvy girl, she gets a drunken Chagawa to agree to take the boy in for an indefinite while.

While there’s plenty of sap to be had among the daily dramas of these makeshift urban families, there’s also an irresistible sense of excitement and joy to the scenes greeting the influx of new technology and global influence: the neighborhood gathers to watch the Suzuki family’s long-awaited TV, and everyone cheers on pro wrestler Rikidozan‘s signature karate chop; the elderly tobacconist takes to guzzling Coca-Cola, while someone else suspiciously notes that it "looks like soy sauce"; and the Tokyo Tower looms half-built in the horizon. It’s through technology that the golden-tinged 50s cityscape has been recreated; it has the haze of a computer-generated backdrop, which, in combination with clear studio lot the street set exists on, gives the vague impression that the story is taking place in an Epcot Center version of half-a-decade-ago Tokyo — charming and romanticized, and never quite real.

Screens June 14 at the Japan Society and July 1 at the ImaginAsian.

+ "Always – Sunset on Third Street" (NYAFF)

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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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