This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


“51 Birch Street.”

Posted by on


[Reposted in slightly expanded form from here.]

The personal essay has become the inescapable stuff of literate journalism (and personal anecdotes have crept into everything else, including film reviews), but the personal documentary remains a strange and delicate thing, a form still being traced out gingerly by the few who attempt it. Putting one’s own life in front of the camera is never as straightforward a thing as setting it into print.

Documentarian Doug Block didn’t set out to make a film about his parents, he set out to film them as a commemoration and stumbled onto a narrative after the death of his mother, when his father, just a few months later, moved down to Florida to live with his secretary from 40 years before. Block had always assumed his parents 50 plus years of marriage had been happy, and his father’s immediate rebound into a possibly preexisting relationship is devastating to him and his siblings. And so begins an exploration of his parents’ life together by way of the footage, friends, family members and diaries his mother left behind, shaped around the childhood home his father has already sold.

Block wants the central question of his film to be one of whether we ever really know our parents, but what emerges is more a reminder of the persistence and peculiarity of memory — like "Capturing the Friedmans," another, far darker excavation of the life of a Long Island family, "51 Birch Street" is a mosaic of materials and interviews. Block’s family members each have distinct and differing recollections of the years they spent together, and though his mother is no longer there to speak for herself, she presents the clearest voice of all in her writing. It is his father who was ever the more enigmatic, a taciturn figure of 50s masculinity that Block has become accustomed to shielding himself from with a camera in their time together. As the film progresses through a series of increasingly heart-rending and crushingly candid interviews with the older Mr. Block, it draws out a compassionate portrait of the man that seems unexpected even to the filmmaker, who in the end finds the camera turned, touchingly, on himself.

Opens in New York October 18th.

+ "51 Birch Street" (Truly Indie)

Watch More

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

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

Watch More

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

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.

Watch More

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

Watch More