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NYFF: “Falling.”

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"We are free!"
We were pleasantly surprised by Barbara Albert‘s "Falling," which uses a rickety excuse of a story (the funeral of a beloved high school teacher summoning back five friends who haven’t seen each other for years) to frame a portrait of women at a certain age — a set-up so front-loaded for sentimental disaster it’s likely to send most fleeing in the opposite direction.

Which is too bad, because while "Falling" has its creaky moments (mostly dealing with the friends’ failed politics and faded protest days), it also bristles with unresolved and unfeigned emotion. Albert, whose last film was the everyone-is-connected "Free Radicals," is about the same age as her thirty-something characters, and the portrait she presents of female adulthood offers little happiness. The pregnant, cynical Nina, the withdrawn, stricken Brigitte, the aloof Carmen, the needy Alex, and the luckless, oblivious Nicole are all differing degrees of miserable in the tail end of a prolonged girlhood. They approach each other with the wariness of people sure their lives are lacking and equally sure they’re going to be judged as such; over the course of an epic night out, the walls are broken down by reacquaintance and booze. There are the expected revelations about disappointment, growing up and growing apart, but they’re punctured with unflinching moments of almost excruciating vulnerability — a sotten Alex, for instance, takes off her shirt to cheers in the midst of a dance floor in a fit of techno-fueled exuberance, and then has to hunt around for it as the music slows.

"Falling" is punctuated by stills that signal a scene about to come, accompanied by the cast singing songs like "We Shall Overcome." It’s a device that’s at first irritating, until suddenly, as the frozen frames start representing things that are either implied or simply imagined, it becomes poignant.

Screens October 9 and 10 at Alice Tully Hall.

+ "Falling" (NYFF)

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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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