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NYFF: “Private Fears In Public Places.”

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"What can we be but who we are?"Alain Resnais"Private Fears in Public Places" is, like his 1993 film "Smoking/No Smoking," an adaptation of a play written by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, which explains why its six characters act so oddly prurient about sex and so oddly excited about tea-drinking. It’s hard to say if it would have been a less tiresome film if set in London; as is, the setting restrictions necessitated by a play combine with the constant snow (it even manages to invade scene transitions) and the initial pan over a slightly obvious model of the city to give the impression that the film takes place not in Paris but in a giant souvenir snowglobe.

The urbanites in "Private Fears" long for human connection and meaning, as urbanites are often wont to do. Nicole and Dan (Laura Morante and Lambert Wilson) and engaged and looking for an apartment together, but he’s out of work and drifting, whiling his days away at a hotel bar, and she’s getting more and more frustrated. Thierry (André Dussollier) is their real estate broker, who lives with his lonely sister Gaelle (Isabelle Carré, an unexplained quarter-decade younger than her supposed sibling) and who’s taken a romantic interest in his religious coworker Charlotte (Sabine Azéma). Charlotte has a side job as a caretaker for the elderly and infirm — she’s currently looking after the father of Lionel (Pierre Arditi), the bartender at Dan’s watering hole of choice.

"Private Fears" telegraphs its intentions from far off, but its problems are less awkwardness than absence of believability. The coy theatrical nods (in most of the settings, the camera stays in one room, even as characters step out of view into others, and the lighting sometimes consists of a flat-out spotlight) aren’t anywhere as distancing as the fact that every character’s problems are laughably one-note. There’s a bit of charm to the film’s irony-free pining and epiphanies, but it’s a dusty one, as creaky as one plotline’s reliance on the wonders of recording TV shows onto a cassette. We wouldn’t quibble about dated technology normally, but the film goes out of its way to also show characters flashing cellphones that don’t at all figure in to the action of the film. They may be intended as a reassurance of the film’s contemporary setting, but they’re more an unfortunate sign that the once cutting-edge Resnais, now in his 80s, no longer has any sense of the contemporary urban life he’s trying to depict.

Screens October 6 and 7 at Alice Tully Hall.

+ "Private Fears in Public Places" (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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