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Sundance: “Snow Angels.”

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"It's easy for us to block out the things that upset us."
Indie princeling David Gordon Green has now made three films since "George Washington," his sublime sliver of a directorial debut: "All the Real Girls" and "Undertow," both half-formed works filled with great ideas, and now "Snow Angels," which trades in some of the beveled brilliance of his earlier work for coherence and consistency. It’s his most solid film to date, and the best we’ve seen in this solid festival of solid films ready to be sold for what will hopefully be a solid profit.

No such fate yet for "Snow Angels," though, a tougher sell. It could be described as an exploration of a small-town tragedy, the headline of a regional paper, but that would hardly encompass all of its strands of Chekhovian love and loss. The film begins and eventually finds its end on a snowy football field, where a high school marching band struggles through its routine. One of the band members, Arthur (Michael Angarano) is experiencing the lows of his parents’ separation and the highs of his first great romance. The girl, Lila (Olivia Thirlby), has come out to watch. Out in the woods, there’s the sound of a gun shot.

"Snow Angels" swirls around two broken families — that of Arthur and that of Annie (Kate Beckinsale), his former babysitter, the prettiest girl in the neighborhood grown up into a harried single mom pulling double shifts as a waitress at the local Chinese restaurant. She’s begun building back a tentatively cordial relationship with her husband Glenn, (Sam Rockwell), whose troubles we learn more about as the film progresses. The role of Glenn is a star-making one for Rockwell, should the film ever make it to theaters — a recovering alcoholic desperately seeking refuge in evangelical Christianity, Glenn is alternately pathetic and terrifying, too earnest and well-meaning for anyone to turn him away despite his inability to save himself from himself. Annie is willing to let him see their young daughter, but is turning a blind eye to his hopes of their getting back together — she’s begun an ill-advised affair with her best friend’s husband Nate (Nicky Katt), and when Glenn discovers this fact, he sets about on the business of seriously falling apart.

Green has a wonderfully tender touch with his characters, and is a master of unguarded moments of profound, fumbling dialogue — dismiss it as an indie fixation if you will, but a few scenes in which Arthur and Annie, who’ve known each other for years and whose relationship has developed an edge of flirtation, sit and talk about nothing in particular have a warmth rarely seen in any movie. Likewise, Arthur’s romance with the hip and forthright Lila unfolds in achingly sweet steps: "I like you so much, and I made it so clear," she tells him (sometimes, we suppose, it has to be that easy). And Glenn, who starts drinking again, has a night in a local dive that ends with him swaying in the embrace of another drunk in an impromptu slow dance. It’s such a sympathetic and poetic portrait of misery that it earns what could have been an easy visual jab — the presence of a birthday cake, inexplicable and alight, sitting on a pinball machine behind them. On its side, it reads: "The Champ."

+ "Snow Angels" (Sundance)

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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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