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SXSW: “The Lookout.”

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"I thought I was good-looking."
Scott Frank, who makes his directorial debut with SXSW’s opening night film, "The Lookout," is the writer responsible for "Out of Sight" (for which he picked up an Oscar nomination), "Get Shorty" and "Minority Report." "The Lookout" is very much a screenwriter’s film — one in which every proverbial first act pistol has, by the film’s close, gone off, every loose storyline unobtrusively tied up or tucked away. It’s not the way life works, but it’s a way movies can, and there’s something very pleasing about the way that "The Lookout"’s elements come together like a set of matched chimes, particularly when a certain narrative messiness has become endemic to indie film.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Chris Pratt, who was once the golden boy of his Kansas City high school — a star hockey player with rich parents and pretty girlfriend. A moment of teenage recklessness and romanticism leads to a terrible accident that leaves him, four years later, just coming to terms with what his traumatic head injury has done to his life. His short term memory is unreliable, he has trouble linking cause and effect and the filter that keeps him from blurting out inappropriate thoughts is gone. He works as a night janitor at a bank and lives with his only friend, the frank, funny and blind Lewis (Jeff Daniels). He goes to a local bar at night, drinks non-alcoholic beer and fails to start conversations, until he runs into the charismatic Gary (Matthew Goode), who seems to want nothing more than to be his friend.

Gordon-Levitt continues to be one of the most intriguing young actors working today. Slight and pensive, he’s physically wrong for the part of Chris, but still manages to convincingly project the aura of a former local celebrity. The role is the kind many actors would seize on to display their range of studied twitches ("____ spent a month with real head trauma patients!"), but Gordon-Levitt wisely underplays it. His Gary isn’t off in a way that’s immediately visible, but he’s constantly poised, uncertain, like someone in a noisy room who’s only hearing half of an important conversation but is trying desperately to pretend it’s all coming through. In the moments when he relaxes and lets his guard down, he’s almost insufferably vulnerable. Goode, who’s never registered for us before, is equally impressive as Gary, a sleekly eloquent menace who seduces Chris with offerings of friendship, psychological blandishments and the fleshly charms of his stripper friend, Luvlee ("The Wedding Crashers"Isla Fisher). Gary woos Chris into his band of bank-robbers, and we watch with dread, because, though we see much of the film through Chris’ eyes, we’re never quite sure of the scope of Chris’ understanding.

When, in the final act, events fall into place, they do so as smoothly as clockwork, with only the occasional grinding of gears (could we not be trusted to discern the meaning of the title ourselves?). It’s not an exhilarating film, but it’s a soundly competent one with flashes of sharpness that can illuminate scenes like the Hopper paintings that so clearly inspired the look of the film.

Miramax will release "The Lookout" on March 30th.

+ "The Lookout" (SXSW)
+ "The Lookout" (Miramax)

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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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