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Cannes remnant: “Flight of the Red Balloon.”

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"Grown-ups are a bit complicated."
Hou Hsiao Hsien‘s "Flight of the Red Balloon" was commissioned by the Musee d’Orsay, and the film finds it way there at its close, as children peer at Vallotton’s "The Balloon" and are coaxed through a discussion of whether the painting is a happy one, or a sad one. It’s as close as one comes to feeling any sense of narrative pressure from the film, which combines Hou’s typically exquisite naturalism with melancholy Parisian imagery inspired by a film doubtless thrust upon many an unwilling child by loftily intentioned parents, Albert Lamorisse‘s 1956 "The Red Balloon."  Simon, the child in Hou’s film, sometimes has his own balloon bobbing alongside him, and drifts in the half-emergent awareness of childhood. The adults in his life, as one points out, are a bit more complicated. Foremost is his mother, played by Juliette Binoche in a valiantly unflattering though not unsympathetic role as a blowsy single parent devoted to her theatrical puppet troupe and struggling to rid her house of the freeloading friends of her lover, who has taken off for Montreal to write a novel and seems to have no intention of coming back. Binoche is fantastic as one of those warm, ramshackle human beings whose emotions seem to always be slipping the reins of their control; though sometimes shrill, her Juliette is always genial and all but invites others to prop her up. In the beginning of the film the one she’s found to do this is Song (Song Fang), a sometimes amusingly even-keeled (her sentences are always punctuated with "d’accord" — "all right") Chinese film student to serve as Simon’s nanny. Song is also using Simon in her student film, itself an update of Lamorisse’s, and in one of the most charming scenes we see Simon trotting down the street being followed by a balloon being carried by a man in full green screen costume.

We loved this film, but while watching it couldn’t help but think that there’s a reason Hou’s work rarely make much headway in the US. His muted narratives aren’t difficult to follow as much as unfriendly to the even slightly impatient. Lacking the visual voluptuousness of his last, "Three Times," the slender slices of Parisian life depicted in "Flight of the Red Balloon" require a predisposed viewer to capture interest, which, we suppose, is exactly what the film will attract when it reaches theaters here this year. The dramas it delineates are slight but momentous, not at all like those in your average movie, but a lot like those in everyday life.

"Flight of the Red Balloon" will be released in the US by IFC First Take.

+ "Flight of the Red Balloon" (
+ "Flight of the Red Balloon" (IMDb)


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


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.


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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…