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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: “Interview,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2007]

A good interview should be insightful and revealing. To be sure, the interview in “Interview” isn’t a good one, but it would be nice if the film had a little of those qualities. It does not. The film places us in a room with two characters and their accumulated mishegas but it doesn’t have enough intellectual curiosity about them to keep our attention.

The two characters are Pierre, played by Steve Buscemi, and Katya, played by Sienna Miller. He is a political journalist who has roiled his editor and gotten, in his estimation, a punishment assignment: a profile on an actress of schlocky horror and TV shows. He shows up to the Meatpacking District restaurant where they’re meeting in a surly mood, not caring even to feign interest in her or her work. She reacts, appropriately, with disgust, and so the interview ends before it has begun. The screenplay by Buscemi (who is also the film’s director) and David Schecter, from an original film directed by the late Theo van Gogh and writer Theodor Holman, is particularly effective in this scene, pointing out the sheer size of the divide between our protagonists: Pierre is scolded for daring to use his cell phone while waiting for Katya; Katya uses hers and the maître d’ gives her a better table.

So far, so good — but only so far. A more interesting and honest movie may have followed Buscemi’s character as he tries to write something based on the non-interview. I was reminded of a recent episode of “This American Life” that told the story of a young journalist thrust into an assignment for which she was unprepared, and the international uproar her article — which she invented after her interview went awry — sparked. But here a contrivance pushes Pierre and Katya back together, and then one after another keeps them that way. The two adjourn to her beautiful loft where they continue their arguments, get drunk, get high, reveal dark secrets about themselves and, most unbelievably, nearly have sex. Good or bad, it is in an interview, and it should feel at least a little spontaneous. Unfortunately, once the action shifts to Katya’s turf, “Interview” feels predetermined by its writers rather than by the actions or feelings of the characters.

The film has several points to make, about the media’s self-fulfilling poor opinion of young starlets and the inherent untrustworthiness of anything you might read in a newspaper or magazine. To the degree that they come across loud and clear, it is successful. But the two people used by Buscemi and Schecter to make those points aren’t particularly watchable, and neither is the no-frills way in which Buscemi stages the action. We’re left, then, to focus on what Pierre and Katya say and do, and that too feels forced by an unseen hand. Through the final act the two compete in a weird form of tragedy oneupsmanship (“My father’s dead!” “Oh yeah? Well, I am diseased!”), while the writing gets even more ungainly. “I want to know what’s haunting you!” Buscemi pleads, “Because I’m haunted too.” With that sort of material, no wonder Pierre got stuck with this gig.

With just two actors onscreen for most of the runtime, there is plenty of time to ponder their impact, particularly Miller, who continues to get cast in big parts and continues to fail to deliver in them. She’s a master of accents, but not of acting. As her slinky turns in “Layer Cake” and “Alfie” attest; the camera loves her. But her performances are all waterworks and screaming without the underlying emotional core, flashy but empty. We see her going through these personal upheavals but we don’t believe they’re actually happening to her.

Ultimately, “Interview” comes down to this: it is a movie about two people in a room. The people aren’t terribly interesting, but, boy, what a room. Under other circumstances, I could see a great movie taking place there.

“Interview” opens in limited release on July 13th (official site).

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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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