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“In the Shadow of the Moon”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: David Sington’s “In the Shadow of the Moon,” ThinkFilm, 2007]

Traveling inside what amounts to a giant tin can strapped to front of an incredibly powerful rocket hurtling through space 13 times faster than a speeding bullet only to get to a desolate place with no air, sustenance or shelter can really readjust the way you look at life on Earth. The 24 men who made this remarkable journey, and saw our home from a distance, floating serenely and precariously amidst the rest of the cosmos, took away from it an appreciation of the marvel and beauty of our planet, even at its most tedious. “I’m glad there’s weather! I’m glad there’s traffic!” one chuckles. The astronauts interviewed in “In the Shadow of the Moon” speak of the perspective they gained by visiting another planet. Anyone who sees this absorbing documentary will likely have a similar experience.

Of those 24 men, 12 actually got to step foot on the moon. Nearly all those who are still alive (save the reclusive Neil Armstrong) appear in this documentary, directed by David Sington, to talk about the trip. Their interviews are honest, warm and insightful, and the accompanying footage, most of it never before seen (at least by me), is uniformly beautiful. And some of those shots of that very first lunar landing, the “One small step…” one, that show it all from new and different angles, put a serious hurting on those conspiracy theories that the whole thing was faked from some warehouse in Texas.

I didn’t think astronauts were dopes, but I was surprised to see just how thoughtful these men are. They talk about the difference between fear (which they don’t have) and worry (which they do). They describe the surreal feeling of going to sleep one day a nobody and waking the next an American hero, the idol of millions. They explain what it feels like to fly inside a fireball. And they remind us just how courageous they were: back in its early days, this stuff was so incredibly dangerous men died simply conducting tests on the equipment.

Some of the shots of Earth from space — like one taken from inside one of the rocket staging pieces as it separates from the capsule and slowly falls back through our atmosphere — are so gorgeous they could bring you to tears. And it’s nice to see that Michael Collins isn’t the least bit bitter about the fact that he’s always going to be known as the guy who went on the first mission to the moon but got stuck back in the command module while those other two lucky bastards, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, got to have a big party on the surface.

“In the Shadow of the Moon” is significantly more than a made-for-television documentary. It’s awe-inspiring and uplifting, a reminder that when mankind puts aside its squabbling and works towards a goal, it can achieve great things. On July 20th, 1969, more than half a billion people watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and were united, not by death or fear or hatred, but by joy and pride and the hope for a better tomorrow.

“In the Shadow of the Moon” opens in limited release on September 7th (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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