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NYFF: “Alexandra.”

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"You've been fighting for so long, you're used to it."
Alexandra Nikolaevna (opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya, one of the subjects of director Aleksandr Sokurov‘s 2006 documentary "Elegy of a Life: Rostropovich, Vishnevskaya") travels to Chechnya to visit her grandson Denis (Vasily Shevtsov) at his army base in "Alexandra." It’s a long journey by army trains and transports intended for soldiers, not elderly women, but Alexandra is unfussy and sometimes just gruff, and the soldiers, initially bewildered by her presence, accommodate her as they would any of their own relatives. At the base, which Sokurov in an otherwise restrained turn shoots through filters to shift it through a progressive series of grim monochromes, she’s shown to her accommodations, and when she wakes in the morning, her grandson is asleep in the room with her.

Alexandra becomes, as the film progresses, a kind of brusquely investigative Mother Russia embodiment, wandering the camp and speaking to the soldiers, bickering with the commander, buying cigarettes at the nearby market for the men on watch, befriending a local woman and being told by the boy who walks her back "I know its not up to you, but give us our freedom. We’re tired and we won’t last forever." It’s a little clumsy and unsatisfying, as is the film’s divide between unthinking young men and weary, wise women. But the scenes before, between Alexandra and her grandson, are quiet marvels of rueful familial adoration, with Denis, a career soldier, proudly showing off his men and tank while Alexandra gently chides his choices in life. She hasn’t seen him in years and they don’t have much time together, so both tread as carefully as they can around fundamental disagreements that nevertheless rise to the surface. Their joy in each other’s company still makes for scenes so tender they’re almost difficult to watch, most memorably one in which Denis scoops his delighted grandmother up and carries her like a bride through the camp so that she can rest.

"Alexandra" screened October 4 and 6 and will receive an eventual theatrical release from The Cinema Guild in 2008.

+ "Alexandra" (FilmLinc)
+ "Alexandra" (IMDb)

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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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