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SXSW 2008: “Nights and Weekends.”

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03162008_nightsandweekends.jpgThere’s a meta-mumblecore movie just begging to be made that’s set amidst the group of people who’ve been making mumblecore movies, and it would start off at the tense premiere screening of “Nights and Weekends.” Co-directors, writers and stars Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg presented their third feature together to (and later took part in a candid Q&A in front of) a crowd half made up of friends and acquaintances uncomfortably aware that things had gotten ugly during the making of the film. In a mini-movement that’s eluded agreed-upon definitions beyond the fact that its films are the collaborative creations of collections of friends, it was both stinging and poignant to see a film about a break-up that coincides with the break-up of a creative partnership. And “Nights and Weekends” is good, the best thing that Swanberg — who’s on his fourth film in four years, and the first in which he’s shared a co-director credit — has produced in his young career, maybe because his influence is balanced out by Gerwig’s, and maybe because this is the first in which the shadow of adult life encroaches on the post-college bubble that’s been both the playground and bane of his work.

“Nights and Weekends” is the unapologetically elliptical tale of a long-distance relationship between James (Swanberg), who’s working in Chicago, and Mattie (Gerwig), who’s in nursing school in New York. Over the span of two visits, they fight and fuck and go through all of the heightened drama of two people compressing a few weeks’ worth of time together into a few days. At the midpoint of the film, there’s a pregnancy scare, and then a “One Year Later” title card, and we take up with the two of them post-offscreen break-up, when James, in town for business, impulsively gives Mattie a call. The narrative is defiantly artless, but falls nevertheless into a nicely bifurcated structure, with the fits and starts of the first half leading into the immediacy of the second. No score, other than The Zombie’s melancholy “This Will Be Our Year” at opening credits; Gerwig and Swanberg carry the film on their own, with assistance from cinematographers Matthias Grunsky and Benjamin Kasulke — in another first in the Swanberg oeuvre, others shoot the film, and the look is massively improved for it.

Gerwig and Swanberg reportedly shot hours of footage for what would become “Nights and Weekends,” and then, a year later, decided there still wasn’t enough there for a feature and reunited to make the second, and stronger, half of the film. It shows, but in a way that works — that feeling that the initial half of the film consists of the best scenes skimmed from some larger and more mundane narrative gives it the consistency of something subjective. Over time, it’s the brightest and the darkest moments of a relationship that remain in the memory, which may be why, given the chance, you’d revisit it all.

+ “Nights and Weekends” (SXSW)
+ “Nights and Weekends” (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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