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Tribeca ’08: “Playing.”

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04252008_playing.jpgFor his tenth feature, “Jogo de Cena” (Playing), documentarian Eduardo Coutinho placed an ad in the paper calling for Rio de Janeiro women over the age of 18 with stories to tell to come to an audition. Naturally, everyone has a some kind of story to tell, but the subjects he selected were all particularly driven to perform, either because of a burning need to recount something that happened to them in the past or because they harbor aspirations toward acting. “Playing” is composed entirely of interviews conducted on a bare stage, monologues of women’s stories in tall type, of heartbreak, of faith, of children lost or estranged, of departed lovers, of missed parents and their stand-ins. Coutinho’s twist is that half of the women we see aren’t the owners of the stories they tell. They’re actresses interpreting the accounts, some of whom, like “Central Station”‘s Marília Pêra, might be recognizable to audiences here.

Coutinho isn’t the first, or the second, or the hundredth director to poke his finger through the gauzy fabric that separates fiction filmmaking from fact and wiggle it around. But “Playing”‘s seemingly simple premise makes for an intriguingly layered and sometime plainly fascinating film in which your assumptions about whoever’s on screen are constantly being undercut. Some stories the film revisits, revealing that their first telling was a dramatization, while others toggle between the teller and the reteller. My favorite tale was delivered by a woman with seeming absolute conviction who, at the end, turns to the camera and adds a “she said” that’s almost an affront. We’re never shown the original source.

It’s the act of performance that most attracts Coutinho — how do you play a real and ordinary person? Do you imitate her, interpret her, add to the material she’s given you? The actresses often tear up where the subjects won’t, something they’re forced to defend afterward — Coutinho dissects their choices with them, wanting to know why, for instance, one of them cries when describing the death of her son when the child’s own mother didn’t do so in the original interview. These talks yield a discussion of crying on camera that may sum up the film as a whole — tears are seen as an undeniably authentic display of emotion, one actress points out, which is why so many players on television and film like to show them off. But that’s not true to how people actually cry — real tears, she explains, you blink back and try to hide.

“Playing” currently has no U.S. distribution.

[Photo: “Playing,” VideoFilmes, 2007]

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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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