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Cannes 08: “Wendy and Lucy.”

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05242008_wendyandlucy.jpgI’ve seen films about genocide at this year’s festival, I’ve seen films about corruption, about terrible crimes, about war and about murder, but nothing cut me to the quick like “Wendy and Lucy,” which is about a girl who loses her dog. The second third film from Kelly Reichardt, whose superb “Old Joy” was one of the few bright lights on the American indie landscape of the past years, is, like that last feature, deceptively simple and brief. Over the course of 80 minutes, Wendy (a very good Michelle Williams) drives into a shabby Oregon town with her dog, Lucy. Every penny is s precious, so she tries to shoplift some dog food, but she’s caught, and, per the store’s policy and the insistence of an over-zealous young employee, prosecuted. Getting back a few hours later, she finds that Lucy’s missing.

“Wendy and Lucy” is a microscopic tale of suspense about how, when you’ve got next to nothing, seemingly navigable setbacks like a car breaking down or a dog running away become insurmountable catastrophes. When Wendy runs into genial, hippie-ish vagrants by the railroad, one of them “Old Joy”‘s Will Oldham, their stories make her decision to head to Alaska to look for work seems like a good one, like freedom. But she stranded in town when her car won’t start, and while it’s in the shop she has no place to sleep, and she has no phone number to give the pound should Lucy turn up, and without an address she can’t get even a temporary job to sustain herself, which seems an impossibility in the economically depressed area anyway. The people around Wendy are mostly indifferent to her perilous descent into homelessness, with the exception of a security guard at the Walgreen’s by which she’s been staying, whose small acts of kindness and concern are heartrending.

Michelle Williams is in every scene of “Wendy and Lucy,” and ably carries that burden — with her dark pixie haircut and cut-offs, she looks frighteningly vulnerable, an indie urchin stuck in circumstances both dire and mundane, her open face registering every frustration, triumph and terror despite her efforts otherwise. Reichardt’s approach in the film is similar underplayed — by refusing to wring out easy sentiments from the script, which, like “Old Joy,” is co-written and based on a short story by Jonathan Raymond; her actors; or her style, which is elegant and unobtrusive, the only music Wendy’s own humming, she’s created something of incredible emotional genuineness that’s one of my favorites in the festival.

[Photo: “Wendy and Lucy,” Film Science/Glass Eye Pix, 2008]

+ “Wendy and Lucy” (

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Rev Up

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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Give Back

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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