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Madonna on festivals, Bordwell on cinephile signaling.

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08042008_iambecauseweare.jpgOver the weekend, Madonna brought her documentary on Malawian orphans, “I Am Because We Are,” to Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival. While there, the pop icon offered her unique take on the film festival circuit. From the AP: ” ‘It’s great bringing my movie to a place that I feel familiar,’ Madonna told the audience. ‘Not like the Cannes Film Festival, where nobody’s speaking English, or the Tribeca Film Festival, where no one sits down.’ “

I’ve been a sometimes reluctant attendant of Tribeca for a few years now, and never noticed anything along the lines of that enigmatic observation, but it makes a sort of sense — does the mere logline of a Malawian orphan documentary narrated by Madonna tell you all you need to know about the film, rendering an actual screening unnecessary, or at least less important than glad-handing with other audience members? Is that what film festivals in the future will be like?

Over at this blog, David Bordwell documents a different kind of moviegoing culture, reflecting on what it means to be a cinephile.

The real crux, I think, is this. The cinephile loves the idea of film. That means loving not only its accomplishments but its potential, its promise and prospects. It’s as if individual films, delectable and overpowering as they can be, are but glimpses of something far grander. That distant horizon, impossible to describe fully, is Cinema, and it is this art form, or medium, that is the ultimate object of devotion.

This leads into a look at the social games cinephiles play:

Competitive games: Upsmanship

Jules and Jim leave a screening.

Jules: I loved it. What did you think?

Jim: Well. . . Have you seen earlier films by H*ng S*ng-s**?

This is an opening gambit. If Jules says no, then Jim can say something like: It’s really one of his weaker movies or His films get worse and worse. Now Jules would be playing defense, on unfriendly terrain. If he hasn’t seen the other films, the comparison-strategy will be his undoing. So:

Jules: Yeah, I’ve seen all of them. I thought that this was a strong one.

Now Jim can fight to at least a draw. Maybe Jules was bluffing and hasn’t seen all the films; or maybe Jim remembers them better.

Jules has used what we can call the breadth strategy: I’ve seen more than you. This need not bear only on other films; it can work along other dimensions.

[Photo: “I Am Because We Are,” Sundance Channel, 2008]

+ Madonna returns to Michigan roots to show her film (AP)
+ Games cinephiles play (

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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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