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Fantastic Fest 2008: “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

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09242008_ithinkwerealonenow.jpgLike “American Movie” and “Billy the Kid,” Sean Donnelly’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” makes you squirm at its relationships with its subjects and its audience. I wouldn’t say that, as a documentary, it’s unethical, but it does focus on two people who suffer from unknown degrees of mental illness and, watching it, you have to wonder why they ever agreed to be filmed in the first place.

Jeffery Deane Turner and Kelly McCormick are obsessed with, and in the case of the former, have also stalked former ’80s star Tiffany. Tiffany is the faded pop center of their troubled lives — Turner, who suffers from Asperger syndrome, claims to be in a loving relationship with her and able to communicate with her via radionics, while McCormick, who’s intersex and transitioning to female, believes she’s fated to be with the singer after having a vision of her while in a 16-day coma following a severe bike accident.

Donnelly rarely plays up his pair for laughs. The further the film goes, the less that even seems possible. Turner, who at first looks like merely a moon-faced, talky Santa Cruz eccentric, unveils whole realms of crazy as he expounds on showing up at Tiffany’s emancipation hearing with a sword and chrysanthemums, straps on a helmet to commune with her “nonphysical essence,” explains that her Playboy spread is a declaration of her love for him, and reveals his beloved’s ability to travel through time and to negotiate with aliens. And McCormick, whose physical appearance alone has marked her a social outcast, comes across as less stable still, living in a house with walls bare of anything other than shots of the pop star, drinking heavily, talking of drug use and howling “My destiny is that I’m supposed to be with Tiffany! I have the right to love and be happy!”

Tiffany’s never interviewed in the film, and there’s no real need. For both Turner and McCormick, she’s an ideal, a blank on which to fixate and to project their frustrated longings for someone to adore and understand them. The fact that her heyday was two decades ago, that she’s now performing at free outdoor concerts and in Las Vegas gay bars and signing autographs at pin-up conventions, is never the issue. Their love is eternal, at least until Turner moves on to Alyssa Milano.

Donnelly gives the pair a fair enough shake, but there’s no way around the fact that they come across as grotesques. There is one moment, however, in which he does them a documentary injustice, and that’s when the two are put in contact and end up rooming together and squabbling in Vegas. Both Turner and McCormick are incredibly disturbing and compelling figures already; no extra prodding was needed for that.

[Photo: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Awesome and Modest/Greener Media, 2008]

+ “I Think We’re Alone Now” (Fantastic Fest)

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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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