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Rotterdam 2009: Carlos Reygadas and Guy Maddin

Rotterdam 2009: Carlos Reygadas and Guy Maddin  (photo)

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The 38th International Film Festival in Rotterdam has streamlined its program into three sections, but it hasn’t lost its focus. The fest still throws its weight behind young filmmakers, and a previous beneficiary, Carlos Reygadas, has emerged as a central figure early on this year. He’s credited as producer on two films, Carlos Serrano Azcona’s “El Árbol” (2009) and Amat Escalante’s “Los Bastardos” (2008), and he’s presenting two of his own works as well. The first is “Serenghetti,” a new feature-length video projected on an office building in the center of town, which joins outdoor loops by Guy Maddin and Nanouk Leopold. The second is his earliest film, “Adulte,” a seven-minute comic short from 1998, which arrives as part of a series on auteur debuts.

Before the world premiere screening of “El Árbol,” Reygadas pumped up his opener “Adulte” by saying, “it doesn’t work very well,” and we’ll leave it at that. “Árbol,” however, works very well indeed, and is in its own modest way one of the strongest works I’ve seen at the festival. It’s an impressive effort in Dardenne-like minimalism, following the near-vagabond Santiago as he obsessively walks around central Madrid, atoning for a sin never revealed. Bosco Sodi, a Mexican painter new to acting, inhabits the character with a feline, loping grace, and one has to study his every gesture to parse the sparse details of his life that emerge. Serrano Azcona keeps a fastidious grip on Santiago’s point of view, particularly given locked-in immediacy by David Valdeperez’s deft handheld camera work. Azcona and his cinematographer indulge in very few shots where Santiago is not in the frame (only two or three by my count), so when some release is given (a shot of seagulls and streetlights against the sky), it becomes nearly rapturous. With reality slowly suffocating Santiago, Serrano Azcona offers a way out in a wonderfully surreal and spiritual deus ex machina finale.

The outdoor exhibition of “Serenghetti” displays Reygadas’ playful side. Two female soccer teams face off in an ancient mountain range in central Mexico, shot as if for TV, complete with on-screen graphics, gratuitous replays and a leggy sideline reporter. It’s an agglomeration of things he likes: sports, sun flares, his country and the cinema. But while the action plays much like a regular broadcast, Reygadas can’t help but tweak it. He employs high-angle shots that catch wheat swaying in front of the lens, cutaways to mountains that ignore the action for minutes on end, and after a few replays, goes for a full reenactment of the deciding goal. It’s both banal and mesmerizing, watching the game for its transient beauty, and patiently awaiting his next deconstruction.

About a five-minute walk from “Serenghetti,” another building has Guy Maddin’s “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair” projecting on its face, a seven-minute short he whipped together in about a week. He started with a question — “Who hasn’t wanted to see a film beauty go to the chair?!?” — and rang up Isabella Rossellini. And there we have it: Isabella orgasmically writhing to the twirling of a jerry-rigged generator, light bulbs popping and nightclub patrons disrobing. An ode to Thomas Edison and sex and the dreams both have provided and fulfilled.

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Final Countdown

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 IFC.com

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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…