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SXSW 2009: “Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same.”

SXSW 2009: “Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same.” (photo)

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After watching “Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same,” a documentary about an artist preparing for his first New York solo show, I got into a fight. Two of us who’d seen it loved it, others had disliked it, and one insisted it was a travesty of a supposed nonfiction film that had to have been completely complicit and staged. I don’t agree, but the more I dwelt on it, the more beside the point it all seemed. Brock Enright is the kind of guy who’d never forget that he’s on camera, and who’d act equally outsized whether director/DP Jody Lee Lipes had storyboarded each scene with him in advance or, as he says, captured it all vérité-style as it unfolded.

The problem, if you want to look at it that way, is that “Brock Enright” doesn’t contain the visual cues we associate with docs. Lipes, who’s responsible for the remarkable cinematography of “Afterschool,” frequently shoots on a tripod, his composition careful and lovely, qualities that, combined with the natural staginess of his subject, can give the film the air of a rarefied relative of “The Hills.” Which, you know, awesome. Like so many other people who end up on the pointy ends of cameras these days, Enright’s major talent seems to lie in convincing people he does in fact have talent, the art he makes a muzzy mix of provocative video installations and pile-of-trash/installation conundrums he’s unable to explain the meaning of to his not entirely convinced patron. “It has to be one of those things where you don’t know too much what you’re getting yourself into, because then you could be fighting something that could be better than what you were thinking of doing, so I’d rather not know what I’m doing,” he tells the camera at the film’s start, and you believe it right through the end.

But Enright, who made a name for himself in 2002 designing kidnapping experiences tailored to a client’s worst fears, knows that the best way to convince people of your genius is to couch it in a solid dose of crazy — when someone from the gallery comes to visit the Mendocino house at which he’s camped, he all but holds her hostage until she agrees to secure more funding for his work. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and collaborator keeps harshing his mellow by pointing out that they don’t have enough money to pay rent when they get back to Brooklyn, and her family, which whom the pair are staying, are unimpressed by his painting his body white and dancing nude in the forest in the name of his craft.

The show does go up — it was reviewed in, among other places, the New York Times — but we never see it in the film, the shot we instead get a slow artist’s-eye-view of the crowd at the opening, smiling, taking photos. It’s tempting to read the omission as a dismissal, on Lipes’ part, of the final product, and certainly “Brock Enright” comes across as a very good film about a subject who’s less so, but it’s probably meant more to reinforce the film’s focus on process. A coda taking place a year later reveals a development in sly close-ups of materials around an apartment that could in the same way be read as doomed or a sign of progress. Optimist that I am, I’d prefer to think the latter, and that what we’ve witnessed is a portrait of the artist on his way to becoming a tolerable human being.

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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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