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SXSW 2009: “Sorry, Thanks.”

SXSW 2009: “Sorry, Thanks.” (photo)

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Apologies for whipping out the m-word, but mumblecore always seemed to me to be defined by its choreography of conflict avoidance. Its characters are so vague about they want and what they think because what they definitely don’t want is to lay those things out and risk disagreement, rejection or open hostility. They lack any obvious sharp edges, and so seem to be infected with terminal niceness, but to say that is to ignore all the passive aggression lurking underneath the surface of those meandering exchanges. A fine sign of how the mumble-crowd is coming of age is Dia Sokol’s directorial debut “Sorry, Thanks,” a film set in a familiar milieu of noncommittal 20-somethings with a fair amount of time on their hands, but one that also asks its characters to come to terms with the fact that not acknowledging what they’re doing doesn’t mean they can’t hurt anyone.

Kira (Kenya Miles) has just come out of a seven-year relationship and Max (“Dazed and Confused”‘s Wiley Wiggins) is still in a three-year one when they wake up together at the start of “Sorry, Thanks,” having met at a party the night before. They go their separate ways, but both live in San Francisco’s Mission district, and common friends mean they’re soon awkwardly running into each other at bars and parties and movies and starting up a flirtation. Kira’s trying to learn how to be single, going on a date that ends quietly but excruciatingly badly, fooling around with a friend while insisting it doesn’t mean anything, though that friend is clearly smitten, downgrading her job to one that gives her more control of her time. Max is just a mess, summoning his pal Mason (Andrew Bujalski) to drive him around while he’s (probably permanently) sans car, working as the jaded coordinator of chipper, ambitious interns at a local senator’s office, dating someone for years without moving in with her. He’s charming, though, sardonic and baby-faced and seemingly poised for the right gal to save him. You can see why his sweet-natured girlfriend Sarah (Ia Hernandez) has stuck around despite his taking nearly a week to notice her new haircut.

“Sorry, Thanks” is filled with the expected and somewhat tiresome semi-whimsical digressions, from a toothbrushing competition to the shadow-puppet seduction opening. And maybe they’re supposed to be tiresome — there’s an underlying sense of frustration throughout the film at the continuing bonelessness of its characters. Max can’t get it together, and he’s old enough that that’s become a choice, not a quirk. “Would you say I’m a generally good person?” he asks his friends, who tell him, in the least combative way possible, that he’s actually kind of an asshole. Sokol’s worked with Bujalski on his films, and she doesn’t have his extraordinary sense of warmth for characters nor sharp sense of timing — “Sorry, Thanks” most decidedly drifts. But she is in touch with another emotion that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s watched similar films: the desire to give everyone on screen a good shake and suggest that they are actually well into their adult lives.

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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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