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DID YOU READ

Shane Meadows Takes to the Road

Shane Meadows Takes to the Road (photo)

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Write what you know, the old chestnut echoes, and that’s precisely what celebrated British filmmaker Shane Meadows has been doing since his 1997 feature debut “TwentyFourSeven.” Meadows’ naturalistic, working class dramas all seem to be at least partly based on real-life experiences, from the drug-addled friend who was bullied into suicide — the inspiration behind his revenge thriller “Dead Man’s Shoes” — to the violence-prone skinhead pals from his youth that turn up in “This is England.” One of the films is even entitled “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands,” which is precisely where the BAFTA Award-winner was born, raised, and still lives today.

The rare exception to Meadows’ typical small-town locales, then, is his latest, “Somers Town,” which still features what film buffs might call kitchen-sink realism, but is transplanted to the titular neighborhood in central London. In a second collaboration with young Thomas Turgoose (who stole the show in “This is England” as an impressionable hooligan), the wonderfully warm “Somers Town” stars the brash, baby-faced teen as Tomo, a runaway who’s made his way to the capital city in search of something other than the dead-end life he foresees for himself in his home town. Alone and broke, Tomo finds an unlikely friend in Marek (Piotr Jagiello), the introverted son of a Polish immigrant, and together the two become partners in crime. Stealing and selling laundry, falling in love with the same Parisian waitress, and getting drunk together makes living in a rundown ‘hood all the more palatable. (The film has an unusual financial backstory: Eurostar initially funded the project as an abstract promotional tool, but had nothing to do with the script or production.)

Having already finished his next feature, “Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee,” Meadows was hard at work on yet another film, but was generous enough to take time out to answer some questions about “Somers Town,” already one of the year’s must-sees.

Thinking about Marek and his father, when was the last time you felt like an outsider?

I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. I came to filmmaking via a very unconventional route and have never had formal training. I started helping out a local film co-operative (mainly because there seemed to be a lot of girls working there) and I used to “borrow” their equipment on the weekends and make short films that I wrote, directed and acted in. I learned so much about filmmaking and storytelling, but always on my own terms. I think my best work comes when I stay true to my own way of working — in fact, that’s the only I will work now.

So from the film industry I am a bit of an outsider (although it was brilliant to be recognized and win the BAFTA for “This is England”), and I’ve always lived close to where I was born and brought up, which again is a long way — in every sense — from the media hubs of the UK. I think most of my work is about people who somehow find themselves on the outside of what we think of as normality, and how they manage to form important relationships which see them safely through their lives.

07162009_somerstown2.jpgHow early on in the brainstorming of this project did you know you wanted to work with Thomas Turgoose again, and do you foresee a lengthy career collaboration with him, à la François Truffaut and young Jean-Pierre Léaud?

Funny you should mention Truffaut, because I rewatched “The 400 Blows” a few months before I made “Somers Town” and it influenced the way I shot the film. As soon as I read the outline for “Somers Town,” I had Tomo in mind for the part — although we did audition a number of other kids as well. I know what Tomo is capable of and did like the idea of working with him again — he’d grown up a lot since “This is England” and he brought a whole new quality to the part.

I can imagine the challenges inherently presented by both working with child actors and working in a language other than your own, so instead: are there any advantages to either or both?

It was weird, because when we went to cast the Polish leads in Warsaw, we obviously had a translator working with us, but within a few minutes, I’d stopped listening to the translator and was just watching the performances. It’s about so much more than just words. It really didn’t seem to matter that I couldn’t understand what was being said.

From either a logistical standpoint or merely with a cinematic eye, did you have any personal revelations shooting in London for the first time?

It was really hard. The constant background noise of traffic, sirens and aircraft were a horror for the sound department. I also found that people are generally much more film savvy than in other cities like Nottingham, so it seems as if everyone wants to be paid not to clean their windows on a Wednesday morning or not to park their car in a particular space. I really liked the architecture of “Somers Town” and the people who have lived there for a long time were great and it’s surprising what a sense of community there is still there. From the outside, big cities always seem like big sprawling anonymous things, but once you get in there you realize how it is just made up of a lot of quite distinct separate smaller communities.

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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…