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The Résumé Indie

The Résumé Indie (photo)

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Mostly, what Paul Andrew Williams’ “London to Brighton” (2006) has in its threadbare arsenal, shy of budget and time and scale, is a small propane tank of hot nerve. This is the kind of indie that opens in mid-adrenaline-spike (two women, bloody and beaten, burst into a public restroom, running for their lives) and proceeds to paint a sparse portrait of modern life that slowly constricts on the two protagonists like a fatal case of lockjaw.

It’s an exercise in economy and efficiency, of course — Williams’ “London” is one of the most memorable résumé films of recent years, but it’s still a résumé movie. If you want to send up flags about your ability to glue your audience’s eyes to the screen, this is one way to do it. (Much to the disappointment of British critics, who loved “London to Brighton,” Williams has since been spinning his wheels in psycho-killer genre ditties.) Titled ironically from a line of the mod-era T. Rex hit “London Boys,” the movie is a bottle rocket — hand-sized, but lit and out of control.

At the outset, something very bad has happened, obviously, but Williams doesn’t “reveal” plot integers, he lets us realize them amidst the panic. We’re in that bathroom for a little while before we see that while one of the “women” is in fact a seasoned East End hooker with a massive shiner (Lorraine Stanley), the other is a skinny 11-year-old girl (Georgia Groome), both hyperventilating and spattered with blood, and both, we are soon to understand via a malevolent pimp, running from a crime boss for the previously mentioned very bad thing. The cast, suspended in a permanent state of feverish anxiety, are all excellent and convincing (though I could’ve done with more of a variation on the cool, culturally refined lizard-king mega-gangster, as partial to bloodletting as he is to opera).

Hopping a train to Brighton, the two fugitives establish a sisterly holding pattern, with the forces of evil fury hot on their heels, but to say more would expose all that “London to Brighton” is to daylight. There’s nothing else to it, except its sweaty tension and forward movement — no subtext, no larger cultural ideas, nothing but realistic doom. Williams matter-of-factly cuts between three or four threads of narrative, but they’re all completely focused on the dilemma at hand, in a way that recalls several simple, tight-fisted noirs like Richard Fleischer’s “The Narrow Margin” (1952), which were far more neglected or taken for granted at the time, generally, than many lean Sundance-style humdingers are today.

08112009_LondontoBrighton2.jpgIt seems that yesterday’s no-bullshit crime-drama programmer is today’s white-knuckle résumé indie, for good or ill — filmmakers then and now serve time in the small-boned genre pits in order to trade up into bigger and more prestigious projects. (Few viewers of, say, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Hard Eight,” or Neill Dela Llana and Ian Gamazon’s “Cavite,” or Courtney Hunt’s “Frozen River” don’t half-imagine there in the dark the career opportunities that await those filmmakers.) Americans, at least, like their pulp films large, but at the same time the adventurous five percent of the public (those who don’t crave the tinnitus and pink eye they’d get from “Transformers 2”) take the résumé indie as a concise and earthly gift from movie heaven.

Films like Williams’ nasty micro-potboiler are certainly closer to the real, bottom-billed noirs than the big-budget noir remakes the studios routinely return to (like the horrible 1990 version of “Narrow Margin,” or the upcoming remake of Fritz Lang’s “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”), and for those that prefer to swap the deafening bastard nonsense of blockbusters for the low-budget equivalent of a finely honed knife edge, Williams’ thriller is their summer movie.

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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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