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Alain Resnais on the death of cinema.

Alain Resnais on the death of cinema. (photo)

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At age 87, Alain Resnais has produced one of his boldest films. “Wild Grass,” which opened the New York Film Festival on Friday, is just wild, blending the audacity of “Punch Drunk Love” with the mindbinding qualities of Charlie Kaufman. The film’s about a married man (André Dussollier) who finds a woman’s (Sabine Azéma) stolen wallet and becomes obsessed with her — it reads like farce, but it’s far, far stranger, a portrait of romantic willfulness staving off death.

The New Wave legend was here for a rare press conference, along with Dussollier and Mathieu Amalric, who plays a particularly goofy policeman. Film Society director Richard Pena kicked off the questioning by asking Resnais what prompted his first ever film to be adapted from a novel: “50 years ago, when I started making movies,” Resnais replied, “I made a resolution to work only on original screenplays. I vowed at that time never to adapt a novel to film. I held my promise until last year, when I discovered Christian Gailly’s novels… I later learned that Gailly had been a jazz musician for 20 years before becoming a novelist. After putting his saxophone away for good, he wrote his first novel at age 40, followed by 12 others. I read through them all and adored every one of them.”

Resnais’ no stranger to adaptations of plays: indeed, his last film — 2006’s “Private Fears In Public Places” — was based on one by Alan Ayckbourn. He rejects thinking of theater and film as “as opposing forces confronting each other or at opposite poles of performance art.” What Resnais finds in common is that in theater, once a scene is started the actors can’t start over; in a theater, the projectionist can’t be asked to back up. He loves the “imaginative space, which is itself the actors performing.”

A vague question was raised as to where Resnais thought film was going in the future. “That’s an enormous question,” he responded, “which we should answer over dinner, and this dinner would last a week… I don’t believe what I read every ten years about the death of cinema coming up.” But he rejected any claim that his “Last Year At Marienbad” had reinvented cinematic grammar: “If you think ‘Marienbad’ started something, I can’t imagine what you’re talking about. If anyone really has a new way of expressing themselves on film, it’s Arnaud Desplechin.” At which point everyone turned to gaze at frequent Desplechin collaborator Amalric, who looked mildly embarrassed, and everyone laughed. “That’s the quote,” Pena said.

What we learned from Amalric: he was shuttling back and forth between this film and “Quantum of Solace” and was constantly pumped for information on the new Bond film by Resnais. Resnais is really into TV: “Law & Order,” “The Shield,” “The X-Files,” etc. And what did he think of Resnais’ prediction that cinema would continue as long as the human race does? “Alain Resnais is of the human race, but he’s also a little…extraterrestrial.” True enough.

[Photo: Alain Resnais (center), Richard Pena (left) and translator Lucius Barre (right), courtesy of Jason Shawhan.]

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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

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Cancel it!

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Forgotten America

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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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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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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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