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Desplechin vs. Anderson: “Fantastic” family men.

Desplechin vs. Anderson: “Fantastic” family men. (photo)

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Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (which is, yes, fantastic) begins its platform release domestically two Fridays from now, but it’s already out in the UK — complete with a “Fantastic Mr. Fox Happy Meal” — and the publicity mill is already grinding. One of the cooler interviews Anderson’s done is with French director Arnaud Desplechin (recently ordained the future of cinema by Alain Resnais at a New York Film Festival press conference) — though, per Interview magazine’s usual form, it’s more of a curious dialogue between equals than a straight-up interview. They talk about Proust, argue about which directors influence them and scratch each other’s backs a little. Desplechin tells a really morbid Hitchcock anecdote.

What no one mentions the entire time is the thematic overlap Anderson and Desplechin share, the entire reason someone might’ve sicced them on each other in the first place. The tagline of “The Royal Tenenbaums” was “Family isn’t a word…It’s a sentence,” which would work just as well for Desplechin’s famlial dramas, 2004’s “Kings And Queen” and 2008’s “A Christmas Tale.” Desplechin doesn’t really focus on the failing father figure to the same extent Anderson repeatedly does, but both deal with families who — if not for blood ties — would’ve murdered each other long ago.

They use different tools to get there: Anderson uses overt stylization, (sometimes hermetic) tableaux frames and, more often than not, a sugary veil concealing deep wells of emotion. Desplechin prefers handheld camera, willful tonal abrasion and almost comical levels of overt hostility. In 1991’s “La Vie Des Morts,” one of the daughters announces at the breakfast table, to her mom’s face, that everyone always hates their mother; in 2008, son Mathieu Amalric calls mom Catherine Denueve an anti-Semite, and she calls him her little Jew. And so on.

They almost hint at this commonality when Anderson admits his “characters from one movie could walk into another one of my movies and it would make sense, whereas people from other peoples’ movies would probably feel a bit uncomfortable there.” Desplechin says that’s rare, and Anderson counters, “Your movies have the same thing, except they’re more realistic, so it becomes more subtle.” “I wouldn’t say that,” Desplechin demurs. He’s not wrong: one just seems more “realistic” than the other because Desplechin’s performers get volatile on very little notice and the camera isn’t pinned down. Still, his films operate on their own, equally hyper-stylized logic. (That’s to say, no, there aren’t any families that are really that constantly vicious to each other to their faces, like a comic “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”) It’s a decent interview, but I wish someone had told them to talk about their relationships to and obsession with family. Then again, maybe there’s a good reason neither one of them brought it up: for both of them, it’s one of the ultimate sources of cinematic pain.

[Photo: “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” 20th Century Fox, 2009.]

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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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