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DID YOU READ

The Sleepwalker Awakes

The Sleepwalker Awakes (photo)

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Bearing the sulphurous odor of a film artist with very particular and often well-hated views on how much visual narrative should mean and how little it should actually show or “make” us feel a certain way, Lucrecia Martel has made only three features, but immediately, at 35 with “La Ciénaga” (2001), she had a unique vocabulary and a unique voice. (She’s also become, for whatever difference it might make, arguably the world’s greatest working woman filmmaker.)

Sure, she falls into the neo-minimalist catalogue — an idiotic label, given how inhabited and rich and unsolvable so many of those films are, by Tsai or Reygadas or Weerasethakul or Costa or whomever. But Martel’s movies are entirely hers, breathtakingly sustained essays in unease that lance the cyst of our pressurized anxieties better than any genre film, as well as being experiments in how to experience story — as spectacle, which is how Hollywood has come to define cinema, or as a mystery we have to wonder about and understand as a living metaphor for bigger, badder, hairier questions of emotional existence. One of the best (and, naturally, least seen) films of 2009, “The Headless Woman” is about disconnection — so how can anyone have expected to connect?

Martel routinely lays into the comfortable, well-pickled Argentine bourgeoisie she apparently knows so well, and the new movie begins at a simple afternoon outing of mothers and kids and cars. But right away, the framing and cutting and layered busyness suggest an imbalance, a lack of seeing clearly, an impending catastrophe — we’re not being fed expository information, but instead observing the smug, shallow, utterly real nouveau riche as they walk some kind of precipice… Something’s going to happen, and it won’t be good.

12292009_HeadlessWoman6.jpgWhen it does, we’re still not sure what it is — Veró (María Onetto), an aging bleached-blonde wife and mother, runs over something on the way home. But does she? She’s not sure, either, but whatever happened, it cut her loose from her privileged moorings.

She stalks back into her life in a dumbfounded daze — is she an amnesiac? Does she remember the husband, the kids, the old boyfriend who seduces her? — and her discombobulation is so complete that her sleepwalk through rampaging affluence, where everyone is solicitous to her, becomes not only an existential dynamic but a political one as well. It’s worth remembering, because Martel needs no reminding, how small a percentage the SUV-driving, couture-wearing suburbanites represent in South America, surrounded by oceans of poor people just like the ones that landscape Veró’s garden.

Throughout “The Headless Woman,” Martel keeps us as off-kilter as Veró, chopping up time and launching into traveling shots that imply wicked narrative torque, but which are, finally, just as enigmatic to us as the moments are to the half-lidded heroine. The experience is electrifying; like a journey through an underlit basement or a strange neighborhood after dark, you’re wide awake. Onetto’s performance is almost entirely passive, and is rather amazing for that, but Martel, and the subjective, upsetting lens she aims at the world, is the star.

If you have come to see movies, or really any narrative art form, as a perpetual conflict between how much should be explained away in unambiguous detail and how much should be left unsaid, coaxing us forward in our seats and asking us questions, then Martel’s movie is a crucible you need to pass through.

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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…