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Suffer the Children

Suffer the Children (photo)

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Seasoned moviegoers have come to recognize certain visual cues that let them know they’re about to witness scenes of unspeakable brutality: A close-up of a pot of boiling liquid in a movie that’s not about cooking. The emergence of a straight razor in a scene not set in a barbershop. And the five words: “Ein film von Michael Haneke.”

Actually, by Haneke standards, “The White Ribbon” isn’t the kind of cinematic waterboarding we’ve come to expect from the stern Austrian auteur, but while it may not be as viscerally horrifying as, say, “Funny Games,” it’s still a grim and potent moviegoing experience.

Set entirely in a small farming community on the eve of World War I, “The White Ribbon” feels like a cross between “Le Corbeau” and “Village of the Damned” as directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The town suddenly finds itself beset with crimes and misdemeanors: The local doctor’s horse trips over a wire, the baron’s son is kidnapped and beaten. Children go missing, crops are vandalized, a young disabled boy is tortured.

12302009_WhiteRibbon2.jpgNo one seems to know who or what is behind all this, but as we get to know the citizens of this town, we see a rot among its power figures, from the baron to the pastor to the doctor. “The White Ribbon” is narrated by the local schoolteacher, and as a man of little power, prestige or wealth among the locals, he naturally emerges as the one beacon of humanity.

Whereas Jean Renoir’s “La Grande Illusion” looked at World War I as the destroyer of a kinder, gentler way of life in Europe, Haneke dispels that myth, portraying his characters as utterly corrupt and cruel, not to mention trapped in what basically amounts to a feudal system.

Beautifully shot in black and white by Haneke’s frequent collaborator Christian Berger, “The White Ribbon” rarely strays from a stark and chilly vision of the world. Apart from a few scenes of tenderness between the schoolteacher and his young girlfriend, almost every moment in the film portrays dominance, neglect, abuse or cruelty — or some combination thereof.

Still, over its 145-minute running time, the film is never less than riveting. Even without the whodunit element woven throughout, the story has a perversely compelling magnetism; you find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering what awful act will be committed by which character next. Vengeance, bitterness and religious extremism all play a part, but ultimately, this is another horror show in which Haneke peers into the darkest recesses of our shared humanity.

12302009_TeardropDiamond3.jpgThe promotional materials for “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond” can’t remind you often enough that the film is based on a never-produced screenplay by Tennessee Williams, his only work written directly for the screen.

But given the caliber of Williams’ work that did see the light of day onscreen in his lifetime — the loony “Boom!” (1968), based on his Broadway flop “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” leaps to mind — it’s worth noting that some unproduced scripts should probably have stayed that way.

Bryce Dallas Howard stars as beautiful, hard-drinking Fisher Willow, heir to two fortunes but a social pariah after the suspicious dynamiting of levees on her father’s property caused several people living just south of him to drown. Her strict grandmother (Ann-Margret) nonetheless insists that Fisher participate in that season’s debutante balls, so Fisher presses Jimmy Dobyne (Chris Evans) into service as her escort.

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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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