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Crazy Notions

Crazy Notions (photo)

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You wonder if the Dardenne brothers’ no-bullshit mode of indie filmmaking will ever become over-familiar or even clichéd — it’s so simple that you can imagine scores of filmmakers using it (as of now, only a few have bothered). Honestly, though, the least simple part of it may be the most difficult: getting funding for films that don’t use soundtrack music cues or establishing shots or tidy feel-good plot-arcs.

Luc and Jean-Pierre D. like to drip their narrative information at a rate that leans us forward in our seats — they throw us into the deep end, and in time, we learn to swim. In their new film “Lorna’s Silence,” we’re deep in before we come to understand that the plain, boyish Lorna (Arta Dobroshi), who’s just become a naturalized Belgian, was able to do so because she is in fact married to Claudy (Jérémie Renier), the clingy, emaciated junkie that shares her apartment. We don’t know where she’s from, or who else she knows — until she meets with a cab driver she has no apparent feeling for, and he mentions that if things don’t go according to plan, they could just OD the addict to get him out of the way. Lorna doesn’t blink. Out of the way of what?

The Dardennes are unforgiving, holding out in such ultra-realistic fashion (nobody says anything for our sake, exposition-wise) that watching their films is sometimes like watching a car accident in slow motion. “Lorna” turns out, surprisingly, to be more complicated and repressed than most, centering on Dobroshi’s compromised and actually mildly dislikable heroine, who hides her emotional range so well we never know what she’s thinking. It turns out that Lorna is being set up, in turn, to be the citizenship-free-pass for a mysterious Russian, so she needs a divorce or a widowhood, just as Claudy decides to make a serious go at getting clean.

01152010_LornasSilence2.jpgThe movie begins, like a tight noir, being about money, but then its singular focus, like Lorna’s, gets smudged and shadowed by life and human imperfection. Even when you’re expecting the Dardennes to withhold information from you, and then deliver it out of the corner of your eye, it can still be shocking, making us rerun the film in our heads, and nurse the wounds of our delayed responses.

The real story is actually happening inside Lorna’s head, and we get no clues as to what that might be until the unraveling begins, when the heroine’s fastidiously blank interface with the world begins to crumble. This might be a masterpiece of casting — at first Dobroshi is frustratingly inexpressive and tough to know, and she, with the film, never tries to seduce us.

But as Lorna’s money-driven amorality gives way to love and empathy, in ways you never predict, the plot sorta vanishes, and she becomes a paradigmatic lost Euro girl of the millennium, wandering literally in the wilderness. Masterful though they are, the Dardennes’ movies always run the risk of summing up into morality tales, but “Lorna’s Silence,” like “Rosetta,” becomes something more mysterious, a tragedy blooming into metaphor.

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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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