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Pretty Pickpockets

Pretty Pickpockets (photo)

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These days, movies can be made out of virtually nothing at all, like a poem — only a sense of drive and subject are required. Too often there’s nothing but ego at the center of today’s micro-indies, but Joshua Safdie’s “The Pleasure of Being Robbed” isn’t merely slacker realism or geysering quirk. It’s a character portrait, and I haven’t seen the likes of Eléonore (Eléonore Hendricks) since the ’70s, when Cassavetes movies bristled with compulsive nowhere figures living out their no-future lives by trying to seize the elusive present, and trying to do so with a fire in their bellies.

Eléonore isn’t a yuppie mumble-bum making small talk, but a low-rent, fringe-lost waif who supports herself through guileless kleptomania, and who never seems to contemplate consequences, only actions. At the outset, we see her scam a woman on the street by shouting out random names to her until she gets a reaction, and then slips on the oblivious woman’s purse in a hug. When she blindly grabs some bags off the sidewalk in front of a hotel, she ends up, back in her cluttered, ephemera-packed apartment, with a puppy (which she instantly and guiltlessly shoos out into the hallway and locks the door), and a sack of kittens, which, without batting an eye, she names one by one and then flings them across the room onto her bed. For the rest of the movie, we wonder how those kittens are making out, because Eléonore doesn’t.

03022010_PleasureofBeingRobbed4.jpgShot in classic secret-camera vérité style — there are some scenes, like Eléonore’s shoplifting routine in Tower Records, that could’ve easily be done for real and on the sly — Safdie’s movie veers gradually, almost imperceptibly, into a dreaminess that could be read as Eléonore’s mental instability. But there’s no being sure about it — after purse-snatching and finding a set of car keys, she struggles to find the car they belong to until a laid-back, bike-riding friend, Josh (Safdie), happens by and helps her.

They sit in the car, but Eléonore doesn’t know how to drive, and so Josh teaches her, and they take a bumpy road trip to Jersey. Only after they get back — Josh wants to fuck her, but Eléonore is just as much an enigma to him as she is to us — does Eléonore get arrested, and the gears of her reality begin to slip. There’s one too-brief shot of her wandering in a magical daze through Central Park Zoo in handcuffs, and from there anything we see — including a fake polar bear that’d make Guy Maddin proud — can be part of her strange, childish subjectivity.

The subtle concept of Eléonore is the drug of this drifty, poignant movie, but Hendricks makes for a beguiling delivery system — we see the hypnotic disconnect in Eléonore’s eyes right away, and together with Hendricks’ adolescent-ish beauty, boyish affect and convincing I’m-invisible quality suggest a number of convincing backstory possibilities, none of which, thankfully, are explained out.

We’ve all seen people like Eléonore on the street — the ones that want to talk to us despite being strangers, the ones that have no visible means of support, the ones that play shamelessly like children, as if they were caught in a record-skip somewhere on their lives’ timeline. Safdie’s movie begins on the outside of this alien creature, and ends somewhere on the inside, but, because that’s the way it is for real, she remains a mystery.

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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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