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Saluting the hues of “Red White & Blue.”

Saluting the hues of “Red White & Blue.” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

“Red White & Blue” is sort of like a slasher movie in which every character functions as both the killer and the prey. The film has three protagonists; all of them victims, all of them guilty. Everyone is wronged. Everyone, in turn, commits wrongs in retaliation.

Like its title, the film has three parts, one for each protagonist. First, we meet Erica (Amanda Fuller), who spends night after night sleeping with an endless parade of anonymous hookups. She’ll sleep with anyone, it seems, but only once, and only if she doesn’t know them. Clearly troubled, she’s deeply suspicious of anyone who is kind to her, even the patient, polite Iraq war vet who lives in the same co-op as she does and who gets her a job at the hardware store where he works. His name is Nate (Noah Taylor) and while he clearly takes pity on Erica, there are signs that he, too, is not mentally well — by way of explaining his kindness toward Erica, he tells an unsettling story from his childhood that involved remorselessly torturing animals. The third lead is Franki (Marc Senter), a musician in the Austin music scene with a cancer-stricken mother. His one-night stand with Erica in the beginning of the film leads to a major discovery that throws all three characters on tilt for the rest of the movie.

The story that explodes from these three characters’ confrontations bears certain resemblances to other slasher films and even to torture porn, but director Simon Rumley is far more interested in experimenting with form than pleasing genre classicists. One of his most provocative choices is the use of unconventional montage editing, particularly in the opening sequence that establishes Erica’s promiscuous routine. He cuts from establishing shots right into the middle of scenes, then cuts away again after two or three lines of dialogue. The unusual rhythms never let the audience grow comfortable; the result is a near subliminal sense of discomfort that builds slowly, minute by minute.

03222010_RedWhiteBlue2.jpgEven at the end of the film, when “Red White & Blue” builds towards a killer crescendo after one character goes hunting for another and the story begins to more closely resemble a more traditional horror film, Rumley still refuses to concede to gory expectations. In fact, the camera, which glimpses the violence but never wallows in it, seems as unsettled by the gore as we are.

There are numerous visual allusions to the stars and stripes in “Red White & Blue;” a flag that hangs outside a character’s house, another on the back of one character’s vest. Given that title, the flag motif, and Nate’s status as a deranged veteran and possible undercover agent for the CIA, should the film be seen as a statement about something intrinsically violent in the American spirit? All these characters have is an ongoing cycle of tragedy and retribution. We use those colors — red, white, and blue — to describe our flag, but also in phrases like “blood red,” “white hot anger,” and “black and blue bruises.” They may be American colors. They may also be the colors of violence.

“Red White & Blue” is currently without U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “Red White & Blue,” Fidelity Films, 2010]

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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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