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“The Secret in Their Eyes” and “The City of Your Final Destination”

“The Secret in Their Eyes” and “The City of Your Final Destination” (photo)

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It’s no surprise to learn that Argentine director Juan José Campanella, whose “The Secret in Their Eyes” shocked the world by snatching the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar right out from under the expectant noses of Michael Haneke and Jacques Audiard earlier this year, has done some directing for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” since his latest initially plays like The Greatest Episode of “Law & Order” Ever.

That maybe sounds like a criticism, but it’s not meant to be. Campanella’s story begins as a crime drama, then gradually shifts into a fascinating meditation on love, memory, justice, and obsession, while incorporating elements of political thriller along the way. It feels conventional, to be sure, but it leaves you in a startlingly different place by the time it gets to its heartbreakingly dark finale.

04142010_SecretinTheirEyes3.jpgThe policier side of the narrative coin is carried out by Benjamín Esposito (Ricardo Darín) and Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella), a wisecracking pair of court clerks who flaunt procedure and even some serious legal obligations to try and prove that the brutal rape and death of a young woman during the mid ’70s was committed by a mysterious young man from the dead woman’s past. Along the way, the two wannabe investigators find themselves alternately impeded and encouraged by the ravishing young new judge Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), an American educated up-and-comer on whom both men develop instant crushes.

Campanella frames these events, and the surprisingly brutal developments that ensue, with the contemporary story of a now-retired Benjamin visiting Irene at the office to ask for her help in writing his memoir of the case. The framing device is not a gimmick, however. The attraction between the two is still palpable, and we sense that there’s a decades-wide chasm of unspoken thoughts between them. As the modern-day story gradually takes hold, “The Secret in Their Eyes” transforms from a grisly crime thriller to a melodrama of unspoken passion, as if “Zodiac” had been hijacked by “The Remains of the Day.”

04142010_SecretintheirEyes2.jpgSuch melding together of pop genres will no doubt put some viewers off — but Campanella’s got his heart in it, and it shows. No matter what type of story he’s telling, the director likes to return to the ways that memory frames and influences human behavior, and vice-versa — his 2001 comedy “Son of the Bride” was a touching rumination on midlife crises, Alzheimer’s and the effort to keep love alive over many, many years.

Campanella seems to have an innate understanding of the way we relive moments from the past differently, depending on the circumstances of the present. It’s a deceptively complicated juggling act — to fuse two seemingly unrelated and seemingly incomplete stories together in a way that each helps unlock the other — and he pulls it off masterfully.

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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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