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Walter Murch, the king of talking about editing.

Walter Murch, the king of talking about editing. (photo)

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For years now, Walter Murch has been revered as the final word in what it means to understand editing, to the point where one of my freshman year film school classes involved listened to Murch’s entire commentary track for “THX 1138” without even watching the movie first.

As impressive as Murch’s credits are (“Apocalypse Now,” “The English Patient,” and on), it’s his ability to communicate in metaphors that makes him the go-to editor for speaking about the craft. More so than other technical jobs on a film, it’s editing that can seem the least straightforward and more wrapped up in alchemy.

Murch has been speaking in eloquent metaphors for years now. In a book-long series of conversations with “English Patient” author Michael Ondaatje, he speculated about how the early days of editing were dominated by women, in a craft seen as “something like sewing. You knitted the the pieces of film together.”

Ondaatje completed the metaphor: “And the man is the hunter-gatherer, coming back with stuff for her to cook!” It’s a line Murch has since made his own in Q&A’s, like the one following his recent PowerPoint presentation at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

The centerpiece of the speech — a version of which, apparently given elsewhere, you can watch below — finds Murch arguing that the two key fathers of film were Beethoven and Flaubert, suggesting how helpful it can be to think about movies in terms of the other mediums of an era with which it seems to be aligning itself. The most avant-garde of experiments might be reaching back to now-forgotten modes of storytelling.

[Photos: “THX 1138,” Warner Bros., 1971; “Metropolis,” Kino, 1927.]

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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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