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Maria Schneider, 1952-2011.

Maria Schneider, 1952-2011. (photo)

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“Last Tango in Paris” is a tragedy that grows more tragic with age. Though people who’ve never seen it associate with its graphic sex scenes, it is much more about grief than eroticism. It is an uncomfortable film to watch in the first place, revisiting upon the deaths of its creators makes it even more so. When Marlon Brando died in 2004, I rewatched it and now that Brando’s co-star, Maria Schneider, died earlier this week at the age of 58 of an undisclosed illness, I revisited the film again.

As every single obituary written about Schneider will tell you, she was just 19 when she was cast by Bernardo Bertolucci to co-star in “Last Tango” with Brando. She played Jeanne, a young woman engaged to a film director. Apartment hunting in Paris, she finds a place and discovers Brando’s Paul sitting inside. His wife has just committed suicide and he’s looking for a new home himself. They talk for the first time in the apartment, but they’ve already met twice and not realized it. She passes him on the street, and soon after uses a telephone booth after Paul without noticing him. It’s as if fate is pushing these two people together towards a common destiny.

“Last Tango” is available on Netflix Watch Instantly. When I heard the news of Schneider’s death, I turned it on, looking more closely at Schneider’s performance than I had before. She does a good job in what must have been nearly impossible circumstances. I like Roger Ebert’s reassessment of his own initially negative perception of Schneider’s performance in his “Great Movies” essay about “Last Tango:”

“Schneider’s performance has been discounted over the years. This is said to be Brando’s film. ‘Both characters are enigmas,’ I wrote in 1995, ‘but Brando knows Paul, while Schneider is only walking in Jeanne’s shoes.’ Seeing the film again, I believe I was wrong. Schneider, who plays much of the film completely nude, who is held in closeup during long scenes of extraordinary complexity, who at 22 had hardly acted before, shares the film with Brando and meets him in the middle. What Hollywood actress of the time could have played Brando on his own field?”

Absolutely correct. To dismiss Maria Schneider because she’s not as good as Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris,” is like dismissing Dwayne Wade’s role on the Miami Heat because he’s not as good a basketball player as his teammate LeBron James. Schneider was held to an unfair and impossible standard, and as a result got a raw deal that was never fully rectified in her lifetime.

You can read quotes from Schneider about making the movie; the ones on her Wikipedia page suggest that she enjoyed the early attention the film brought her, as any 19-year-old suddenly thrust in the spotlight probably would. But later, Schneider realized that no matter what she did in life she would be forever followed by the things she had done and shown in “Last Tango.” Reuters’ obituary quotes an interview Schneider gave in 2007 with The Daily Mail, when she said “I felt very sad because I was treated like a sex symbol — I wanted to be recognized as an actress and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown.”

Schneider’s IMDb page indicates she worked pretty steadily through the 1980s and 1990s. But apart from her role opposite Jack Nicholson in Antonioni’s “The Passenger” — a film that’s only gotten its due in the last decade — nothing came close to replacing the image “Last Tango” left in people’s mind. It’s a sad story that makes a tragic film even sadder.


Rev Up

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.


Give Back

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.