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DID YOU READ

“Convento,” Reviewed

“Convento,” Reviewed (photo)

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Unorthodox subjects demand an equally unorthodox documentary — an “unortho-doc?” — like “Convento,” a quiet and curious film about a quiet and curious family living in a former monastery in Portugal, the Convento Sao Francisco de Mertola. They’re the Zwanikkens: mother and former prima ballerina Geraldine, animal and nature lover Louis, and Christiaan, the “kinetic artist” who spends most of his time designing bizarre sculptures, like the one above, that fuse animal bones and remains with working robotics to create moving (practically living) works of art. In this former house of God, Christiaan gets to play God himself, giving life to these weird little robo-beasts.

Little attention is given by director/producer/cinematographer/editor Jarred Alterman to the creative impulses that first gave birth to this very strange passion. Rather than looking into the minds of the Zwanikkens, it attempts to replicate how the Zwanikkens look out at their world, through the careful observation of their daily lives and the lush grounds of the Convento Sao Francisco. Alterman’s camera is constantly gliding around his subjects, and its smooth, constant motion echoes the robotic movements of Christiaan’s artwork. The beauty of simple images like water rushing through an antique well or flowers rustling in the wind help us to understand the Zwanikkens’ unusual living arrangements: growing their own food and recycling the junk they find in a nearby dump into gadgets they can use to power their home.

I would have loved to learn more about how Christiaan’s work has been received by art critics, how much interaction the Zwanikkens have with their neighbors (and what those neighbors think of them), and the exact particulars of how this Dutch family came to own this Portugese monastery. But for 50 brief but captivating minutes, I was invited into their strange, occasionally disturbing, and frequently lovely world. This unortho-doc ultimately doesn’t need to explain much more about its subjects’ motivations because its images provide their own explanation. The perpetually flowing visuals create such a sense of serenity that you don’t want them to end. They make it easy to understand why no one would want to leave this mystical, magical place.

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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.

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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…

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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.

via GIPHY

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.

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