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Mike Mills On the Origins of “Beginners”

Mike Mills On the Origins of “Beginners” (photo)

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Movies don’t get much more personal than “Beginners” from writer/director Mike Mills. The story you see take place onscreen between Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) first happened between Mills and his own dad, who told Mills he was gay at the age of 75. The film, told from Oliver’s (and Mills’) perspective, begins shortly after Hal’s death of cancer five years after he came out of the closet, and flashes back and forth between the recent past and the present, where Oliver finds the chance for new love with a French actress (Mélanie Laurent) he meets at a party and copes with his inheritance: an adorable but neurotic Jack Russell terrier named Arthur. I’ve seen the movie twice now, and liked it a lot both times. It’s beautiful and funny and sad, and if you never read a word about the film before seeing it, it would still be pretty obvious that it is based on the director’s life. It feels like it was ripped right out of his heart.

We’re going to have more coverage of “Beginners” later in the week, with video reports from the film’s recent junket in New York City featuring interviews with all three stars (we’ve also got the premiere of the film’s soundtrack). In the meantime, I wanted to repost this great interview with Mills from South by Southwest 2011. It was a fun conversation: Mills’ tells us why he wanted to share this incredibly personal story and what it’s like to cast an actor to play yourself and your father. Plus we both vented about our nervous pets, while Mills described something I’ve never heard of before: a doggie casting couch.

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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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