Irma Vep (2022, Olivier Assayas)
Mira in the catsuit > Director Rene > Gottfried > Mira not in the catsuit > everything else
Mdou Moctar opening theme is always an incentive to watch the next episode, and I think the title graphics are a reference to Leaud’s experimental re-edit. The film-scratching is also referenced when director Rene breaks down and gets temporarily replaced by some superhero director, but in this version he comes to terms with things, and finishes the shoot peacefully. You can’t scratch up the negative when you’re shooting in HD.
Cast and crew are constantly referencing looks and movements with the original serial, which they’re watching on their phones. And Assayas has got his own 1990’s film on his mind, bringing in a Maggie Cheung surrogate and holding a cringey psychotherapist discussion about her. They bring in meta-elements, filming Musidora’s diaries alongside the remake of her film, which probably isn’t a reference to Maggie’s Center Stage, but you never know.
Mira’s assistant is Devon Ross, a Disney fashion model. Blowhard lead cop actor in the serial is Vincent Lacoste of Smoking Causes Coughing. Alex Descas works on the budget, Carrie Brownstein as an agent. Besides the Maggie surrogate there’s footage of the real Maggie, and a big Kristen Stewart scene in the final episode. As the costumer, Rivette actress Nathalie Richard is replaced by Rivette actress Balibar, who hit the Feuilladian rooftops herself in Va Savoir (and at one point Irma goes by the name “Juliet Berto”).
Devon directs one day, is inspired by Kenneth Anger to invoke spirits with her filmmaking. Assayas knows how to invoke spirits – most literally in Personal Shopper but it’s there in all his best work, which is why the straightforward e-book drama of Non-Fiction didn’t work for me and I’m not anxious to check out Wasp Network. This version is not great – it’s overlong, episodic TV, more content than cinema, complete with tedious Conveying Information To The Viewer dialogue in the early hours and bad ADR.
Mind Over Murder (2022, Nanfu Wang)
Happy to see a True/Falser land a whole miniseries, but I’m sorry that the form seems to mandate six hour-long episodes, since this feels stretched out, with rampant footage reuse, a plodding podcast-ass show compared to the jubilant Last Movie Stars I’ve been watching at the same time. Other comparisons coming to mind: the book Devil House (an 80’s murder case where the number of participants keeps changing) and the show Wormwood (which I thought repetitive at the time, but is looking better and better).
Nebraska, showing movies in ZD:
Hero cop convicts six for a Nebraska murder, but years later a competent cop looks over the evidence by chance and realizes the whole case was a sham. The six are released, sue the county and win, now the locals are butthurt about their hero cop’s reputation and their higher taxes to pay for reconciliation. A community theater reenactment of the case appears for too little (or maybe too much) time in each episode, paying off at the end when many of the involved parties meet up at the show.
Burt, he’s just like us, watching Mind Over Murder with his phone out:
Only Murders in the Building season 1 (2021)
Martin & Martin are pathetic washed-up podcasters, Selena Gomez their companion who’s hiding a personal history with the deceased. Suspects include a cat guy, their sponsor Nathan Lane, Sting, and Selena Gomez. They get boosts from Aaron Dominguez and some obsessed fans, and sorta-boosts from Liz Lemon, detective Da’Vine Joy Randolph (also detective of Ultra City Smiths) and murderer/bassoonist Amy Ryan. Cliffhanger ending for season 2 with their arrest for killing the landlady.
Sometimes I think it’s cheesy and I should stop watching, other times there’s a Herman’s Head reference or an episode centered on Jane Lynch as Steve Martin’s stunt double and I’m totally sold. Writers include Martin (L.A. Story), John Hoffman (The Emoji Movie) and people who worked on It’s Always Sunny, Chuck, Barry, and uh, Family Guy. Directors: Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader), Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child), Don Scardino (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) and Cherien Dabis (Amreeka).