I’ve already covered Random Acts of Flyness and Search Party – here are some others.


The Tick (Serafinowicz version) season 1 (2017)

We’re defining season one as ending on “Cliffhanger!” with Arthur kidnapped by The Terror; half-year hiatuses initiate new seasons in my TV episode accounting. After an episode each I wasn’t sure about either this or Dirk Gently, but this had shorter episodes so it won, and I warmed up to it significantly. I mean just rebooting the cartoon would seem easier, but if they’re gonna keep spending money to put funny actors in cartoonish suits instead, I won’t complain.

Griffin Newman (Arthur) is yet another Search Party actor who’s also in Fort Tilden, a movie I’ve already said I need to watch. Lint is from the Sean Bean remake of The Hitcher, Dot is from the Adam Wingard remake of Blair Witch, and Overkill is from the Reggie Bannister sequel to The Mangler.


Review season 3 (2017)

With only three episodes left to close things up, Forrest is beautifully gifted a chance to make amends for his destructive obsession with reviewing life experiences – and he blows it, left alone and clueless at the end of the show (and the Show).

It looks like Andy Daly has joined Veep, so I don’t have to start watching Silicon Valley to see him again.


The Good Place season 3 (2018)

The team goes back to life/earth, tracked by evil Adam Scott, while Michael visits Doug Forcett and investigates the point system. That’s a poor writeup, we should probably just watch it again.


Archer season 7 (2016)

The “Figgis Agency” season, the group acting as Hollywood private eyes hired by Patton Oswalt to protect a film star (Mary McDonald-Lewis, who played Lady Jaye in the 1980’s). Nice Sunset Boulevard intro scene.


Barry season 1 (2018)

It seemed like overkill to start watching a sadsack hitman comedy when I’m in the middle of Archer, but this show hits new levels of sadsack without ever losing sight of the comedy. Stephen Root as Barry’s handler is the secret weapon from the start, then Henry Winkler shows up as a minor celebrity turned acting teacher. Most unexpected success: the Chechens as Root and Hader’s enemies-turned-partners, especially Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank. It’s all dark as hell, introverted Barry finding new friends only to end up having to kill them when they discover who he is.


Nathan For You season 1 (2013)

“I graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades.” Nathan is an advisor to small businesses, helping them gain customers by, say, promoting shoplifting, or offering a discount via a rebate that has to be claimed by climbing a mountain and answering a series of riddles. He also does public stunts that can’t be seen as promoting anything, like hiding inside a cigar-store indian to spy on a security guard hidden inside a video game machine, and eventually the show ignores the businesses and gets more about Nathan’s awkward loneliness, looking for love by creating a “fake reality show” inside his fake reality show, and performing a pants-dropping escape act (“I took the judge’s suggestion that I should expose myself to children”). I’ve long heard good things about this show, but didn’t start watching until the True/False connection, Nathan attending this year’s fest with an extended version of the series finale, which I guess I’ll catch after three more seasons.

Body doubles who look “identical” to Nathan:


Mystery Science Theater 3000 season 12: The Gauntlet (2018)

Preeeeeeetty nice.

Part of a Late Horror Masters’ Lesser Works double-feature. Opens with a disclaimer about the treatment of the movie’s monkeys, but they never appeared to be in any convincing danger, except maybe in the final scene. No mention of the treatment of the movie’s parakeets. Monkey tricks are the primary reason to watch this movie, except for George Romero and/or Stanley Tucci completists.

Allan’s car accident:

Allan and monkey giving the same steely expression:

Moody Allan (Jason Beghe of One Missed Call Remake) is badly crippled, so his monkey-researcher friend Geoffrey (John Pankow of Talk Radio) donates a brain-eating monkey to service-animal trainer Melanie (Kate McNeil of The House on Sorority Row) to get Allan a furry helper buddy. Brain-eating monkey in a George Romero movie – what could go wrong?

Mad scientist Geoffrey:

Geoffrey’s boss Stephen Root:

Moody Allan is a bad influence on the monkey, who starts to murder everyone who she perceives as a threat – first setting fire to Allan’s ex (Lincoln NE’s Janine Turner of Northern Exposure) who has run off with his doctor (Stanley Tucci), then electrocuting Allan’s annoying mom (Joyce Van Patten of Bone), killing Geoffrey via drug injection, and most horribly, murdering the parakeet of Allan’s hateful catetaker (Christine Forrest, Romero’s wife). After she threatens Melanie in a rage, Allan manages to dispatch the monkey using only his neck and mouth. We also get a monkey-surgery dream sequence and blurry monkey-POV shots. Mostly dullsville compared to the space vampires. My birds reacted to the monkey chatter, but not to the parakeet.

Daniel Kaluuya (my favorite Black Mirror actor) is dating Allison Williams (my fourth-favorite Girls actress), comes to visit her parents Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford and brother Caleb Landry Jones (Antiviral) in an aggressively white suburb. At first there’s the socially-awkward but not overtly threatening kind of racial tension: dad brags about his Obama support and all the white family’s employees are black. But things get weirder after the mom hypnotizes Kaluuya and now he can’t tell if he’s being paranoid or if there’s a conspiracy, until it’s too late and he’s tied to a chair in the basement being prepped for brain surgery, so the highest bidder (blind Stephen Root) can flee his aging white body and live fifty more years inside Kaluuya’s.

A finely crafted thriller, and I’d never in a million years guess it was from the writer of Keanu. I could tell that Peele had made a super-effective movie when the white Nebraska audience at my crowded screening erupted in cheers when Allison Williams got shot (or maybe she’s just their least-favorite Girls actress as well). Betty Gabriel (The Purge 3) and Marcus Henderson (Insidious 4) play the grandparents play-acting as servants (she’s especially good – coldly suspicious then briefly vulnerable). Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12 and Atlanta, Snoop in Straight Outta Compton) is the party guest who yells the title line at Kaluuya when a camera flash wakes him from “the sunken place.” And comedian Lil Rel Howery is Kaluuya’s buddy in the TSA who gets all the best lines.

Some of the reception has focused on whether it’s a scary/effective horror movie, which is the same kind of horror-purist bickering that lowered appreciation for Cabin in the Woods and The Witch. Come on everyone, break out of your genre holes. Peele more accurately calls it a “social thriller,” and says he’s working on four more.

Alan:

One minute in, this movie that will play every mall in America makes it viscerally clear that it’s not black guys who are scary — it’s neighborhoods packed with sheltered dopes who quake at the very thought of black guys … Get Out is searing satire, with scary/comic riffs on slavery and assimilation, but it’s also a smashing crowd-pleaser of a horror film, complete with mad science, cult-like crazies and a creep-out homage to Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin … But even as Peele brings the house down, we see the serious toll of all this horror on Chris’ face and body. Neither the movie nor anybody watching can take it all as a joke.

Not quite what I’d expected. Thrilling, tense, exciting movie. Brolin and Bardem are impassive Western types, TL Jones is unexpectedly the protagonist. Hardly any music. Good chase scenes in river (brolin vs. a dog) and on abandoned city streets at night (vs. bardem).

TV star Garret Dillahunt played Tommy’s deputy. Kelly Macdonald, who I did not recognize from “Tristram Shandy”, was Brolin’s wife. I knew I’d seen Brolin somewhere… he was a lead in “Planet Terror” (and in The Goonies). Stephen Root as “man who hires Wells”.

On the way home, I was pondering the storyline, decided out loud that while most movies tell you “these are some things that happened”, this movie instead says “this is the way things are.” But I don’t remember what I meant by that.

P. Nugent of Screengrab says about the Coens/Fargo:
“I tend to think of the Coens as surface guys who put an incredible amount of conscious planning into the physical details of their movies, and who are inhumanly aware of how they expect both critics and audiences to respond to their cleverness. It might sound as if I’m one of those people who sometimes badmouth the Coens for being ‘merely’ clever, but cleverness is something I’m all for; at the very least, it sure beats lack of imagination. … Fargo is a smart, impressive movie, but it is also a movie outside what I think of as their best range, and a movie that I think they made for the outside world, a movie pitched at the mainstream.”

Great paragraph from E. Kuersten from his year-end roundup in Bright Lights:
“The Coens love circles… who doesn’t? In NO COUNTRY, locks come flying off in all directions leaving beautiful round holes in which to have light issue, peeping tom doors of perception through which one is able to read at least one thing: a circle! The hula hoops in HUDSUCKER, the hair cream tins in BROTHER; the hubcaps in MAN WHO WASN’T THERE… What do they mean? Exactly! Take ZODIAC, the amazing police procedural that disappears into the same plot void which drowned the old LEBOWSKI. Again, all you’re left with in the end is the shuddering realization that “Hurdy Gurdy Man” is the scariest song ever written. And then in the other corner, you’ve got Tommy Lee Jones playing more or less the same character in both NO COUNTRY and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, that is to say, the leather face of America as it looks off from the Medusa-eye view of the circular zodiac watch screen and crumbles to dust. There’s no easy answers, not no more.”

UPDATE: Watched again April ’08 under slightly adverse conditions. Not as caught up in the tension of the thing this time. I admire it as a technical achievement, great acting and direction, but I’ve been veering more towards Black Book because BB has all of those things as well as Something To Say. I’m not sure that No Country is saying anything valuable, and I’m not sure that the Tommy Lee Jones bits pondering the death of decent human behavior offers enough food for thought to outweigh the rest of the film’s constant reveling in human misbehavior.