Apparently a doc about Brandy Burre (Carcetti’s campaign manager in The Wire), and her attempt to get her acting career back on track after taking time off for her family, while that family is falling apart (brewer boyfriend Tim is leaving over Christmas since she has been cheating on him). Highly recommended by film-critic-types for playing around with the documentary format. I noticed retakes, musical segments and slow motion, but was constantly wondering if there was something deeper, like for instance it’s all a put-on and the boyfriend is an actor too, or some big twist ending was coming. Then I was mystified when it just continued to be about Brandy’s daily life, not getting acting jobs. The experiments in documentary form weren’t noticeably experimental enough for me.

M. D’Angelo:

I feel like the film has a serious Tim Problem, which grows more and more significant as the dissolution of that relationship becomes the dominant narrative arc, swamping Brandy’s tentative efforts to revive her acting career. It’s one thing when Greene’s camera improbably follows Brandy into the shower, as she’s clearly “complicit” in Actress’ interrogation of form. It’s quite another thing, however, when, for example, we observe Tim arriving home late at night, with the rest of the house apparently asleep, and he pretends that the camera isn’t there.

V. Rizov:

Director and subject collude, not so much valorizing her attempts to jumpstart her career and finances (“I have to make a living to get my freedom”) as sympathetically heightening her existence — providing her, indeed, with a worthy comeback role within a confining matrix of daily responsibilities. It’s a film of big gestures, formally mirroring Burre’s transitions from one actorly mode to another, always courting the possibility of total failure or over-the-top silliness.

Greene in Cinema Scope, on the best shot in the movie, a startling moment when Brandy’s face is injured, looking into camera as it pulls back and her kids come in for hugs: “I’ve had one good idea in my life, and that was to shoot that scene that way.”


In the scene where Brandy is confessing about her affair, the camera is moving; it’s subtle, but we know that there’s another person in the room. So I’m there. There’s a whole bunch of ways to make movies, and the way I want to do it is to put all the things that we’re supposed to be hiding out there. I hate when people say editing is supposed to be invisible. Like, take all these things – the camera being present, the act of making a documentary, the fact that you’re only using exteriors when the light is nice – and make them part of the movie. Don’t hide them. The act of making a documentary is an insane thing sometimes, so let’s use that fact.

Not a Do The Right Thing sequel at all, except for some embarrassingly distracting cameos by Spike as Mookie, still delivering pizzas. Except for Clarke “Lester Freamon” Peters’s performance and one crazy shot when his church’s holy-cross-shaped fluorescent lights reflect in his eyes as he goes on a defensive preaching rant, almost the whole movie is embarrassing.

Frohawked Atlantan kid named Flik Royale (okay, the names are good) is dumped on his grandfather Enoch in New York for the summer. They don’t get along, grandpa forbidding junk food and yelling about Jesus all the time, and Flik hiding behind his iPad and hanging out with asthma-having girl Chazz. What do we know will happen when someone in a movie has asthma? Yeah, that happens. Flik almost bonds with his grandpa after Enoch’s friend gives him some good advice, but suddenly a dude named Blessing crashes into the church accusing Enoch of child abuse years ago in Georgia. This takes over the movie – the preacher gets beat down by some gangster kid who’d stolen Flik’s iPad earlier, and Isiah “Sheeeeeeee” Whitlock “eeeeit” Jr. appears as Detective Flood in his third Spike joint. Then Flik, having learned nothing but at least made a friend in the asthma girl, goes home.

Thomas Jefferson Byrd of Girl 6 and He Got Game plays a drunk deacon. A character named Mother Darling is played by Tracy Johns, star of She’s Gotta Have It. Movie has a couple of blatant Michael Jackson references (note Spike’s other movie this year is an MJ documentary) and some amusing DTRT references: the phrases “do the right thing” and “that’s the truth, ruth” show up in the dialogue. Seems harmless until “do the right thing” comes back as a terrible song towards the end. Overall the music is innocuous, picture is unexceptional (with digi noise) and dialogue is groany.

Beautiful Frenzy (2004), a 50-min doc on The Ex, which I put on while writing, hoping it’d be more full songs and concert footage than subtitled interviews in Dutch, but no such luck.

Jesus Lizard Sho(r)t (1996), ten minutes of not-great promo video followed by twenty-five of the good concert footage I’d desired from The Ex movie.

A little-known fact: Pixar reissued four of their recent films to theaters last month. Katy and I rewatched Up, which I’m ready to declare a masterpiece, and Wall-E (at which we were the only two people). I’d been looking forward to seeing that one again, and surely it’s wonderful, but its story and characters suffer in comparison to Up.

Movies watched on Rifftrax lately:

Island of Dr. Moreau: Crazypants, bonkers (“pants-crapping insane”) version of Island of Lost Souls. I was surprised that Brando dies so early, followed by Kilmer than Fairuza Balk. Our hero-by-default David Thewlis gets away.

Batman & Robin: It struck me just how expensive this movie looks. There’s a bit of CG fakery but it’s mostly money on the screen. Not that this excuses Schwartzenegger’s dialogue or Silverstone’s acting.

Jaws: Haven’t seen it since I was a kid, and maybe it’s the Rifftrax talking here, but I don’t think I like this movie one bit. Well, maybe ONE bit – the scene where Dreyfuss pretends to be tough by crushing his plastic cup.

Daredevil: fully deserving of the riff-treatment, a real stinking pile of unintentional humor. Things I can’t believe: that Colin Farrell played the villain, that this movie got a spin-off, and that the director was allowed to make another superhero movie (Ghost Rider).

Battlefield Earth: Barry Pepper can’t be to blame for this. Even though the movie is obviously horrible, he throws enough physical energy into his lead performance to somewhat transcend the muck. I haven’t seen Travolta in anything since, and hope I never do.

More Rifftrax: Terminator 3, Terminator 4, Jurassic Park (with Weird Al), X-Men and Transformers.

Rented Steve Coogan: Live ‘n Lewd (1994), which wasn’t the least bit funny.

Steve Coogan: The Man Who Thinks He’s It (1998) had the same characters, so I skipped a lot, but stopped for the Alan Partridge segment and all the bits with Simon Pegg.

Pegg with Julia Davies:

Rewatching The Wire with Katy. In the middle of season three now, where we’ve been stuck for a couple months.

Also checked out a good video essay by E. Lavik on the show’s style: strict chronological order without flashbacks, unobtrusive camerawork, no non-diegetic music or narration, with documentary-influenced camera moves (the camera shouldn’t know things that we don’t, like moving to the next speaker before they begin speaking). He spends time on subtle camera technique (lines, frames within frames, mirror shots and 180-degree rule: the usual stuff of visual analysis) and puts together a compelling argument that the show’s style is more interesting than it’s given credit for.

Also rewatched The Thick of It first season over a couple of days, to remember the characters before I see the next one.

And we finished Arrested Development season 2. I can hardly believe how good it is. I’m gonna have to watch the series over and over like Jeremy does.