Nick Pinkerton, quoted by Nathan Silver last week:

Re-watching [A Nos Amours] gives the frustrating awareness of how comparatively petty many of the experiences I have — and have had — with movies are, how a diet of mediocrity accustoms me to betraying a natural expectation that art can expand its frame into the world I’m living in; the sad truth is that most films evaporate the moment we emerge from the theater, vanquished by the more engaging muddle of life.

Movies vanquished by the muddle of life this month include Love, The Wolfpack, Actress, and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.

That Firefly movie exploring the secret origins of super-weapon-girl River who’s being hunted by sword-toting government agent Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the secret origins of the Reavers. Hmmm, Rivers and Reavers.

Some main characters from the show (which I still haven’t watched all the way through) are killed. Sweet long traveling shot at the start shows off the entire ship and all the main characters.

Where’d they all go? Mal (Nathan Fillion) stars on Castle, River (Summer Glau) was on The Cape and Sarah Connor Chronicles, her brother Simon (Sean Maher) is in Much Ado, Jayne (Adam Baldwin) was on Chuck, Zoe (Gina Torres) is on Suits, pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk) did Dollhouse, played King Candy and is on Suburgatory, Kaylee (Jewel Staite) was on a Stargate series and The Killing, love interest Inara (Morena Baccarin) starred on Homeland and V, Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) was in Lakeview Terrace and one-man-NSA Mr. Universe (David Krumholtz) stars on Numb3rs.

Also watched Cabin in the Woods for a third time with dad – and this is a couple weeks after Katy and I saw Much Ado About Nothing, so it’s been a very Whedon month.

Whedon’s crew hangs at his house with minimal set dressing and does b/w Shakespeare.

Katy and I liked it.

Dr. “Whiskey” Saunders of Dollhouse plays Emma Thompson, and Alyson Hannigan’s husband plays her arch-rival/love-interest Kenneth Branagh. The great Fran Kranz is young, lovestruck Claudio, best buds with Reed Diamond (Dollhouse head of security). Dr. Simon of Firefly/Serenity is fine as villain Keanu Reeves, but not even secret weapon Nathan Fillion can live up to the mighty Michael Keaton in the 1990’s version.

Dollhouse season 1 (2009)

Whedon’s project before Cabin in the Woods.
I love this show.
Ends with a motherfucker of a leap into the future.

Echo (Eliza Dushku, Arnold and Jamie Lee’s teenage daughter in True Lies) is lead doll, alongside exotic-looking Sierra (Dichen Lachman from Nepal of a recent nuclear submarine drama series) and Victor (Enver Gjokaj, billed below Harry Dean Stanton in The Avengers – side note: Harry Dean Stanton was in The Avengers?!).

DeWitt (Olivia Williams, Rosemary Cross in Rushmore) runs the place with techie Topher (Fran Kranz, great in Cabin in the Woods), security guy Dominic (sinister-looking, eyes-too-close-together Reed Diamond of Homicide: Life on the Street) and Dr. Saunders (Amy Acker, in the Cabin in the Woods control room), later revealed to be a doll. Harry Lennix (of Titus) is a major part of the early episodes, later takes over Dominic’s job.

Meanwhile, clueless pawn but sweetly determined FBI man Ballard (square-jawed canadian Tahmoh Penikett, Stanley Kubrick in Trapped Ashes) tries to expose the place and protect his too-perfect neighbor Miracle Laurie who is, of course, a doll. Bonus baddie: Alpha (Alan Tudyk, pilot of the Serenity and voice of King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph)

The staff writers moved on to Spartacus: War of the Damned, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Agents of Shield and Undercovers. Directors include Tim Minear (Firefly), Dwight Little (Halloween 4), Elodie Keene (The Wire season 2), Felix Alcala (Criminal Minds), James Contner (Buffy/Angel, TV movies She Woke Up Pregnant and Hitler’s Daughter), David Straiton (Hemlock Grove), Allan Kroeker (three different Star Trek series), Rod Hardy (the David Hasselhoff Nick Fury movie), David Solomon (Buffy) and Joss Whedon (Buffy/Angel/Firefly)

Veep season 1 (2012)

The Thick of It in the USA, wonderful. Veep Julia Louis-Dreyfus is ably assisted by blonde Amy (Anna Chlumsky, star of My Girl), red haired Mike (Matt Walsh of Upright Citizens Brigade), Tony “Buster” Hale and dark handsome careerist Dan Egan (My Boys).

Also great: receptionist Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) and white house go-between Jonah (Timothy Simons of an upcoming Kevin Costner baseball movie).

Created by the great Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It) with cowriting by In The Loop collaborators Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche, Time Trumpet writers Sean Gray and Will Smith, and Peep Show creator Jesse Armstrong. Directed by Iannucci, Christopher Morris (The Day Today) and Tristram Shapeero (Community).

United States of Tara season 1 (2009)

Diablo Cody’s gift for snappy, hilarious dialogue and Toni Collette’s adeptness at her multiple-personality role made this a joy. Let’s see, she plays herself (harried mom mostly cleaning up after her own messes), “T” (sex-crazed teenager), Buck (alpha-male biker), Alice (perfect housewife), and mysterious unnamed poncho-wearing monster.

Tara’s married to patient John Corbett (Northern Exposure), has sister Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt, title character in Rachel Getting Married) and kids Marshall (Keir Gilchrist, star of It’s Kind of a Funny Story) and Kate (Brie Larson, Scott Pilgrim‘s rocker ex-girlfriend). Also great: Nate “Rob’s brother” Corddry of Studio 60 as Kate’s boss and Patton Oswalt as Corbett’s coworker.

Directors include Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), Mark Mylod (Ali G Indahouse, The Fast Show), Brian Dannelly (Saved!), Tricia Brock (Killer Diller), Tommy O’Haver (Ella Enchanted) and John Dahl (Rounders)

Look Around You season 1 (2002)

Suppose I first looked this up because Edgar Wright plays one of the scientists. Faux-vintage science program. I kept watching since the episodes are only ten minutes each, and got more into it as the concepts and experiments grew more absurd (“Ghosts” was a highlight). Cowriter/star Peter Serafinowicz played Shaun of the Dead‘s uptight roommate, and director Tim Kirkby is working on Veep. It’s probably worth looking up The Peter Serafinowicz Show.

Jon Benjamin Has a Van season 1 (2011)

I guess this isn’t coming back… Benjamin getting his own absurd live-action comedy show was too good to last. A well-assembled self-aware sketch show that worked at least half the time.

Jon’s cowriters: Leo Allen (of Slovin & Allen), Nathan Fielder (who got his own show Nathan for You this year) and Dan Mintz (voice of Tina on Bob’s Burgers), all of whom wrote for Important Things.

Kristen Schaal: Live at the Fillmore (2013)

Weirder and more conceptual than I’d expected. Lots of sex jokes, an extended parody of The Vagina Monologues, a couple of skits. Mostly a miss, but I loved her Sally Jesse Rafael impression and her fake meltdown, repeatedly stumbling over the word “airplane” and requesting a glass of water.

Holy Flying Circus (2011, Owen Harris)

Opens with a fart joke then a sweary joke, and never gets funny, throwing out faux outrages and pained Python references in place of jokes – but it features Mark Heap wearing a beret, so that’s something. Lots of speech-impediment humor: stuttering and tourettes are hilarious. I suppose Life of Brian, which this movie is defending, scores laughs from Pontius Pilate’s lisp, though. Builds to a reenactment of an infamous talk show appearance pitting pythons against clueless religious types – since the dialogue quotes from the actual talk show, it would’ve been nice to just watch that instead.

From a writer on The Thick of It/In the Loop/Veep and a Black Mirror director. Fake Cleese was in Smack the Pony and Hippies, Fake Chapman played something called “Top Hat” in Van Helsing, and Fake Palin is Edie’s newspaper editor in Downton Abbey. I did enjoy the sword/lightsaber puppet duel.

Almost as good as the other Joss Whedon movie I watched this month. The action scenes are fun, but the movie gets too loud and ‘splosioney at times. Better is the comic bickering between Thor, Iron Man, Sam Jackson, Captain America, Black Widow and Loki. But best of all is watching Hulk smash. For all the perceived failure of the last two Hulk movies, he seems like an excellent character and it is undeniably fun to watch him smash.

Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye isn’t listed amongst the banterers above because he spends most of the movie as a villain under Loki’s spell, as does a mostly-offscreen Stellan Skarsgard (whose friend Natalie Portman gets quickly explained out of the movie). The extraterrestrial villain who puts Loki up to his mischief doesn’t matter, nor does the additional post-credits sequel-setup extraterrestrial villain. Essential Killing director Jerzy Skolimowski appears as the evil Russian whose ass Black Widow kicks at the beginning. And everyone is sad that Nick Fury’s bland MIB assistant Coulson gets (potentially) killed, but there’s a pretty girl MIB to take his place.

This is one of my favorite things – I went back and watched it again, to be positive. Goddard (wrote Cloverfield, worked on Lost and Buffy) and producer Whedon (who is having a big month) manage to make it seem easy, blending horror and comedy, movie and meta-movie more excitingly than Scream did, forming a sort of horror-movie construction-kit. It gradually reveals its scheme while telling us why this is all necessary, and when the stock characters realize that they’re stock characters and break out of the model, they knowingly and misanthropically unleash Lovecraftian armageddon.

The Virgin: Kristen Connolly

The Scholar: Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy
The Athlete: Chris “Thor” Hemsworth
The Slut: yellow power ranger Anna Hutchison
The Fool: Fran Kranz of Whedon’s Dollhouse

Not pictured: Richard Jenkins and West Wing star Bradley Whitford push the buttons manipulating our stock characters to their doom. Brian White (IMDB specifies that he’s their 34th Brian White) is the new guy, Amy Acker (also Dollhouse) runs the chem department, and an uncredited Sigourney Weaver runs the whole show.

Writer/director Goddard:

The truth is, this movie does comment on a horror movie, but that wasn’t our goal. We wanted to comment more on who we are and what part horror plays in us as a people. If you keep that in your sights the whole time, it’s easier to find the balance, because then your movie is just becoming about commenting on the human condition and not worrying too much about, “What is this saying about the genre or the films?” It’s much more just, “What are we saying in general?” That’s the sort of thing you have to hold firm to.