The Rehearsal season 1 (2022)

1. Synecdoche For You, with a trivia buff worried about a fib he’s told.
“Sometimes you don’t want to say anything, but you do want people to know you exist.”

2. Angela raising a child, Robin as short-lived father-figure.
3. Gold-digger girlfriend and fake grandpa with secret gold. “Maybe for some the rehearsal itself is enough.”
4. Fielder Method school spirals into itself, featuring closing credits for “fake roommates” and “fake fake roommates.”
5. Focus on famiily life, clashing with Angela’s christianity. “It turns out winter is very expensive to maintain.”
6. Trying to un-brainwash the six year-olds, and imagining how the rehearsals could have been improved.
“I was starting to feel like I was just solving a puzzle of my own design.”

A show we’re gonna think about for a long time. Nathan likes to live in tricky ethical territory. The cowriters also worked on Silicon Valley and the On Cinema universe.

Alissa Wilkinson’s article is the one to read.
Update: so is Vikram Murthi’s.


How To with John Wilson season 2 (2022)

1. John’s landlady is moving, offers to sell him the house. He looks at other properties, talks with finance people, discusses the horror of being a landlord, sidetracks into Second Life, then rides the ferry to think, and goes home with a rich ventriloquist.
2. appreciating wine (and energy drinks)
3. finding a parking spot, getting struck by lightning, resting in peace
4. recycling batteries / cannibal patch kids and nazi flags and sex offenders
5. dreams / entrepeneur whose product idea came in a dream / targeted ads / facts (1010 Wins) vs. fantasy (Avatar)
6. being spontaneous but learning that being apparently-spontaneous requires a lot of work… wandering through Las Vegas looking for his landlady and ending up in a convention-convention, where people make plans to make plans


Kids in the Hall season 6 (2022)

This was an actual dream come true.

1. Brain Candy board room / unearthing / fully clothed bank robbers / cathy and cathy sending earth’s final fax / a tart is called a pie / 60-year-old strippers
2. racing an easy chair / delivery doctor drop average / sentient gloryhole / cheating imaginary girlfriend / zoom masturbation
3. postapocalypse morning DJ “remain indoors” / ambumblance / DJ getting robocalls / Shakespeare is resurrected, “get thee to the fucking metro” / gut spigot drains fat away / clown shoes are cultural appropriation / DJ
4. superdrunk / hotel women too weak to get off couch / superdrunk / pawn shop, Kevin tricks Dave into appearing in a Kevin sketch / superdrunk vs. crusher / neighborhood patrol of guys who kinda know things are off somehow

5. Gender reveal is boy with head of a mouse / a little old to be playing a kid / oversexed 1970’s Italians hire sex therapist / lonely guy gets serial killer cats / Italians / couple fights after husband impulse-buys a new house / Italians / hitman with invisible weapons eliminates toilet humor
6. toxic network boss / hateful baby / son films aged dad carrying mom over threshold / avant-garde “friends of mark” / aged dad / police marching techniques / summoning the banana demon / network boss is in a pickle
7. taddli on smoking / naked tenant wants his bathwater hot-hot / taddli on recycling / the eradicator plays squash (“I’ll snap YOU for the ‘gram”) / taddli confronts the writers room / gay couples threatened by interest in women
8. he’s not crazy he just lost his glasses / employees must wash hair before pooping / husband is embarrassed on his own lawn / whenever men with extravagant mustaches meet in the park one commits a murder / studying gen-z viewing habits and writing a cliffhanger about writing a cliffhanger


I gave up on Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special after 15 minutes. RIP Dallas and Norm. Watched a whole Amy Schumer-presented standup thing with Ron Funches, Jaye McBride, Christina P, Rachel Feinstein, Chris Distefano, Lil Rel Howery. Watched a whole hour by some guy just the other day… it was free on Prime… what was that guy’s name? Did I cover the David Cross special last time? When did that come out?

Still in the middle of Mind Over Murder (hi Katy), Irma Vep, The Last Movie Stars (hi Katy), Underground Railroad (long-delayed), and Only Murders in the Building (season ONE, no spoilers).

Miguel’s covid-era meta-movie, the days edited in reverse order, the title a reversal of an earlier feature. The movie starts as a light threesome drama, then begins to be about the complications around its own making. For all its formal games, it has a time-killing feeling of “no other movies being made during lockdown, so we made one” – there’s time-lapse and slow-mo and Gomes all but admitting he doesn’t know what happens in the film.

Robert Koehler in Cinema Scope:

Within the context of a playfully narrative feature, The Tsugua Diaries comes close to capturing what moviemaking actually feels like—at least moviemaking as practiced in the free-and-easy manner of Fazendeiro and Gomes. When the actors convey to the filmmakers their worries that the scenes aren’t working, Gomes’ response highlights a fact of life that auteurist critics in particular ignore at their peril: he informs the cast that he, Fazendeiro, and Ricardo are “finding that, overall, it’s been a good performance.” Gomes here demonstrates that he knows that actors drive the action, not directors—a notion that he takes all the way on Day 7, when he must accompany Fazendeiro to a prenatal exam, and tells his actors to direct themselves. How, they ask? “Work it out,” says Gomes—which could be the slogan for every film set.

Most importantly, there are two parrots, and baby peacocks:

Found another movie from the director of the Maiku Hama series. Silent-ish – no sync dialogue or music score, but we hear sfx and voices on tape. A detective whose thing is that he’s always eating eggs (Shirô Sano of Violent Cop) takes on the case of a kidnapped daughter named Bellflower and is sent on the usual goose chase, but with riddles and gyroscopes. In the end the whole adventure and kidnapping was a ploy to complete a silent film fifty years in the making.

Played Critics Week at Venice along with Assayas’s debut. Relaxed pace and lack of dialogue makes it hazy and dreamy – per the title, it’s not one to watch late at night. Funny that a few hours after watching this, I read: “it made me wonder what it’d be like to see, for once, a cinephilic film that isn’t in any way about cinephilia.”

“Why use old code to do something new?”
“Maybe this isn’t the story we think it is.”

Extremely self-referential sequel in which Neo is a game developer whose history of reality breakdowns resurfaces when he’s asked to revisit his most famous property, The Matrix. “Our beloved parent company Warner Bros has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy – they’re gonna do it with or without us.”

Lots of reality fakeouts and good in-jokes (psychiatrist Neil Patrick Harris’s cat is named Deja Vu). There’s bullet-time action and Inception space-bending, but also a bleary slow-mo effect in the action scenes, which is sorta not as cool. I miss the 35mm grain, but this has a curious look – a hyperreal digital cleanness I’ve never seen on this scale, like if Michael Mann made an Avengers movie. An explicitly nonbinary story (Dev Neo’s cancelled game was to be called BINARY) – the future is against the “red pill” choices of one thing or another, and more into blends. It’s also more generous in spirit, not only literally resurrecting the two lead characters, but refusing to kill off good guys, while previous movies would introduce a new crew then slaughter them all.

The straight world sees Neo as an eyepatched dude (played by Carrie-Anne Moss’s husband):

Agent Smith is sorta Neo’s boss and sorta also Morpheus, I dunno, I was having too much fun to sweat all the details. The Franco-looking boss is actually Jonathan Groff (the king in Hamilton), New Morpheus is Yahya Abdul-Mateen (New Candyman), New Punk Hacker Girl is Jessica Henwick (final survivor of Underwater). Ancient Jada Pinkett is in charge of humanity, and Junkyard Lambert Wilson has become a raving Gilliam vagrant.

Greaves and his crew film in the park (they have permits!) a couple of actors performing a trite scene – but they’re also filming themselves filming these things, and filming the director trying to work things out, and filming the crew voicing their concerns about the scene and the director. It’s an exciting concept, hampered by the small problem of being no fun to watch.

I suppose these are professionals, not hippies, but it’s still 1968 and listening to them talk invites dark flashbacks of Lions Love. And the editing of individual scenes is nice but the overall structure seems slack and random – I want to have examples, but Criterion Channel is mad that I’ve got an external monitor attached, so it’s not letting me review.

A theater group – not a very good one – is rehearsing the 1921 satire The Insect Play, but the guy playing Dung Beetle (Jirí Lábus, of a fascinating-sounding 1994 version of Amerika) keeps hallucinating insects (real and stop-motion) while learning his lines.

From the very beginning, Svankmajer and his crew appear onscreen, like the DVD extras have been cut into the feature. After a scene it’ll show the filming, the animation, direction, insect wrangling, sound effects (with constant scraping and clanking sounds plus the insect patter, they’re great throughout), or interview the actors about their dreams.

Fun movie, and only 93 minutes, a breeze to watch. To that point, it doesn’t seem like Svankmajer’s most consequential film, nor does it appear to be some kind of final statement on his career, unless I’m missing something about the Insect Play. Ungenerously, one could say choice of subject combined with the mechanics of behind-the-scenes production is the last word on his preference against humans and their messy realities. Jan: “I direct it like an animated film or puppet theater – short takes, minimal movement of the camera, stylized acting, no psychology, as if the actors had wires attached to the head and strings on the arms.”

Watching movies from last year’s Sundance and Rotterdam this week… this one premiered in Rotterdam’s Signatures section, playing with The Wandering Soap Opera, Lover for a Day, Mrs. Fang and Lek and the Dogs.

Love to spend years following rumors of the recreation of the lost masterpiece by an all-time great filmmaker, only for the thing to finally appear direct-to-video, then watch it in fragments over a week of late nights because I keep falling asleep. I watched the previously released scenes of this in the early days of the movie blog, never thinking there’d be a feature, and here we are, not quite knowing what to put in quote marks (the “complete” feature “by” Welles). Rosenbaum approves, so who am I to argue?

Stills, narration, and the line “that was long before cellphone cameras” mar the opening minutes, then hammy P-Bog becomes a main character, and the movie’s in trouble. It recovers easily – a party film with a magnetic John Huston as the Wellesian center, artists and hangers-on all around, cutting all over the place, and then the scenes of Huston’s never-to-be-completed film (this is an extremely self-aware movie – even Hammy P-Bog appears to be playing “hammy” “p-bog”), a miniature, fragmented work inside the work, which is both a beautiful art film and a pretentious parody of a beautiful art film, problematically starring an always-nude Oja Kodar, who in fact cowrote this film, making it knowingly, self-parodically problematic, I guess. Playfully homoerotic dialogue, apparently documentary sections, and all the colored lights making this more Suspiria-like than the Suspiria remake. The whole project and its implications fill your brain up all the way. Besides P-Bog there are a few overdone performances – I’m thinking of the film critic (Susan Strasberg) and Zimmy The Southern Gentleman (Cameron Mitchell) – but on first viewing it seemed 15% tiresome, 85% wonderful.


They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (2018, Morgan Neville)

I remember this being fun… let’s see, my notes say “uses every bit of Welles footage they could find to place in dialogue with interviewees” and “ends with Why Can’t I Touch It, wow.” I should watch the making-of and the new Mark Cousins doc then rewatch the feature, but I also got things going on besides Orson.

Almost the entire movie is a film director (Bogdan Dumitrache of Sieranevada) having conversations, rehearsals and affairs with his lead actress (Diana Avramut). He fakes a stomach illness, claims he had it checked by a doctor, and his producer (Mihaela Sirbu of Aferim!) has his cover story carefully verified, either to catch him in the lie or, as she says, because of picky insurance demands. Another filmmaker (Alexandru Papadopol of Toni Erdmann) pops into a dinner chat, possibly representing a future job for the actress. This is practically all that happens, and it ends abruptly – so why is it a movie? I get the self-reflexive talk about long takes and film cartridge capacity in a 35mm movie composed entirely of long takes, and after all the film-vs-video talk, video gets finally represented in the form of a colonoscopy DVD. After two long scenes where the director tries to convince the actress that a newly written nude scene is dramatically necessary and she goes over the blocking with him to verify that this is properly motivated, our movie finally shows her gratuitously topless. All this is worth a few meta-chuckles – surely I got more out of it than 12:08 East of Bucharest, and if the whole thing feels slightly pointless and the conversations go on for too long, that’s probably intentional too, for reasons I don’t feel like researching at the moment.

A first-person semi-documentary by Nance about his uneven love life, which also contains a second-person semi-documentary by Nance (How Would You Feel?) about his uneven love life, plus fragments of a first-person documentary by Nance’s ex Namik, plus drawn animation and stop-motion and other things. The presentation is great fun, and though all the navel-gazing relationship talk gets to be a bit much, it’s not an overlong movie and all the shape-shifting kept me happy.

Not the first documentary I’ve seen to contain its own test screening. I thought Nance had a new movie in Sundance last month, but I guess it was a live performance of his project where he googles phrases about black kids and follows the results down a wormhole, then posts the results on his vimeo page. I watched for a few minutes, but the online version seems to be missing essential narration.

Flying Lotus did the music for this and LoveTrue which I saw a few weeks later. And I tried to look up articles or interviews about the film but instead got caught up in a highly entertaining essay Nance wrote about Exodus: Gods and Kings in which he convincingly labels Ridley Scott a white supremacist. Ah no wait, here’s a Filmmaker interview in which Nance claims he was playing “the type of guy she wouldn’t like” on camera so the story would make sense, which complicates things even more.