Jeff’s Wacky SNL Season Premiere Review: Miles Teller/Kendrick Lamar

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The combined ages of these people is 48 (CREDIT: NBC/Screenshot)

Last season I kept my SNL review routine fresh by mixing up the order of the sketches. This season, I’m going even deeper by experimenting with how I review each particular sketch. For this here Season 48 premiere (host Miles Teller and musical guest Kendrick Lamar), I’m using only ONE WORD per sketch. Check it out:

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That’s Auntertaiment Mini-Episode: Aunt Beth Tells Jeff to Revisit ‘Schitt’s Creek’

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(CREDIT: CBC/Screenshot)

Well, fold in that cheese! A while back, Aunt Beth told Jeff to watch Schitt’s Creek, and he gave his initial thoughts at the time, but did he then keep watching? It’s time to find out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/30/22

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Hey, Reg. (CREDIT: SYFY/Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Bros (Theaters)
The Greatest Beer Run Ever (Theaters and Apple TV+)
Smile (Theaters)

TV
Saturday Night Live Season 48 Premiere (October 1 on NBC) – Don’t Miles Teller Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, because the Babysitter’s NOT dead, but do Miles Teller Mom that Miles Teller is Hosting the SNL season premiere (Kendrick Lamar musical guest).
Chucky Season 2 Premiere (October 5 on Syfy and USA)
Reginald the Vampire Series Premiere (October 5 on Syfy) – Starring one of Peter Parker’s best friends.

Music
-Björk, Fossora
-Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cool It Down

Don’t Smile Because It’s Named ‘Smile,’ Scream Because It Happened

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Smile!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (CREDIT: Paramount Pictures)

Starring: Sosie Bacon, Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher, Kal Penn, Gillian Zinser, Robin Weigert, Caitlin Stasey, Nick Arapoglou, Rob Morgan, Dora Kiss, Judy Reyes

Director: Parker Finn

Running Time: 115 Minutes

Rating: R for Brutal Bloody Ends

Release Date: September 30, 2022

What’s It About?: Demons sure love their chain letters, don’t they? And they’re pretty fastidious about keeping up with today’s technology, so they don’t need to come in the form of an actual piece of paper anymore. A videotape certainly sufficed in the VHS era. Or a roll in the hay is an evergreen opportunity to pass the curse along, since people are always having sex. And certainly, that there chain letter needn’t even take physical form, as it can spread through a series of premonitions, or in the case of Smile, via the creepiest facial expressions imaginable. That’s the conundrum that psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) finds herself in, after she witnesses a patient take her own life while sporting the most disturbing grin she’s ever seen. Rose then ends up haunted by the same evil entity, and she’s got about a week to figure it all out before it consumes her completely.

What Made an Impression?: One word immediately comes to mind to describe the viewing experience of Smile: frustrating. But I suspect that that may be by design. This evil has a knack for finding overworked, traumatized individuals. Rose is regularly putting in 80-hour workweeks in a job that takes a heavy emotional toll, and on top of that, much of her life has been shaped by an abusive childhood during which her mother overdosed right in front of her. And the patient (Caitlin Stasey) whose death she witnessed was a PhD student, so I imagine she wasn’t getting a whole lot of sleep either. This all makes for a messy formula where Rose doesn’t have the wherewithal to explain what’s happening to her, and everyone in her life either doesn’t have the patience to understand, or if they do have the patience, it doesn’t really matter because it’s too far beyond anything they themselves have ever experienced anyway.

Contrast that setup to Smile‘s closest analogue, The Ring, in which Naomi Watts plays a take-charge investigative reporter who does everything she can to avoid being a curse’s next victim. Rose, meanwhile, is in no shape to be able to pull anything like that off. Although, to be fair to her and all the other victims, the implication is that there truly is no escape from this deadly fate. (There may be a possible exception reminiscent of the rules of the Final Destination, but that option doesn’t exactly come off as particularly appealing either.) Smile would certainly be a lot more fun if we had a more well-rested, defiant protagonist. But I don’t want to dismiss it completely, because it strikes me as a telling portrait of the fog of living through mental illness and post-trauma. It’s painful to witness, but worth digesting.

Smile is Recommended If You Like: The Ring, It Follows, The Grudge, Final Destination (Spoiler Alert?)

Grade: 3 out of 5 Smiles

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/23/22

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Look at this classic moment from Celebrity Jeopardy! (CREDIT: Sami Drasin/ABC)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Catherine Called Birdy (September 23 in Theaters, October 7 on Amazon Prime Video)
Don’t Worry Darling (Theaters)
The Munsters (Netflix, Blu-ray, and DVD) – A Rob Zombie Reimagining

TV
Bob’s Burgers Season 13 Premiere (September 25 on FOX)
Celebrity Jeopardy Season Premiere (September 25 on ABC)
Celebrity Wheel of Fortune Season Premiere (September 25 on ABC)
Family Guy Season 21 Premiere (September 25 on FOX)
The Great North Season 3 Premiere (September 25 on FOX)
The Simpsons Season 34 Premiere (September 25 on FOX)
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers Season 2 Premiere (September 28 on Disney+)
Ghosts Season 2 Premiere (September 29 on CBS)
Young Sheldon Season 6 Premiere (September 29 on CBS)

Sports
-Laver Cup (September 23-25 on Tennis Channel) – Roger Federer’s Last Hurrah

‘Catherine Called Birdy’: Kickin’ It Teen Style 1290 AD Edition

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Look at that Birdy fly! (CREDIT: Alex Bailey/© Amazon Content Services LLC)

Starring: Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Billie Piper, Joe Alwyn, Dean Charles-Chapman, Paul Kaye, Lesley Sharp, Sophie Okonedo, Ralph Ineson, Michael Woolfitt, Isis Hainsworth, Archie Renaux

Director: Lena Dunham

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for The Power of Suggestion

Release Date: September 23, 2022 (Theaters)/October 7, 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)

What’s It About?: What was life like for a sassy, opinionated teenage girl in 1290 England? That’s what Catherine Called Birdy is here to let us know! Based on a 1994 children’s novel by Karen Cushman, it follows the always rambunctious days of the irrepressible Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), aka (you guessed it) “Birdy.” She’s an unmistakably independent young woman, but what does that even mean in a patriarchal medieval society? Despite her unique wants and desires as a human being in her own right, the standards of the time insist that she’s little more than a bargaining chip for marriage. She might drive her parents (Andrew “Hot Priest” Scott and Billie “Companion Rose” Piper) batty, but they do love her. Although, they’re also in quite the financial bind, so they could really use that dowry moolah from even the oldest, ugliest, most grotesque suitor. What’s a little Birdy to do?!

What Made an Impression?: There’s something mystical about watching a story set in a time before mass telecommunication. Since there’s no video evidence of the era, any picture of centuries ago is a mere approximation. But this wasn’t exactly a problem for the people when they were alive in 1290. In fact, I would go so far as to say that nobody ever thought about that sort of thing, unless they were unusually philosophically inclined. Certainly, Birdy and her family and friends don’t concern themselves with such thoughts; instead, they mostly just go about their routines and live their lives as they are wont to do. So the fact that we get to have a peek into those lives arrives like a mysterious gift from the universe, even if it is all fully fictional.

On a more quotidian level, I also appreciate that Catherine Called Birdy is family-friendly without feeling like it’s holding back. There are several moments where it feels frighteningly possible that things could turn bloody and/or abusive. And while we’re spared the worst details, we’re not spared the vicarious experience of what it’s like to be a teenage girl at a time when that meant you were basically property. Ramsey boils it all together with a spirited, feral performance that should hook in plenty of viewers.

Catherine Called Birdy is Recommended If You Like: Rolling around on hills, Occasional swordplay, The scene with Dennis the Peasant from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Dowries

That’s Auntertainment! Mini-Episode: 2022 Emmys

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CREDIT: Television Academy/Screenshot

The Emmys are an endangered species, but they sing no victim’s podcast.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/16/22

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Take a Leap? (CREDIT: NBC/Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Blonde (September 16 in Theaters, September 28 on Netflix) – Rated NC-17, wow.
Meet Cute (September 21 on Peacock)
Moonage Daydream (Theaters)
Pearl (Theaters)
See How They Run (Theaters)
The Woman King (Theaters)

TV
Quantum Leap Reboot Series Premiere (September 19 on NBC) – Will it leap into Scott Bakula’s real life at some point?
Reboot Series Premiere (September 20 on Hulu) – Reboot is not a reboot: discuss.
Abbott Elementary Season 2 Premiere (September 21 on ABC)
Andor Series Premiere (September 21 on Disney+) – They just keep fighting those Star Wars.
The Conners Season 5 Premiere (September 21 on ABC)
The Goldbergs Season 10 Premiere (September 21 on ABC)
Home Economics Season 3 Premiere (September 21 on ABC)
The Masked Singer Season 8 Premiere (September 21 on FOX)

Music
-Death Cab for Cutie, Asphalt Meadows
-Lissie, Carving Canyons
-Rina Sawayama, Hold the Girl

 

‘The Silent Twins’ Confounds and Fascinates

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How silent ARE they?! (CREDIT: Courtesy of Lukasz Bak/Focus Features)

Starring: Letitia Wright, Tamara Lawrance, Leah Mondesir-Simmonds, Eva-Arianna Baxter, Nadine Marshall, Treva Etienne, Michael Smiley, Jack Bandeira, Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn

Director: Agnieszka Smoczyńska

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: R for Teens Misbehaving

Release Date: September 16, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons don’t exactly like communicating with anyone besides each other. They keep extensive diaries and invent a sort of sing-song patter with an oddly clipped accent, but again, that’s just for themselves. It’s almost invasive that we get to see a movie version of them doing this, even if it’s not documentary footage. Twins are notorious for having their own unique twin language, which is apparently so common that there’s a name (and Wikipedia page) for it. It’s called “cryptophasia,” and the Gibbonses have the most extreme version I’ve ever witnessed. They talk and walk and dance in unison. It’s practically telepathic. But it also cuts them off from the rest of their family and the rest of society, as they stumble into teenage rebelliousness and eventually end up in a mental hospital.

What Made an Impression?: Much like its real-life subjects, The Silent Twins seems to be creating its own vernacular, one that I found kind of impenetrable. Ambitious movies are wont to attempt such a thing, and it’s always a gamble whether or not the audience can pick up on it. I found myself in a blur, but I certainly appreciated the effort. The ladies playing the twins certainly give it their all, with Letitia Wright as June and Tamara Lawrance as Jennifer. And as the younger versions, Leah Mondesir-Simmonds and Eva-Arianna Baxter are just as revelatory.

But for as unique as much of this story and much of the filmmaking are, the mischief that June and Jennifer get up to is rather garden variety. Now, if the events that we see are what really happened (or close to it), I’m not asking for any fabulation. But the way it all plays out struck me as a little ho-hum. Maybe there’s just a natural oomph of resistance when you try to fit a typical narrative engine onto such an atypical subject. There’s plenty to dig in and analyze here, though; it’s just not always electric.

The Silent Twins is Recommended If You Like: Secret twin languages, The Dark Side of Coming-of-Age

Grade: 3 out of 5 Secret Languages

Mia Goth Reveals the ‘Pearl’ Within

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Pearls Prays for Popularity (CREDIT: Christopher Moss/A24)

Starring: Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland, Emma Jenkins-Purro, Alistair Sewell

Director: Ti West

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Rating: R for Bloodlust Breaking Free and Some Peaks at Naughty “Stag Films”

Release Date: September 16, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Did you see this spring’s X and wonder what the deal was with that old lady? I know I sure did. Well, it turns out that Ti West actually made two movies at once, so now we get to discover what Pearl’s formative years were really like! It’s 1918, Mia Goth has shed the old lady makeup, and she and her family are living a semi-secluded life to avoid the horrors of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic. But Pearl longs for so much more than that! She wasn’t born to care for her paralyzed father (Matthew Sunderland) and simply wait for her husband’s return while her domineering mother (Tandi Wright) browbeats her into submission. She can’t help but dream of stardom, which she hopes to achieve while hanging out with a local hunky projectionist (David Corenswet) and auditioning for a dance troupe with her sister-in-law (Emma Jenkins-Purro). And if any of this doesn’t work out for her? Hoo boy, you’d better stay out of her way.

What Made an Impression?: I haven’t seen very many movies set in the 1910s, so I didn’t know quite what to expect in regards to Pearl making the most of its setting. But I was still thrown for quite a loop. When the title character starts dancing around her barn and serenading her animals, I was getting wholesome classic sitcom vibes in the vein of Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. The fanciful font used in the credits is also reminiscent of fantastical programs like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. Maybe those shows were taking some of their cues from Old Hollywood? Regardless of the exact nature of the influences, this is an unmistakable throwback to an era when all of the main character’s most melodramatic emotions are all over every single inch of the celluloid.

Let’s make absolutely no mistake about it, this is a 100% tour de force for Ms. Mia Goth. With her big saucer eyes and ethereal voice, she’s always been a distinctive screen presence, and that’s never been truer than it is here. Her sheer force of will ensures that the connection between the two movies (thus far) in this series is as deep as possible. Pearl and her other X character of Max are historical doppelgängers, bound by a shared desire to become a star at all costs. When that drive manifests itself in the form of an impromptu song-and-dance number with a scarecrow, there’s no question that I’m all in. You all should feel the same.

Pearl is Recommended If You Like: Classic Hollywood, Classic sitcoms, Classic slashers

Grade: 4 out of 5 Axes

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