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

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

Time to Confess What I Thought About ‘Confless, Fletch’!

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So many confessions, so little time (CREDIT: Miramax/Paramount)

Starring: Jon Hamm, Roy Wood Jr., Lorenza Izzo, Ayden Mayeri, Marcia Gay Harden, Kyle MacLachlan, John Slattery, Annie Mumolo, John Behlmann

Director: Greg Mottola

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: R for Some Gunfire and a Little Bit of Wacky Horniness

Release Date: September 16, 2022 (Theaters and On Demand)

What’s It About?: Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher is back! But did he ever really go away? Well, yeah, kind of. Chevy Chase played him in a couple of outings in the 80s, but they haven’t really left much of a lasting cultural impression on the younger generations. If you’re wondering how Jon Hamm could ever take over a part made famous by Mr. Pratfall-in-Chief, be assured that it doesn’t matter. The version of this slippery investigative reporter we meet in Confess, Fletch hardly resembles the white guy who sported an Afro wig and a Lakers jersey. He bumbles around a bit, but so would just about anyone who gets accused of murder in a case of mistaken identity. Anyway, Fletch sets out to clear his name and interacts with a bunch of wacky characters along the way. But, you may be wondering, are they wacky enough?

What Made an Impression?: There are a few early scenes in Confess, Fletch in which Hamm seems to be trying to summon his inner Chevy Chase, and I’m like, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.” Sure, he can be funny despite his preternatural handsomeness, but it’s not of the crash-into-everything, smart aleck variety. What he can nail is the psychopath lurking underneath the pristine surface. But ultimately he’s not asked to deliver either of these personas. Instead, he’s more of the straight man reacting to all the chaos around him (in various flavors of cockamamie from the likes of Annie Mumolo, Marcia Gary Harden, and Kyle MacLachlan). Hamm can certainly provide that competently, but it’s hardly spectacular. Which pretty much describes this movie as a whole.

But one actor does shine especially bright, and that would be Ayden Mayeri, who’s having quite the breakout year, along with her turns in Spin Me Round and Apple TV+’s The Afterparty. She’s one of the two detectives (alongside Roy Wood Jr.) on Fletch’s tail, and at first it seems like she’s playing your typical flummoxed, overmatched authority figure. But she knows what she’s doing, despite her bouts of clumsiness. Sure, she may spill a milkshake all over her shirt, but her investigative instincts are sharp. She gets a big “thank you” from Fletch at the end, and I’m happy to second that sentiment.

Confess, Fletch is Recommended If You Like: Fidelity to source material that’s not super famous

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Lakers Caps

‘Moonage Daydream’ Transports Us to the David Bowie Dimension

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Rockin! (CREDIT: NEON)

Starring: David Bowie

Director: Brett Morgen

Running Time: 140 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Some Brief Snippets of Profane Rock ‘n’ Roll

Release Date: September 16, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: David Bowie lives! Not in the most literal sense, of course. But certainly in plenty of metaphorical senses, as his entire discography remains readily available to listen and re-listen to, while his on-screen appearances are also similarly accessible. But in the six years since his death, his presence has never been more profoundly felt than in the new Brett Morgen-directed documentary Moonage Daydream. It’s a montage primarily consisting of rare and never-before-seen concert footage and interviews. Edited in a stream-of-conscious, mostly chronological fashion, it gives off an uncannily transcendent vibe of simultaneous familiarity and revelation.

What Made an Impression?: If you’re a fan of David Bowie, Moonage Daydream will make you fall in love with him all over again. If you’re not a fan, hopefully you can at least appreciate the deep dive into his psyche that this film offers. And if you’ve somehow never heard of Bowie, hoo boy, I don’t know if there’s any way for you to fully prepare for this experience.

This is the type of movie where you could rearrange the order of every single scene, and it would still feel pretty much the same. Or maybe it would feel a little different, but still equally satisfying. In my attempt to recreate it in my mind since watching it a few weeks ago, I’m not sure what followed what exactly. I didn’t take as many notes as I usually do, as it felt much more appropriate to let the whole thing just wash over me. (The only Bowie quote I did write down was “What’s my relationship with the universe?”, which feels apt.)

Mixed in with all the Bowie-centric footage are snippets of thematically similar pop culture artifacts, including quick clips of some choice sci-fi B-movies, like Plan 9 from Outer Space and This Island Earth. Is this some sort of cosmic message assuring us that Ziggy Stardust has found his otherworldly place alongside these classics? I’m certainly happy to interpret it that way.

Moonage Daydream is Recommended If You Like: Koyaanisqatsi

Grade: 4 out of 5 Personae

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

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Time to be a Barbarian!!!! (CREDIT: 20th Century Studios/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
Barbarian (Theaters)
Clerks III (Theaters Beginning September 13)

TV
College Bowl Season Premiere (September 9 on NBC) – The dynamic Manning duo are back.
-Creative Arts Emmy Awards (September 10 on FXX)
Jeopardy! Season 39 Premiere (September 12, check local listings)
-Primetime Emmy Awards (September 12 on NBC)
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Premiere (September 14 on Hulu)
Atlanta Season 4 Premiere (September 15 on FX) – Final Season Alert!

Music
-Ozzy Osbourne, Patient Number 9
-Santigold, Spirituals

‘Clerks III’: The Middle-Aged, Post-Heart Attack Version

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That’s so Clerks … III (CREDIT: Lionsgate)

Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Rosario Dawson, Amy Sedaris

Director: Kevin Smith

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Rating: R for Casual Potty Mouths

Release Date: September 13, 2022 (In Theaters September 13-18)

What’s It About?: Are Dante Hicks and Randal Graves stuck in purgatory? Or maybe they’re happy to still be working at the Quick Stop nearly 30 years after we first checked in with them. Randal (Jeff Anderson) is certainly his same happy-go-lucky self, but maybe he should take things a little more seriously, since Clerks III does start with him having a heart attack. But instead of focusing on eating healthy and exercising, he decides to direct a movie about life as a convenience store clerk. Uh-oh, is Kevin Smith making a stealth remake of his own signature film? Kinda-sorta, as there are plenty of in-jokes and callbacks, but he’s actually more concerned about just giving his characters some proper story arcs. So while Dante (Brian O’Halloran) gets roped into the whole production, he’s also pining after a now-deceased Becky (Rosario Dawson), while Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) are still hanging out, and there’s also a whole lot of talk about crypto and NFTs.

What Made an Impression?: I’ve never seen the first Clerks, though it’s not for lack of interest. (It’s on my long to-watch list, I promise!) But I have seen Clerks II, every episode of the short-lived animated series, and now Clerks III. From my vantage point, it’s almost as if Numero Uno exists in a completely different universe. It emerged in black & white during the indie boom of the early 90s, and then II was released in the summer of 2006 as a crisp studio comedy. Now the third one is opting for a roadshow tour alongside a limited-time wide theatrical release. If you’re wondering why Clerks III even exists, it’s because Kevin Smith just wanted to make another one for all the people who have supported him over the years.

Considering the circuitous preproduction path and untraditional release strategy, it might be a little surprising how straightforward the plot is. Randal has a big idea, everyone else bands together to make it happen, then he and Dante have a falling out, and finally the whole crew ultimately realizes what’s truly important. This is by-the-books comedy feature writing, nothing revolutionary about it. And that’s okay! Sometimes we just want to check in on our friends and see how they’re doing. And if you can throw in a running gag about size anxiety, go for it. It might be a little juvenile, sure, but it’s also open-minded and comforting. In conclusion, I chuckled here and there, I soaked up the bonhomie, and I was happy to live another day.

Clerks III is Recommended If You Like: Late 90s/Early 2000s Alt-Rock, Shameless celebrity friend cameos, Eternal youth evolving into something a little more adult

Grade: 3 out of 5 Moobys

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/2/22

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If it’s season, I’m sneezin’ (CREDIT: Hulu/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
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. (Theaters and Peacock)

TV
Rick and Morty Season 6 Premiere (September 4 on Adult Swim)
The Good Fight Season 6 Premiere (September 8 on Paramount+) – Final Season Alert!
The Simpsons: Welcome to the Club (September 8 on Disney+)
Wedding Season Season 1 (September 8 on Hulu) – Rosa Salazar’s in this.

Music
-Megadeth, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!

Music on TV
-Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert (September 3 on Paramount+ and CBS)

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