Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/24/22

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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
The Black Phone (Theaters)
Elvis (Theaters)
Flux Gourmet (Theaters and On Demand) – This looks kinda surreal.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (Theaters)

TV
Westworld Season 4 Premiere (June 26 on HBO)
Only Murders in the Building Season 2 Premiere (June 28 on Hulu) – It seems like just yesterday we had our first murder…

Music
-Soccer Mommy, Sometimes, Forever
-Tim Heidecker, High School

Sports
-Wimbledon (June 27-July 10 on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC)

‘The Black Phone’ is Calling: Do You Answer It, or Take the Call From ‘Elvis’?

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CREDIT: Fred Norris/Universal Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot

The Black Phone:

Starring: Mason Thames, Ethan Hawke, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Ransone

Director: Scott Derrickson

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Rating: R for Brutal Home Lives and Bloody Escapes

Release Date: June 24, 2022 (Theaters)

Elvis:

Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Olivia DeJonge

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Running Time: 159 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Rock Star Excess and Rock Fan Excess

Release Date: June 24, 2022 (Theaters)

I recently saw The Black Phone and Elvis on consecutive days, so it’s time for another two-for-one movie review! Do these two flicks have anything in common besides opening in theaters on the same day? Well, they’re both kind of overwhelming in their own particular ways. If you’re like me and enjoy any and every cinematic genre, you might be struggling to figure out which of these to prioritize this weekend, or maybe you’re planning to make time for both of them. So I’ll go ahead and let you know what I think while throwing in a bit of comparing/contrasting, and hopefully that’ll give you a bit of a confidence boost.

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Wondering Where All the Whimsy Went? Watch ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ and Find Out

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Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (CREDIT: A24)

Starring: Jenny Slate, Dean Fleischer-Camp, Isabella Rossellini, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Lesley Stahl

Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: PG for A Few Arguments and Brushes with Mortality

Release Date: June 24, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: While staying at an Airbnb, a documentary filmmaker (director Dean Fleischer-Camp as himself) makes a fascinating discovery: one inch-tall anthropomorphic shell Marcel (Jenny Slate) and his grandmother Connie (Isabella Rossellini. They’ve been living in the house for as long as they can remember amidst a rotating door of human roommates. Dean is so taken by Marcel and his unique worldview that he uploads footage of him to YouTube. It immediately becomes the most viral thing on the Internet, which leads Marcel to wonder if this is the perfect opportunity to track down his missing family members, who were removed from the house during an incident a couple of years earlier. Luckily for Marcel, his story attracts the attention of his beloved 60 Minutes, whose crew is excited to interview him and investigate any leads related to his family. But is Marcel truly ready to venture out into the wider world?

What Made an Impression?: Marcel originated as a 3-minute video that Slate and Fleischer-Camp posted onto YouTube back in 2010, just a few months after her one and only season on Saturday Night Live. At the time it was a boon for her career (which has continued to chug along steadily in the decade-plus since), but it never seemed like it was anything more than a one-off goof, at least not from my vantage point. Who could ever have thought that something so whimsical and (literally) lightweight could ever bear the weight of a feature-length story? Well apparently, Slate and Fleischer-Camp thought it could, and I’m glad they believed, because I’m now obligated to report that Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is absolutely delightful.

What really holds it all together is the fact that nobody ever questions the existence of Marcel and his family. They’re a little surprised and plenty entertained, but the world is just profoundly accepting of the fact that creatures like this can exist. And why wouldn’t you be, when they’re just so guileless and openhearted? He might be small in stature, but a visit from Marcel is like a big hug from the universe reminding you that true wonderment is still possible. Also, investigative journalism is a big deal to plenty of people for good reason. To paraphrase a certain superhero classic, you’ll believe a man can be a shell.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is Recommended If You Like: Aardman Animation, Grey Gardens, Documentary Now!

Grade: 4 out of 5 YouTube Views

Back to Tribeca, 2022 Edition

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CREDIT: Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Good news for people who like film festivals: the Tribeca variety was held once again in- New York City (and virtually) in 2022! When I attend, I like to select offerings that I probably wouldn’t watch otherwise. So this time around, those turned out to be a very 21st century tale of intellectual property theft, an Israeli middle age domestic drama, a short capturing the urgent demands of our bodily functions, and a documentary about one of the most beloved children’s shows of all time. Let’s take a closer look at each.

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Does ‘Lightyear’ Come to Our Rescue?

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CREDIT: Pixar/Screenshot

Starring: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Uzo Aduba, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, Isiah Whitlock Jr., James Brolin

Director: Angus MacLane

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: PG

Release Date: June 17, 2022 (Theaters)

I went ahead and saw Lightyear with my dad on the day before Father’s Day. You can certainly celebrate Father’s Day all weekend, after all! I think I also saw the first two Toy Storys with my dad (plus the rest of my immediate family) way back when, so this was a pretty cool way to sequelize that. As the credits were playing, I scrolled through the RunPee app, and then I explained to my dad what RunPee is. Kind of funny that he’s never heard about it before now even though it’s been around for years. That must’ve been what it was like for Buzz Lightyear when the other characters explained how he was affected by all the time dilation. I enjoy cinematic discussions about time dilation! (Even if they don’t hold up to the scrutiny of real-life physics.) The robot cat was also pretty cool, even though he wasn’t terribly feline.

Grade: 400 Lightyears out of 300 Rescues

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/17/22

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Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe (CREDIT: Paramount Plus/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
Brian and Charles (Theaters)
Lightyear (Theaters) – The story of the man behind the toy.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe (June 23 on Paramount+)

TV
-Mark Twain Prize Ceremony (June 21 on PBS) – Jon Stewart is this year’s honoree.
Wellington Paranormal Season 3 Premiere (June 22 on The CW) – The Stateside premiere, that is. These episodes already aired in New Zealand.

Sports
-2022 U.S. Open (June 16-19 on NBC) – The golf version.
-NBA Draft (June 23 on ABC and ESPN)

‘Poser’ Combines Midwest Music, Podcasts, and Surreal Anxiety

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POSER (CREDIT: Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Starring: Sylvie Mix, Bobbi Kitten, Abdul Seidu, Rachel Keefe, Z-Wolf

Directors: Ori Segev and Noah Dixon

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (It would probably be PG-13 if it were rated)

Release Date: June 3, 2022 (Columbus, Ohio)/June 17, 2022 (New York and Los Angeles)

What’s It About?: A young woman in Columbus, Ohio named Lennon (Sylvie Mix) is really, really into the local music scene. So much so that she decides to start a podcast about it! Pretty much everybody is hosting a podcast nowadays, so why not, right? Furthermore, she’s a bit of an introvert, so this is a way for her to get in on the action that agrees with her constitution. But will she be able to actually book anyone for an interview? It doesn’t look particularly promising at first, but then she strikes up a rapport with Bobbi Kitten (playing herself), although things soon take a dark turn…

What Made an Impression?: This one will probably appeal most to folks who live in or around Columbus (and maybe other areas of the Midwest). A good chunk of the cast is made up of musicians from the area playing themselves. So if you’re into the scene, you’ll surely recognize things that I – a person who has never set foot in Ohio – had absolutely no idea about. Or maybe you’ll be annoyed by it all and think that this movie really lives up to its title! Either way, you’ll probably have more of an emotional reaction than I did.

As for what I did react to, there’s a moment when Lennon and Bobbi are hanging out with their hair dyed blue and pink, respectively, and I yelled to myself, “How can I tell them apart?!” Obviously, I was joking, as it was in fact quite easy to differentiate them, but that moment speaks to how their identities kind of start to fold in on each other. In a way, Poser is like a low-key 21st century indie version of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, in which an actress and a nurse merge psychologically. It didn’t quite get under my skin as much as that Swedish classic, but it does have a bit of that stick-in-your-craw energy.

Poser is Recommended If You Like: Bright hair colors in dimly lit industrial landscapes

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Music Podcasts

Does ‘Brian and Charles’ Earn a Spot in the Robot Friend Canon?

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Brian and Charles (CREDIT: Focus Features)

Starring: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie, Nina Sosanya, Lynn Hunter, Lowri Izzard, Mari Izzard

Director: Jim Archer

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (PG-level, But Maybe a Little Dark for Young Kids)

Release Date: June 17, 2022 (Theaters)

Sometimes when I’m watching a movie, I like to ask myself, “Would I want to live in this world?” That’s certainly not a requirement for a movie to be good, as there have been plenty of fascinating dystopias or gripping recollections of trauma. But if I’m going to spend at least an hour and a half or so in some fictional land, then it usually helps if it’s pleasant. And “pleasant” is certainly one way to accurately describe Brian and Charles. You could also call it charming, even! A rural Welsh fellow (that’s Brian, played by David Earl) builds a robot out of a washing machine and other random household items (that would be Charles, voiced by Chris Hayward) who inexplicably comes to life one day, Frosty the Snowman-style. I mean, how could I possibly resist?

This is low-key sci-fi, which is to say: no scientific explanation is given about how Charles comes to life. (By the way, he comes complete with a last name – “Petrescu” – that I’m fairly certain is NOT also Brian’s last name.) I suppose, then, given the lack of thorough details regarding the generative process, we should maybe instead call it low-key fantasy. But that would imply the presence of magic or some other supernatural force, and it’s not clear that that is what’s going on either. Whether low-key sci-fi or low-key fantasy, you almost feel like this whole turn of events could really happen. And that’s certainly fine with me, because I’d kind of like my own Charles Petrescu!

Much of Brian and Charles is conflict-free and narrative-light, which generally works in its favor. I’m a sucker for robots or other fish-out-of-water types learning about the vagaries of modern society while being gently guided along by their best buds, after all. There is a bit of a dark turn in the final act, as Brian has to confront a bully, which is a bummer certainly, but at least it tracks logically, as he is a rather meek fellow. And the resolution is lovely, what with Charles there to offer both ingenuity and emotional support. Simply put, Brian and Charles offers plenty of charisma in a uniquely offbeat and modest manner.

Brian and Charles is Recommended If You Like: What We Do in the Shadows, Pinocchio, A surprise rap during the end credits

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Cabbages

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/10/22

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(CREDIT: Paramount Plus/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
Jurassic World: Dominion (Theaters) – Just in case you want to be part of the conversation.

TV
-75th Tony Awards (June 12 on CBS and Paramount+) – I bet Six will win at least one award.
Evil Season 3 Premiere (June 12 on Paramount+)
Rutherford Falls Season 2 (June 16 on Peacock)

Sports
-Belmont Stakes (June 11 on NBC) – The Triple Crown concludes, again.

‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ Takes it Worldwide

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Jurassic World Dominion (CREDIT: John Wilson/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Omar Sy, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, Justice Smith

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Running Time: 146 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Intense Dino Chomps

Release Date: June 10, 2022

What would happen if dinosaurs came back to life and then spread out all over the world? Dr. Ian Malcolm would crack jokes about it, you can be sure of that! Of course, that’s what always happens whenever Jeff Goldblum is in a Jurassic Park/World movie, even when the dino habitat is more contained. And that really illuminates how Dominion is just like any other movie in this series. It contains all the typical narrow escapes from T-Rexes and velociraptors, just with some Indiana Jones-style globetrotting thrown in. There’s at least a hint at first that things will be different this time around, as an opening news report seems to indicate that we’re in store for a probing examination about the global consequences of Arrogant Science Run Amok. But instead we mostly get everyone chasing after a MacGuffin. That’s understandable, because the MacGuffin is also one of the main characters. But still, the appeal of Dominion can be boiled down to: A Bigger Scale, But Also Everything is the Same.

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