Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/18/20

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Wilmore (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

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

TV
Ratched Season 1 (September 18 on Netflix) – Ryan Murphy sends Sarah Paulson beyond the cuckoo’s nest.
-PEN15 Season 2 Part 1 (September 18 on Hulu)
Wilmore Series Premiere (September 18 on Peacock) – The Comedy Central alum is back to chatting.
-Creative Arts Emmy Awards (September 19 on FXX)
-72nd Primetime Emmy Awards (September 20 on ABC)
-DIY Conan (September 21 on TBS) – Conan O’Brien’s fans make an entire episode of his show.
The Masked Singer Season 4 Premiere (September 23 on FOX)
I Can See Your Voice Series Premiere (September 23 on FOX) – Ken Jeong’s on another wacky singing competition show.

Music
-Neil Young, The Times EP

That’s Auntertainment! Mini-Episode: Karaoke Korner 9

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot

It’s time for another Karaoke Korner! Based on a suggestion by his good friend Dave, Jeff has gone on a journey to determine the best one-hit wonders of the 2000s for karaoke purposes.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/11/20

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Archer Season 11 (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

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

TV
Jeopardy! Season 37 Premiere (September 14, check local listings)
American Dad! 300th Episode (September 14 on TBS)
The Drew Barrymore Show Series Premiere – Everybody loves Drew!
Archer Season 11 Premiere (September 16 on FXX) – Returning to the core premise after several seasons afield.
-Creative Arts Emmys Days 1-4 (Streaming September 14-17 on Emmys.com)

Music
-The Flaming Lips, American Head

 

I’m Thinking of Writing Things (‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ Review)

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things (CREDIT: Mary Cybulski/Netflix)

Starring: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, David Thewlis

Director: Charlie Kaufman

Running Time: 134 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: September 4, 2020

I’m Thinking of Ending Things features a couple of things that I REALLY love in a pair of crucial scenes: a furry doggie and a trip to the ice cream shop! But there appear to be sinister elements lurking beneath the surfaces, as Jimmy the fluffy border collie seems to be stuck in a time loop of shaking himself dry, and Jake (Jesse Plemons) and the young woman (Jessie Buckley) buy their frozen treats in the middle of a snowstorm. Ice cream might taste great year-round, but if you’re going to eat it in the winter, you’d probably want to do it while snuggled up at home! (Also, that girl at the ice cream shop hints at … something nefarious.)

Really, the entirety of I’m Thinking of Ending Things is about events that I love but that have something terrifying bubbling (barely) beneath the surface. Meeting your s.o.’s parents for dinner?! Great, but the time-space continuum seems to be coming undone. Having a conversation in the car about whatever the hell pops into your head?! I love it, but often this scene is so dark that I can’t see anything at all. Dancing in a school hallway?! Hurray! … but is the janitor okay?

You’re thinking of ending things? I’m thinking of making them last forever!

Grade: 45 Dog Shakes out of 60 Ice Cream Cones

That’s Auntertainment! Mini-Episode: RIP Chadwick Boseman

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Chadwick Boseman (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

Jeff and Aunt Beth share their memories of Chadwick Boseman upon his passing from colon cancer at the age of 43.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/4/20

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Tenet (CREDIT: YouTube 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
Tenet (In theaters, apparently) – I don’t know when I’ll actually be seeing Christopher Nolan’s latest, but I’ll see it at some point.
i’m thinking of ending things (Streaming on Netflix) – The kooky latest from Charlie Kaufman.

TV
Woke Season 1 (September 9 on Hulu) – Starring Lamorne Morris!

The History of a Meme Feels Good, Man in the Documentary ‘Feels Good Man’

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Feels Good Man (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Matt Furie, Pepe the Frog, 4chan

Director: Arthur Jones

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (I Would Put it at a PG or PG-13)

Release Date: September 4, 2020 (On Demand)

After he’s all been put through, Pepe the Frog somehow still feels good, man. That’s the nature of a meme that hangs around for a while. It may get stripped of context and remixed to no end, but at its core, it still maintains some piece of its essential self. And Pepe has been on quite a journey, as laid out in Arthur Jones’ documentary Feels Good Man. He began his life as an anthropomorphic amphibian with big eyes and a wide grin in cartoonist Matt Furie’s comic Boys Club. His visage was then adapted into various Internet subcultures, particularly on the image posting forum 4chan. Bizarrely enough, that led to him being co-opted into a symbol of the alt-right, and he broke through into mainstream culture in a big way when he became associated with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Soon thereafter, he was designated as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. Meanwhile, Furie was left in this maelstrom to struggle to regain control of his creation.

Feels Good Man works best when it functions as a deep-dive investigation into how Pepe got to where he is today. Furie reveals the origins of Boys Club and how Pepe’s signature catchphrase arose from his propensity to drop his pants all the way to the floor while relieving himself. Internet experts and cultural scholars explain how memes spread online and what memes even are in the first place. A 4chan veteran lets us in on NEET (“Not in Education, Employment, or Training”) culture as we discover how 4channers became a significant segment of Trump’s coalition. Oh, and also did you know that celebrities like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj have shared images of Pepe on social media?

The segments of Feels Good Man that focus on Furie attempting to transform Pepe into something positive again are more frustrating, not necessarily because of any filmmaking decisions but due to the Sisyphean nature of this pursuit. Simply put, the world has been flooded with so many versions of the alt-right Pepe, and there’s no drainage system that can work fast enough to fully counteract that. That also makes it tough for the documentary to have a full sense of context when the focus is on the present. Really, that’s a struggle faced by any documentary that focuses on the here and now. In a way, Feels Good Man is about that struggle, as the context of Pepe becomes impossible to fully keep track of. But then at least a glimmer of hope emerges as Furie secures some legal victories and Pepe is reborn as a symbol of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. His story isn’t over, and that weirdly makes me feel optimistic about humanity.

Feels Good Man is Recommended If You Like: People who understand the Internet explaining the Internet

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Memes

That’s Auntertainment! Episode 17: Atypical and Fictional Characters on the Autism Spectrum

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Atypical

Netflix’s Atypical is a coming-of-age sitcom about a teenage boy on the autism spectrum. Jeff just finished the first three seasons, and it’s one of Aunt Beth’s favorite shows of the past decade, so they decided it was time to have a deep-dive discussion about it and some of their other favorite fictional characters on the spectrum.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 8/28/20

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A.P BIO — “Disgraced” Episode 302 — Pictured: (l-r) Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin, Allisyn Snyder as Heather — (CREDIT: Chris Haston/Peacock)

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 New Mutants (Theaters) – I’m still not convinced this long-delayed movie is actually coming out! (Or that it’s safe to go to the theater yet.)
Bill & Ted Face the Music (Theaters and On Demand)

TV
A.P. Bio Season 3 (September 3 on Peacock) – One of the funniest sitcoms out there right now!

Music on TV
-2020 MTV Video Music Awards (August 30 on MTV)

Music
-Disclosure, Energy
-Dua Lipa, Club Future Nostalgia: The Remix Album
-Katy Perry, Smile

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ and They Also Face the Weight of Years’ Worth of Anticipation

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Bill & Ted Face the Music (CREDIT: Orion Pictures)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Samara Weaving, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Kristen Schaal, Holland Taylor, Anthony Carrigan, William Sadler, Hal Landon Jr., Beck Bennett, Kid Cudi, Jillian Bell

Director: Dean Parisot

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for “Some Language,” Apparently

Release Date: August 28, 2020 (Theaters and On Demand)

Bill & Ted Face the Music is about the crushing expectations of destiny. It’s kind of like the Bhagavad Gita in that way. From a gnarlier perspective, it’s also about how time travel doesn’t make any sense, and won’t ever make sense, but that’s okay, because we can still be excellent to each other.

When we first met the Wyld Stallyns during their first excellent time-hopping adventure thirty years ago, we learned that their music would serve as the inspiration for a utopian society several centuries into the future. And now it’s finally time for them to answer that call. If they don’t, the time-space continuum will totally be ripped apart! But in 2020, the biggest live music gig that Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Alex Winter) can get is the wedding of Ted’s younger brother to Bill’s former stepmom. How then can they possibly live up to what Fate has asked of them? How could anybody, really? The premise worked well enough in Excellent Adventure, as it remained theoretical and fantastical, but now disappointment feels inevitable.

But fortunately Face the Music isn’t really about the promise of that world-saving composition. Rather, it is about the shenanigans that lead up to that point, naturally enough. Facing a profound case of writer’s block and a terrifying time limit of only 78 minutes, Bill and Ted figure they might as well visit their future selves and steal the song they will have already written by that point. But that proves to be fruitless no matter how far in the future they go, which begs the question: are they only able to travel into a possible future in which they’re not successful? But how could that be if they’re able to visit the utopian far future when they will have necessarily been successful? And why is there a time limit anyway? If they fail, can’t they just get in the phone booth and go back far enough in the past to start over? The stern visage of Holland Taylor (who plays the future’s Great Leader) assures us otherwise.

There’s a sanded-down quality to Face the Music that can happen when you try to resurrect old beloved characters. Bill and Ted are still plenty charming, but they’re far from as dopey as they were when they were teenagers, even though they still talk in the same surfer bro SoCal cadence. Meanwhile, there’s a trickier sort of alchemy attempted with their daughters (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving), who are basically gender-flipped carbon copies of their dads but they’re also actually geniuses, at least when it comes to music theory, history, and composition.

Face the Music struggles to get a handle on how ridiculous the Wyld Stallyns and their loved ones and collaborators are supposed to be. They do live in a ridiculous reality after all, as they must contend with a depression-prone killer robot (Anthony Carrigan) and a Grim Reaper (William Sadler returning from Bogus Journey) who mopes about not being allowed to deliver 40-minute bass solos. That’s often the trouble with returning to a kooky world. The base level of kookiness is already so high that any new bit of kookiness just feels like chaos. There’s a nice degree of heart here that sometimes shines through in the cacophony, but there’s nothing quite as sublime as “Bob Genghis Khan.”

Bill & Ted Face the Music is Recommended If You Like: Midlife crises, Millennia-spanning supergroups, Just-go-with-it time travel

Grade: 3 out of 5 Princess Wives

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