Tim Heidecker Expands His Empire with the Political Mockumentary ‘Mister America’

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CREDIT: Magnolia Pictures/YouTube Screenshot

Starring: Tim Heidecker, Gregg Turkington, Terri Parks, Don Pecchia, Curtis Webster

Director: Eric Notarnicola

Running Time: 89 Minutes

Rating: R for Language, Mostly and Some Drug Use Apparently

Release Date: October 9, 2019 (One Night Only)

Mister America is the latest, and perhaps most ambitious, entry in the Tim Heidecker/Gregg Turkington Fictional Universe. Now either that sentence is meaningless to you, or you’ve already made plans to see Mister America. For the uninitiated, the backstory is more ridiculous and labyrinthine than you could possibly imagine. Starting in 2011, Heidecker and Turkington started the podcast On Cinema, in which they review films as fictionalized, mostly incompetent versions of themselves. A couple of years later, the show became the webseries On Cinema at the Cinema on AdultSwim.com, and it’s since gone on to spawn spin-offs, like the action spoof Decker on Adult Swim proper, and then “The Trial,” an extended courtroom saga in which Tim was charged with murder following the overdose deaths at a music festival he organized. Mister America is a mockumentary that directly springs from “The Trial,” chronicling Tim’s revenge-fueled campaign to become district attorney of San Bernardino, California.

If you’re a fan of Heidecker (and his frequent partner Eric Wareheim), you’re probably automatically loyal to whatever weird project he’s committed 100%. But if you’ve instead been traumatized by just one moment of exposure to his brand of purposeful amateurism, you probably have no intention of ever giving him another chance. I’m certainly in the former camp, but I do worry how someone who usually works in 5-to-20-minute bursts will handle a feature length space with the same shtick. As amused as I am by Heidecker’s clueless right-wing blowhard altar ego, it can be patience-testing to endure him spouting a bunch of gussied-up nonsense over and over again. Luckily, Turkington is on hand to occasionally lighten up the proceedings with his trademark banal movie trivia “facts.”

Much of the action of Mister America takes place in the drab hotel setup that Tim has made his campaign headquarters (it was necessary to establish residency in San Bernardino). This soul-killing setting reminded me of The Brink, the recent actual documentary about Steve Bannon that was similarly trapped by temporary lodgings. That film had a decently keen insight into the former White House chief strategist, but it was a tough watch because its subject is so devoid of charisma. So with that contrast in mind, Mister America kind of works because it’s about an idiot who’s nonetheless charismatic in a through-the-looking-glass sort of way. If only all the racist dog-whistlers out there were this clueless, the world would be a much better and more amusing place.

Mister America is Recommended If You Like: Tim Heidecker Unbound

Grade: 3 out of 5 Crime Eliminators

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Movie Review: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is a Landmark Achievement in Doppelgänger-Based Horror

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CREDIT: Claudette Barius/Universal Pictures

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop

Director: Jordan Peele

Running Time: 116 Minutes

Rating: R for Scissor-Based Bloody Violence and Semi-Euphemistic Drug Talk

Release Date: March 22, 2019

The appeal of Get Out, Jordan Peele’s first film, had a lot to do with its underlying social message, which declared: this is the horror of what it’s like to be a black person in America. Now his follow-up Us is luring crowds primarily on the promise of its scare tactics, which are based on the fundamentally unnerving premise of a family terrorized by a group of people who look exactly like them. There is another social metaphor wrapped up in this package, and there is a good chance that you will figure it out by the end, or that someone will point it out to you. It’s clear enough, without being thuddingly obvious. Other reviews might reveal that subtext, but I’ll leave it unsaid, because there is satisfaction to be had in going in cold and having it click for you.

While Peele’s films are driven by an urge to convince people to look deeper at the world around them, they also work confidently on a surface level. Us is a striking triumph of the marriage of craft and performance. It would have to be for us to accept a world in which a group of doppelgängers, known as “the Tethered,” speak in a mixture of indefinably accented English, clicks, and blood-curdling screams. Occasionally, there is a chaotic mix of horror and comedy butting up against each other not exactly comfortably, with the tension breaking perhaps one too many times. But Peele is working in such unprecedented territory that I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. The acting is impressive across the board, especially in terms of a risk-taking appetite. A great deal is asked of Lupita Nyong’o, as the mother of the main family and the leader of the Tethered. She gives the sort of performance that is some unholy mix of ridiculous and brilliant – it might be a great folly, or the best of the year, or both.

CREDIT: Claudette Barius/Universal Pictures

The conclusion explains the rise of the Tethered with a twist that at first struck me as nonsensical. My instinct was to scramble back and fill in some extra-textual details that would fix what seemed like a glaring mistake. But now that I have had time to reflect, I am choosing to embrace the absurdity. It fits with a world in which people are often irrational and not fully paying attention to all that is around them. There are so many opportunities for reflection within Us, and you may be surprised, and perhaps invigorated, by what you see.

Us is Recommended If You Like: Get Out, Funny Games, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Grade: 4 out of 5 Scissors

This Is a Movie Review: Flower

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CREDIT: The Orchard

I give Flower 3 out of 5 Shakedowns: http://newscult.com/movie-review-zoey-deutch-shines-sweet-sour-flower/