Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 11/6/20

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Moonbase 8 (CREDIT: Showtime/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
Moonbase 8 Series Premiere (November 8 on Showtime) – Fred Armisen, Tim Heidecker, and John C. Reilly go to the moon!
The Unicorn Season 2 Premiere (November 12 on CBS)

Music
-Kylie Minogue, Disco

Music on TV
-2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (November 7 on HBO)

Books
Answers in the Form of Questions: A Definitive History and Insider’s Guide to Jeopardy! (November 10) – Written by The Ringer‘s Claire McNear!

An ‘An Evening with Tim Heidecker’ Review with jmunney

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An Evening with Tim Heidecker (CREDIT: Tim Heidecker/YouTube Screenshot)

I’d love to review the bad comedy-deconstructing Evening with Tim Heidecker in the style of a poorly written blog, but it took Tim years to perfect his routine, so I think it might be safer for me to do something a little more straightforward. So here are some of my favorite bits from the special, recorded in the hope that this will increase their chances for meme-ification and being remembered fondly for posterity.

-Tim says early on, “I love T&A.” It might not mean exactly what you think…
-“Boy, there’s a lot of women in music these days.”
-Lady Gaga? “What’s next? Lord Goo-Goo?”
-Tim’s New Year’s resolution: “No more bullshit.” And then there’s a whole routine about not putting up with any more bullshit!
-“Because of Obamacare”
-Instead of “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” it’s “Russia, Russia, Russia.” (There’s a lot of strained pauses in the delivery of that one.)
-“You better watch your ass, Batman.” (I forget what led up to this line, but I wrote it down in my notes, so I just HAD to share it.)

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 10/23/20

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Eric Andre Show Season 5 (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
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (October 23 on Amazon) – If you’re in the mood for a Very Nice evening.

TV
The Eric Andre Show Season 5 Premiere (October 25 on Adult Swim)
American Housewife Season 5 Premiere (October 28 on ABC)
Superstore Season 6 Premiere (October 29 on NBC)

Music
-Bruce Springsteen, Letter to You

Comedy
An Evening with Tim Heidecker (October 23 on YouTube) – Should be as funny as 5 bags of popcorn.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/25/20

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The Amber Ruffin Show (CREDIT: Peacock/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
Kajillionaire (Select Theaters)

TV
Despite the pandemic, the Fall TV Season is in full swing.
The Amber Ruffin Show Series Premiere (September 25 on Peacock) – One of Seth Meyers’ writers strikes out on her own.
Utopia Series Premiere (September 25 on Amazon)
Bless the Harts Season 2 Premiere (September 27 on FOX)
Bob’s Burgers Season 11 Premiere (September 27 on FOX)
Family Guy Season 19 Premiere (September 27 on FOX)
Fargo Season 4 Premiere (September 27 on FX)
The Simpsons Season 32 Premiere (September 27 on FOX)
Weakest Link Reboot Premiere (September 29 on NBC) – Hosted by Jane Lynch.
South Park: The Pandemic Special (September 30 on Comedy Central)

Music
-Tim Heidecker, Fear of Death

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 3/27/20

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CREDIT: Adult Swim

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

TV
Three Busy Debras Series Premiere (March 29 on Adult Swim)
Beef House Series Premiere (March 29 on Adult Swim) – Tim & Eric’s latest venture.
Whose Line is it Anyway? Season 16 Premiere – Improv institution returning a little earlier than expected.

Music
-Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia
-Pearl Jam, Gigaton

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

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: Zoey Deutch Shines in the Sweet and Sour ‘Flower’

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CREDIT: The Orchard

This review was originally posted on News Cult in March 2018.

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Adam Scott, Joey Morgan, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshet, Eric Edelstein

Director: Max Winkler

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Rating: R for Matter-of-Fact Crude Teen Dialogue, Implications and Discussions of Statutory Relationships, and an Artistically Impressive Penis Drawing

Release Date: March 16, 2018 (Limited)

When Tim Heidecker is playing the relatively normal person, you know that everyone else is stepping a bit outside their comfort zones and/or we have now realized that everybody is at least a little bit crazy. Along with his frequent partner Eric Wareheim, Heidecker has set the demented tone for much of 21st century comedy. But when he acts for other writers and directors, he works effectively as the most grounded presence. In the case of Flower, in which teenagers attempt to expose pedophiles through unsavory means, he comes across as the voice of reason, or at least the one most conscientiously attempting to do the right thing. Meanwhile, folks like Zoey Deutch and Adam Scott, who normally play sweet and wholesome, are afforded plenty of opportunities to tap into their darker impulses.

Heidecker plays Bob, the stepfather-to-be of Deutch’s Erica, who runs a small-time extortion scam with her friends Kala (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet), in which they lure adults into sex acts and then demand money once they reveal that they are underage. They sniff out a major opportunity when her future stepbrother Luke (Joey Morgan), stricken by panic attacks and suicidal tendencies, reveals that he was molested by Will (Scott), a former teacher of his who Erica recognizes as the hot older dude from the local bowling alley. She pronounces that shaking down a child molester is their “moral obligation,” but their sense of right and wrong is not exactly ideal, as they partly justify their actions by noting that they don’t want anyone to get fat after suffering abuse. Erica does seem to be motivated more by justice than cash, but her morals are too distorted to stop her from making things spiral out of control.

Flower is far from a Time’s Up rallying cry against abusers. It is much too complicated to be that. There are holes in Luke’s story, and Will seems too decent to be guilty of what he’s been accused of (and not in the way that abusers are often manipulatively charming), though it is certainly concerning that he allows the teenage Erica to insinuate herself into his life. And Erica and her friends are hardly appropriate symbols for victims reclaiming their dignity, as they are too quick to justify their own criminality as a means to the right end. Director/co-writer Max Winkler does not shy away from this messiness, getting a brazen but enticing performance out of Deutch in the process. But the ending ties everything up a little too neatly, opting for a romantic outlaw angle that ignores much of the film’s moral debris. The whole affair is a tonal ping-pong, for better and worse.

Flower is Recommended If You Like: The Edge of Seventeen, Donnie Darko, The Crush

Grade: 3 out of 5 Shakedowns