Somehow I’ve managed to run up a backlog of stuff to review while editing my novel, and I’ve not the time to paint up something for each of these so here’s a handy bundle all in one place!
JOHN MULANEY & THE SNACK LUNCH BUNCH
UNDER THE SILVER LAKE
THE GOOD PLACE (finale)
BOJACK HORSEMAN (finale)
FINAL SPACE (s01)
WHAT DID JACK DO?
JOHN MULANEY & THE SNACK LUNCH BUNCH (2019)
Taking the concept of children’s programming and running it through the mind of a childlike adult, you end up with a bizarre collection of musical numbers with a surreal guest cast (Richard Kind! Natasha Lyonne! David Freakin’ Byrne!) and something that’s as much for kids at heart as it is for actual kids. John Mulaney is sort of like Mr Rogers if Mr Rogers had done a bunch of coke in his 20s and lost his way and now that he’s most-way to 40 is trying to sort out something a little more wholesome for himself but not quite getting there – if you’ve seen his standup you’ll know the energy that’s coming here. The songs are catchy and absurd and it’s worth the watch purely for the most unhinged you’ve ever seen Jake Gyllenhaal, which is really saying something.
UNCUT GEMS (2019)
An exercise in high-tension anxiety from start to finish, told through a frantically moving lens and a performance from Adam Sandler that lives up to all the hype that it’s garnered. There’s not much more I can say that isn’t better demonstrated by living through the stress of it yourself while trying not to yell at the bastard to get his shit together. Recommended.
MARRIAGE STORY (2019)
Something that could easily have worked just as well as a stage play, hinging to two excellent performances by Adam Driver and Scarlet Johansson as a couple in the death-rattle of a dying marriage. If anything, it’s an indictment of divorce lawyers and their ability to spin the worst out of people who would have otherwise probably fallen apart relatively amicably. A character study of simple, beautiful, mundane humanity under minimalist direction, worth a watch.
UNDER THE SILVER LAKE (2018)
A strange and unique tone that feels like some forgotten relic of a different time in cinema, taking noir detective tropes and running them through a nostalgic grinder of a psychotic breakdown in period-fiction 2011. Ultimately not as clever or deep as it thinks it is, too tangled in unbelievable coincidence and loose ends, but it’s cloaked in enough intrigue and layered symbology that its disconnected narrative carries its own sort of logic from one curious sequence to the next. I enjoyed it, but I don’t know if it was actually good. If you want a film that will throw you down a reddit wormhole of conspiracy, this’ll float your boat.
THE GOOD PLACE (finale)
Michael Schur stated often throughout the four seasons of the show’s run that they had always planned for it to close off neatly in four seasons, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t manage exactly what they set out for in characteristically precise and warming fashion. Everyone in this absolute treasure of a cast got their moment — a story about humanity and philosophy and unlikely friendship and love tied a bow so perfect that though I’m sad that I don’t get to enjoy any more gaffs or lightning one-liners or hysterically casual absurd observations, that’s the point. All things must end, and its finale was as sincere and heartfelt as it was bittersweetly true to itself. If you never watched any of it before there’s no better time to plow through the whole thing and let its final peace wash over you.
BOJACK HORSEMAN (finale)
On the other end of the big show-closer spectrum, and equally true to its own premise, comes the Sad Horse Show to offer a different angle on life and death and meaning (or lack thereof). I can understand that many people probably didn’t make it this far through six seasons of what is ostensibly a bleak, depressing, often nihilistically cruel cartoon about talking animal-people, but those that do find something to hold on to and there were some utterly stunning, heartbreaking episodes in amongst the ennui and existential dread. It sticks the landing too, not betraying itself for something hollow or saccharine or cheap or even mean-spirited, deciding that satisfaction is itself something earned without a heavy hand.
FINAL SPACE (s01)
Honestly, I found the protagonist so irritating that it took me three attempts to get far enough into the first season to where the plot finally began to really crank up into the territory of “good”. I’ve only dipped a toe into season two and I’ll probably come back around to it, but I’m hoping that the character development keeps on course. I feel like this has got to be a relatively limited run of a pretence, and it’s already managed to throw a few punches typically reserved for the endgame of a longer running show. I might revisit when it’s all wrapped up. It’s okay, I just don’t love it.
WHAT DID JACK DO? (2020)
17min inside the mind of David Lynch as expressed through a dialogue between a chicken-loving capuchin monkey and the police detective tasked with bringing him in for murder. I really can’t put it any more plainly than that — either you read that sentence and think fuck yes or you think that I’m having a stroke at my keyboard. I’d recommend it but I can’t promise you’ll take anything away from it.
I drifted away from the DC television “Arrowverse” some years ago. I like my superhero junk big and fun and colourful and predominantly Marvel (with a few notable exceptions). Still, as far as angsty teenage superhero dramas go they’ve done alright — the main thrust of this being that Dick Grayson has had it with Bruce Wayne’s shit and is trying to strike out on his own away from the Robin identity, and he’s managed to do a pretty good job of wrangling an ensemble of broken personas together to form a mini Justice League over the course of two seasons. I’m not overly familiar with the younger generation of DC characters, but they seem well cast and likeable here with enough friction and dynamic among them that doesn’t devolve into high melodrama too hard. I don’t know whether the big Crisis crossover/merge events happening on all the other shows have folded this into that universe now too, but it’s as good as any of them.
Well then! Agree? Disagree? Come at me, yo.
Now that I’ve chugged through this backlog I should be able to squeeze in some more painting for reviews going forward.
Until then, peace.