| September 23, 2020
I never thought it would happen to me.
I wandered through Quibi’s programming selections the week it launched. A few minutes here, a few minutes there. A laugh or two. Pun titles all over, like Gayme Show and Dishmantled and Barkitecture. But nothing I felt compelled to stick with. After jumping on the app a bunch of times in the first week, it became just another app square staring from my phone.
And the app seemed dead.
But while sitting in a long Starbucks drive-thru line, wanting to distract myself somewhere outside of my home, I jumped back in. And the one show I had not watched but was intrigued by— to me, as in “why is she doing this?”—was Anna Kendrick and Dummy. The image of Kendrick and a sex doll that represented the show was off-putting. I mean, how could it be. On Quibi. The app with Chrissy Teigen as a judge, which seemed to be the natural extension of Kate McKinnon sexualizing Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But there I sat. I turned the sound on in the car, turned the phone to widescreen, and it began.
The sexualized version of Anna Kendrick, who shows up now and again. When she grooms a hair on her (unseen) breast, you know something is different. Big handful of expired pot gummies. Her boyfriend is Donal Logue (Dan), who is about a decade too old for the relationship. Hmmm. Honest dialogue. Sweet kink.
And then, the sex doll. I won’t explain how she arrives. But she is found by Anna Kendrick’s Cody (same name as the writer/creator of the show) by calling for Cody.
So what is this? A fantasy? Michigan J. Frog? A set of universal rules that are outside of the norm? All of the above?
What follows for nearly an hour is a panini of the familiar and the unexpected. The Sex Doll, named Barbara (voiced by Meredith Hagner) becomes the comic driver of the piece. She is, even more than the characters we have already met, who love how super-honest they are, dead honest. Or at least she is as a reflection of the unspoken truths that Cody dare not speak.
Then there all the flavor crystals spread throughout. Dan is fully named Dan Harmon, who has been “involved with” the real Cody Heller for years. Ballsy. Though apparently Cody never met Dan’s sex doll. But the fact that she didn’t do sex doll research for the writing of this piece makes it all the more clear that it is about Cody and not about Barbara.
There is an episode where there is an exploration of feminism in terms of how women see themselves with men and how they see other women—or dolls—who are with men. And how dolls see women. The female in the Hollywood pool is a theme throughout, but most specific in the episode “The Bechdel Test.”
I really, really liked this piece. And that is really what it is. A short film with a beginning, middle and end. I like it so much that I don’t want a season two. It’s better than that.
If you are shy about words about human excretions, etcetera, this is not for you. It is rough and raw and right to the point (or the liquids left inside Barbara). But it’s fun and smart and remarkably serious at moments, though it doesn’t take itself seriously for a second.
They did take it seriously enough to hire Tricia Brock, who is a legitimate veteran TV director, to direct the piece.
I don’t know what category this fits in for the Emmys, but it is a worthy candidate for a nomination and maybe even for a win. Is Quibi going there? I don’t know. But it’s the only truly original, thoughtful, high-end piece I have seen on the app. Seriously… this could be an episode of Black Mirror and it would be all anyone could talk about for weeks.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kendrick is coming out in an HBO Max series (Love Life) in a few weeks that is already being positioned for Emmys. But I seriously hope this piece won’t be lost in the wake. It’s one of my favorite new things I have seen in these months of screening a lot of new stuff.
| September 23, 2020
| September 17, 2020
| September 16, 2020
"On September 10, James Packer’s $200 million megayacht IJE was harbored in Tahiti, where it was scheduled to stay for three months. A bailiff attempted to board the luxury liner to serve the film producer and financier and was told to return the following day because Packer was not there. When the bailiff returned, IJE was pulling out of the harbor and heading to Bora Bora with the Australian billionaire onboard. Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, a process server was attempting to serve Millennium Films CEO Avi Lerner at his Eastern Europe studio. Simultaneously, disgraced film producer Brett Ratner and former Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara were served at their homes in Los Angeles. Sources say the four men were notified of a petition filed September 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court by a woman named Melissa Parker, who was facing off against Clark Grandin, Bruce Hamilton, Gregory Kemp and Walter Nelson. The names wouldn’t ring a bell with anyone in the Hollywood community. That’s because they are pseudonyms, with Parker being a stand-in for Charlotte Kirk — the British actress at the center of a scandal that has led to the ouster of two studio executives from their top perches, Tsujihara and NBCUniversal chief Ron Meyer. The defendants are, in fact, Ratner, Tsujihara, Packer and Lerner. The men have used these pseudonyms in legal documents since 2017 in an attempt to shield their identities amid explosive claims."
| September 25, 2020
Aaron Sorkin: "When you bring home a puppy, it’s said you should get a crate that is big just about big enough for the puppy to move around. That confined space will make the puppy feel secure. It’s the same with me. I like the four walls of the court and the office. I only have one movie under my belt, Molly’s Game, which had three principal characters. This film has eleven stars, most of whom are leads in their own movies and it has riots and teargas scenes. That’s not part of the puppy crate. Just writing the words, 'Exterior: Scene' on a screenplay makes me dizzy.... When I left Spielberg's house [in 2006], I called my father because I didn’t know about the events Steven was referring to. I said yes because it was Steven and he said there was a trial, so I thought courtroom and that was enough.”
| September 25, 2020
Jonathan Lethem: "The sensation of sitting alone in the theater is one I compulsively compare to going to a brain laundromat. I’m there to have my brain rinsed in the stream of images. I specify “compulsively” because I think of this comparison every time I go. Watching a big screen in the dark relaxes and restores me, and takes me out of the realm of criticism and language that too often overtakes my pleasure at the immersive flow of reading. Those personal “sites”—immersive reading, dreamy-attentive moviegoing—are primal for me, and sacred."
September 24, 2020
Peter Jukes: "You didn’t have to meet Harry to feel his spirit and generosity. It infused everything he wrote and edited. He was everything a journalist should be: open, inquisitive, sceptical at times, but never cynical – always enthusiastic and positive. Maybe part of that generous energy was down to Harry’s background, which reads like a textbook lesson in all the possibilities of post-war British social mobility. The son of a railwayman from Eccles, he left school with no qualifications and started working in local journalism at the age of 16, rising to the pinnacle of the best British newspaper of the last century, the Sunday Times. No wonder, with this trajectory, Harry seemed to approach every day, and every person, with a sense of good fortune and mischief."
September 24, 2020
| December 13, 2019
| December 4, 2019
| December 4, 2019