| May 25, 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.
| May 25, 2020
| May 14, 2020
| May 12, 2020
Bilge Ebiri: "In the wake, are movie theaters, having long since lost their essential place in our culture, going to become relics of the past? Probably not. People are desperate to get out of the house, get their kids out of the house and get back to normal. “When this lifts, none of us are ever going to want to be anywhere close to our couch or our TV ever again,” predicts Richard Rushfield, who runs the popular film-industry newsletter The Ankler. “Our couch is going to have associations for us of this awful time.” One recent survey found that almost three out of four Americans said they missed going to movie theaters — which is significantly higher than the percentage of Americans who regularly went in the before times. New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis spoke for many of us when she wrote, “When at last we can go out again and be with one another, I hope that we flood cinemas, watching every single movie, from the most rarefied art film to the silliest Hollywood offering.”
| May 26, 2020
"In the world of performing arts, the coronavirus pandemic has already sunk summer. Now it is felling fall. Even as reopened barbershops, beaches and bookstores herald the resumption of economic life across America, concert promoters, theater presenters, orchestras and dance companies are ripping up their 2020 calendars and hoping 2021 will mark a new beginning. “I think 2020 is gone,” said Anna D. Shapiro, the artistic director of Chicago’s storied Steppenwolf Theater Company. “I’ll be stunned if we’re back in the theater.”
The Autumn That Is Not To Be: Live Producers Shut Down 2020
| May 26, 2020
"I meet Buscemi (he says it boo-sem-ee, not boo-shem-ee) for the first time at an airy Italian restaurant a short walk from his place. Neither of us knows it yet, but this cloudless March Wednesday is one of the last normal days on record, before New York City all but shuts down because of the coronavirus and we are collectively advised to confine ourselves to our apartments. As it turns out, my last sit-down restaurant meal until who knows when is this lunch, with Steve Fucking Buscemi. He has the spinach frittata."
| May 26, 2020
| December 13, 2019
| December 4, 2019
| December 4, 2019