“Mr. Robot”: F-society, A-show

Robot

My favorite weekly game of the TV summer: guessing at what point in the cold open the producers of Mr. Robot will deploy the show’s gorgeous title card, and being wrong every time.

Mr. Robot

That impeccable command of timing is on display throughout one of the summer’s most unexpected TV pleasures. It’s surprising, given that creator Sam Esmail originally conceived the show’s narrative as a single feature film, and has said that the first season represents just the first 30 minutes of that movie. Having seen 90% of the first season, I’m hard pressed to imagine how a visual palette this stunning and a narrative structure this obtuse could make for a coherent feature film. Luckily, they never did.

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“The Gift”: Monkey Business

Gift

The trailers for The Gift would have you believe that actor Joel Edgerton’s debut feature as writer and director is a horror movie in which the source of fear is a man gone insane. But the actual movie is a little harder to pin down. There are conventionally scary moments in The Gift – watch out whenever Robyn (Rebecca Hall) takes a shower or turns her back to the camera – but what’s truly frightening about this story becomes clear only gradually.

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The M&M Report: #JonVoyage to Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show”

Colbert

This week on the M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discussed the end of Jon Stewart’s remarkable, influential 16-year run on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with returning guest Jonathan Connelly. We talked about the impact Stewart’s had on his successors and proteges, the influence and limitations of his rhetoric on the “real world” and what we can expect from a post-Jon Stewart future.

You can watch Jon Stewart’s final episode in its entirety on Comedy Central’s web site.

Last time Jon was on the podcast, we reviewed Madame Secretary. Listen closely to the first minute of this week’s episode for an update on our relationship with that CBS drama.

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”: The Not-Daily Show

John OliverThe last two minutes of the July 26 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver might have been surprising to people who have heard about the show but never watched it. As the 17-minute piece on mandatory minimum sentencing laws drew to a close, Oliver delivered an impassioned plea to viewers to consider the issue and its implications. Even as a devoted fan of the show, I kept waiting for Oliver to punctuate the earnest moment with levity. But he never did, and his show is all the better for it.

It’s impossible to write about Last Week Tonight on the Internet without drawing accusations of clickbait, as his clips are designed, as if genetically, to feed the media beast in a way that even the best of Jon Stewart never matched. But if you dig deeper than the superficial weekly recap below an embedded YouTube clip, if you watch that YouTube clip and pay attention to the care and detail that goes into crafting a Last Week Tonight segment, you realize that people are clicking not because media outlets are telling them to, but because the show rewards their clicks with substance, style and sincerity.

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The M&M Report: “Trainwreck”

This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I sorted through our slightly disappointed feelings about Trainwreck, the new comedy film from director Judd Apatow and star/screenwriter Amy Schumer.

I also reviewed the movie for the blog. For further reading, check out thoughtful analysis from Dana Stevens, Alyssa Rosenberg and Wesley Morris.

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

“Catastrophe”: Not

Catastrophe

The last scene of the first season of Catastrophe seems to undermine much of what came before it. The six-episode series follows the courtship-in-reverse of Rob Norris (Rob Delaney) and Sharon Morris (Sharon Horgan) as they hook up in London, discover later that Sharon is pregnant, and prepare to spend the rest of their lives together despite barely knowing each other. As the season comes to a close, the impact of Rob and Sharon’s hasty decisions and the accelerated timeline of their relationship dawns on them. What was funny and charming turns caustic and contentious.

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“Trainwreck”: Bumpy Ride to Stardom

Trainrweck

Judd Apatow’s filmmaking style is either generous or lazy, depending on your vantage point. To a one, his movies run too long, with individual scenes stretching past their comedy expiration time, zany supporting players and celebrity cameos filling out (or overstuffing) the ensemble, ideas and themes and conventions and subversions jockeying for space. You leave one of his movies feeling sated – sometimes satisfyingly so, but other times like the feeling you get when you eat a little too much, a little too fast.

This comedy of excess makes for an awkward fit with the simultaneous goal of launching a young up-and-comer’s career as a movie star. The rise of Amy Schumer – as an actress, a character, a persona and a brand – is one of the big stories of Trainwreck, Apatow’s fifth directorial feature.

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