Bonnie and Clyde (dir. Arthur Penn, 1967) – It’s got New Hollywood written all over it, and it’s affected so much that’s come after it. Still, it contains plenty of echoes to all that is old and non-Hollywood, like Battleship Potemkin, e.g. Hard not to think of Eisenstein’s peasant woman on the steps getting shot at in the glasses like so many good and bad guys in this film, through glasses or glass. So different, though: not about morality, justice, and nation, but rather about escape, lawlessness, and fate. Bonnie’s opening sequence shows her about to be born again, in the womb and beckoned outside of it by her anti-savior.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (created by Rob McElhenney, 2006/2007) – Seen just a few (maybe five?) episodes now from seasons 2 and 3, and it’s quite in-your-face. Plays like a cartoon in that characters are consistently teetering into death without caring or realizing it. Teeth are pulled out with reckless abandon and what is shot somewhat like a mockumentary is, in its diegetic world, quite abject. So what seems at first like pure idiocy stretching beyond the characters into the writing actually isn’t. It’s written coherently and cleverly, its content is often disgusting albeit oblivious of itself, and the jury is still out as to whether its shock value is outweighed by something both novel and substantial.
Archer (created by Adam Reed, 2010) – Saw the first two episodes of this one (eight more to go and then all caught up). Adult animation super-spy spoof stuff, we have here something witty and fast-paced, all about timing and circular/repetitious themes and punchlines. As my guy on the inside tells me, it’s got something Arrested Development to it, and not just Jessica Walter, Judy Greer, and Jeffrey Tambor. Genuinely funny stuff, it seems to fit in great with a relatively new wave of television that includes the aforementioned and prematurely canceled masterpiece, Curb Your Enthusiasm, It’s Always Sunny, and almost-but-not-quite Modern Family. These are edgier fare that demand fuller attention than your laugh-track driven drivel that’s easy to watch without actually watching it.
It’s Complicated (dir. Nancy Meyers, 2009) – Am probably one of the many/few who noticed the cast, saw some promise, then saw the trailer and the director’s name. It can at least be said for Meyers that she’s been giving some attention to the silenced voice of the middle-aged woman…sort of. She makes movies for women and about woman that seem to entertain a lot of women, but that also get women to accuse her of betraying her race. You don’t find a lot of unlikeable men in her films, at least in terms of the film’s point of view. The ladies, on the other hand, range from the b-word to the girl-next-door in the body of the girl-next-door’s mom. Things in this universe look too perfect, too polished, and have no reference to reality. You don’t run a bakery of that caliber and have nothing but time and money for additions to your Santa Barbara, Martha Stewart-style chateau. Actors are clearly stifled here (Steve Martin) like they were in Meyer’s earlier The Holiday (Jack Black). This is an unimportant point, but whatev. This one exists for Meryl Streep looking lovely, Alec Baldwin being a charming cad, and John Krasinski being funny.