Finding Frances

The feature length finale of the Comedy Central series ‘Nathan For You’ takes an amazing melancholy turn, when Nathan decides to use the show’s resources to find Bill Heath’s (the Bill Gates impersonator from previous episodes) long lost love.

Though still full of the same comedic flavor that Nathan is famous for, this is a heart wrenching documentary about a man that could not let go of the past.

Bill, now 76 years old, never married, and never had children, has spent his life always wondering what happened to his young love Frances, last seen over 50 years ago. Though it is never stated directly, it is implied that he never married or had children because he was always hoping to find her. Early in the episode we get many clips of him reminiscing about her, always saying ‘I should have married her.’

Nathan takes it on himself to help Bill find Frances, using ridiculous, roundabout tactics that will be familiar to fans of the show. But always present between the comedy is a thick vein of longing, and it will creep under your skin and leave your heart aching.

What kind of love must one feel to still wonder about someone from half a century past? What kind of emotions could prevent a person from moving on after so much time? The relationship of Bill and Frances is startlingly similar to that of Florintino and Fermina in Love in the Time of Cholera, except, as we find out during a heart squeezing scene where Bill reads through a box of old letters–Bill left Frances to pursue his career in acting, and regretted it ever since.

I won’t spoil the end, but as the episode progresses and Nathan finds more and more information about Frances, it becomes clear that Bill has held some kind of frozen image of her in his mind, a version of her trapped in amber and unchanging as the decades rolled by.

Is this how all love works? A first impression of overwhelming emotion seared into the brain, unable to be overwritten no matter what else happens with or because of that person. Do we have any choice but to cling to that moment when everything was perfect and amazing, despite all that has changed? That irrationality and inability to accept change–or even perceive it in some cases–is part of what makes us human…

The end of this episode left me with a surreal feeling of the gulf of time that can separate two people–a feeling of melancholy for the past, like opening a time capsule full of childhood mementos, or finding an old love letter in your attic.

This episode was better produced, and miles more meaningful than 90% of Hollywood movies today. Even if you’re not familiar with the show, and don’t care for absurdist/awkward comedy– I would recommend watching this episode. It is heartfelt, real, and peeks at some secret aspect of being human that hides within all of us.

The Orville, Episode 9

In another somewhat dull episode of The Orville, all the crew members fall in love with each other. This one was more focused on humor and relationship stuff than real adventure or thoughtful things.

The blue alien that Kelly cheated on Ed with ends up on the ship as a forensic archaeologist, to determine which of two warring species has a true ancestral claim to a contested planet. While he’s on the ship, his hormones cause anyone he touches to fall in love with him–or anyone else he’s touched.

It was fun seeing Captain Mercer go all gaga for the guy he hated just moments ago, and the slime blob sex scene was interesting/messed up. But, there wasn’t much thought provoking–and yes I know it’s a comedy show, but it’s gotten its self a reputation to upkeep in my eyes!

Using the love pheramones to resolve the thousands of years old dispute was obvious and also silly. Though it was humorous seeing those two previously enraged enemies holding hands and googoo eyeing like teenage lovers, in reality after a few days when it wears off they’ll be even more pissed at each-other that it happened at all.

Still better than Discovery, though.

Random Game of Thrones thoughts

I really wish Jon Snow would have stayed dead.

All the rumors and articles and talk of him coming back made it into an expected, taken for granted event. There was no tension, no curiosity. And it undercut the power of his death, which was a nice mirror of his father’s death. His coming back so quickly and easily, and with no consequence to anyone, sucked.

I would have been thrilled and cheering if the red woman’s spell did nothing, and they cut to a pyre. That is the kind of subversion I expect from GRR.

But the show has lost its ‘anyone is at risk, anything can happen’ tension. Jon is an invincible Mary Sue. He should have died at the battle of the bastards. He should have died trapped on the ice with the zombies. He should have died when he fell through the ice. It is getting tiring.

 

The Orville: Episode 8, into the fold

In the first really boring episode of the series, Dr. Claire and her two sons attempt to go on vacation, but are instead sucked into a fold in space and shot out a thousand lightyears away, and crash land on an alien planet.

It sounds interesting in principle, but instead it’s just endless bickering children and diseased cannibals.

I guess the ‘moral’ of the episode is you should appreciate your parents and how much they care for you. But it is shown in a really dull way.

The kids are separated from Dr. Claire, and have to be taken care of by Isaac, who with his robot ignorance, shows us what parent/child relationships are like by asking very blunt questions like ‘why are you such little shitstains to your mom’, to paraphrase.

In the end the kids feel bad and apologize for being jerks.

Also Dr. Claire is locked up by a survivalist alien who tries to feed her, but won’t let her go outside because of the poison water and hoards of diseased that will try to kill and eat her. To repay him for his kindness, she tricks him into going to her ship to search for medicine (which he does, because he is worried she will die) then when he gets back she kills him. How kind.

On the plus side this episode was real light on the stupid humor.

Mind Hunter

I finished this disturbing series on Netflix recently, and for anyone interested in crime or serial killers, this is a must-watch.

What stuck with me most, though was how they so expertly build up the uneasy anxiety when in the room with these killers. Even though (or perhaps, because) the interviewees speak and act for the most part like normal human beings, there is a tensity, and sense of needing to get the hell out of there is so strong in each of the interviews, that I found myself leaning forward in my seat and clenching my hands. The effect is memorable and unsettling.

I don’t know if it was a movie magic effect, or just my own perceptions, or something somehow conjured by the actor–but Edmund Kemper’s eyes are so dead and empty. And when that emptiness is juxtaposed with the jovial and friendly way that he speaks about murder and rape… the result is sickeningly effective.

The final scene of the final episode really magnifies what I’m talking about…

A great show, recommended!

Stranger Things: Season 2, episodes 3 and 4

This show is getting dark.

There is something incredibly creepy about what is happening to Will, and I stayed up late to watch another episode I wasn’t planing on because of it.

This show really knows how to do creepy and dark, without having obnoxious jump scares or shocking blood and violence. That’s something I’ve realllllly been missing from movies lately!

Another thing this show handles better than Hollywood is nostalgia. There are so many references to 80s culture, but I still don’t feel banged over the head with it or pandered to. And it’s so nice to recognize a thing from my childhood and not want to throttle someone for re-imagining, remaking, rebooting or any other re-ing it.

Excited for whatever comes next!

Stranger Things: Season 2 episode 2

Happy Halloween!

The pumpkin plague is spreading, and not just pumpkins, but trees and crops of all kinds are rotting and covered in slime. Some giant thing from the upside down is causing it to be sure.

We get a flashback to the end of season 1 and see what happened to 11. The scenes of her surviving in the snow in the woods were really effective and well done. Though, poor squirrel!

Max’s brother is a real douche, and I can’t wait to see someone bust his nose. I sure hope someone does…

11’s powers seem to be increasing. Last season, she needed an elaborate isolation tank to do the things she is now doing with just a blindfold…. what else could she do next?

No more mention of 008… will she be friend of foe?