"Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid" and "A Quiet Place" are this week's picks.
Before we dive in, we have business to discuss.
I believe diverse voices are important when discussing the impact and merit of media. I try to be wide-ranging in my Binge Blog selections, but there are biases I will always have in my personal taste — I'm probably not going to write about "The Stand-In," for example, but I will discuss the entire David Lowery catalogue eventually. That said, there are people in our audience who do care about films like "The Stand-In," and they deserve to have their interests met.
Also, it is difficult to watch a bunch of time-consuming content and then find more time to write about it each week.
That is why, starting next Binge Blog, I will have a partner: Longboat Observer Community Editor Katie Johns. Katie and I will be trading Binge Blog weeks for the foreseeable future. It will allow both of us the time to polish what we want to say and the time to study the entertainment options themselves.
Katie is going to bring her own voice to this thing. Will her format be different? Maybe! I can't wait to get the answer. She has the power to run her weeks however she wants. She has filled in for me before and done a great job. Be nice to her. This is going to be fun for everyone.
Now, back to whatever it is we normally do here.
Netflix, TV-PG, 60 minutes
I have not talked much about stand-up comedy in Binge Blog. I don’t know why because I love it and consider it one of the highest art forms, but oh well. Here’s to changing that.
Nate Bargatze is different than most comedians with Netflix specials in that he is clean. No cursing, no adult-themed jokes, none of that. Instead he focused on absurdities, which he talks about in perfect deadpan. I like blue humor as much as the next guy, but there is something to be said for a comedian who can make people laugh without targeting their jokes at anyone. They just think of funny ideas everyone can enjoy.
Bargatze is as good as it gets in this regard. In fact, he’s probably one of your favorite comedian’s favorite comedians. In “The Tennessee Kid,” he muses on the perils of going cheap for your own wedding, the odd rules of sports event tickets and how he would go about getting rid of a dead horse. (He manages to avoid beating a dead horse during that bit, perhaps the most impressive moment of the set.) There is something oddly comforting about Bargatze’s style. When most comedians use performance to get laughs as much as their material, Bargatze is almost anti-performance. He is performing, of course — but it feels like he isn’t, and that’s part of the appeal. He tells stories like your naturally funny friend (or dad) tells jokes.
He’s self-depreciating, but not in a “look at how self-deprecating I am” way. He’s confident in his material but not cocky. More than anything, his comedy feels honest to who Bargatze is off-stage. We could all use more honesty these days.
If nothing else, I promise you this: You’ll always be aware of how much “with” and “whip” sound alike. The reason why had me in tears.
No, I’m not going to ruin the joke here. Trust me, it will be funnier when he says it.
“A Quiet Place” (2018)
Amazon Prime Video, PG-13, 90 minutes
You know a movie changed the cinematic landscape when a rash of shitty ripoffs hit the market.
So, congrats, I guess, “A Quiet Place.” Your impact has been established.
First it was Netflix’s “Bird Box,” which tried to switch the phenomenon affected from sound to sight, but ended up being a mess. Now it is Netflix’s “The Silence,” which stars Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka, two performers who deserve better than this. Yes, the film is based on a book that predates “A Quiet Place,” but it does nothing interesting with sound — or anything interesting at all, really.
Sometimes, the first one is the best one. “A Quiet Place” didn’t win any Oscars — though it should have won for sound editing over "Bohemian Rhapsody" — and it may not be remembered in 20 years, depending on the success of said ripoffs and its own upcoming sequel. But it was a strong debut from director and star John Krasinski, one that was original in story and execution even with a few flaws.
Let’s get those flaws out of the way because I have not stopped thinking about them since April 2018. Spoilers below. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST LIVE AT THE WATERFALL. THE MONSTERS CANNOT HEAR THEM THERE AND THEY GO THERE TO GET BUSY, ANYWAY. IT LOOKED NICE. YOU CAN FISH FOR FOOD. IT’S A LITTLE WET, SURE, BUT I THINK YOU CAN SACRIFICE SOME COMFORT FOR, Y’KNOW, LIVING WITHOUT FEAR OF MAKING A SINGLE NOISE EVER.
Now that we have all agreed the Abbott family’s plan was abysmal, the movie itself is good! The silence helps magnify the importance of the sounds we hear. Krasinski’s use of the color red against an otherwise earth-toned background is effective in provoking terror. The monsters are appropriately terrifying. The situations the family finds itself in — particularly one scene in a silo — are gripping. Emily Blunt’s “I am in heapings of pain and fear but I have to be quiet” face is a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
Does the movie stumble in the second half? A little, yeah, when it tries to be an action movie instead of a nailbiter. But it’s never less than entertaining, and it made me always check for nails when I’m walking on wood (YEESH), so I’m grateful for that.
I don’t know how the sequel is going to go, since the Abbotts seemingly figured out how to lure and kill these monsters and Krasinski’s character is dead. But I’m willing to give him a chance to prove himself.
I mean, it has to be better than “The Silence,” at least.
Quote of the week
A taste of Nate Bargatze's special, devoid of context:
"He was looking for his elderly wife and saw me with no shirt on and thought: 'That could be Olivia.' (I'm standing) at a car that he does not recognize. I don't know who he disrespected more, me or Olivia."