What a year this month has been. With one week left in his term, Donald Trump has now been impeached for a second time, after his supporters stormed the Capitol building during the certification of the Electoral College. We felt our shoulders tense up just typing that. Escape and engagement are not mutually exclusive, and when you manage to tear yourself away from the news, you'll need new places to put your eyes and ears and (tired, tired) brain. Here's what we've been watching this week to keep ourselves semi-sane.
In the midst of a shared midlife crisis, four high school teachers decide to test a theory by Norwegian philosopher Finn Skårderud that humans are born with a BAC 0.05% too low. That means, in order to live and work and generally perform at their best, they need to maintain a state of mild drunkenness at all times. What could possibly go wrong, right?
There’s almost a cinematic quality to Chris Rock’s 2018 Netflix special Tamborine, directed by comedian/Eighth Grade filmmaker Bo Burnham. It begins with a slow and lingering zoom on the back of Rock’s head. We hear Thundercat’s “Them Changes,” and Rock looks pensively around the green room. During the one-hour special, there are jokes that hit harder because of precise, calculated decisions in the edit room. There’s no fat on Tamborine. It’s pointed, stylish, and funny as hell, and it’s clear Rock’s comedic vision is being guided Burnham’s firm sense of direction.
In Total Blackout: The Tamborine Extended Cut, released earlier this week, which runs about 40 minutes longer than the 2018 special, Rock feels a bit more vulnerable and a little less rehearsed, and that’s perhaps because it’s directed by Rock himself. In essence, it feels more like a comedy special. That cinematic quality Burnham had stamped onto the original cut is gone, but we end up getting new shots, more jokes, and longer set ups, which in some instances make the jokes funnier. Burnham’s stylish intro is replaced with Rock’s appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in which he recounts his experience in the White House during the Obama administration. There’s also a clip later on from his chat with Howard Stern in which Rock talks about seeing his high school bully working security on a shoot for a film that he was directing. These moments essentially serve as context for the re-edit, but it works, especially if you enjoy the background behind jokes, the way they manifest within a comedian going about their daily life.