“The state of film criticism…” is often a self-important statement that usually precedes a mind-numbing amount of concerned repetition (“is criticism healthy?,” “cinema is not dead,” “cinema is dying,” “adult movies have gone away,” “cinema is actually totally healthy”) meant for the 1% of critics and not the 99% of audiences. And it can take on the mundane-like flavor of “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich,” which is why “On Cinema”—which kinda takes the piss out of film criticism—is one of our favorite web shows (and now it’s on Adult Swim). It stars comedians Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington in a “Siskel & Ebert”-esque spoof and it’s pretty damn funny. As much as these two are talented goofballs, they’ve also proved they’ve got chops in other arenas. Heidecker has a (half-serious) indie-rock band (Heidecker & Wood) and in 2012 he really blew us away in “The Comedy,” director Rick Alverson’s provocative examination of the arrested-adolescent 30-something (bordering dangerously close to 40), that was much more ugly, toxic and bruising than most arrested development manchild comedies.
It’s a divisive film, but personally, a lot of us thought it was rather brilliant. We digress … Turkington’s had a long running career as a comedian—he is the character Neil Hamburger—but he’s also has extensive cred in the world of rock, post-rock and indie rock (he founded Amarillo Records and Mr. Bungle fans take note: he collaborated with Trey Spruance, The Three Doctors, Faxed Head and Secret Chiefs 3). Alverson also started in the world of underground indie rock as the lead singer and founder of Spokane (he was also in the indie-rock band Drunk).
Having already tapped one half of the “On Cinema” team for “The Comedy,” Alverson’s prepping to employ the critics’ other half. According to an interview in Richmond Magazine (where the director is from), Alverson’s next movie is going to be called “Entertainment” and Turkington will a star. Set in the Mojave Desert, the film follows a broken-down comedian (Turkington) playing clubs across the Southwest, working his way to Los Angeles to meet his estranged daughter. “Hopefully, it’ll be brutally depressing,” Alverson said. The film is set to start shooting in January, and holy hell, we can’t wait to see that.
What’s more, Alverson has his next two projects written and seemingly ready to go. “Clement” is based on a novel by Colm O’Leary, the actor/writer/performer who starred in the musician turned filmmaker’s debut “The Builder.” It evidently “deals with the early, proto [Ku Klux] Klan in the South,” Alverson said. “This is the genesis of contemporary race relations in the cauldron of Reconstruction. And people are strangely afraid, in my opinion, to invest in something like that.” Project number three sounds brilliantly twisted. Titled “The Couple,” it’s a psychological-thriller (or at least in that realm) about a woman whose behavior is dictated by that of her dog. Seemingly, the next couple of Sundance’s will at least have one movie to look forward to each. Plus, some great soundtracks too. The indie-rock label Jagjaguwar—who puts out both Alverson’s films and albums—always helps supply some grade-A awesome music too. This announcement makes our day.