“Idiots and Angels,” Reviewed

“Idiots and Angels,” Reviewed (photo)

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It’s been 2 years since animator Bill Plympton’s “Idiots and Angels” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Since then, Plympton’s been unable to find a distributor, and it’s not too hard to see why. From top (an animated film with adult content and absolutely no dialogue) to bottom (a sketchy visual aesthetic and muddy color pallette) this is an uncommercial project far from the mainstream of animation. It’s not an easy time for independent distributors, and I guess it’s tough to take a chance on something that has “Idiots and Angels”‘ unconventional pedigree, subject matter, and style. Too bad. Plympton should be rewarded for following his artistic impulses and for making a truly unique and beautiful piece of art.

The film is about a misanthrope who wakes one morning to find small wings sprouting from his back. He chops them off but they grow back, and no matter what he does, he can’t seem to shake them. Plympton follows the scenario down a impressive run of variations. The man’s battle with his own inner angels begins as a series of ingenious physical comedy riffs; he wants to fly around and rob people or spy on naked sunbathers, but the wings refuse to cooperate. Their early wars remind me of another unlikely hero’s “Three Stooges”-esque struggle with himself: Ash (Bruce Campbell) vs. his possessed hand in “Evil Dead 2.”

Though these sequences are often very funny, “Idiots and Angels” eventually takes on more mournful tone, and the scenes between the reluctant angel and his feather appendages become darker and surprisingly moving (one involving a chainsaw — perhaps another echo of “Evil Dead 2” — is grotesquely beautiful). That’s where Plympton’s dirty/pretty style begins to reap real emotional dividends. Unlike the refined lines and bright colors of most Hollywood animation, “Idiots and Angels” has an unfinished, sketchy look — the shading looks like they was done in pencil, not ink — and a personality all its own. The film is basically silent, though there’s music and occassional grunts or laughs from the characters, which is the right choice. Plympton’s expressive drawings say it all.

“Drawings” is the key word. “Idiots and Angels”‘s looks like it was hand-drawn, frame by painstaking frame. You’re constantly reminded of Plympton’s presence and of the effort it surely took to make this film. It’s a clear labor of love from a guy who wanted to tell a personal story in a personal style, like an angel sacrificing himself for the people he saves regardless of the consequences.

“Idiots and Angels” is playing through October 14 at the IFC Center in New York City and opens on October 29 in Los Angeles.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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