“Cool It,” Reviewed

“Cool It,” Reviewed (photo)

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For those coming to Ondi Timoner’s “Cool It” with a considerable amount of skepticism, the first half-hour will do little to sway you as Timoner strains to make you like Bjorn Lomborg, the controversial advocate of alternative energy strategies nicknamed for the title of his most famous book as “The Skeptical Environmentalist.” After a montage gingerly demonstrates how his views on global warming have clashed with the majority of the world’s scientists, Lomborg is shown caring for his mother with Alzheimer’s, feeding schoolchildren in Nairobi and gazing longingly over riverbanks and outside train windows.

Occasionally someone like Stanford environmental studies professor Stephen Schneider comes on screen to wag his finger in disagreement, but when the realization sets in that Timoner is burnishing Lomborg’s image only for the Greenpeace refugee to give a point-by-point repudiation of “An Inconvenient Truth” using Al Gore’s favorite weapon, the slideshow, against him, there’s good reason to believe “Cool It” will become the histrionic piece of propaganda that it is intended to rail against.

Certainly, the film indulges in a bit of that, opening and closing with twee animated sequences of earth with a voiceover by children and follows a rigid formula of persuasion, but if “Cool It” is effective, it’s because of Timoner’s ability to parlay her insistence on keeping an open mind onto her audience. As it turns out, the same curiosity that led the director into the claustrophobic and dangerous worlds of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s lead singer Anton Newcombe in “Dig!” or internet entrpreneur Josh Harris in “We Live in Public” is a necessity when trying to offer up energy alternatives such as algae fuel, cloud brightening and wave energy and urban heat islands (sidewalks that cool the surface) that seem even further afield for the average citizen than the more widely accepted solutions of solar or wind energy.

Since Timoner’s interest has always been in people rather than ideology, “Cool It” doesn’t appear at first to play to her strengths with the film’s half-hearted introduction trying to tell Lomborg’s story, even when he, like any activist worth their salt, would rather discuss his cause. However, once Lomborg gets into his groove speaking about alternative energy solutions that are off the beaten path, “Cool It” takes on the passion that probably brought Timoner and Lomborg together in the first place and in fact becomes exciting when it demonstrates how some of the crazier technologies that are lesser known to the general public can work towards cooling the planet. It also helps that Timoner expresses her humanistic touch in small ways with her subjects, depicting the many scientists and experts on hand not as a parade of static talking heads, but in their natural environments, whether it’s standing on a grassy knoll or sitting in a laboratories with a plate full of beakers of green algae fuel jiggling in the background.

Knowing Lomborg is already such a polarizing figure in climate change circles, Timoner dedicates ample time to clarifying his positions, immediately disavowing the notion that he doesn’t believe in global warming and gives Lomborg ample time with a chalkboard to explain his longtime poo-pooing of carbon emissions, which like many of his other arguments is based in the idea that it’s simply not as important in the bigger scheme of things as other pressing needs around the world like education, health care and clean water. Other scholars such as Paul Reiter, professor of medical entomology at Pasteur Insitute, appear on camera to bring up sentiments that won’t be popular amongst most environmentalists, with Reiter saying, “Science has been hijacked by alarmists” and Timoner, shortly thereafter, showing celebrities like David Duchovny and Lance Bass looking slightly foolish as they espouse the importance of using low-wattage light bulbs and driving hybrids when “Cool It”‘s commentators dismiss these actions as drops in the bucket.

Yet one of the film’s most keen observations is also its most subtle, depicting a room packed with photographers and reporters when Al Gore came to testify in front of Congress on climate change. Lomborg, who was there to meet the former vice president, uses the moment as the joke that opens his lecture, saying that he can tell the exact moment when Gore realized he was shaking hands with the enemy. But it is when you see Lomborg sitting in front of a congressional panel with an empty room behind him that you understand why “Cool It” is an important addition to the debate because even though many disagree with his views, more people should be there to listen.

“Cool It” is now open in limited release.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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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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