DID YOU READ

“Project Nim,” Reviewed

“Project Nim,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the Sundance Film Festival 2011.

If James Marsh’s 2008 “Man on Wire” was Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk by way of “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Project NIM” could be described as the story of Herbert S. Terrace’s chimpanzee study by way of, well, “Splice.” But maybe it’s better summed up by one of the interviewees shrugged explanation for what must have looked like a much saner idea at the time: “It was the ’70s.” Terrace, a professor at Columbia, headed up a project to raise a chimp named Nim as a human, to teach him sign and observe to what extent the animal would be able to communicate and form sentences in order to learn more about our own relationship with language development. In theory. In practice, as recounted by the film, the experiment was a hopeless jumble of personal entanglements, squishy hippiedom, safety and ethical concerns and heartbreak. And getting the chimp high, which at least two of his caregivers attempt.

Terrace first hands the infant Nim to Stephanie LaFarge, a psychologist and his former lover, who has no significant experience with chimps or sign language, and who raises him in her family’s Manhattan brownstone as she would a human foundling, swaddling him in diapers, letting him frolic with her other children, even breastfeeding him. When Terrace becomes skeptical of LaFarge’s permissive parenting, he spruces Nim away to an idyllic estate in Riverdale where the chimp is cared for by a series of well-meaning if not always very trained teachers, including the young Laura, with whom Terrace becomes emotionally entangled and then discards, couple Bill and Joyce, sign instructor Renee. It’s Nim who’s the through line in the film, and so as these people pass in and then out of his life, they slide out of the screen, the camera keeping its gaze on the primate’s journey from famous, coddled center of attention in New York to returned resident in the Oklahoma primate colony in which he was born to medical research fodder in a nightmarish facility.

Nim is an adorable baby, a mischievous, destructive youth, a sometimes frightening adult chimp and a slate onto which everyone around him seems to projecy. Most importantly, he is, despite the way he’s treated, an animal, one capable, as the years go on, of considerable destruction. Many of the interviewees bear scars from his attacks, and one almost died at his hand. As for how much ASL Nim has actually learned, it’s a matter of debate — Terrace himself has questioned the validity of the claims of his own study and other similar ones, and as much as we see of the animal in the accrued archival footage of which the film is primarily constructed, the extent to which he has any exceptional ability to communicate or connect with humans seems as much an aspect of the personalities of those claiming to see these things as anything we ourselves glimpse on screen. As the film turns from a fascinating documentation of an experiment that blurred the lines between species into a more depressing and expected tale of animal cruelty, the main revelation of “Project Nim” isn’t that it was inappropriate for these people to treat Nim like a human as much as it was when they all eventually stopped.

“Project NIM” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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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.

via GIPHY

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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