One of the most interesting movie stories from the pandemic time, Jeff Baena Showtime series “Cinema toast“Overtakes classic public domain footage, superimposes new dialogues and situations to create new hybrid short films, and ends up somewhere in between.”Mystery Science 3000“And show the early 2000s”MXC. ” Produced by The Duplass Brothersand with a variety of famous indie directors – including Baena, Alex Ross Perry, David Lowery, Kris Rey, Aubrey PlazaAmong other things, “Cinema Toast” is fascinating, but often a hit or miss, as each episode moves wildly through interests, genres, and even shapes with decidedly mixed results and no continuity from episode to episode.
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Like all of these anthology series, “Cinema Toast” includes some standout episodes, mostly those directed by Perry. Jay Duplass, Plaza and Marta Cunninghamas well as some mediocre entries, including the introductory book “Familiesgiving” directed by Baena. Although the mileage can vary in the individual episodes, “Cinema Toast” is still a fascinating change that allows more than a few famous directors to stretch out and often get a little weird.
Employing a rotating cast of famous actors – including Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Nicole Byer, Colman Domingo, Chloe Fineman, Gillian Jacobs, and Christopher MeloniAmong an almost endless list of others, Baena’s series can hardly be summed up as each episode is so strangely discreet from what comes before or after. The “family giving” mentioned above uses the year 1939 again Jimmy Stewart Movie “Made for each otherAs a story about a couple forced to invite their arrogant mother to their friendship dinner. Alex Ross Perry’s second installment, “Report on the Soviet Automechanical Threat to Dogs,” uses Soviet-era propaganda films to tell a wild story of sentient Russian emergency vehicles and canines that have infiltrated America. Jay Duplass’ fifth episode, “The Cowboy President”, uses old ones Ronald Reagan Films that tell a story about two cowboys who travel to the White House to see if Reagan is mentally incapable. The standout episode, however, is perhaps Martha Cunningham’s “Attack of the Karens”, the “Night of the Living Dead“As a modern day horror movie where the zombies are a group of” Clints “and” Karens “with a variety of things to complain about.
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Overall, “Cinema Toast” is weird, absurd, and mostly hysterical, although some episodes, including Aubrey Plaza’s directorial debut, “Quiet Illness,” are a more melancholy affair, piecing together footage from Loretta Young films to write a story about a woman, who grapples with her arrogant husband. Similar, Nurma Perriers “Kiss, Marry, Kill” tends to be more horrific as a young woman is tried by a magician to repeatedly throw herself off a high springboard in order to transform herself into the person she wants. While I was drawn to the more surreal episodes, there really isn’t a consistent narrative between episodes that allows for a fairly pure distillation of each author’s aesthetic and narrative interests. Not all of them work, including Lowery’s noirical “The Gunshot Heard ‘Round the World,” which ends the series and takes one too many narrative leaps, but each episode is so different that another one always comes up if you don’t pique interest , often with a jarring switch in the tone.
With such a broken approach, “Cinema Toast” is somewhat the opposite of bingeable, with each episode better treated as a stand-alone short film that is only united in the series’ overarching formal approach. Also, not all episodes work, including at least three of the episodes that are so sluggish that they are almost invisible. But the other seven range from good to pretty good, which is a pretty decent batting average overall. If one episode doesn’t pique your interest, the next probably will. For fans of these filmmakers, Cinema Toast is a fun lark and one of the better pandemic-inspired projects. [B]
“Cinema Toast” is available now on Showtime.