Documentary now! should be one of the most niche shows on television. Who saw My octopus teacher and the works of Werner Herzog, but still find time to worship comic legends like Fred Armisen and Seth Meyers? We are dozens!
And yet, the popularity of Documentary now! still skyrockets with each new season, as it likely will with “Season 53” (the show’s fourth season). Starting Wednesday evening, the IFC channel will broadcast new episodes every week, drawing on the work of Herzog, Agnès Varda and other prestigious documentarians, all of whom will be impersonated and yet still admired.
The ideal Documentary now! viewer worked before watching the new season. They saw Agnès Beachesstill express their opinions on My octopus teacherit is Controversial Oscar, and can discern the medium of different documentary styles. They’ll laugh at the sight of Cate Blanchett beaming on the cover of a magazine, reminiscent of the miniature living room of The September issue. They will see Herzog behind Alexander Skarsgård’s eyes.
But what fashions Documentary now! in a more mainstream hit, capable of reaching a wide audience, that’s how accessible his laughs are. Of course, whoever saw my best demon and The burden of dreams might be able to unlock more of the double-episode season premiere, “Soldier of Illusion.” Anyone who loves series like To restart Where The returnhowever, will always laugh at Skarsgård’s character directing fake sitcom episodes The single nanny, in which a sexy young man must take care of a pair of twins. There is something for every taste.
Cate Blanchett has frequently collaborated with Documentary now!and she’s coming back this season, better than ever, as everyone talks about her Oscar potential Tar. If you needed further proof of the actress’ versatility — and if those two Oscars sitting in her closet weren’t enough — look no further than the difference between her bellowing, insidious performance as Lydia Tár by compared to its role as a light salon. worker who can’t stop crying in “Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport”.
The cast of Documentary now! never disappoints. This season’s list of star stars looks like a list for the next season of Succession: In addition to Skarsgård, fans of the HBO show like Harriet Walter and Nicholas Braun make appearances, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Blanchett and Flea bagJamie Demetriou visited the set very soon. Big names like John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers also litter the writing, directing and producing credits – their comedic talents never go to waste, even in short 20-minute episodes.
But the first days of Documentary now, featuring Bill Hader and Fred Armisen in every episode, is missing. Although Armisen makes quick visits to the series (and each one is appreciated, no matter how brief), the first season feels like a distant memory. Yes, the show is an anthology, but it feels so different without Armisen and Hader at the helm. Not bad, but different.
Nonetheless, the double-episode premiere captivates, mostly thanks to Skarsgård’s dedication to his batshit role and Braun’s cheeky supporting character. But the final two episodes of the six-episode season are a real double whammy. “My Monkey Grifter” features an unlucky documentary filmmaker (the common man, for Documentary now!) who falls into the trap of a scam: in his inbox, he finds a $200,000 grant to make a film about monkeys and sign language. Alas, he won’t get the grant money until the document is complete, so he has to send all the dough to the zoo first.
He befriends a monkey, a little sexually, and learns “sign language”. No, we are not talking about ASL. We’re talking about MSL, “monkey sign language,” a way of communicating that only involves words like “prestige documentary maker” and “my wife sucks, she doesn’t believe in my cinema, I want her dead “. Duolingo, let’s start with a seven-week program that will teach me this language.
This season saves the best for last, with a breathtaking ode to the unique cinema of Agnès Varda. I was suspicious when I heard the series would riff on the late French legend, just a few years after his death, but “Trouver Frisson” playfully relishes Varda’s light and meaningful art. French actress Liliane Rovère takes the delicate task of playing Varda to heart, sporting that iconic haircut while exploring different ways to give meaning to Varda’s life, including through activities that flesh out chicken.
It took a while – season 3 aired in 2019 – but thank goodness Documentary now! returned. Getting into documentaries and sticking them in 20-minute incongruities can’t be easy – especially when you’re having fun with some of the smartest and most beloved filmmakers of all time – but doing it with respect for its subjects and its audience, Documentary now! always triumphs.
Documentary now! premieres October 19 on IFC at 9 p.m. ET, with the first three episodes also airing on AMC+ the same day.