Tim Riley

NPR CRITIC, EMERSON COLLEGE PROFESSOR and AUTHOR TIM RILEY reviews pop and classical music for NPR’s ON POINT and HERE AND NOW and COPPER ma

May 5, 2018
Published on: blog riley
1 min read

Maria Bamford

They canceled Lady Dynamite, but Bamford’s new Netflix special surfs even more absurdist realities. We saw a lot of this stuff live about a year back, and she’s kept shaping it; she hits a new level with this material.

NEVER BEEN MELLOW

Juliana Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John (American Laundromat)

FBI’S CHRIST-FIGURE

Felt bad about this cheap shot, so I went back and gave Looming Tower second chance. Turns out the pilot sucks, the series holds up. Daniels gives a beguiling performance as John O’Neill, the FBI crank who struggles with his own Catholicism mostly because one of his girlfriends, Annie Parisse, proves such a “good cook.” This analogy between a Catholic’s law and order mindset, the kind of hard-drinking bull who inspires certain loyalty and crashes bureaucratic china plays against his Islamic, spiritual hedonist foes. Tahar Rahim’s performance as junior agent Ali Sufan, a Muslim who carries off diplomacy largely because he speaks the language, has an unnerving emotional resolve. Wanted more logic and insight from the “flash-forwards,” where the principals testify before the 9/11 Commission (at one point they inexplicably swap in actual testimony). But Daniels carries everything; you can feel his presence on the others even when he’s not onscreen.