TV highlights of the week: Ending, Middle and a first

The first three seasons of The Good Fight, the topical and very enjoyable Good Wife spinoff, will be available on Hot 3 starting September 15 on Sundays through Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.

The Middleman (photo credit: COURTESY OF CELLCOM TV)
The Middleman
(photo credit: COURTESY OF CELLCOM TV)
Netflix’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the latest movie by Charlie Kaufman, whose work you may remember fondly from Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation (he was the screenwriter on these), and less fondly from his mind-numbingly complex and pretentious Synecdoche, New York, which he also directed.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things highlights everything both pleasurable and infuriating about Kaufman’s work. It’s brilliant, intricate, weird and occasionally quite wonderful, but at other times it will make you want to rant about any number of points.
For example, the heroine (Jessie Buckley) keeps getting called different names. As she heads off on a snowy car ride with her boyfriend, Jake (Jesse Plemons of Friday Night Lights), to visit his parents and she muses about ending things (her whole life, their relationship and some other stuff, not necessarily in that order), why does her coat suddenly change from blue to pink when she gets out of the car? Why does Jake show her the creepy barn and tell gruesome stories about how animals have died there, and why does he go ballistic when his dotty mother (Toni Collette, who is going to have the best career playing nutty old ladies in a few years) who suffers from any number of weird illnesses, mispronounces the name of a game?
I think I understood why the ages of Jake’s parents kept changing whenever they left the room, that it was meant to show that even though Jake is a young man, he still sees them as they were when he was a child and imagines how they will be when they are extremely old.
The story gets wilder and less linear as it goes along and includes many references to the musical Oklahoma as well as several intellectual discussions, some with texts that are quoted directly from writers and are not credited, like a recitation of the late New Yorker movie critic Pauline Kael’s review of A Woman Under the Influence.
There’s a lot of speculation on the Internet over what the ending means, but it’s not much more complicated than the rest of this bizarre and unsettling but strangely gripping movie.
The Middleman, a new series with a similar off-beat tone that is premiering on Cellcom on September 17, is a French-Israeli hybrid. It’s set in Paris and the dialogue is in French, but it was created by the Israeli couple Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret (who has a role in it). It tells the story of a homeless real-estate agent, Olivier (Mathieu Amalric), who sleeps in a fancy apartment he is trying to sell and thinks briefly that his life will be transformed when his mother dies and leaves him an apartment building. But it turns out to be a crumbling, hazardous money pit with just one tenant, a tough old friend of his mother’s who won’t leave. It takes a surreal and then supernatural turn and a key figure in its plot is a goldfish, none of which will surprise anyone familiar with Keret’s fiction.
Ramy, the first US sitcom with a Muslim protagonist, starts airing on Yes Comedy at 10 p.m. starting on September 12 and on Yes VOD. It stars Ramy Youssef, who won a Golden Globe for his performance in this semi-autobiographical role in this series about a young man in an enclave of Egyptian immigrants in Jersey City.
Based on the first two episodes released, it’s quite funny and shows that this character – the hipster who can’t quite break away from his family’s traditions – is pretty similar no matter what the exact ethnic background is. Israeli-Arab actress Hiam Abbass, who plays Marcia on Succession, is the standout as his unflappable, bossy mother, and she makes this character into much more than a stereotype.
The first three seasons of The Good Fight, the topical and very enjoyable Good Wife spinoff, will be available on Hot 3 starting September 15 on Sundays through Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. and Hot VOD and Next TV. It’s the perfect show to watch in the run-up to the US elections.