Numbers, The Letters of Math
On my mum watching The Accountant (2016) for the first time, and yet another joke from a different sitcom that I can't get out of my head.
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Today, my mother asked me why I didn’t become an accountant.
Keep in mind, I have never expressed interest in Accounting, the kind of math that I did in school was supposed to take me to the goddamn moon. But alas, my scores remained in their flop era (they were good, just not NASA good), and I found out I wanted to play pretend for a living instead.
She asked me this because she put on The Accountant (2016) on HBOGo. Okay, I put on The Accountant (2016) on HBOGo. It’s part of my own personal Jon Bernthal retrospective. I actually forgot for a hot second that Bernthal was in The Accountant because I was too busy doing the Leonardo DiCaprio pointing meme when it was revealed that his and Ben Affleck’s titular accountant character spent some time in Indonesia studying pencak silat in their youth. Their psychotic father, Colonel Dad, was even holding up a local (nonexistent, very fictional) newspaper called “Jakarta Surat Kabar” which very literally translates to “Jakarta Newspaper”. I haven’t heard anyone use surat kabar in a while, simply because we all use the shorthand koran now. Koran is actually how some people say and spell the Qur’an but kertas koran refers to newsprint. Hence, koran.
I’ve never had much of a relationship with this film. Why would I? I can only hold one Ben Affleck film in my consciousness at a time, and until Triple Frontier, I’ve never had much of a relationship with his filmography anyway. This is not going to be about Jennifer Lopez’ Instagram boyfriend, this is about belated birthday boy, Jonny E. Bernthal.
Bernthal plays Braxton (like Toni, or the -Hicks contractions), or ‘Brax’, an assassin hired to intimidate and take out everyone involved with a massive embezzlement cover-up within John Lithgow’s robot prosthetics company. It is later revealed that Braxton turns out to be our titular Accountant’s estranged brother. The pair were very close and protective of each other in their youth, but when Affleck’s Christian Wolff (like the philosopher) was sent to prison after a brawl at their mother’s funeral, Brax blamed Christian for their insane father’s death, also at said funeral. This film is a doozy, isn’t it?
Both brothers find themselves facing off in John Lithgow’s house at the end of the film, their time apart and meandering journeys away from each other leading them to the same place. They share a tender moment after murdering a house full of armed guards, all of whom are Brax’s men, about why they’ve been so far away from each other. Christian wishes to protect his brother from the dangerous people he works from, and Brax himself is just as dangerous.
I think I may, once again, be giving this film too much credit just because an actor I fancy1 is in it. It’s interesting to me how in a very short amount of time, and in the silence within their conversation, that these two characters manage to shed most of their baggage. Sure, they put it back on before they leave the house, but for a brief moment, they just get to be two siblings that haven’t seen each other in a long time. Bernthal has this hardness in his eyes that soften ever so slightly upon realizing who Affleck’s character has become. He isn’t horrified, he’s in no place to judge, he’s just quietly glad that his brother is still alive.
My personal favourite Bernthal moment in this film, however, is when he’s taking a phone call to discover that The Accountant has taken out the men he sent to kill Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), the other accountant. Brax says he’ll “deal with this accountant myself”, leading into the showdown I was talking about above. He’s wearing these ridiculous headphones around his neck, a puffy vest, huge sunglasses, and a bag slung over his torso as he answers his presumably Android phone. It is perhaps the most 2015 image I have ever seen. For all I know, that phone could have been a Blackberry. It is a pre-Trump aesthetic. The last bastion of a bygone era of when the world was in a bit of an in-between technologically, and everyone’s accessories were in all shapes and sizes—a leftover of 2009, in my opinion—instead of the market uniformity they face today. I can’t look away:
My mum, for the most part, was having a lot of fun with the film. She recognized Anna Kendrick from Pitch Perfect, she thought all the fight choreography was great (and she was the one to clock that it was pencak silat), but she thought Affleck could “have been more in character.” By this, she couldn’t get past that it was Ben Affleck doing math. I thought that was a funny tidbit for me to share with you. She also finally realised who Jon Bernthal was in the last ten minutes of the film, exclaiming “Shane!” in reference to his time on The Walking Dead. It was convoluted enough to keep her guessing, but not confusing enough that she really had to think about it. I love watching movies with my mum.
The Accountant resides in the pocket of my brain where the HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero does: projects that Jon Bernthal has been in opposite two out of five Triple Frontier cast members. And isn’t that all this newsletter is about?
Word of a sequel was swirling a couple of weeks ago, with Bernthal and Affleck set to reprise their roles. We’ve won, Bernthal Nation, but at what cost? I hope they don’t call it The Accountant 2. I hope it’s a clever math pun. Or at the very least: Accountant+1.
And the Winner for Best Adapted Oscar Burn Goes To
Season 2 of Community came with a lot of gems. Uncut ones, if you will. The Halloween episode, ‘Epidemiology’, blended my two favourite things—zombie apocalypse fiction and ABBA’s greatest hits—seamlessly for a tight, funny, and entertaining Troy-centric romp.
Much like my fixation with Jenna Maroney’s lifestyle website, there’s a joke in this episode that’s running a half-marathon inside my head. Before the study group barricades themselves in the library with their classmates-turned-zombies clamoring outside, Jeff (Joel McHale) reveals that the army won’t be in Greendale for another five or six hours, to which he quips: “Why six hours? Are they hosting the Oscars?” to which Chang (Ken Jeong) tags: “Damn, and the winner for Best Adapted Oscar Burn goes to Jeff Winger, for Oh Snap, The Man Who Went There.”
Amidst the high stakes gamut the episode runs—flesh-eating classmates, the threat of permanent brain damage, the Dean’s all-too revealing voice memos—those two jokes undercut much of the tension, or the pretense of tension, with a reference that was so current then, it may still be relevant now.
Jeff and Chang were of course referring to Anne Hathaway and the Other Franco Brother hosting the televised 83rd Academy Awards ceremony, one of the biggest television clusterfucks of the last decade. It wasn’t a clusterfuck in the sense that it was a complete disaster—surely if I had the time to rewatch the whole thing I’d find it all to be very middling—but it was more of an incohesive flop in that the tone of the writing didn’t know what the show wanted to be, and that the hosts’ chemistry was not there.
Many reviews have compared Hathaway and Franco’s dynamic to a preppy cheerleader slash earnest theatre kid having to do a presentation in class with the 2nd most unpopular stoner. Both parties—well, Anne Hathaway has, to my knowledge—have since reflected on their incidental cultural moment and have put it behind them.
It was the first-ever Oscars ceremony I’ve ever watched. Isn’t that kind of sad? I vividly remember Anne Hathaway singing a parody of On My Own from Les Mis that was a dig at Hugh Jackman for leaving her alone on stage or something. I remember her singing: “On my own, ‘cuz someone’s a huge jackass” and thinking it was funny. I had seen The Social Network and Inception at the time, so I had a stake in the whole affair—at least as much as a thirteen-year-old would have a stake in the first televised award show they’d ever seen.
I guess it’s been interesting to look at how shows like Community, which I adore, are sort of stuck in time but are also pretty timeless. I think given the state of the world, a little comfort watching contributes to the longevity of these shows on streaming services (duh-doy). Their cultural references and relationship to the internet or gadgets are stuck in time, sure, but they’re not necessarily outdated. They don’t all have iPhones—at least not until Season 6—but it doesn’t matter that much. Twitter was used on the show as a way for the characters to keep up with each other, instead of the dumpster fire it has become today. I’ve been grappling a lot with how fast things feel like they’re going because of how much information we flood ourselves with all the time. Coming back to the same shows or films over and over feels like that new Kacey Musgraves song, simple times, longing for a simpler time that wasn’t really that simple at the time either. Piling on to Hathaway and Franco’s bizarre hosting shenanigans were the one thing people talked about for at least a month. Now, things move too fast for us to even digest, let alone write a throwaway line in a sitcom about. It really does drive me crazy just how fast the night changes.
I Am The Bella Hadid’s Surgeon of Podcast Makeovers
I am quite proud of the facelift I’ve given A Drip Town Lemory Mane. Here’s a look at the Anchor site, and last month’s episode featuring my friend Naoshad on Phase One of the MCU:
ADTLM will be back this month with the second instalment of our MCU miniseries so keep your eyes peeled for that!
That’s all for this week! See you next time! Maybe!
To be absolutely clear I mean Jon Bernthal. I do not fancy Ben Affleck.