The New Yorker Redux (Series Review: “The New Yorker Presents”)

Arguably the most clever magazine on the planet makes its debut onto the streaming-sphere as only it could, with a visually beguiling mix of quirky charm and razor-sharp journalism.

SnapShot Plot

The New Yorker Presentswhich debuted on Amazon this week, is proof-positive that the creative imagination is alive and well in America, and that it is indeed possible to re-distill the magic from the pages of the illustrious magazine herself onto a streaming format with two new editions rolled out every Tuesday. It’s a break from the current trend of dumping entire series online to be marathon-watched all at once. No, what The New Yorker Presents is doing by parceling itself out week by week is forcing the viewer to approach it like a chef’s tasting menu instead of an all-you-can-eat buffet binge.

In what can only be described as Eclectic-meets-Avant Garde, each half-hour installment of The New Yorker Presents includes a diverse mix of programming, from ground-breaking mini-documentaries to poetry, song, cartoons (duh!), animation, short films . . . you get the gist. And the contributors read like a Who’s Who of the most compelling writers, artists, actors, directors and thinkers of today, such as Jonathan Demme, Alan Cumming, Ariel Levy, Roz Chast, Marina Abramovic and Lawrence Wright. In fact, it was the short documentary based on Wright’s story about the dysfunctional relationship between the FBI and the CIA leading to the 9/11 attacks – entitled “The Agent” – that made me actually sit up and rewind the feed (twice) to catch the whole unholy mess of events fully.

Not all of The New Yorker Presents may whet your whistle, and admittedly there were a few head-scratching moments here and there in Episode 1. Specifically, a short black & white comedic film entitled “Le Cafe de Balzac.” It features Paul Giammati as French novelist, Honoré de Balzac in the full throes of his legendary coffee addiction (he’s rumored to have averaged 50 cups a day), in a clownish wig speaking to the camera while downing cup after interminable cup . . . all the way to 50. Oh and there’s some charming business with a chamber pot, too. OK so it wasn’t for me. But seriously, folks, you’ve gotta give them credit. I mean, what other more or less mainstream News/Cultural outlet than The New Yorker would have the sheer audacity to go with a 1-note joke like that and really go for it?

 

“It’s not a re-creation of the magazine itself, but a step in the direction of a reinvention of the news magazine format” (Kahane Cooperman)

Parting Shot

It seems The New Yorker is everywhere these days, from Editor, David Remnick’s weekly podcast, The New Yorker Radio Hour to the continuation of the award-winning magazine itself, and now The New Yorker Presents, a creation of Oscar-winner, Alex Gibney and Executive Producer and Show Runner, Kahane Cooperman. The show (for lack of a better word) has a look and feel which is quintessentially New Yorker-esque. Both appealing, enriching and slightly peculiar around the edges. Maybe you’ll recall that feeling of skimming through the magazine for amusing tidbits and then wham! you’re blown away by an incredible piece of political, scientific or cultural writing and before you know it, you’ve stolen it from the doctor’s office because you know you’ll never find that old edition at the newsstand! Well burgle no more, because – like Balzac – you can have your fix and watch it 50 times over, if that’s your cup of Joe.

The New Yorker Presents is presently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Norma’s Streaming Picks is proud to announce squatters rights on a new site for Baby Boomers, Midcentury/Modern as well as right here at home. I invite you to go there for more great content!

YouTube Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGXGf1M8A_g

 

 

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