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Mr. Corman

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a fine teacher, but feels empty within. How can he attach some meaning to his life?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s passion project Mr. Corman may not be the escapist entertainment you are seeking in lockdown.

But it does give you food for thought.

What do you do when you are deeply unfulfilled in your 30’s and can you turn your life around before it’s too late?

Josh Corman is a mostly-accomplished 5th grade teacher in the San Fernando Valley. He has a good connection with his young class of 10 year olds, from helping little girls to dream big, to maintaining a sense of optimism.

But one question from a young kid about his own sense of satisfaction echoes within, and he can’t seem to shake it off. A little white lie for the sake of keeping up appearances belies a deeper truth: Josh is in a rut.

He’s flat sharing with his video-gaming friend in an unglamorous apartment box, going through the motions of classroom routine, and lamenting the demise of a relationship with his ex fiancé, Megan. He has also lost his creative spark, not having touched his musical instruments after a stalled music career. Where’s the joy?

In the opening episode (as a dark comedy these are just 30 mins each), he throws himself into a one night stand, just to remind himself he is still alive. Never a good idea.

Glum-faced throughout, co-creator, director and star Gordon-Levitt, isn’t afraid to show his vulnerability in this heavily-anxious series. Don’t expect any punchlines or gags that might drip from the pen of Larry David or Neil Simon m. But it is tempered with moments of poignancy and magic realism, including a burning meteor metaphor hurtling to Earth which only Josh can see.

Debra Winger features as Josh’s mother and Hugo Weaving will also appear later in the series (production relocated to NZ after 3 weeks in LA).

Sometimes scenes feel improvised and there’s a fair slice of hand-held cameras to add to the verite feel.

There’s no escaping the stupor, panic attacks and suffocation that Josh is enduring -it’s kinda the point- so this may not be to everybody’s liking right now.

But it’s a commendable series debut for Gordon-Levitt as writer / director / star. That’s some passion.

Mr. Corman premieres Friday on Apple TV+.

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