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‘Clear History’ is a decent fill-in for ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

By Rich Heldenfels, Akron Beacon Journal (MCT) • Aug 1, 2013 at 5:17 PM

When reporters recently asked Larry David if there will be more episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” he replied, “I don’t know, I really couldn’t say. Ask me in six months.”That’s not a good answer for fans of the semi-improvised HBO series, which ended its eighth and most recent season in September 2011. Nor is it entirely surprising, since David works at his own pace; close to two years passed between the end of the seventh season and the beginning of the eighth, with a similar gap between the sixth and seventh runs.At the same time, though, David is offering a stand-alone movie that should appeal to his “Curb” fans. “Clear History,” premiering at 9 p.m. Saturday on HBO, finds David playing someone very like his self-named “Curb” character, all irritability and arrogance and unintended consequences.In “Clear History,” that character is Nathan Flomm, a marketing executive with a new electric-car company founded by Will Haney (Jon Hamm). When Haney makes a major decision about the marketing of the car, Flomm disagrees — so much so that he ends up quitting and selling his 10-percent interest in the company.Of course, the car becomes a huge success and Flomm a laughingstock for selling out too soon. (David has said the story is based on a real-life man who sold his shares in Apple before that company succeeded.) He loses his remaining money, and his wife and his home. Ten years later, he has assumed another name to avoid the mockery, and moved to Martha’s Vineyard. He gets by working as the home aide to a local woman, has an intermittently active dating life and is part of a poker game with friends. Could be worse.Then it is. Haney reappears in Flomm’s life, building a mansion on the Vineyard, and Flomm’s repressed but still-there resentment comes to the surface.What follows involves both Flomm’s schemes and the life he has created up until then. That allows plenty of room for a cast to handle the improv-laden demands of a David production. Besides Hamm, it includes Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Eva Mendes, Amy Ryan, J.B. Smoove and Liev Schreiber. (Schreiber is not credited, reportedly at HBO’s behest because he is starring in the series “Ray Donovan” on HBO’s rival Showtime).And “Clear History” is much funnier than “Curb” is at times. On “Curb,” the screen Larry David is wealthy and privileged, so there’s a limit to how much he really suffers from his failings; Flomm has taken a big fall, and his errors are all the more painful to him — and funnier to us.———©2013 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.comDistributed by MCT Information Services

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