Ghosts haunt the edges of the frame. A man working at crab traps and digging up old pain he likes to keep buried. Another man, mowing lawns that aren’t his territory in an episode that stresses the importance to Marty of mowing his own lawn. And a sea of dead bodies, reduced to the term “DB” to hide just a sliver of how gruesome the work is. A sea of faces, washing out into an ocean of time, each of them with a look in their eyes that tells Rust they wanted it, that in their final moments they cherished the release, the chance to give in and finally stop struggling.
Browsing: True Detective
I recently watched the Oscar-nominated documentary The Square, about the enduring political protests in Egypt, and was captivated by its shoot-from-the-hip approach. It created so much urgency that it opened a plot of land for a gripping non-fictional drama. It’s remarkable when a documentary like this, one that has to stay in tow with the rush of an unpredictable reality, dramatizes events so compellingly that the true conflicts and experiences of life don’t seem too distant from behind that illusory screen.
Film is, after all, an illusion of truth, reality, and phenomena. A great filmmaker is one who can blur the lines and I discovered that with Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost trilogy, which documented the West Memphis Three murder case from their trial in 1993-94 to their release on an Alford plea in 2011. Convicted of murdering the three young boys Steven Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin were handed out life sentences, and Damien Echols (the main target due to his interests in the Occult) was sentenced to death.
On one level, True Detective is just another in a sea of police stories about the terrible things men do to women. There’s a dead girl at its center, and two cracked, broken men trying to piece together what happened to her, and maybe find some peace for themselves along the way. What sets this show apart from any of the dozens of similar shows on television is its sense of mood. From a bird’s-eye view, nothing about this show hasn’t been done before a million different places. But the details—the performances, the darkly poetic scripts, the way it turns Louisiana into a haunted husk of crumbling structures and the people who subsist amidst them—are what make the show into something special.
We return to Santa Barbara and the SBPD this week, and we get to see Juliet and Lassiter in their new positions in the department; Juliet has taken Lassiter’s old job as head detective and deals awkwardly with the pressure of balancing Lassiter’s feelings and her own pride in her position…for the mighty Lassiter is now a beat cop.
Big Bad Wolves is a big surprise hit for anyone who has seen it. Israeli directors Aarhron Keshales and Navot Papushado bring the mystery/thriller of a child killer where one is suspect, but none of the characters, not even the detectives are heroes.
It leaves its audienes discombobulated, but continually thinking about what they would do if they were in each of the character’s shoes, even the supposed unrelatable ones.
Keshales and Papushado recently called in from sunny California to chat with me about their film and their fortunate successes.
The crime procedural is about as TV as TV gets. It’s a fundamental mainstay of the medium, and it’s relationship with viewers and critics can be a bit of a contradiction. It’s cliché; it’s satisfying. It’s redundant; it’s reliable. How many ways could we turn a positive on its side? The template’s oddly impervious to itself. And to series with the ambition to hover over similar cop-case-killer territory but dash that template, audiences haven’t been kind. Think The Killing or The Bridge, shows that for the sake of grit and realism broke a single case into the minutia of its parts. But, in terms of televised narrative, how often is one case not another? True Detective adopts a version of the micro methodology. The substantial difference: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
Narco Cultura is a disturbing expose on both Narco culture and the rise of the Narco Corrido, popular songs that glamourize the drug culture and cartels that run rampant through Juarez and other parts of Mexico. With roughly 10,000 homicides over the last four years, Juarez is one of the most dangerous places in the world. Ironically, just across the border and through the fence that divides the United States from Mexico, lies El Paso, Texas, the safest city in the United States.
At the same time, the allure of Narco culture has spread throughout Mexico and the southern half of the United States, from Los Angeles to North Carolina.
A bonus bumper edition is our way of apologising for leaving you high and dry last week, giving you everything you would have had anyway, but with less time to explor… okay it’s not a bonus, fine, but it’ll just have to do. Last week’s dull delivery is less of note than the latest, November’s twist on the typical first-of-the-month flood. There are plenty of picks here to satisfy all needs, from some of this year’s finest to one of its most deplorable, from the Oscar-feted films of yesteryear to some underrated oddities of times gone by, from America to Africa and any number of places in between.
So far, season three of Homeland has been cleaning up in the wake of the explosion it detonated at the center of itself last season. The force of the blast has left us as an audience watching what amounts to four different shows slowly stitching themselves back together. We have Carrie Mathison in a rousing rendition of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Dana Brody in ANGST!: A Story of Angst, Saul in The Paper Chase, and Brody off in what I can only hope is pretty much just Trainspotting next time we see him. All of these stories are slowly coalescing around a central narrative (except Dana, who is off doing her own thing mostly because Morgan Saylor is too good to waste and Morena Baccarin is still a cast member. Oh, and Mike. Mike is still there), but it is taking time for the bigger picture to become clear, and that is making it harder to care about a lot of things.
H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories of the 1920s and 1930s have exerted a widespread influence over the genre in all forms of media, but the best-known film adaptations of his work are associated with writer Dennis Paoli, producers Charles and Albert Band and Brian Yuzna, and writer-director Stuart Gordon. Following the success of their gory and witty Lovecraft update Re-Animator, much of the same cast and crew embarked upon a perhaps even more ambitious follow-up. Its complete title is H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond, but like its predecessor, it greatly expounds upon the original tale in order to honor the spirit of Lovecraft’s malignant cosmology that hides just outside human comprehension; where the author used hints and suggestion in prose, the filmmakers try to show what Lovecraft considered unshowable.