Sunday, March 9, 2014

True Detective Season One, Episodes Seven and Eight

The last two episodes of True Detective bring us the setup in the penultimate episode, in which Woody and Mac become one again, and the finale, in which all hell breaks loose, a journey straight into the creepiest hell on earth.

Stan Earnest: The plane takes off like a rocket, wobbles a bit…(will it crash?)…NO, sticks the fucking landing!

Craig Scholes: The last 10 minutes sucked

SE: I know you have never smoked weed, but are you fucking high?

Where the fuck were you last week?
CS: Meh, the ending existentialism was pointless for me.

SE: Spoken like a true existentialist.

CS: Burn.

SE: First, should we touch on last week just a bit? I completely fucked the dog last week. My apologies. Crazy family drama.

CS: By crazy family drama, I’m assuming you went sundress shopping. Did you get yourself a pretty yellow one?

SE: It was a little closer to Woody getting booted out of his house. I may have caused that with a little too much boozing and gambling. I tried to explain that I was just searching for the Yellow King. Didn't work.

CS: So, last week. I have a bunch of incoherent notes. Basically "Gayer John Waters... a.ka. Johnny Joanie Waters, and McConaughey parkour'd his way into the Osteen mansion.

SE: We are totally doing a disservice to our fan base by rehashing this shit before we get to the goods, but I'm not sure we have a fun base, so fuck it. All I have is that great line by Woody, "High praise from a bartender."

CS: I have the line "I should buy one of my kids paintings if I can afford it," which is ironic as he is driving a new Cadillac.

SE: Before you go all splattering green paint on the last ten minutes, let's dabble into the basis of this season. So the season was based on a couple of old time literary works: a short story called "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" by Ambrose Bierce (1891) and The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers (1895). Let me propose a theory: Cohle is the unspeakable man, the man that wants to convince the world he doesn't exist, the enabler, Lucifer. He has been turned, flipped into the role.

CS: Okay.

SE: In The King in Yellow, those that read the story are so affected by it that they slip into madness. Seeing the aftermath, Woody can't bear to think about what he has seen. Cohle, on the other hand, can't be killed. He is the one with yellow hair. There were no other mentions of the yellow king in this episode, just the green ears. I mean, I don't want to go off the rails and say it is literal, but Cohle saying the light is winning at the end of the season would be his version of slipping into insanity.

CS: How would he be becoming insane, when it justified everything he had done up to that point?

SE: He slipped and let go to see his family in the dark underworld, and it was only a ploy. What he has seen has turned him. I think the dark hole he saw before getting gutted was supposed to be his reality, not a hallucination. I just explain it the way I explain things I see on the internet: "Well shit, I can't unsee that."

I hope my dreams don't have shitty bands in them.
CS: I saw it as, he was going insane, and him nearly dying brought him back to reality.

SE: That statement itself is sweet irony, dying to live, like Inception on LSD. Cohle is rounding the black circle only to have his face shown like he was meant to play this game over and over again.

CS: Inception on LCD... it was all a dream?

SE: Inception on LCD Soundsystem: it was all just a ploy for the new record release. Fucking HBO, nothing but cash grabbers!

CS: Lord Jesus, we are spiraling. Flux capacitor must be broken.

SE: Besides, the last ten minutes were worth it just to see Woody sipping his drink, looking like Woody (because no one else has that look), as Cohle wakes up.

CS: So the sketchy dude they shot at on the boat, he was a cop or a sheriff right? HOW IN THE FUCK DOES HE OWN A MASERATI!?

SE: Joe fucking Walsh himself was giggling somewhere, if he even knows where he is at.

George Remus sans yellow.
CS: Two things about the Yellow King: 1) He didn't look Asian at all, and 2) Even Buffalo Bill thinks those guys are gross assholes.

SE: George Remus likes yellow. George Remus doesn't like to clean. Remus likes little girls though.

CS: The Backwater hillbilly bayou Forrest Gump.

SE: I don't think I'm ever traveling to Louisiana ever after that. I think Carcosa is the place in hell where Rob Zombie is going to jam for all eternity.

CS: I once ate at a Denny's in Shreveport that was out of ketchup. True story.

SE: When they were pulling up to the place, I was having flashbacks from Seven. "What's in the box! What's in the box!" I thought for sure that it was going to be Woody's daughter in that shed, but it was way creepier.

CS: I honestly thought I had called it with Woody's daughter. I knew that wasn't the case though when Woody met with his ex wife.

SE: This may be a rapid reaction, but as far as seasons of television shows, where does this season rank for you?

CS: I don't think it makes my top five, top ten probably.

SE: I’m throwing it in my top three alongside seasons three and four of Breaking Bad. No other show has stuck the dialogue, the acting, and story so completely. They trimmed the fat, chunked it into eight episodes of art layered on top of art. It was like a 90s Weezer album.

CS: With less references to KISS and Dungeons & Dragons.

SE: With that said, I can't decide if it should get point deductions or additions for the short season. Boardwalk Empire, as good as it is, would be even better if they cut it down to eight eps.

CS: Always leaving them wanting more. Having said that though, I don't know where else this story could go. It didn't leave any loose ends.

SE: What are you talking about? The Woody & Mac PI show is going to kill. Maybe they can hire Saul Goodman for good measure.

CS: I just meant this story line is complete, anything else would be a new story.

SE: Before we go, throw around some #TrueDetectiveSeason2 predictions.

CS: Jean Ralphio and Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec start a PI service and go on adventures and become best friends.

SE: I'm thinking Bill Murray and Robin Williams. Carrot Top will be the killer.

CS: I'd rather Carrot Top as the victim.

SE: If I were to guess an actual prediction as to what HBO will actually do, let's see, who is the latest washed up actor trying to blaze a comeback trail? Let's go Ben Affleck and…Jim Carrey. Sounds just looney enough.

CS: Batman?

SE: Oh, fuck me.

CS: I would imagine there is a female in season two, so I'll go with Frances McDormand and Sean Penn.

SE: All I can say is that this show stuck the landing, and no one should be disappointed in the ending.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Man on Film: The Wolf of Wall Street

Much like fellow Best Picture nominee American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street is a helluva fun ride that ultimately lacks the staying power that some of the other more serious Oscar contenders have. In other words, 12 Years a Slave The Wolf of Wall Street is not.

While much of the negative response to The Wolf of Wall Street has centered around the perception that the film celebrates greed, it seems like much of the point of the film was lost on those people. Martin Scorcese masterfully captures the grotesque excess by indulging in it. A lesser director would have maintained a measured detachment from the greed, using the distance to preach--I'm looking at you Steven Spielberg--against the actions of the characters.

In The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorcese lets the audience get taken in by Jordan Belfort only to crank up the excess leading to a repulsion to contrast more meaningfully against that urge to like the charismatic lead. In the role of rich asshole, Leonardo DiCaprio once again kills it for Scorcese. While one could certainly wonder if Leo is actually having to stretch much to play a role like Belfort, the fact remains that he excels in this immorality tale.

That isn't to say DiCaprio is alone in his greatness. Predictably, Scorsese gets great turns from the supporting cast. Kyle Chandler and Matthew McConaughey are both fantastic is smaller roles, as Jordan's foil and mentor, respectively. In addition to being stunning, Australian Pan-Am and Neighbours alum Margot Robbie is wonderful as the other half in a very mercurial relationship. Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Shea Whigham, Cristin Milioti, and Jean Dujardin round out the rest of the strong supporting cast; but it is Jonah Hill who gets the most screen time of the rest of the cast, and he absolutely earns his second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor with a blisteringly hilarious and debaucherous turn as Donnie Azoff, Jordan's right hand and enthusiastic co-conspirator.

Now one could levy claims that Scorcese and screenwriter Terence Winter--Boardwalk Empire in the house--don't punish Belfort enough, but do any of the Wall Street bilkers get any significant punishment? His life is in shambles after his self-destruction, but anyone hoping for Scorcese to do a morality tale is barking up the wrong tree.

The real issues with the film lie with the fact that despite its three-hour runtime--a runtime usually reserved for historical epics or dramas with grave import--The Wolf of Wall Street falls a bit on the forgettable side of things. It's a full-blown debaucherous ride, but somehow a three-hour Martin Scorcese film seems to lack the significance that the rest of his fare has in spades.

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