Saturday, January 18, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
Neil Young or Joni Mitchell we had to watch them travel to California before we paid them much attention. The Band had four Canadians and it was the lone southerner who had the biggest impact on their sound. I mention The Band because they are the group people point to as the precursor to Blackie & the Rodeo Kings whose new CD came out this week. It’s called SOUTH and you can hear echoes of The Band in the title track. The ragged but spot on harmonies, the organ, the solid bass and lots of guitar. However don’t think that B&RK is just a copy of Levon’s old group!
Thursday, January 16, 2014
|Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective.|
Knowledgeable TV watchers inked True Detective in as the first cultural event of the year as soon as news of it began to filter out last spring. In an industry where it’s unusual for even ambitious series to have just a few people at the helm insuring unity of personal vision and style, the series was conceived by the novelist Nic Pizzolatto, who also wrote all eight episodes, all of which were directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. (Fukunaga previously made the fine 2011 feature adaptation of Jane Eyre.) The main characters, a mismatched pair of police detectives working a homicide case in Louisiana in the mid-80s, are played by a couple of movie stars: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
Even now that the barriers that used to separate movie and TV careers have eroded, it’s unusual to see a couple of big names as successful and adventurous as these two agreeing to headline a weekly TV show, and McConaughey and Harrelson won’t be sweating out the wait to see if the series gets renewed; like Ryan Murphy’s conceptually audacious (albeit deranged) American Horror Story, this is an anthology series, designed to tell one story over the course of a season, then return to tell a different one, with a different set of characters, in the same basic genre. This ought to be a good way to attract talented people who are reluctant to tie themselves to a regular TV schedule (although Murphy has made a fetish of bringing back certain actors, from season to season, in different roles); it’s also a smart way to get past what’s always been the great creative trap of American series TV, which has demanded that creators keep drawing their stories out past the point of dramatic tension and common sense for as long as it remains profitable to keep their shows on the air, instead of thinking in terms of stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Everything about True Detective sounds great in theory. And to a degree that I don’t remember seeing on American TV before, that’s just what it is: a show that’s absolutely bursting with pride at how great it is in theory.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
When Ordinary People Come to Terms with the Extraordinary: Revisiting David Lynch's The Straight Story (1999)
|Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story|
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
|Dane DeHaan & Daniel Radcliffe in Kill Your Darlings|
In Kill Your Darlings, John Krokidas’ feature film debut, Daniel Radcliffe plays the young Allen Ginsberg, whose friendship with the charismatic daredevil Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) during his first year at Columbia University represents his artistic and sexual coming-of-age. Krokidas, who also co-wrote the screenplay with first-timer Austin Bunn, has taken the true story of Lucien Carr’s role in the formation of the New York City Beat Generation – he was a sort of ringleader and muse for Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs – and his grisly murder of his gay stalker David Kammerer, and refracted it all through Ginsberg’s perspective. Krokidas doesn’t have the directorial chops to make this movie work. It meanders and drifts, coming in and out of focus, and its glazed druggy-jazzy set pieces are pandering and heavy-handed. (The structural problems also come from the script.) And visually, it’s a poky little production, awkwardly pasted together – you don’t have to be a technical expert to see it. The difference between Kill Your Darlings and a run-of-the-mill bad movie from a freshman director is that Krokidas has really interesting ideas; he just doesn’t know how to execute them yet. But Daniel Radcliffe does: his performance, which is crystal clear in every scene, gets to the emotional core of what Krokidas as a writer-director can’t express. He keeps you watching.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Sunday, January 12, 2014
|A scene from Helix, now airing on the SyFy Channel|
For the television audience, January sometimes brings some belated Christmas presents. TV's mid-season is no longer the place where networks dump the shows not quite good enough for September, and cable networks never really much cared about the old schedules anyway. This past week, two new science fiction dramas premiered: Intelligence (CBS/CTV) and Helix (Syfy). Both shows boast some familiar faces in front of and behind the camera, but whereas the former feels uninspired and derivative, the latter shows some real promise in its early episodes.