Tag Archives: Cary Joji Fukunaga

True Detective 3.1 – “The Great War and Modern Memory”

To a child of the 21st century, the ancient era referred to as “the Eighties” must seem like a difficult place to live. No cell phones. No internet. None of that pervasive interconnectedness borne of technology where everyone knows everything the second it happens. If you hear that Steve McQueen just died, you hear about it through a friend who heard from somewhere else. And if your kids don’t come back home when they’re supposed to, you can’t just ping the Find My iPhone button in your pocket.

About one-third of the new season of True Detective is set in these quaint, social media-less Eighties — starting on November 7th, 1980, to be exact. A few things happened that day. Steve McQueen died. It was a full moon. And two kids went missing in Arkansas, Will and Julie Purcell, ages 10 and 12. That missing persons case extends far beyond 1980, though, having a profound effect on those involved for decades to come.

Continue reading True Detective 3.1 – “The Great War and Modern Memory”

Advertisements

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation lives in the space between realism and allegory. Uzodinma Iweala’s original novel approaches that space but seems far less concerned with it, narrated entirely by the young central character, Agu, in his simplistic present-tense dialect. A child soldier in West Africa, Agu’s journey in the novel is one of survival. His family is killed, and to avoid being killed himself he accepts an offer to join the army of the Commandant, a rebel warlord. At first he declares “I am not wanting to fight”; eventually, though, Agu is killing with knives and guns, willfully attacking “enemies”, tearing through his war-stricken country at the whim and call of the Commandant.

Everything about the novel is heartbreaking, but nothing more so than the sense that Agu is too young to realize that his journey across his country is also a descent into hell. The first-person narration is one that nonetheless conveys the bare minimum about Agu’s own thoughts and feelings about his actions, and yet at times it conveys more than enough. “I am liking it” — this is what Agu says about the sound of his knife hitting a woman’s head, about the splashing blood. It’s brutal in how direct it all is, in its impossibility and in its plausibility. Iweala never has to name the West African country or convince us that someone like Agu really exists; Agu very definitely does.

Continue reading Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Film & TV News: October 13

News

  • Both the New York Film Festival and the New York Comic Con concluded this weekend. From the former, I’d like to give a sarcastic shout-out to the idiot who talks through the Closing Night premiere and is inevitably seated right next to me; from the latter, I’d like to give an actual shout-out to the girl dressed as Harley Quinn that I saw zipping through Grand Central. Nice mallet.
  • Quentin Tarantino is cutting two versions of The Hateful Eight (rather than, you know, eight versions), one for 70mm and one for the rest of the peons to check out in digital. I really cannot for the life of me think of a good reason for this, other than because he’s Tarantino.
  • Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston, Bob Balaban and Edward Norton will be voicing a pack of dogs for Wes Anderson’s next stop-motion animation film. Even if you’re not a huge Wes fan, that’s a pretty top-tier voice cast.

Continue reading Film & TV News: October 13

Film & TV News: September 29

News

  • The Prometheus sequel is moving forward as Ridley Scott’s next film under the official title Alien: Paradise Lost. Hard to pass judgement on title alone, but for the moment we’re cautiously pessimistic.
  • Speaking of Alien, Sigourney Weaver has confirmed a cameo in the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, which you probably know as “the all-female Ghostbusters reboot” to such a degree that the title could be The All-Female Ghostbusters Reboot.
  • Spectre‘s theme song “Writing’s on the Wall” has been released, featuring the crooning vocals of Sam Smith, and can be heard in full over on Spotify. I haven’t actually listened to it, and won’t until I’m firmly in my seat in the theater for Spectre, but apparently it’s divisive so far without any of the visual/story context. On another note, isn’t it weird that so few photos of Christoph Waltz’s villain have leaked?
  • Some beautiful new stills from The Revenant hit the interwebs yesterday, teasing the exclusive use of natural light throughout Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman follow-up. For those of you who have been pining for a shot of Leonardo DiCaprio standing before a mountain of buffalo skulls, today is your lucky day.

Continue reading Film & TV News: September 29

Film & TV News: September 23

News

  • Rumor has it that the second season of Serial will delve into the story of Bowe Bergdahl, and that Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal is somehow involved as he writes a new film for Kathryn Bigelow. If any shred of this is true, we’re on board.
  • Sam Smith’s Spectre theme song will be available for your ears the day after tomorrow (Friday 25th).
  • Jordan Peele — yes, the Key and Peele Jordan Peele — is apparently going to direct the horror film Get Out as his next project. Sounds hilarious.
  • The NYFF is well underway — stay tuned for reviews from our screenings starting this week.

Continue reading Film & TV News: September 23

True Detective 1.8 – “Form and Void”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

Everything leading up to last night’s conclusion to True Detective’s first season has been pretty stellar, setting the bar higher for the show as a whole than any other first season you care to name. The finale was so sought-after, in fact, that the HBO GO server overloaded and crashed due to such high demand, sending millions into despair over whether Rust and Marty would finally get their man. Last week’s episode “After You’ve Gone” served up a nice volley for the finale to knock down — and the eighth and final installment did just that. Needless to say, spoilers follow for the season one finale “Form and Void”.

Writer and showrunner Nic Pizzolatto dug himself into a hole in several ways with True Detective, foremostly by turning out a phenomenal, pitch-perfect pilot and a five-episode arc that brought with it the most intriguing hour “The Secret Fate of All Life”. I didn’t hear any major complaints after the first three episodes, and only when the fourth episode “Who Goes There” indulged in an action sequence did reviewers post fears about the show becoming “just another procedural”. Now, it seems, we have something of the reverse: “Form and Void” was inarguably, inescapably, and at times frustratingly revelation-free, instead providing a straightforward “resolution” where most fans pined for a major twist involving the unveiling of the Yellow King.

Continue reading True Detective 1.8 – “Form and Void”

True Detective 1.4 – “Who Goes There”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

After a two-week hiatus, True Detective roared back last night with one of the most intense episodes of television you’re likely to find. Major developments in the Dora Lange case in 1995 and a twist in the recounting of that case in 2012 were highlights — but an unbroken, heart-in-your-throat tracking shot of the eruption of a street battle brought the HBO series to a whole new level. Spoilers follow for the fourth episode “Who Goes There”.

When we left Cohle and Hart two weeks ago (read the review here), the fourth hour seemed set up for greatness. A gun battle alluded to during the interviews of 2012, along with the arrival of one Reggie Ledoux, promised both action and developments in the Dora Lange case. Both were needed, as the Lange case had been stewing at a low boil for a few weeks and the closest we’d come to an action sequence was a brief tussle between Cohle and Hart in the locker room. And we did indeed receive both — but what we got wasn’t at all what was expected.

Continue reading True Detective 1.4 – “Who Goes There”

True Detective 1.1 – “The Long Bright Dark”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

Touch darkness, says the promotional poster for HBO’s latest series True Detective, and darkness touches you back. A tagline like this is all too generic these days, paired with a moody title card or a black-and-white shot of the strong-willed protagonist of a new film or television series. True Detective’s ad campaign has all of that — but one thing to take away from the pilot episode, which aired Sunday night in the US, is that the weighty tagline is rightfully deserved. Spoilers follow for the first episode “The Long Bright Dark”.

Conceived as an anthology series (more on that in a bit), True Detective’s first season stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as newly-paired State Police Detectives in backwater Louisiana. The year is 1995, and the detectives are still operating in an awkward alliance as they begin an investigation into a gruesome murder. The victim’s name is Dora Lange, and it’s already clear that her case is a driving element of this season — and yet the vast majority of “The Long Bright Dark” is spent with McConaughey and Harrelson, and it’s also clear that this is a show that will focus on the character above the plot. The tension in the partnership is nothing revelatory for a cop show: McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is the unconventional but brilliant loner, Harrelson’s Martin Hart is the by-the-numbers family man looking to succeed in his position. These parts are acted perfectly, though, and McConaughey especially deserves to ride high on the wave of critical praise he’s received for recent roles such as this.

Continue reading True Detective 1.1 – “The Long Bright Dark”