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”
Whenever a perfect little family poses for a picture like the one taken in the opening scene of Force Majeure, you pretty much know they’re in for some trouble. It’s an oft-used trope showing how easily people can slip into a display of happiness, showing how perception can sometimes count for everything — we touched on a similar scene in our discussion of Robert Redford’s Ordinary People, a film which is on the whole a good touchstone for the themes of Force Majeure. Though the Swedish film suffers slightly from swaths of introspection that last just a bit too long, Force is still one of the most well-crafted family dramas of the past year.
That family is dad Tomas, mom Ebba, little daughter Vera and littler son Harry. They’re on a weeklong getaway at a beautiful mountainside resort in the French Alps for some skiing and relaxation. It’s family time, which Ebba subtly notes has been a much-needed side effect of Tomas’s busy work schedule. This is precious time, so the family does everything together. They ski together, they brush their teeth together, they sleep together on the big master bed. They eat lunch together. They get engulfed by an avalanche together. Family stuff.
Continue reading Force Majeure (2014)
I’ve always been spectacularly underwhelmed by anything within a ten mile radius of Stephen Dorff. He is in a ton of stuff I haven’t seen, to be fair, but then again most of those seem like instantly forgettable action flicks with airy titles relating to crime (Felon, Officer Down, .45) or cars (Brake, Carjacked) or just ambiguously intense shit (Heatstroke, Riders, Deuces Wild). Maybe there’s an unseen masterpiece buried in there somewhere. The things with Dorff I’ve had the distinct pleasure (ahem) of enjoying (ahem) have been Blade, in which he plays the most annoyingly puerile vampire this side of Twilight; Immortals and The Iceman, which I had to look up to make sure he was actually in because I don’t remember him at all; and, of course, those stupid ads for Blu Cigs. To boot, I mix the guy up with Skeet Ulrich, and that’s never good.
And yet Johnny Marco from Somewhere is a categorical douche, and wouldn’t you know it? Dorff is actually a great choice for the part. After he breaks his arm falling down the stairs at a party, Hollywood actor Johnny spends a few weeks at a high-price resort in the Hills getting pampered and watching strippers flail around in his room. He drinks and smokes. He sits. He orders room service and opens another beer and returns to the couch to smoke and sit some more. Every now and then his phone buzzes, receiving texts from a private number that say things like You’re a fucking asshole and You think you’re such hot shit, don’t you? and Johnny hardly manages a shrug as he lounges around his room.
Continue reading Somewhere (2010)