Friday, July 31, 2015


TV: Oz s.1e.2-4

Loving this show. Very theatrical. Uses numerous devices I don't care for - breaking 4th wall, flashbacks, but overall, I don't mind the artifice. The Wire owes a heavy debt to this show and I wonder why this isn't more talked about. Or maybe it was, but I wasn't paying attention.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


TV: Oz pilot

HBO Go! Turning this on was like stepping into a time warp. 4x3. Crappy production value. Strange breaking of the 4th wall narrator like character. But boy, by the end of the pilot, I was incredibly into it. I thought it was quite terrific and the detailed portrait of the different prison faction was incredibly thorough and realistic. Very impressive. I know the Wire was inspired by the show and you can see it. Also, quite a strange structure to the pilot with little to no interweaving of the main story arcs. Almost like they start with a B-story, run with it and then hand it off to an A-story. The characters overlap, but still, it was a nice contrast to the way most dramas are told these days with constant cutting back and forth. This is old fashioned stuff - just good acting and sharp, realistic writing. Some is stagey and almost play-like, but the show deals with big themes and questions. I'd wish HBO would return to this type of programming rather than its current obsession with prestige and massive production value.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Book: Chinaman's Chance by Ross Thomas

I was into the first half more than the second and the end wasn't particularly satisfying. Still, I like Thomas' style. His descriptions and prose are among my favorite of crime writers.

TV: True Detective s. 2. e. 6

That orgy scene was straaaange. What was up with the score? It felt like I was in a DePalma movie or something all of a sudden. The tone got real wonky for me in this episode. I found the Colin F and VV scene in the opening incredibly awkward and stiff and like the guys were talking in fake-deep Bain-esque voices. I was totally confused about the plan at the orgy. What exactly were they trying to accomplish? Also, why do the bad guys choose to do big time land deals at these massive orgy parties? Why bring important contracts to a social gathering where you will be soon having sex in public in front of all these people? Do rich people really do this? I'm trying to picture if I somehow became a billionaire real estate mogul, would a big public sex party with drugged up ladies appeal to me?

I actually think this was my least favorite episode of the season. I found the scene talking about the LA riots to be historically off. If I remember correctly, Beverly Hills was not a place where riots and looting were taking place. I feel like the stories are all over the place. They're chasing diamonds, they going under cover at sex orgy parties, they're investigating corruption, I can't even tell you how many murders and of who...., Frank's trying to find his money...I can go on and on. It feels like the stories are totally spiraling out of control to no apparent conclusion. I'm a little bummed and not really looking forward to the next two episodes now.

Friday, July 24, 2015


TV: True Detective s.2 e.5

Colin Farrell figures out what the audience knew the beginning: Frank tricked him. Still, the acting was incredible. Farrell is carrying the season like LeBron carried the Cavs in the finals.

My favorite LA detail was Frank moving to Glendale as a sign of his star falling. It looked like a nice neighborhood to me. But I wonder...isn't that a pretty long commute to Vernon? So then I looked it up and it turns out to only be 30 minutes down the 5. The move makes a lot of sense, especially for adopting because the schools in Glendale are decent.

Also, I liked the Lloyd Braun (from Seinfeld) cameo.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Film: Back to the Future

My earliest "Oscar" memory was watching the event with my parents and telling my dad that the best picture contest was absurd because Back to the Future was clearly better than "Out of Africa" and frankly, all the other nominees. To this day, I can't say that I was wrong, although I see why adults don't quite respond to the film -- frankly, it's pretty cheesy in tone. But the formal aspects of the story construction are absolutely brilliant and I say it without any sort of irony. Also, the film is quite taboo -- way moreso than The Color Purple or Witness or Out of Africa -- when you boil down the story to idea that Marty must make sure his own mother doesn't fall in love with him. I mean, that is a crazy fucking idea! Preston Struges probably rolled over in his grave cursing Zemeckis and Gale for coming up with that one.

I've heard Nic Refn talk about how Pretty Women is one of the most subversive movies ever made because they couch an incredibly dark tale of a rich man falling in love with a prostitute into this made-for-everyone romantic comedy. But think how much more taboo and subversive the idea of Back to the Future is -- a kid traveling back in time must make sure his mother and father fall in love -- so he and his family can survive and it's for KIDS!

The other element of the film which works fantastically is the score -- is rousing and simply perfect in spots -- the moment when Marty is on his skateboard and walks over the car, causing Biff to crash into the manure truck was as good yesterday as the first time I saw it in 1985. Pure cinematic joy and by the standards of most effects today, relatively simple and entirely based upon character. The movie also clocks in at 2 full hours - long for a movie for kids - but the story has so much going for it and is so perfectly constructed, the 2 hours is fully earned.

To me, Back to the Future far surpasses any Pixar accomplishment.
Fallacy of Mood Affiliation

How did I miss this concept put forward by one of my favorite bloggers, Tyler Cowen?

I actually think this does a great to explain how critics and audiences talk about movies and television these days (and politics).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


TV: True Detective s.2e.4

The freeze frame suggests, I think, a major time jump into the next episode. I only figured this by seeing the preview where Colin Farrell shaved his moustache. I could see the episode jumping to Taylor K having a baby, Farrell working for VV, and Rachel McAdams...who knows. I think this would be a cool and make sense from how the first season played out. Still...the storytelling is wonky this season.

Film: Force Majuere

One excellent moment and several other quite good ones. Overall, quite a decent movie, but not great.

Sunday, July 05, 2015


Film: Inside Out and Night Moves (Penn)

TV: Rectify, ep. 1

A strange double on the 4th of July, I'll be the first to admit. Inside Out was by the wife's request, obviously. What can I say? I can start off by saying I fell asleep. Then I awoke and watched most of the movie. I don't care for the aesthetics of Pixar animation. It doesn't do anything for me. I find it weird so many adults connect with it. Of course the movie is brilliantly constructed and makes what I guess is taken for a "complex" point, that sadness is a part of life and can lead to joy.

All I know is that when I got home I badly needed a cleanse. Rectify didn't do it, but Night Moves did.

Friday, July 03, 2015


Film: Me Earl and the Dying Girl

An occasionally decent film.

Random thoughts:

Sundance movies are incredibly formulaic.

Wes Anderson's dick must be sore from getting such a long filmmaking hand job

Best line of the movie, "Books...nice." I laughed out loud, but I don't think anyone else in the theater did.

Molly Shannon best side character, IMO.

Didn't buy he and Earl were actual friends.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Econ Getting Interesting

Is Kevin Love a better player on a bad team? And how it can apply to other situations. Very smart post.