Nothing much to report this week. I could go into the usual filler of the week’s events, excusing the lack of movies watched with reasons of visiting guests and adventures in leaving the house, maybe drop a brief anecdote about Murphy’s latest quest to destroy my life, primarily through learning how to turn the gas hob on while I’m at work, making every day a potential fireball (we’ve fixed this problem, please don’t fear for my life any more than usual) but that’s nothing new. So instead, here’s my thoughts on True Detective Season 2, which we finished watching this past week. Spoiler warning for the end of the season.
I didn’t hate it. I’ve seen a lot of negative comments, and I can see where most of them are coming from, and I agree with a lot of it, but for the most part my feelings are positive. Here’s the thing; I didn’t flat-out love the first season. It was good, often great (that episode 4 tracking shot? Holy hell I’ve watched that like a dozen times since) but I wasn’t dying for the next one. So when season 2 rolled around my hopes weren’t as high as everyone else’s. I really dug the pilot (as each season follows new characters and plots, I’ll be thinking of the first episode each time as essentially being the pilot for that season). I liked the four separate storylines diverging around this one dead man, and I was intrigued as to how it would all pan out. Some of the characters felt a little similar, what with both Rachel McAdams’ Bezzerides and Colin Farrell’s Velcoro having problems with alcohol and Taylor Kitsch’s Woodrugh suffering from PTSD after his experiences with in the war, but over time the differences became clear and they all sorted themselves out. If anything, I could have maybe done with a little more time with their individual family and home lives, especially Bezzeredes, because if you cast David Morse as her father, I’m going to need him to be in at least half the episodes, not barely in three of them. The same goes for Fred Ward, but to a lesser extent. I also thoroughly approved of the inclusion of a criminal’s viewpoint, namely Vince Vaughn’s Frank. He and his wife (played by Kelly Reilly, who is excellent) have lost a lot of money courtesy of a guy dying in the first episode, so they’re trying to get their life back on track to survive this mess. Vaughn gets most of the best lines, although nothing ever came close to beating Farrell threatening a child who bullied his son with the promise ” If you ever bully or hurt anybody again, I’ll come back and butt fuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn.” Shame that the script peaked in episode one, but there you go.
My main issue is the plot. I’m of the opinion that this series wasn’t about the investigation as much as it was what happens to these four main characters, but that’s because I never had any kind of idea what was going on, who any of these secondary or tertiary people were or why they were doing anything. Even after the final episode I’m still in the dark about a lot of things. There’s too many characters, too many names and locations. It’s the same problem I had with JFK recently, in that I just couldn’t keep track of it all. If I’d kept some kind of chart as I went along, or watched each episode a few times apiece then I’d probably have a better idea, but I didn’t, so I don’t. I’ve heard others says that this is the whole point, you’re supposed to go through not knowing what’s relevant, but when I’m lost with everything, I retained nothing. Like I said though, I’m OK with that, because I focussed on the characters, and I understand how they all ended up, and most of the reasons why, without needing to completely understand everything that’s going on outside of their comprehension. If they make a season three I’ll definitely give it a shot, especially because it’s likely to take a whole different turn to this one. I’d love a 40s or 50s style noir, following a Bogart-esque gumshoe, but I don’t think this is that kind of show. Alternatively, maybe something like Heat could work, following one main good guy and one main bad guy across the whole series. That’s kind of what I thought this would be, but with three detectives after Vaughn’s criminal. That might be too simple of a set-up for this show, but it’s what I’d enjoy. Whatever they do, I’d appreciate if they just used less characters overall, allowing more time to explore their lives in depth to a greater extent. What did you think of the show? Let me know in the comments!
As for movies, here’s what I watched this week:
The World’s End (2013)
This was my favourite film of 2013, so when it won the most recent Lamb Movie of the Month poll I didn’t mind one bit, especially seeing as I didn’t really even need to re-watch it, given how many times I’ve seen it over the past few years. It’s still my least favourite amongst Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, but that goes to show just how much I love Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead more than it says anything bad about this one. As I mentioned on the Lambcast show that will be published soon, I prefer the other two because of their subject matter, in that I’m more familiar with zombie or buddy cop movies than I am with body-snatching alien films (bearing in mind I only saw key influence The Invasion of the Body Snatchers earlier this year), but this still works a treat for me. You can read my full review here.
Lists: None (Already crossed off: Empire’s Top 301)
Choose Film 9/10
Given how little I’d heard about Focus on release and considering the stars (Will Smith and Margot Robbie) I didn’t expect all that much from this, which is perhaps the best way to go into it, as I was pleasantly surprised. My familiarity with heist and conman movies left me braced for every twist and double cross possible, yet I was still taken aback with some of the events that progress. And the scene with B.D. Wong as a gambling fanatic at an American Football stadium is one of my favourites from the year so far. I’m surprised by how unknown most of the supporting cast was, with Smith, Robbie and Wong being the only actors I could name, and a small handful of recognisable faces like the guy from the Orange adverts (Brennan Brown) and Xerxes from 300 (Rodrigo Santoro) dotted around here and there. Normally I’d expect a few more well known character actors to cling onto, but for some reason there weren’t any here. Still, I really enjoyed it regardless, so if you’ve dismissed it in the past I’d consider it worthy of a watch.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Film 7/10
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
With the release of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road earlier this year (aka the Blu-Ray at the top of my Christmas list) it seemed to be the perfect opportunity to watch the sequel to Babe, also directed by Miller. Turns out, this may have been a mistake, not least because I’m not a huge fan of Babe in the first place. This is a very bizarre film, seeing the Hoggett farm being threatened by the bank when Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) suffers a version of The Bricklayer’s Lament and is unable to work, forcing Mrs. Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) to take their sheep-herding pig, Pig (actually named Babe, and voiced by Elizabeth Daily) into the big city to attend a ceremony as a paid guest. Of course, nothing goes to plan, as they end up stranded between flights when Babe befriends a drug-sniffing dog at the airport and the officials assume he is carrying contraband, so they are forced to check into a hotel that secretly caters for pet owners, including a clown (Mickey Rooney?!?) and his troupe of sporadically evil performing apes. At some point Babe acquires a small army of other animals, and is even a porcine mob boss for a while, complete with a bull terrier enforcer. This whole thing is a bit of a mess, and the only thing I found remotely interesting was how Miller managed to turn an upper class dinner convention into the Thunderdome from the third Mad Max film, with Mrs. Hoggett jumping around on elasticated rope strung from the ceiling, bouncing all over the place as though she’s fighting Master Blaster. Very odd, and sadly rarely entertaining.
Lists: TiVo Movies
Choose Life 4/10
Posts you may have missed:
FTS Road Trip: Virginia: Donnie Darko
Lambcast #285 Whatcha Been Watchin’ Lately?: I was joined by Nick Rehak, Daniel Lackey, Will Slater and newcomer to the show Nicole Ayers to talk about some films we’ve seen recently. I opted for the debacle that is Jupiter Ascending, whilst others discussed The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Aloha, Fourth Man Out and The Big Combo.
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
To go: 19
Should be on: 42
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
To go: 24
Should be on: 32
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
To go: 0
Should be on: 2
On Track: COMPLETED!
Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
To go: 4
Should be on: 8
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
To go: 18
Should be on: 36
On Track: No!
Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
To go: 15
Should be on: 52
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Finish French Toast Sunday Road Trip series
To go: 10
Should be on: 6
On Track: Yes!
The World’s End is good stuff, but yes, weakest of the trilogy. Focus was disappointing to me, because the pieces for a great film are all there, it just didn’t come together. This was a problem with the story, not the cast. They were both good.
That’s fair enough about Focus, and your review explains your thoughts nicely, I think I gave it more credit because the first half is so damn enjoyable and fun. The second half does wane a little, but I still enjoyed it.