Posts Tagged ‘Justified

26
Apr
15

Boardwalk Empire is Over

Boardwalk Empire quietly aired on HBO for the last five years, and the final season recently wrapped up. This was an interesting series because it had the pedigree of an all-out hit. It had Steve Buscemi in the lead with lavish productions values, a fantastic period setting, and a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese. Strangely, it never reached commercial mass appeal. It seemed to always be overshadowed by other series like Game of Thrones or whatever else HBO happened to be airing. Boardwalk Empire was always the bridesmaid on the progamming block. That was too bad, because it deserved better. It was a great series.

The story was about prohibition-era gangsters, their battle for control of the bootleg liquor industry, and the rise of organized crime in the United States. While it is ostensibly fiction, there are a lot of historical characters populating the series like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and many others. Buscemi’s character, Nucky Thompson, was based on real-life gangster Enoch Johnson. They chose to fictionalize him so they could do whatever they wanted with his storyline, and not have to stick too rigidly to historical fact.

The numerous characters wove a fantastic tapestry of stories stretching over the course of the roaring 20s. The characters all effected one another, not always directly, but each player had a part that could influence events in everyone’s lives. It doesn’t quite get to The Wire’s level of interconnectedness, but it certainly does a good job, anyway. The characters are absolutely fascinating, from the lead played by Buscemi, to Michael Shannon’s rage-proned prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden, to Kelly MacDonald as Nucky’s wife, to Michael William’s Chalky White, to disfigured Richard Harrow, played by John Huston. There are many more characters than this, and they all electrify the screen.

Continue reading ‘Boardwalk Empire is Over’

25
Oct
14

Justified Season 5, Louie Season 3

Justified Season 5

Justified is nothing if not consistent. It consistently provides some of the best stories on TV. Once again, we journey to Harlan county, although this time with the first detour to Florida since the first episode. Raylan goes head to head with the Crowe clan. The Crowes are the dumbest, most bumbling group of redneck criminals of all time. Despite their idiocy, they manage to pose a significant threat to the good people of Harlan. Raylan does his usual shtick of talking tough and quick-drawing on bad guys. He’s a fairly straight-forward character, it’s true, but you know exactly what you’re getting with him. The person you can never be quite sure about is Boyd. Once again Boyd weaves his way in and out of the lives of the other various characters in Harlan county. This season sees him travel as far North as Detroit and as far South as Mexico on his quest to become a drug kingpin. Boyd probably kills more people this season than in any previous. Despite him being a despicable criminal, he has so much damn charisma, it’s impossible not to root for him. The biggest surprise this season was that Boyd’s relationship with Ava became the driving force behind the story. The fifth season of Justified continues full-steam ahead, bringing awesome, complex tales week after week. The best part, as always, remains the lively cast of characters.

Verdict: Awesome

 Louie Season 3

I’m not sure what sort of glowing praise I could write about this series that hasn’t already been written. Louis C.K. remains at the top of his game in the third season of the show that he writes, directs, edits, and stars. That’s a lot of heavy lifting for one person. But with near total creative control, he manages to stick to his vision resolutely. It pays off nearly every single time. Each episode is funny, insightful, and somehow tragic all at once. He experiments more with long form storytelling this season than in the previous two. He features a long arc in which Louie is recruited to shoot a pilot to show if he has the right stuff to replace David Letterman. This late night “mini-series” was by far the highlight of the season, and David Lynch was a treat as the “mentor” (if you can call him that). Louie continues to grow, continues to take risks, and continues to pay off in spades. It is one of the best comedies on TV.

Verdict: Awesome

02
Aug
14

Breaking Bad Was Breaking Great But Not Breaking Perfect (AKA Endings Are Hard)

Breaking Bad is heralded as one of the greatest TV series of all time. I recently finished my first watch of the show on Netflix, and I have to admit, it was pretty fantastic. There are very few other shows that have such complex stories and deep characters, and are able to consistently deliver riveting television episode after episode. I’ll admit I was pretty obsessed with the show while I was watching it. I purposefully waited until the show was over to watch it, because I knew I would want to marathon it. Seeing every episode in such a short amount of time allowed me to view the character and story arcs as they naturally developed. Night after night, I couldn’t wait to see what kind of nefarious scheme Heisenberg had cooked up. And time after time, the show delivered things in fresh and satisfying ways. Watching the series, I knew why people were saying it was one of the best shows of all time. It had great acting, dark humor, complicated storylines, and it never pulled any punches. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a perfect series. Despite the writers’ best efforts, the show faltered in its final season and left a series finale that didn’t deliver what it should have.

When Breaking Bad starts, it’s about a schlubby high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who lives a boring life. He’s married to a bitch, his job sucks, and he just got diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say his life is terrible. So, wanting to provide for his family after his death, he does what any normal person would do, start cooking and selling meth. Walter, having such a shitty life, stops giving any fucks about anything, and lives a life that we, as viewers, only wish we could. He talks shit to people he hates, he blows up an asshole’s sports car, and he begins to grow a criminal empire. Living vicariously through Walter was one of the reasons the first season was so damn good.

Continue reading ‘Breaking Bad Was Breaking Great But Not Breaking Perfect (AKA Endings Are Hard)’

07
Dec
13

Justified Season 4, Person of Interest Season 2

Justified Season 4

Raylan and Boyd, doublemint awesome.

TV shows that can maintain an intelligent and engaging storyline are few and far between. Justified, however, is one of those shows. Each season is just as incredible as the last. This year, things took a slight detour, eschewing the usual central villain and supplanting it with a mystery. The mystery of season 4 is figuring out how a human body and bags of cocaine fell out of the sky. The mystery was fun, but a bit too convoluted for its own good. Watching the series weekly, it was easy to forget the details and get completely lost. Perhaps marathoning the season would make the mystery easier to follow.
All the things I love about Justified are back this season. Raylan is as stoic and badass as ever. Boyd is a creepy and lovable villain. The back and forth, cops and robbers games the characters play are just as intricate as ever. Boyd in particular shows some serious character growth this season, and further cements how fantastically written all of these characters are. Natalie Zea, who played Raylan’s ex Winona, left the show this season to take a leading role on Fox’s so-bad-it’s-hilarious show The Following. Fortunately, she was never really all that intregal to Justified, anyway. We also got the introduction of Bob Sweeney, a local constable played by the always funny Patton Oswalt. Although he’s a guest star, he was a great addition to the cast.
While the characters and story remain as great as always, this wasn’t my favorite season of Justified. I’d say season 3 was my favorite so far. Nevertheless, this was another great year for the series. There’s so much to love here. The recently departed Elmore Leonard would be proud. It’s only a shame more people aren’t watching Jusitifed. It is the best show on TV.
Verdict: Awesome
Person of Interest Season 2

Person of Interest main cast.

Almost all of my gripes about season 1 were corrected in season 2. Mostly, I complained about the focus on the case-of-the-week format, and the casting of Taraji Henson as a lead character. Both of these things have improved in the new season. Taraji Henson stepped up her game and when she acted alongside the other characters, she didn’t get lost in the mix. At times, she shines brighter than the others. I can only assume that she must have read my blog post, and as a diehard Awesomely Shitty fan, she got her act together.
The case-of-the-week format still exists in season 2, but it’s not as annoying as it was in season 1. The cases seem more organically linked together. There is a current running through the cases now that wasn’t there before. While it does still have a large case-of-the-week format, there is an extra emphasis on mythology now, which will carry the series over the long haul.
Somewhat annoyingly in the last episode, Root showed up and kidnapped Harold AGAIN. Although, the stakes were higher and things got crazier with a totally nuts scene where The Machine is one the phone with Reese, pointing out bad guys so he can shoot them. The ultimate reveal at the end of the episode was awesome and nicely set the stage for season 3.
Overall, Person of Interest is turning into a very good TV show. The acting is good, the main storyline engaging, the action scenes fun, and it includes an ever evolving mythology. At this point, its only drawback is the extended 22 episodes season. If it could be compressed into 12-13 episodes, there wouldn’t be much filler, and the series would be non-stop awesome.
Verdict: Good
08
Dec
12

Justified Season 3

Raylan knows how to kick back, even while shooting bad guys.

Justified has shown a great amount of depth and progression each year it has been on the air. The first season was largely plot-driven, but managed to utilize interesting characters to its advantage. It could be slow at times, but it was never boring. The second season improved on the first in various ways. The story became more character-driven, and each person affected the plot in their own way. Nothing felt contrived or forced. The third season managed to mesh what worked in the first and second seasons, and create something unique and memorable.

Continue reading ‘Justified Season 3′

26
Oct
12

Lessons Learned from The Wicker Man (AKA Oh No, Not the Bees!)

A picture of Cage running with a blank stare on his face perfectly encapsulates this movie.

The 2006 instant classic The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage has quite a few valuable lessons to teach us. Here’s a list of the things I took away from this thought-provoking cinematic masterpiece.

1) You don’t need good acting when the dialog is this amazing – Seriously, the dialog is stellar. It’s so goddamn good, they could have filmed the pages of the script and it would have been just as exciting. For example, in the very first scene, a waitress asks how a customer is doing. He answers, “Sorry, my mind was wandering” to which she deftly replies, “If I ate one of those burgers, I’d totally be in a trance, too.” Hilarious! A few moments later, Cage’s cop character pulls someone over and he asks, “You know why I stopped you?” The driver says, “Yeah.” And – scene! Amazing! Are we sure this movie wasn’t directed by Hitchcock?

2) It’s best to be as literal as possible – Cage gets a letter from Willow stating her daughter Rowan has been missing for 2 weeks. He talks to another cop, we have no idea who he is, but presumably he’s Cage’s boss or something. He explains the letter and says he is going to the island of Summersisle to investigate. The friend asks, “Who is she? An ex-girlfriend?” Cage answers, “No, we were engaged.” That’s right. Not an ex-girlfriend, an ex-fiance. How can we expect to live in a functional society unless we are being as literal as possible? I, for one, applaud Cage for being completely specific. If we don’t abide by the rules, then we are living in anarchy.

3) Drinking is good for you – Cage drinks mead almost immediately after stepping onto the island. What we didn’t see were all the deleted scenes where he got hammered on mead. In fact, Cage was probably drunk on mead the entire time he was filming The Wicker Man. How else could he have turned in such an inspired performance? Substances must have helped him along the way. And to be completely honest, drunk on mead is the only way to watch The Wicker Man.

Continue reading ‘Lessons Learned from The Wicker Man (AKA Oh No, Not the Bees!)’

07
Jul
12

Justified Season 2, Black Death

Justified Season 2

Raylan has a real talent for shooting people and looking good at the same time.

The first season of Justified was really good. Definitely one of the best shows in an otherwise barren wasteland of TV mediocrity. While the pacing was a bit slow, there were great characters, an interesting story, and nice action sequences. The second season improves on all of those things. The relationships between the characters becomes the driving force behind the series, and it is a pleasure to watch. Most captivating of all is the interaction between Raylan and Boyd. They are simultaneously friends and enemies. The villain this season was particularly good, Mags Bennet (played flawlessly by Margo Martindale), the head of an Appalachian drug cartel really upped the ante in terms of amazing villains. The plot became more intricate than in the first season, as we simultaneously follow Mags, Boyd, a few other characters, and Raylan’s investigation of everyone. There was hardly a single thing wrong with this season. It was great TV at its best. It reminds me that there is still hope out there, that people can still put together good television if they try.

Verdict: Awesome

Black Death

A movie from 2011, this film is meant to portray 14th-century England during the Bubonic Plague. Hints are dropped that this may be a film with a supernatural bend to it. Sean Bean (who probably walks around in full armor and broad sword in real life) has been charged by the Bishop to investigate a sleepy northern village which is rumored to be untouched by plague. What we learn later is that there is a witch in the town, and he has been charged with killing her. The supernatural-medieval angle seemed kind of cool to me, but that storyline went nowhere, as it turned out that witches don’t really exist. This is certainly not the best movie I have ever seen, but by far not the worst. Some of things it does well include: casting Sean Bean, taking time to make things look realistic, attention to detail, and good performances all around. What it doesn’t do well include: very bleak, very heavy-handed directing style which becomes a burden to the movie, showing shots of rats every time someone mentions “the plague”, teasing us with one battle scene only to never have another, and killing Sean Bean. Why does this dude have to die in every movie he’s in? I actually like this guy. Just once I’d like to see one of his characters survive a movie. Or does he have some kind of death wish in real life?

Verdict: Average




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