I read about True Detective on a blog where they were pointing out a few of the new shows for 2014 and this one caught my eye when I saw Woody Harrelson in the photo. But, I have to say, Matthew McConaughey carries this show off and is truly spell-binding to watch. The makeup and the acting (as well as the righting) are better IMHO than recent cop shows I reviewed (such as The Bridge or Reckoning). So far, I think it is up there with some of the best TV I have watched in a long time (Breaking Bad still on an untouchable pedestal though). The storyline of a mysterious, ritual killing 20 years previous and the dual perspective from both 2012 and from 1995 when the murder occurred is original and captivating. But more interesting is the depth of the two main characters: Hart (played by Harrelson) and Cohle (played by McConaughey). Both are sociopaths in their own ways and uniquely adapted – at least for a while – to each other.
I suspect that many of my readers have NOT seen the show yet (it is only averaging 1.9-2.3M viewers per week so far) so I will not give you any spoilers. But, check out the photo here of Cohle and look at the one just above. Is that makeup incredible or what? And there is a third persona in Cohle who is off-camera – that Cohle doing the deep cover missions. We got a glimpse of that Cohle in E04 and that last 10 minutes of the show had me out of my seat with anxiety – that was the most intense 10 minute run of a TV show that I have seen in a LONG time. I was blown away but how they built and maintained the tension and how creative and yet incredibly realistic that the storyline was. I truly hope that – unlike many shows such as The Bridge – they do not reveal the full story until the very last episode so that this tension just continues to build all season. There are only 4 episodes left so perhaps they will hold this together until the end.
If the last 4 are as well written and beautifully shot as the first 4, we could be in epic television territory here. It is a VERY powerful start and I hope it follows through. I love this vision of rural Louisiana – it feels so real and tangible – not necessarily Club Med vacation material but Deep South with no clichés and no holds barred real. I would HIGHLY encourage you to watch this one because I suspect that the finale will be mind-blowing if it is even a fraction of what was in the mid-season episode!
The Walking Dead came back for the second half of Season 5 on Sunday. Yeah, I also find the split season thing annoying but as a friend recently said, “it is what it is”. I was frankly disappointed with the first half of the season because I felt the Governor story ending was a bit predictable. That being said, it had a few moments…but none as interesting as E09 where we see Carl and Rick and Michonne dealing with the aftermath of the flight from the prison. It was a really good episode for TWD I felt, particularly the Michonne storyline (probably my favorite character!). I thought that the film quality was better than in the prison or in the town – I prefer the out-in-the-open camerawork I guess. I also found that it gave more of an apocalyptic atmosphere as once again, each character is fending for themselves out in the zombie-infested Georgia countryside.
Michonne, oh poor Michonne. I loved her dream sequence and how her sliding the katana into the knife rack gave it away as such. I felt such sorrow and loneliness watching here. It got me to thinking about what draws us to TWD: I think that we realise watching this that what is really critical for us humans is human contact – preferably with family and friends – and the lack of that is what drives the characters crazy – I felt this was most outstandingly displayed when Michonne went postal on the herd of walkers – even her own two zombie-pets. I felt so incredibly hollow and sad for her. It was as perfect a depiction of horror and loneliness as any that this show has brought us.
Carl certainly had some badass moments in this episode, but also some back-to-reality as he realised when he was nearly bitten. It was interesting to see the reversal between him and Rick, but I didn’t believe for a second that the TWD writers were gonna pull a Game of Thrones “Ned is Dead” moment on us. I’d gamble that Rick is here for the duration. But I do like how Carl is developing – much more of a real, visceral character now. It will be interesting to see how he evolves.
Next week, we get to see a few of the other survivors. I am having a hard time seeing how they tie in Neegan, Ezekiel, The Hilltop, and The Kingdom into this particular storyline, unless some of the stranded ex-Team Prison folks happen upon them in like E12 or something. It will be interesting to see how they pull this off. I would find it a bit annoying though if Team Rick became a shadow of the Stark family on GoT destined to never cross paths again…but we shall see, right?
As I usually do, here is some of the music released in 2013 that I liked best. Overall, 2013 was not as great a comeback year as 2012 but I think my tastes broadened a bit from last year’s list. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it:
- 2013 by Black Sabbath – Ozzy’s return was magisterial and I really loved the new album cover to cover including the great bonus tracks like Pariah. I reviewed the concert from this band here. Unfortunately, that was the ONLY concert I got to this year, but I sincerely enjoyed it.
- Bootleg Series vol. 10 Another Self-Portrait by Bob Dylan – this was one of the strongest of the Bootleg Series and a true work of art. Gorgeous versions of some of the my favorites parts of his catalog (Alberta #3, Only a Hobo, etc) and of course the concert at the Isle of Wight which is astounding. An absolute must for Dylan fans everywhere.
- Amok by Atoms for Peace – the Flea-Thom Yorke joint venture was highly touted but totally delivers. Apparently the fruit of smoking lots of ganja together, these guys listened to some Fela Kuti and started jamming and we got this wonderful set out of it. I missed the concert but a friend of mine (and fellow NSFCCDP member) went and told me it was incredible. Hopefully, they’ll cut something else but I think that Radiohead will do something first.
- Wake Up Ghost by Elvis Costello and The Roots – I really loved this album. The Roots has never been a favorite and yet I recognised their talents but hearing the beautiful crooner voice of Elvis Costello over the lovely beats and funky grooves laid down here was so fun to listen to. I especially loved Cinco Minutos Con Vos. Check this low-burner out, it is a great and under-rated disc IMHO.
- Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies by Volbeat – I had never heard of Volbeat until a soon-to-be-relative mentioned them to me this year and I am hooked. This – their 5th album – is also their most complete and mature. It is consistent and has some great rock-n-roll tunes (Ecotone, Doc Holliday, Black Bart, Dead But Rising, Pearl Hart…) actually they are all really good and all have this great thrash metal cowboy sound that is addictive. Perhaps this should be higher on the list but it is hard to compete with Dylan, Ozzy, Flea, and Elvis!
- Silence Yourself by Savages – The debut album from this new grrls group from the UK rocks and surprises. I won’t give any spoilers here – I’d just suggest you check this one out and let me know what you think. That being said, just the titles should get you interested – Shut Up, No Face, She Will…great disc
- Double Cup by DJ Rashad – This D-Town DJ has laid down a great mix of industrial house and drum and bass with some choice voiceovers and catchy rhythms and back beats. Good late night groove music.
- Yeezus by Kanye West – This is not his strongest disc (I’d reserve that for Late Registration and My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy) but Yeezus is infectious, dark, unholy and occasionally groovy. Every track packs a ton of POWER and over-the-top bravado as one would expect from a guy worth 100s of millions of dollars. Guilt Trip does have a bit of 808s and Heartbreak and Bound 2 has a bit of Late Registration, but this album is far more influenced by modern industrial house than his previous work. It is certainly a much more solid album than big brother Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail at least I thought so.
- Still Fighting the War by Slaid Cleaves – I love Slaid’s voice and found that this – his 10th album – showed lots of maturity in songwriting and some great songs. My favorite was probably the nostalgic Welding Burns.
- So tough to name #10. Should it go to Joan Jett’s return? Paul McCartney’s? Bowie’s? Or that of Eminem? Eric Clapton? Or someone new and crazy like Deafheaven or The Knife? I think I need to go with Random Access Memories by Daft Punk. This is an incredibly strong album as eagerly awaited as the ones I just mentioned and it is the one that I actually listened to end-to-end several times. All the others sounded a little tired after a listen, maybe two. Daft Punk keeps me coming back for Lose Yourself to Dance, Give Life Back to Music, Doin’ It Right, and of course, Get Lucky. A classic from these two crazy French guys.
And so there is my Top 10 for 2013. Honorable mentions: Get Up! by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Electric Slave by Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song by Amos Lee, Magpie and the Dandelion by The Avett Brothers, Nine Lives by Von Hertzen Brothers, Say This to That by Trombone Shorty, Comedown Machine by The Strokes, Lickety Split by Robert Randolph and the Family Band, The 20th Anniversary Edition of In Utero by Nirvana, Through the Never by Metallica, Unvarnished by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Old by Danny Brown, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange.
I was disappointed with several disc this year: Marshall Mathers LP2 was OK but sounds like more of the same from the white Detroit rap superstar. There were some decent moments here, but some idiotic ones too. I still can’t stand Arcade Fire (sorry to my friends in Montreal!) so did not enjoy Reflektor. Mega disappointed by AM by the Arctic Monkeys and well as by The Terror by The Flaming Lips. I think I keep expecting the former to do another and the latter to do another Yoshimi and that is perhaps unfair. Even bigger on disappointments was Tha Carter IV by Lil Wayne which was such a far cry from Tha Carter III and ever so disappointing. When Ye does his billionaire rap, there is some self-deprecation here and we sense the struggle inside him as an artist. With Lil Wayne, we just see the thug – self-assured and over-confident and now quite compromising in his music. Oh well.
Of course there was more music but that’s the stuff that got me thinking and listening and reacting the most this year.
Let me know your lists in the comments!
Posted in Music
Tagged 2013 in review, atoms for peace, Black Sabbath, blogging, Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Music, music reviews, postaweek, reviews, rock, rock-n-roll
In what should have been a banner year with so many huge titles, 2013 was a bit of a disappointment. My ordered list below:
- Gravity was my favorite film because of the mind-boggling special effects and the original story. Would have been even better if Bullock had been eaten by a huge shark at the end but you can’t have it all. Best acting this year: Clooney as Buzz Lightyear – TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!
- Oblivion did not impress me at first but when I look back at the piss-poor selection of movies and disappointments, I probably (a) should lower my bar a bit (b) give this one credit for being a “pure” scifi plot (c) not diss the film just because I hate Tom Cruise and his stupid christian scientism. Hey, we all got issues right?
- Cloud Atlas I only saw this year because it nearly was not given European distribution at all so it can still count in 2013 for the purposes here because all the other movies under #5 to round out my list I pretty much hated. This one was incredibly long and interesting. I liked the makeup and all.
- Kick Ass 2 was a great sequel to the cult Kick Ass and highly entertaining. I was gonna say that this one shouldn’t have made it so high on the list because it is not exactly a cinematic masterpiece but the crop of high budget scifi was so terrible…
- Iron Man 3 was OK – far better than the horrendous Man of Steel and I didn’t see Thor 2 so can’t compare to that one. I am not sure if I would watch it a second time though.
- I think I least hated World War Z. Some of the special effects were OK but it was sorely lacking in consistency and Brad was frankly disappointing.
- Elysium was great for effects but piss poor in plot and pretty boring to be honest.
- The next on least hated would probably have to be…Star Trek Into Darkness just because Benedict (Sherlock) was in it. But it still sucked as a film – lame plot, tired old ST-TOS references…lame.
- Now it gets hard because the other ones were so bad..let’s put Pacific Rim here at #9 because it had Ron Perlman in it. But it still sucked – music too loud and no plot.
- Let’s put The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug here just because the dragon was so kickass. Movie still totally sucked though.
- Did I hate Man of Steel more than Ender’s Game? Well, finishing 11th and 12th on a Top 10 is already pretty insulting so I will let them share the shame of the Fino Lemons of the Year award.
Hmm, so far, nothing in 2014…let’s hope that 2015 with Avengers II and a the Dark Knight Returns and Star Wars VII (with Benedict!) gets us back on track! Or not.
So here is my roundup of the TV I watched last year with a top 20 list at the end.
First off, shows I did not like:
- I tried to get into Downton Abbey and couldn’t get past S01E01. I know, loads of friends have encouraged me to get back into it, but there is just SO much TV out there…
- Hell on Wheels S03 I did not watch because I haven’t found the time to catch up on S02 yet. My dad really liked this one so perhaps I’ll get into this on my next long business trip. Oh, that’s like next week…
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sucked pretty bad. I mean E01 was awful and I hear that things actually got worse from there.
- Masters of Sex had potential, but I don’t know, the plot seemed a little contrived and the acting – at least for me – was not stellar. Maybe I’ll go back to it. Or not.
- Comic Book Men S03 I did try for a few episodes but I can only take so many dumbass Kevin one-liners in 22 minutes you know? And I always feel so sorry for how they pick on Ming. Whatever.
- The Newsroom I tried as well. Really liked the first episode and the Emmy that they received last year did not escape my notice. Once again, so little time. Perhaps a reader will tell me whether my time is better spent on this one, Downton Abbey or Hell on Wheels…
- I nearly forgot to diss the abysmal Under The Dome. Crock of shit. To be avoided at all costs. Oh please do NOT do a second season.
Now, shows I discovered and loved:
- Star Trek Enterprise because unbelievably enough, I missed this one entirely living in “old” Europe. I watched it up to about the middle of S04 when I got bored with the Augments plots. Guess I have to finish it out.
- Archer is one of the most awesome and hilarious animated shows like ever. The voices are hilarious, the characters outrageous, and the one-lines made me fall off my couch. Totally amazing show!
- Arrested Development I discovered due to the voice of Mrs Archer on Archer who plays, of course, the mom on AD as well. There are just WAY too many episodes for me to entirely catch up so I am not obsessing but just enjoying the more or less chronologically and slowly. Very funny but in small doses.
- Community wasn’t bad. Watched probably half of the first season. Will probably have a slow AD-style diet on this one too.
- Girls I learned about on a webcast for Justified because one of the writers called it out as one of his favorite shows. I do like Lena Durham and respect what she is doing in that show.
- Family Tree was pretty good too. Quirky but not bad.
- I only knew about Family Tree because I discovered the monumental IT Crowd which I devoured and found to be much funnier than its American cousin of sorts for geek humour, The Big Bang Theory which I was not able to get into. The IT Crowd was simply hilarious.
- I liked Bob’s Burgers too which I discovered because the insane voice of Archer is also the voice of Bob. Pretty damn funny show.
Shows that ended forever last year:
- Top of the Lake which I thought would make multiple seasons was only a mini-series it turned out. Amazing though.
- Dexter FINALLY ended. Thank god. This season was pretty disappointing like most have been since the epic S04 with John Lithgow.
- I can’t believe they killed off the beautiful and dark Magic City. Really enjoyed that one.
- Breaking Bad. Nuff said.
- Treme. Sniff.
- This year (2014) the bell tolls for Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Californication, and Sons of Anarchy. That’s gonna be tough!
And now for my top 20:
- Breaking Bad – need I say more
- Game of Thrones – the Red Wedding motived me to go back and read the entire 5000+ pages so there is that
- Justified – I loved the reboot – Boyd is awesome and Raylan rocks.
- Sherlock – can you believe the career boost this show has given its principal actors? And was Moriarty not the most evil bastard ever? Wow.
- House of Cards – this show was just so awesome. It just had so much competition!
- Boardwalk Empire – another masterful portrayal by Buscemi and an incredible cast
- Homeland – just sad that Brody is gone forever
- House of Lies – Hilarious sophomore effort
- The Americans – loved this debut
- Orange is the New Black – thanks to the creator of Weeds for giving us such an original and entertaining new show
- Mad Men – I don’t know I mean S06 was interesting and I liked how Don was a bit transformed at the end but I feel like the other shows above were more entertaining
- Sons of Anarchy – not bad, need to see how Kurt wraps it up this fall
- Roy Donovan – not sure where to place this one which I liked and found fun but again – so much competition
- Top of the Lake – gorgeous, incredible but only one season? Jane can you give us another one?
- The Bridge – wasn’t bad but sort of weak ending – the script wandered quite a bit…will this be back?
- Girls – as I said before, interesting and fun humour although a bit heavy and uncomfortable too sometimes
- Episodes – not bad for light humor and jokes about Joey from Friends
- Treme – as much as I loved this show, 5 episodes was a bit of an ignoble end – left me wanting oh so much more.
- Walking Dead – I know, it is shocking for me to place this so low but the first half (‘cos we don’t get a second half for another few weeks) was for me just ok. I thought the Governor’s disappearance and reappearance took too long and don’t know where they are going with some of the characters…I might be being unfair but there it is
- I gotta list a #20 so lets go with the regretted Magic City which had so much potential with The Butcher as a bad guy and so much eye candy – just not enough legs to make the cut for S03
Please let us know what you watched in 2013 and what you are looking forward to in 2014!
Posted in TV Series
Tagged 2013 in review, boardwalk empire, breaking bad, Girls, orange is the new black, postaweek, reviews, television, television shows, TV series, TV shows, walking dead
I guess after Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, my tolerance for excessive violence has dropped considerably. I say that because I recall flinching during Resevoir Dogs and being incredibly tense during the hard scenes of Pulp Fiction and avoiding Oldboy when it came out based on the rumours of extreme violence. Well, there was been a lot of water under the bridge I suppose and with Spike Lee remaking this particular classic (and based on the reviews, not in a particularly creative or interesting way), I watched it this weekend. Wow. Breathless. It was incredible. The fight scene in the hotel hallway was like a Pollack painting – beautiful and chaotic and incredibly beautiful. The acting was out of this world and the plot surprised time and time again. I won’t spoil here because I’d gamble that MANY of my readers missed this particular masterpiece. I would HIGHLY suggest grabbing this one off the Netflix queue (it is on there right?) or off of the iTunes Store (it is definitely on there – I checked!). The violence is above and beyond the hardest scenes of Walking Dead or Game of Thrones (which are legion) – I guess I’d have to re-watch Resevoir Dogs now to see if I have to pause during the razor blade sequence. A MUST!
I also revisited the classic Pulp Fiction and was blown away again. This film has it all – sex, violence, humour, language, absurdity, and incredible one-liners. Is this the best movie ever? It must be rather close. The influence it has on all visual media (would David Simon really have attempted The Sopranos with as much violence and humour had Tarantino not pioneered this with success in Pulp Fiction), revamped careers (Travolta, need I say more? Oh, Steve Buscemi, Samuel L Jackson…) And I didn’t even mention the soundtrack – the rebirth of funk and soul in the late 90s can be directly attributed to this – I am sure that the Pulp Fusion series of CDs (all 7 are INCREDIBLE especially volume 5 Fully Loaded which features Jungle Boogie which was also in the movie). There are too many one liners to even start to enumerate. Needless to say, if you haven’t seen this one in a while, get off your ass and do it. Otherwise, Uma might get upset talk to Wallace and that would NOT be a good thing ‘cos he is in a real bad mood right now…
It went out with another amazing set of songs and wrapped up lots of loose ends – Treme is over after 4 1/2 seasons. [SPOILER WARNING!] I am sad to see it go – like I am sad to have never been in Nawlins for Mardi Gras and I always have a sweet sorrow leaving New Orleans after Jazz&Heritage Festival. The final tableau of all the characters over the “To Miss New Orleans” gave my goosebumps more goosebumps and I could not have thought of a more appropriate song to end on. I really loved how Hidalgo redeemed himself by giving Janette her name back. It was heartbreaking to see Terry leave but beautiful to see him back with his kids. Of course, seeing some of the corrupt cops leaving the building and the bereft father getting some closure also felt cleansing. It was good that they finally brought Sonny back in and that we got to see L.P. back working his stories. I suppose that there was no way that Chief Lambreaux would survive his cancer but it was beautiful to see how Delmont and Albert heal their strained relationship permitting Delmont to truly say goodbye when the lights go out. It was typical of the writers to throw in a measure of harsh reality when they showed one of the 5 shootings that occurred at the 2008 mardi gras but as always, it was done in a clinical manner without rash sentimentalism. I am glad that Antoine found a new place for the kids to practice after school and that Annie got the balls to stand up to her Nashville manager. I always loved DJ Davis and thought it fitting to end with his car and pothole. I will miss this show as much as I miss New Orleans. Thanks to David Simon and the rest of the staff for 5 years of beautiful, moving, challenging, and musically unforgettable television.