Skip to main content

For a guy who sees no point in existence, you sure do fret about it a lot.

True Detective
1.3: The Locked Room

Rust’s anti-religious spleen is given full vent when they visit the preacher who formerly led a flock at the burn out church, Joel Theriot (Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham). “What do you think the average IQ of this group is, huh?” Rust asks Marty’s, who’s had just about enough of his bile. “If the common good’s got to make up fairy tales, it’s not good for anyone” Rust continues.  But Marty swings the odd salvo back; “For a guy who sees no point in existence, you sure do fret about it a lot”. Even if he has no chance of winning the match (“At least I’m not racing to a red light”, Rust rejoinders).


Their interview with Joel doesn’t divine anything particular suspicious about the preacher, and serves to cross castrated disciple Burt (seen in the opening titles) off the list of possible suspects.  But there isa new clue to keep the increasingly under pressure (from brass) duo focussed; a man tall man with shiny skin around the jaw.


The simmering tensions between the two are building to a head. Marty’s extra-marital dishonesty is clearly peeving Rust (“People incapable of guilt usually have a good time”), while the former considers Rust’s great failing is his inability to admit doubt. Discovering Rust round it his house in a vest, having mowed the lawn and accepted an iced tea from Maggie, Marty is livid. One wonders if Rust is purposefully pricking at him, attempting to make him see sense, or he actually has an interest in Maggie (she clearly has an interest in him, but he won’t be her confidante). The third option, that it is entirely innocent, is out of the question for one so considered about his actions. Harrelson’s particularly good when embodying the contrasts between his statements in 2012 and the reality of the past, but it has to be said Pizzolatto does lay on the reveals of the lie a bit thick at times. Come episode five, such counterpoints will be at the heart of the detective’s version of the case but here it sometimes strays into the smug territory.


Rust advises, “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door” and we have to admit that for all his faults we’d rather have him on our side than the baffled Marty. The double date scene is another strong one following the opener’s dinner at the Harts, in which the social milieu of the partners is never seen to be straightforward. Marty builds up the momentum to topple his life over the brink as he becomes jealous of Lisa carrying on with another guy.  He shows up at her house and makes a scene, while his other self is sagely describing how “People give you rules. Rules describe the shape of things”.


Rust in 2012 tells us that he’s never been in a room for more than 10 minutes without knowing if a suspected perp did it or not, which would have been a sure indication of whether these two were under any illusion if indeed they got the wrong guy. Except that… well, that’s episode five. Rust and Marty investigate an old school started by Tuttle (him again), “Light of Way”, which was attended by an old case considered to be an accidental drowning. It turns out she was the ex-wife of Charlie Lange, who in turn shared a cell with one drug dealer and sex offender Reggie Ledoux , with whom  she ran off. The manner in which McConaughey, with all but a flourish, announces “And finally, we arrive at Reginald Ledoux” has the air of one who knows he has a rattling good yarn to spin. So too, his probing of his interviewers (“You ever been in a gunfight?”) sets up something big in store along withfurther morbid thoughts (“They welcomed it” concludes Rust of the ends met by murder victims as, in the last instance, they saw how easy it was to let go).


The final shot is thunderously uneasy; outside a remote ramshackle farm, a gas-masked meth-maker in his underwear, machete in hand, walks by in slow motion. Combined with the industrial twitchiness of the soundtrack, it’s a visual as potent as the arrival of Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

They'll think I've lost control again and put it all down to evolution.

Time Bandits (1981) (SPOILERS) Terry Gilliam had co-directed previously, and his solo debut had visual flourish on its side, but it was with Time Bandits that Gilliam the auteur was born. The first part of his Trilogy of Imagination, it remains a dazzling work – as well as being one of his most successful – rich in theme and overflowing with ideas while resolutely aimed at a wide (family, if you like) audience. Indeed, most impressive about Time Bandits is that there’s no evidence of self-censoring here, of attempting to make it fit a certain formula, format or palatable template.

I never strangled a chicken in my life!

Rope (1948) (SPOILERS) Rope doesn’t initially appear to have been one of the most venerated of Hitchcocks, but it has gone through something of a rehabilitation over the years, certainly since it came back into circulation during the 80s. I’ve always rated it highly; yes, the seams of it being, essentially, a formal experiment on the director’s part, are evident, but it’s also an expert piece of writing that uses our immediate knowledge of the crime to create tension throughout; what we/the killers know is juxtaposed with the polite dinner party they’ve thrown in order to wallow in their superiority.

Oh, you got me right in the pantaloons, partner.

The Party (1968) (SPOILERS) Blake Edwards’ semi-improvisational reunion with Peter Sellers is now probably best known for – I was going to use an elephant-in-the-room gag, but at least one person already went there – Sellers’ “brown face”. And it isn’t a decision one can really defend, even by citing The Party ’s influence on Bollywood. Satyajit Ray had also reportedly been considering working with Sellers… and then he saw the film. One can only assume he’d missed similar performances in The Millionairess and The Road to Hong Kong ; in the latter case, entirely understandable, if not advisable. Nevertheless, for all the flagrant stereotyping, Sellers’ bungling Hrundi V Bakshi is a very likeable character, and indeed, it’s the piece’s good-natured, soft centre – his fledgling romance with Claudine Longet’s Michele – that sees The Party through in spite of its patchy, hit-and-miss quality.

Never lose any sleep over accusations. Unless they can be proved, of course.

Strangers on a Train (1951) (SPOILERS) Watching a run of lesser Hitchcock films is apt to mislead one into thinking he was merely a highly competent, supremely professional stylist. It takes a picture where, to use a not inappropriate gourmand analogy, his juices were really flowing to remind oneself just how peerless he was when inspired. Strangers on a Train is one of his very, very best works, one he may have a few issues with but really deserves nary a word said against it, even in “compromised” form.

You must have hopes, wishes, dreams.

Brazil (1985) (SPOILERS) Terry Gilliam didn’t consider Brazil the embodiment of a totalitarian nightmare it is often labelled as. His 1984½ (one of the film’s Fellini-riffing working titles) was “ the Nineteen Eighty-Four for 1984 ”, in contrast to Michael Anderson’s Nineteen Eighty-Four from 1948. This despite Gilliam famously boasting never to have read the Orwell’s novel: “ The thing that intrigues me about certain books is that you know them even though you’ve never read them. I guess the images are archetypal ”. Or as Pauline Kael observed, Brazil is to Nineteen Eighty-Four as “ if you’d just heard about it over the years and it had seeped into your visual imagination ”. Gilliam’s suffocating system isn’t unflinchingly cruel and malevolently intolerant of individuality; it is, in his vision of a nightmare “future”, one of evils spawned by the mechanisms of an out-of-control behemoth: a self-perpetuating bureaucracy. And yet, that is not really, despite how indulgently and glee

Miss Livingstone, I presume.

Stage Fright (1950) (SPOILERS) This one has traditionally taken a bit of a bruising, for committing a cardinal crime – lying to the audience. More specifically, lying via a flashback, through which it is implicitly assumed the truth is always relayed. As Richard Schickel commented, though, the egregiousness of the action depends largely on whether you see it as a flaw or a brilliant act of daring: an innovation. I don’t think it’s quite that – not in Stage Fright ’s case anyway; the plot is too ordinary – but I do think it’s a picture that rewards revisiting knowing the twist, since there’s much else to enjoy it for besides.

I'm an old ruin, but she certainly brings my pulse up a beat or two.

The Paradine Case (1947) (SPOILERS) Hitchcock wasn’t very positive about The Paradine Case , his second collaboration with Gregory Peck, but I think he’s a little harsh on a picture that, if it doesn’t quite come together dramatically, nevertheless maintains interest on the basis of its skewed take on the courtroom drama. Peck’s defence counsel falls for his client, Alida Valli’s accused (of murder), while wife Ann Todd wilts dependably and masochistically on the side-lines.

A herbal enema should fix you up.

Never Say Never Again (1983) (SPOILERS) There are plenty of sub-par Bond s in the official (Eon) franchise, several of them even weaker than this opportunistic remake of Thunderball , but they do still feel like Bond movies. Never Say Never Again , despite – or possibly because he’s part of it – featuring the much-vaunted, title-referencing return of the Sean Connery to the lead role, only ever feels like a cheap imitation. And yet, reputedly, it cost more than the same year’s Rog outing Octopussy .

You’re easily the best policeman in Moscow.

Gorky Park (1983) (SPOILERS) Michael Apted and workmanlike go hand in hand when it comes to thriller fare (his Bond outing barely registered a pulse). This adaptation of Martin Cruz Smith’s 1981 novel – by Dennis Potter, no less – is duly serviceable but resolutely unremarkable. William Hurt’s militsiya officer Renko investigates three faceless bodies found in the titular park. It was that grisly element that gave Gorky Park a certain cachet when I first saw it as an impressionable youngster. Which was actually not unfair, as it’s by far its most memorable aspect.

I don’t like fighting at all. I try not to do too much of it.

Cuba (1979) (SPOILERS) Cuba -based movies don’t have a great track record at the box office, unless Bad Boys II counts. I guess The Godfather Part II does qualify. Steven Soderbergh , who could later speak to box office bombs revolving around Castro’s revolution, called Richard Lester’s Cuba fascinating but flawed. Which is generous of him.