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

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.

Moonraker (1979)
Depending upon your disposition, and quite possibly age, Moonraker is either the Bond film that finally jumped the shark or the one that is most gloriously redolent of Roger Moore’s knowing take on the character. Many Bond aficionados will no doubt utter its name with thinly disguised contempt, just as they will extol with gravity how Timothy Dalton represented a masterful return to the core values of the series. If you regard For Your Eyes Only as a refreshing return to basics after the excesses of the previous two entries, and particularly the space opera grandstanding of this one, it’s probably fair to say you don’t much like Roger Moore’s take on Bond.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

My dear, sweet brother Numsie!

The Golden Child (1986)
Post-Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy could have filmed himself washing the dishes and it would have been a huge hit. Which might not have been a bad idea, since he chose to make this misconceived stinker.

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991)
(SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

When I barked, I was enormous.

Dean Spanley (2008)
(SPOILERS) There is such a profusion of average, respectable – but immaculately made – British period drama held up for instant adulation, it’s hardly surprising that, when something truly worthy of acclaim comes along, it should be singularly ignored. To be fair, Dean Spanleywas well liked by critics upon its release, but its subsequent impact has proved disappointingly slight. Based on Lord Dunsany’s 1939 novella, My Talks with Dean Spanley, our narrator relates how the titular Dean’s imbibification of a moderate quantity of Imperial Tokay (“too syrupy”, is the conclusion reached by both members of the Fisk family regarding this Hungarian wine) precludes his recollection of a past life as a dog. 

Inevitably, reviews pounced on the chance to reference Dean Spanley as a literal shaggy dog story, so I shall get that out of the way now. While the phrase is more than fitting, it serves to underrepresent how affecting the picture is when it has cause to be, as does any re…