Skip to main content

There were other times, I thought I was mainlining the secret truth of the universe.

True Detective
1.2: Seeing Things

I should comment on T Bone Burnett’s fantastic music for the series. And, yet again, HBO has come up with a wonderfully evocative of opening title sequence. 
At the end of the previous episode the detectives happened across a totem of twigs (“devil nets”) in a child’s play house, like the one found near the body of Dora Lange. The unsettling signposts pointing towards an occult world are littered through the plot, be it the strange headaches of Mrs Kelly (Tess Harper) that border on the possessed or the “green-eared spaghetti monster” that reportedly chased a child through some woods.


Then there are Rust’s synesthetic hallucinations, borne of his extensive four-year period under-the-influence undercover.  We hear about “The Yellow King” and “Carcosa” from Dora’s diary; this aspect seems like classically oblique obfuscation on Pizzolatto’s part. Although, as Jeff Jensen notes, the roots of these references are easy to find. (Of course, Jensen’s elaborate analyses of Lost were nearly as responsible for it instilling a sense of over-expectation about what its genius minds were up to as Damon Lindelof himself.)


What are the chances of coming across a ream of clues so impenetrable they ferment ideas in the audience’s mind but provide no more headway than a random reference to a spaghetti monster. It couldn’t possibly be a coherent text, or all the dots would be joined. As such, it might be seen sympathetically as a consciously pulpy device from Pizzolato . It’s certainly the stuff of cliché. The argued reason that her narrative is so fractured? A convenient case of dosing on the part of her benefactors.


This episode continues to be preoccupied by the darkness within Rust. As he says to his interviewers, “Of course I’m dangerous. I’m police. I can do terrible things to people, with impunity”. The turns of phrase Pizzolatto gives Rust are particularly appealing, but it’s the evidence that he isn’t just a lot of talk and a badge that is most arresting; he doesn’t merely live the life of the mind. Rust threatens to remove Marty’s hands when the latter reacts badly to a reprimand over his philandering, and you know he could do it. Later he goes ape shit on some reluctant interview suspects in a garage while, amusingly, Marty is sat in the car sniffing his hands for the tell-tale smell of his illicit activities from the previous night.


Marty’s bruised personal life, as it comes under Rust’s withering gaze, is also in the spotlight throughout this instalment. If Rust presence is mostly reconfirming what the opener established (“When you reach a certain age you know who you are”; the job didn’t do this to him, he suited the job), the fragility of Marty’s on-the-face-of-it more wholesome family life is laid bare. He struggles to keep his this aspect as a sacred ideal while he maintains his double existence. Rust is dismissive of Marty’s choices; it is an act of “hubris to force a life into this thresher” of a world. To an extent this sounds like the teenage gloom of a Cure fan, but Pizzolatto is keen to emphasise that nowhere and no one is incorruptible. This is seen most excessively in his elder daughter’s staging of a gang rape with Barbie and (a number of) Kens. Marty has the occasional moment in response to Rust (“Well, you’re a smart ass with your mouth shut”) but he finds himself mostly out of his depth. And Harrelson’s great at wearing that exasperation on his face.


There’s a rising indication that the questioning 2012 tecs want to pin something on Rus. And the suggestion that, with all this talk of danger, and evidence of instability, he may be revealed as a force of unknown depths and darkness. For the time being, though, Marty is backing his ex-partner. Confirming, in 2012, that Cohle didn’t want to give the case to the task force, Marty adds that neither did he. And, as vindication, we are shown the proof of Rust’s insights; a rundown church with a mural of antlered woman on the wall. Rust has just explained his hallucinatory weaknesses, and we have absorbed his vision of a flock of birds CGI-ing its way through the sky, but his final conjecture seems more like a statement of fact than a stretch of the imagination; “There were other times, I thought I was mainlining the secret truth of the universe”.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

He’s probably paranoid, high-strung, doesn’t like daylight. You know, has a lot of crumbs in his beard, if he has a beard.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (SPOILERS) I’d like to report I had a blast with Godzilla vs. Kong . It’s lighter on its oversized, city-stomping feet than its slog of a MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and there are flashes of visual inspiration along with several engaging core ideas (which, to be fair, the series had already laid the seeds for). But this sequel still stumbles in its chief task: assembling an engaging, lively story that successfully integrates both tiny humans and towering titans.

It's Dark Age, by Jupiter!

The Dig (2021) (SPOILERS) An account of the greatest archaeological find Britain would know until Professor Horner opened the barrow at Devil’s End. And should you scoff at such “ fiction ”, that’s nothing on this adaptation of John Preston’s 2007 novel concerning the Sutton Hoo excavations of the late 1930s. The Dig , as is the onus of any compelling fictional account, takes liberties with the source material, but the erring from the straight and narrow in this case is less an issue than the shift in focus from characters and elements successfully established during the first hour.

You stink, my friend.

Mulan (2020) (SPOILERS) Let that be a lesson to Disney. It’s a fool’s errand to try and beat the Chinese at their own game, no matter how painstakingly respectful – or rather, pandering – you are. Indeed, Mulan ’s abysmal $40m box office take in the country – where it did get a proper release, so no plandemic excuses can be cited – feels like a direct rebuke; don’t try and tell us how to suck eggs. There’s an additional explanation too, of course. That Mulan sucks.

Our "Bullshit!" team has unearthed spectacular new evidence, which suggests, that Jack the Ripper was, in fact, the Loch Ness Monster.

Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) Cheeseburger Film Sandwich . Apparently, that’s what the French call Amazon Women on the Moon . Except that it probably sounds a little more elegant, since they’d be saying it in French (I hope so, anyway). Given the title, it should be no surprise that it is regarded as a sequel to Kentucky Fried Movie . Which, in some respects, it is. John Landis originally planned to direct the whole of Amazon Women himself, but brought in other directors due to scheduling issues. The finished film is as much of a mess as Kentucky Fried Movie , arrayed with more miss sketches than hit ones, although it’s decidedly less crude and haphazard than the earlier picture. Some have attempted to reclaim Amazon Women as a dazzling satire on TV’s takeover of our lives, but that’s stretching it. There is a fair bit of satire in there, but the filmmakers were just trying to be funny; there’s no polemic or express commentary. But even on such moderate t

Roswell was a smokescreen, we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

The X-Files 1.24: The Erlenmeyer Flask The Erlenmeyer Flask makes for a fast-paced, tense and eventful ride, but does it make any sense? That less than mattered at the time, but revisiting the mythology arc (for probably the fourth or fifth time) reveals increasingly tenuous internal coherence as the various conspiracy elements begin to pile up and the situations become ever-more convoluted. This will become the Chris Carter’s signature: don’t examine the details too closely, go with the flow. Trust Chris implicitly.

Wow. Asteroids are made of farts. Okay. I got it.

Greenland (2020) (SPOILERS) Global terror porn for overpopulation adherents as Gerard Butler and his family do their darnedest to reach the safety of a bunker in the titular country in the face of an imminent comet impact. Basically, what if 2012 were played straight? These things come to test cinemas in cycles, of course. Sean Connery struggled with a duff rug and a stack of mud in Meteor , while Deep Impact plumbed for another dread comet and Armageddon an asteroid. The former, owing to the combined forces of Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, was a – relatively – more meditative fare. The latter was directed by Michael Bay. And then there’s Roland Emmerich, who having hoisted a big freeze on us in The Day After Tomorrow then wreaked a relatively original source of devastation in the form of 2012 ’s overheating Earth’s core. Greenland , meanwhile, is pretty much what you’d expect from the director of Angel Has Fallen .

UFO IN MOSSINGHAM?

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) (SPOILERS) One might reasonably suggest the recourse of the ailing or desperate franchise is to resort, seemingly out of nowhere, to space aliens. Even Police Academy didn’t go that far (to Moscow, yes, but not to space). Perhaps animators think kids have no skills of discernment and will swallow any old sugar-coated crap. Perhaps they don’t, and they will. Ice Age had been enjoying absurd success until Collision Course sent Scrat spinning into the cosmos and grosses tumbled. Shaun the Sheep has been around for a quarter of a century, but this is only his second movie outing and already he’s pulling an E.T. on us. Of course, this may all be part of the grand scheme, and Nick Park is simply doing his bit to familiarise the tots in time for Project Blue Beam.

Careful how much boat you’re eating.

Onward (2020) (SPOILERS) Pixar’s Bright , or thereabouts. The interesting thing – perhaps the only interesting thing – about Onward is that it’s almost indiscernible from a DreamWorks Animation effort, where once they cocked a snook at such cheap-seats fare, seeing themselves as better class of animation house altogether. Just about everything in Onward is shamelessly derivative, from the Harry Potter /fantasy genre cash-in to the use of the standard Pixar formula whereby any scenario remotely eccentric or exotic is buried beneath the banal signifiers of modern society: because anything you can imagine must be dragged down to tangible everyday reference points or kids won’t be able to assimilate it. And then there’s the choice of lead voices, in-Disney star-slaves Chris Pratt and Tom Holland.

By heaven, I’d thrash the life out of you… if I didn’t have to read the Nine O’Clock News.

The Green Man (1956) (SPOILERS) The Green movie from Launder and Gilliat starring Alastair Sim that isn’t Green for Danger. Which is to say, The Green Man can’t quite scale the heady heights of that decade-earlier murder mystery triumph, but neither is it any slouch. Sim is the antagonist this time – albeit a very affable, Sim-ish one – and his sometime protégée, a young George Cole, the hero. If the plot is entirely absurd, Robert Day’s movie wastes no time probing such insufficiencies, ensuring it is very funny, lively and beautifully performed.

Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy.

Waterworld (1995) (SPOILERS) The production and budgetary woes of “ Kevin’s Gate ” will forever overshadow the movie’s content (and while it may have been the most expensive movie ever to that point – adjusted for inflation, it seems only Cleopatra came close – it has since turned a profit). However, should you somehow manage to avoid the distraction of those legendary problems, the real qualitative concerns are sure to come sailing over the cognitive horizon eventually; Waterworld is just so damned derivative. It’s a seafaring Mad Max. Peter Rader, who first came up with the idea in 1986, admitted as much. David Twohy, who later came aboard, also cited Mad Max 2 ; that kind of rip-off aspect – Jaws birthing Piranha – makes it unsurprising Waterworld was once under consideration by Roger Corman (he couldn’t cost it cheaply enough). Ultimately, there’s never a sufficient sense the movie has managed to become its own thing. Which is a bummer, because it’s frequently quite good fun.