Boardwalk Empire: Bone for Tuna

You gotta lotta nerve wishing me good luck!

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – Bone for Tuna

Season Three: Episode Three

Directed by:  Jeremy Podeswa

Written by:  Chris Haddock

The Spin:  Here I was thinking tonight’s episode was another food-themed affair after last week’s “Spaghetti and Coffee” – but the title is instead a riff on the Italian for “Good luck” – a play on words that Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Canavale) takes as a personal insult after Nucky tries to repair their relationship to avoid bloodshed.  This was a finely nuanced affair that gazed deeply into the dominant arcs for our main characters.  Nucky is heartbroken and guilt-ridden over killing Jimmy while Margaret appeases her own guilt for being a “gangster’s wife” by conning the hospital’s head-honcho into opening a women’s clinic by getting the Bishop to give his blessing to the idea.  Meanwhile, Gyp sees an opportunity in Gillian (Gretchen Mol – receiving one golden moment tonight to paint a look of regret as wide as the Atlantic Ocean on her beautiful face when remarking that one has nothing if they don’t have their own flesh and blood) to find out secrets about Nucky.  Out near Cicero, The Muller formally known as Van Alden (Michael Shannon) finds himself in an ironic pickle when he gets bullied by coworkers into going to a speakeasy only to see the place get busted.  Lastly, that world-class moron Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) tries to be a bad-ass by telling people he killed Manny leading Harrow (Jack Huston) to a revelatory confrontation with Nucky. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Spaghetti and Coffee

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – Spaghetti and Coffee

Season Three: Episode Two

Directed by:  Alik Sakharov

Written by:  Terence Winter and Howard Korder

The Spin:  Home is where the spaghetti and coffee are in this Winter & Korder penned family-focused episode.  That old dope Eli (Shea Whigham) must’ve learned him a few things in prison as he comes out contemplative and humbled to a loving brood of children and a kind wife he knows he doesn’t deserve while having to suffer the humiliation of now working under that even bigger dope Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks).  Meanwhile, Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) shows up and is served a compelling self-contained story-arc concerning his eldest daughter.  After having a turn of heart and blessing her well-groomed boyfriend’s intent to marry her (a doctor will be good for the family is his train of thought), his daughter rebuffs the idea thinking her suitor a bore and longing for the romantic thrills of gangster life.  Well, my friends, expect a lesson to be learned here.  Chalky ain’t havin’ none of that youthful foolishness in his house.  Up in NYC, Nucky can’t seem to get enough of that youthful foolishness and has become totally enamored with the flighty but charming Billie Kent (Meg Steedle – again stealing the show) to the point it might affect business.  Lo and behold, in Tabor Heights, Gyp Rosetti (an increasingly interesting Bobby Cannavale) sets up shop to get back at Rothstein and Nucky for their rebuke of his business offer last week by blocking their fuel supply on their route from AC to NYC. Continue reading

The Cause of Love and War in The Master

A man adrift.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is an infinitely sad tale of doomed love and repeated miseries.

(READ CAREFULLY – SPOILERS AHEAD)

Poor Freddie Quell (a resurrected from the ashes Joaquin Phoenix) – the guy was doomed from the start.  From infancy, the people he loved the most were destined to ruin him – his father a drunk and his mother insane.  Adrift at sea in war-time, a lovely girl named Doris (Madisen Beaty) starts writing him letters.  When he returns home to court her, he realizes she is too young, only sixteen, and uncomfortably dedicated to the idea of their love.  Freddie has no choice but to go away.

Years pass and his troubles brew, soothed only by his homebrewed hooch and pleasures of the flesh.  Finally, he stumbles drunk onto a party boat lit up like a Christmas tree, afloat on a San Franciscan dock and temporarily home to The Cause.  There love finds him again, in the form of a charismatic cult leader named Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman – exceeding even his own increasingly high standards of acting) who introduces himself to a nervous Freddie as “just a man.”  But their love, too, is doomed.

Of course none of this is presented so cleanly.  The calculated precision of Paul Thomas Anderson’s direction, clean lines of Mihai Malaimare Jr’s photography, and the impeccable production design of Jack Fisk create a strange dichotomy to the chaos living within the characters being studied.  Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Resolution (Season Three Premiere)

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – Resolution

Season Three: Episode One

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter

The Spin:  Everything was just so in the comfortably familiar premiere of Season Three – Van Patten’s sure-handed direction, the infectious flapper-ness of the period music, all the players from last season in their place and Nucky’s new persona as gangster-totalis.  A year and half may have passed, but Harrow (Jack Huston) is still all brokenhearted over Angela’s murder while playing protector to little Tommy.  Meanwhile, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) has turned the Commodore’s former digs into an upscale brothel.  In Nucky’s inner sanctum, my favorite character from last year, Manny the Butcher (William Forsythe) is now a partner while Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) has her pretty little panties in a bunch over the lack of pre-natal care at the hospital she’s been spilling a carload of Nucky’s money into.  Out in the Midwest, Capone is trying to keep his temper in check while Van Alden (Michael Shannon) has taken up a sad new life as Mr. Muller the travelling salesman only to serendipitously walk into a flower shop owned by Capone’s competitor.  Continue reading

The Spin on Paul Thomas Anderson

A master schooling a master.

In honor of the release of The Master later this month, The Spin is turning its wheels towards Paul Thomas Anderson – writer/director extraordinaire – a true auteur. The great chronicler of Southern California, cancers both physical and metaphorical, dysfunctional makeshift families, deranged father-figures, damaged sons, melancholy and death is arguably the most ambitious American filmmaker working today. But he has only achieved that status through evolution…through finding his voice. Here we will revisit his three most signature works: Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood and track the course of his discovery.

“This is the film I want them to remember me by.” – Jack Horner, Boogie Nights

On its surface, Boogie Nights – the grand piece of nostalgia celebrating a pre-AIDS, pre-video porntopia – would appear as a lark – a jokey, ballsy, “Look, Ma, I’m a Hipster Director!” type feature designed to showcase a young man’s skill behind the camera and his cocky nerve to tell a scandalous tale. When you look deeper, the film is anything but that.

Continue reading

Bootlegging, Brothers and Chastain in Lawless

The ubiquitous Tom Hardy teams up with the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain for Lawless.

In Prohibition Era Virginia, in those verdant smoky hills of Franklin County, the bootlegging Bondurant Brothers are the kings of a moonshine ring operating peacefully with the local law enforcement and treated as legends by the townsfolk.  Oldest brother Forrest (Tom Hardy) is known for his stoic invincibility (he survived WWI and Spanish influenza), middle brother Howard (Jason Clarke) is a barely functioning drunk who wields quick fists of justice, and youngest sibling Jack (Shia LaBeouf) has been living in their shadows as the kid brother too afraid to take a stand or shoot a gun.  When a big-time gangster from Chicago named Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) comes down into the area for business, Jack is in awe and sees it as an opportunity to recast himself as a savvy hot-shot.  But with Banner’s big business comes a new ruthless big city lawman, Special Deputy Charles Rakes (Guy Pearce) looking to break-up the Bondurants and their cohorts through any means necessary.

Lawless director John Hillcoat is no stranger to this brand of lawlessness.  His blisteringly violent and philosophical Aussie Western The Proposition was one of my favorite films of 2006.  He then went on to paint a lawless post-apocalyptic vision in his dour adaptation of the dour novel, The Road.  As with The Proposition, Hillcoat re-teams with screenwriter and musician Nick Cave, who adapted the story from Matt Bondurant’s own family history, The Wettest County in the World, while working again on the score with Warren Ellis.  Continue reading