The Spin: Korder again proves to be the best series scribe with this crown jewel of an episode, a tightly focused hour of drama featuring the richest characters Boardwalk has to offer, executed with the skill of a master chef as a slow boiling fifty minutes culminated with a steam whistle in the final five. This is what television drama is all about in the new golden age – blisteringly cinematic, tight, and dramatic tension crafted from interesting characters we have come to know over the years living on the razor’s edge.
The Spin: Is it just me or are there some stories just being drug out for too long this season?
Case 1 – Eli’s son Willie (the first doppelgänger/Poe connection of the night) continues to be riddled with guilt (we get it) and starts a bit of a family row at pop’s house.
Case 2 – Don’t get me wrong, I love Gretchen Mol’s Gillian, but her detox scenes in this episode seemed trite as did her blossoming love affair with Office Space guy (Ron Livingston) while under his watchful care.
However, there was still plenty of intrigue. Margaret (the regular-again-it-seems Kelly Macdonald), it turns out, is working for a shady stock broker and helping him swindle customers into shaky deals. Into the office, under his own disguise, walks…you guessed it, Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg). Continue reading →
The Spin: Betrayal, dishonor, broken families and broken hearts were the themes of tonight’s richly composed Korder penned episode. As one of the empire’s dearest characters sang his swan song, Van Patten directed with a heavy Coen-esque pall in one of the most hauntingly photographed hours in the series history.
Eli’s dumb son plotline finely blossomed into something of substance, as Willie is brought in for questioning regarding his schoolmate’s gruesome poisoning and reaches out to Uncle Nucky in his time of need. The Nuckster, always calm under stress, crafts a deal with the DA that involves Willie selling his innocent roommate down the river. He ends up with a sweet crying gal in his arms, but he couldn’t be more torn up on the inside as he realizes the life he wanted is full of heartache, lies, death and an Uncle who will always be calling the shots.
Meanwhile, Gillian (Gretchen Mol – once again signing a letter to the Emmy voters – I mean, seriously, how has she not been nominated yet?) reaches rock bottom with her dope addiction as the Tommy custody case seems to be coming to a close and is not going her way. Mol imbues so much nuance and nerve into her performance, you actually find yourself feeling sorry for Gillian, as if the poor girl after all she has been through can’t help herself…could never help herself…and Piggly Wiggly Roy (Ron Livingston) asks her a dangerous question in his sincere play to take care of her and help her find redemption. But oh boy, Roy, I don’t know what you’re going to do if she ever tells you all the horrible things she’s done. Continue reading →
The Spin: Series creator Terence Winter takes the reign and finally puts up the first episode this season worth talking about. Wisely he chooses to ignore the Midwest shenanigans of Muller the dope and Capone the cliché, and somehow even manages to make the otherwise dull-as-dishwater plotline involving Eli’s son at Temple worth watching.
But what was really interesting was the display of ladies tonight: a pawn, a lost soul, a hero, and a Sally saucy as all get out.
After getting into the heroin business with Rothstein, the increasingly crafty Narcisse (the incomparable Jeffrey Wright) uses a beautiful jazz chanteuse as bait to make it seem like he’s smoothing things over with Chalky (Michael K. Williams). Little does Chalky know, Narcisse is about to turn his man Dunn against him.
Then we have our gal Gillian (the ever-fetching Gretchen Mol) gettin’ all domestic-like with the Office Space/Piggly Wiggly guy (Ron Livingston) only to have Jimmy’s murdered doppelgänger’s friend approach her at the soda shop leading her to shoot up just when things were starting to look rosy. Continue reading →
The Spin: The theme of the evening was deception: people pretending to be what they are not, or pretending to work the system better than the next person, when in fact they’re setting themselves up for their own comeuppance.
It’s the dead of winter, 1924, and Nucky is making peace with Masseria and Rothstein when Eddie Cantor introduces him to the next pretty gal, who turns out to be no Billie Kent, at Chalky’s hot new Onyx club. Meanwhile, Gillian is embroiled in a custody battle with the Sagorskys over Tommy and pretending to sell her now empty manor when in fact she’s selling herself all doped up. Back in Cicero, Al Capone is busy making a name for himself.
This curiously disjointed season premiere spent far too much time on a brutish subplot involving Chalky’s right-hand man getting into quite a mess with a sleazy talent agent and his slinky, kinky wife, though that wasn’t the worst of things tonight. There was also a painfully dull cliché of a plotline involving Eli’s eldest college-age son mawkishly wanting to learn “the family business.”
I was ready to give up on the sour hour if it weren’t for the as-yet-to-be-explained cross country-killing spree of last year’s best character – Harrow – as he made his way in the last scene (SPOILER ALERT)…home…and to his estranged sister. Continue reading →
Vera Farmiga plays Lorraine Warren with sincerity in THE CONJURING
When the close-knit Perron clan (headed by a laid back Ron Livingston and lovely earthy Lili Taylor) move into a bucolic New England home on a deceptively serene lake, it’s not long before this old house they bought at auction begins raising hell. Who you gonna call in the era before basic cable paranormal investigators? Ed and Lorraine Warren – played in their pre-Amityville Horror days by Patrick Wilson (partially raised eyebrows and all manly reactions) and Vera Farmiga (wily, caring and determined). The spectacular scenario is wisely set up by jumping back and forth between the two families who soon collide in a supernatural cataclysm.
The Conjuring, James Wan’s startling and enormously entertaining Destroy All Ghosts! story, plays like a montage of horror’s greatest hits from the past twenty years. Continue reading →