a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Cop’

My SAG 2018 Predictions

After much consideration, and I’m trying to be as simple as I can be, I think the key to this year’s SAG Awards predictions is as plain as the nose on my face. Or as plain as the nose on anyone’s face in Ebbing,Missouri. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is going to sweep and win all four of the categories it’s nominated for. The overwhelming performance of an angry, but not tear-stained, grieving mother Mildred will win Frances McDormand her second SAG award. The fierceness of her unforgiving fury will translate into universal acclaim  as she has already received., at 60, the Golden Globe for Best Actress Drama and the same at the Critics’ Choice Awards.And her co-star Sam Rockwell, as the confused small-town policeman, Deputy Dixon, who tries to help her solve the  seemingly unsolvable mystery of her daughter’s violent rape and death, will precede McDormand to the podium and win Best Supporting Actor. Both of them bumping into each other on their way to the Oscars.

And two of the a-fore-seen winners of the other two awards,  Gary Oldman as the definitive Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour” (Best Actor) and Allison Janney as Tonya Harding’s frightening mother in the surging “I, Tonya.” (Best Supporting Actress), both will win again.

The SAGS only give out few awards to film. Mostly, it’s television that is being awarded. And usually at the start of the show BANG! They announce one of the two  Supporting Awards. So tune in on time at 8pm tomorrow night at TNT and TBS (Check your local listings.) Or you might miss Sam winning! Hopefully, I’ll survive the suspense until Sunday night when once again, I will be live-blogging.

Their fourth nomination being the supposedly predictive Best Ensemble award. That’s the only one of “Three Billboards” four nominations that I’m a little bit shaky about. But I think it’s their night. They might not win the Oscar, but they’ll win this. It’s an actor’s actor movie. And the SAGs, lest me forget, are actors voting on actors. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing” is co–starring some of the greatest actors of our time. Woody Harrleson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges are among the long list of its’ sterling ensemble.

“The Shape of Water” can’t win because it wasn’t nominated.

It could easily go to one of the other films. I would automatically say “Lady Bird,” but that got shut out surprisingly at the Critics last week! What? What? But I’ll put my pen down for the night, and just wish all of them good luck on Sunday!

“Wallander 3” World-Weary & Wonderful on MHz

I have to confess that I am coming late to the Wallander party. Wallander, the character, the novels, the many, many TV films in Swedish and also in BBC English with Kenneth Branagh, no less, is more than a cottage industry. It’s pretty much a world-wide phenomenon.  After the early, tragic death of Swedish author Steig Larsson of the Millennium Trilogy, another Swedish crime novel author has emerged on the Swedish crime stage and  has survived and thrived to 66 . He is Henning Mankell and he has written a mountainous number of books, on Wallander and many other topics,  and is more than taking his place, in Sweden and in the world.

The super-quaint,  little medieval town of Ystaad, where Wallander is set and shot, has become a tourist destination! And Kurt Wallander, his world-weary, potato-like, sad sack of a Swedish detective, is underplayed in this series quite brilliantly by Krister Hendrickson,  and is almost as famous as a Swedish fictional character as Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” anti-heroine to end all anti-heroines.

Wallander (pronouced Val’-en-da) couldn’t be more different. He’s so every day, so every man, so ordinary, he’s almost invisible. But he has also taken hold of the world’s imagination, and its’ thirst for all things Swedish. That gloomy morose desire to suffer in the cold and ice was mightily filled in his lifetime by legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

To my dismay, the younger generation does not take to Bergman or even know his work. If they know anything of Swedish note today, besides Ikea, it is Lisbeth Salander, and the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” And also, right behind her is Kurt Wallander.

Larson was said to have devoured Swedish crime novels and one of the authors he was most influenced by was the prolific Henning Mankell. Who wrote more Wallander books and many other books, than Larsson ever did in his brief life-time.

Larsson, and the “Girl’ movies and books have whetted the public’s appetite seemingly for Swedish noir crime. In fact, I was shocked when I went to the main library in Manhattan and found out the nothing of Wallander, DVD, film or novel was in. All were checked out, but one, which I hungrily grabbed.

The female librarian said to me “Wallander is VERY popular.” The Vox Populi! The people have spoken.

In Mankell’s “The Man Who Laughed,” there is this passage that jumped out at me.

A solitary man, presumably Wallander himself, is driving down a lonely Swedish road at night, and feels a bump. He has hit a rabbit.

“He stopped and got out. The hare was lying on the road, its’ back legs kicking. But its’ eyes stared at him….He had never forgotten those eyes and the wildly kicking legs. The memory kept coming back again and again , usually at the most unexpected times…”

That’s a very good metaphor indeed. With a kind of awful poetry that Steig Larsson’s “just the facts” Milleninum writings eschews.

I think it’s this richness of the source material, Mankell’s writing, that lifts Wallander out of the realm of the ordinary procedural, though police crime drama is what it is.

The Swedish TV series, now available in the US on MHz DVDS,  is produced by the same company that produced the “Dragon Tattoo” movies. And it shows. Those films and the Wallander TV series echo each other, not just in their topics, human trafficking, arson, pedophilia, and of course, drugs, but in their doomy Swedish atmospheres.

Wallander is the essence of the plodding policeman, who doesn’t always get it write, in the opening episode, he gets so drunk, he leaves his police gun at a bar, and is suspended, until the Ystad police find out they can’t solve a crime without him.

The terrific Krister Hendrickson makes him so endearing a chap, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. Especially not Kenneth ham-is-my-middle-name Branagh. But we’ll see.

And sometimes this season hits it right out of the ballpark in terms of impact. One episode “The Arsonist” particularly got to me. So well done and well acted and well shot by all parties. It was gripping and the ending chilling. Bravo to Episode 5! Wallander’s pen-ultimate case.

And you better enjoy Hendrickson’s Wallander while you can, because in the last episode,  #6 in this series, “A Troubled Man,” he gets Alzheimer’s. What American series would risk that? The central figure losing it to a disease that no one ever seems to suffer from on American series television. Hendrickson becomes increasingly forgetful and lost. He gets suspended (Again!) by the Ystaad crime unit.

His daughter, Linda, a cop herself, and also a devoted mother, with a small daughter who Wallander dotes on, is marvelously played with degrees and shadings of sympathy and strength and frustrated horror by Carlotta Johnson, as she begins to notice that Kurt, her father, is getting absent-minded and gradually slipping away.

As early as episode one, “The Troubled Man”(like for instance the forgetting the gun in the bar) and culminates with him wandering the streets of picturesque small town Ystaad with his shoes untied, not knowing where he is, in “The Man Who Wept,” who is ironically is the melancholy Wallander himself. And yes, in a climatic moment, Wallander cries. The series has built so carefully to this, it’s shattering.

Shakespeare  explored this same disease in “King Lear,” which I found myself seeing right in the middle of my Wallander binge-watching.

Dementia has always been with us as a disease and a topic and continues to be the unnerving presence that turns into an absence as we watch the sun sadly set on Kurt Wallender.

Don’t miss this Swedish series! You’ll find it hard to forget, and you’ll be hooked on all of Henning Mankell’s work, too! Just like Steig Larsson was, and half the world it seems is!

 

“Breaking Bad” I Love It! Watched EVERY SINGLE episode!

Everybody kept telling me for years to watch “Breaking Bad,” which starts its’ final eight episode run tonight at 9pm on AMC, but I never did. I kept thinking “Drugs? A middle-aged professor-type? Bryan Cranston? Who? Meth? What?”

Then Bryan Cranston kept winning Emmy after Emmy for Best Actor…

Then the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced that it was honoring “Breaking Bad” “TV’s Best Series” by having an unprecedented marathon run of EVERY SINGLE episode for FREE at its’ Elinor Bunim theater at Lincoln Center, and well, I thought if THEY are doing this….there must be something to it.

So I started watching it all about a month ago and just couldn’t stop! Color me surprised! It was as addictive as the Crystal Meth the series revolves around. Not that I’ve ever taken any or know anyone who has, but you certainly get totally immersed in the Crystal Methamphetamine culture of Albuquerque, New Mexico and pretty soon, almost immediately in fact, I was hooked. 

And yes, Bryan Cranston deserved all those Emmys and so does Aaron Paul, his former chemistry student/protégé/partner as Jesse Pinkham, a name that will in television history.

The Paul/Cranston duo, their whole father/son, December/May relationship is what really holds the series together, I feel. Its’ elucidation and intensely involving evolution over five series and hundreds of episodes breaks new ground constantly in this unbelievably well-done-in-every-way television series, and makes the case for “TV being the new Movie.” Very much like the Ripley novels of the late Patricia Highsmith, “Breaking Bad” takes you from identifying wholly with the milquetoast, underpaid Chemistry teacher Walter White and takes him and us in to the dark underground world of drug dealing and meth making that is very much like Alice going down the rabbit hole, as Walter White follows Jesse Pinkman into a bizarre, meth-fueled world that gets more and more frightening as the series progresses.

Being so late to the party in this case, I would hate to spoil any other late-comers delight by giving away plot points, but just let me continue the praise that has been heaped on Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and the show’s creator Vince Gilligan.

This is very much like a low-budget indie thriller that you never want to end, it’s so riveting, and guess what? It doesn’t end! Not for five TV seasons, with yet more to come! Bryan Cranston proves himself a great American actor here. The former forgettable father of “Malcolm in the Middle” totally blows your mind in episode after episode. His range is staggering. The award-winning “Breaking Bad” writers throw everything but the kitchen sink at Cranston, and he meets their daunting challenges at every turn. An unsung and overlooked character actor well into his middle years has found the role of his career beyond a doubt and risen to the ranks of American’s finest and television’s greatest.

Ditto Aaron Paul’s Pinkham. Pathetic, needy, irritating, whiney, never-wracking, infuriating and utterly adorable, Aaron Paul also proves Himself as one of America’s finest YOUNG actors. And he’s won a couple of Emmys, too. And is prized to win, along with Cranston, Gilligan and the writers, more accolades in the every near future.

The starting premise of “Breaking Bad” is so brilliant, a middle-aged, hen-pecked high school chemistry teacher finds his inner Don Corleone, or as Gilligan likes to say “Scarface”, with a wife who doesn’t understand him, and a son with cerebral palsy, and a brother-in-law in the DEA, who gets obsessed with catching this ever-elusive “Heisenberg”.

Dean Norris is the new King of Cops as the ever-vigilant brother-in-law from hell. It’s taken him five television seasons to eventually come to the startling conclusion that the “W.W.” he has been seeking is living right in his own backyard. He’s on the commode poring over evidence when it FINALLY hits him, which is where we have left them all.

The women in “Breaking Bad” are nowhere near as strongly drawn as the male characters. I hate to knock them now, without seeing how this all plays out, but Anna Gunn(no, that’s her REAL name) as Schuyler White and Betsy Brandt as her sister and the wife of the DEA Agent Norris, are thumpingly ordinary and suburban, but I guess they are supposed to be.

And Ms. Gunn has the daunting task of having nearly all her scenes with the uber-brilliant Brian Cranston, as her husband, and she just can’t hold a candle to him.
As her marriage unravels and ravels again, it’s the “marriage” of Walter White & Jesse Pinkman(Emmy winners Cranston & Paul) that compels us. It’s gone through every single permutation a partnership can go through, every thing except exploring that homo-erotic undertones that it just reeks of. THAT hasn’t been gone in to yet. But there’s still eight more episodes coming our way. We can only hope…

I just wish I had AMC on my channel system. But dear readers be careful about what you read about “Breaking Bad” re: the eight new episodes, there are bound to be spoilers everywhere online once it starts unveiling its’ tightly guarded secrets which start unspooling tonight at nine.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: