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Out in Theaters: ‘HACKSAW RIDGE’

Mel Gibson, he of the religiously verbose variety, has been embroiled in a very public war with Hollywood – and himself – over the last decade. The director of Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalpyto became persona non grata when audio of his now famous anti-Semitic rant, followed by threatening messages made to his then-girlfriend Oksana Gregorieva, went public. Ever since, Gibson’s been trying to claw his way back into the good graces of the mainstream and with the double shot of Blood Father and Hacksaw Ridge, may have just found some footing. Read More

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TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 8 Review “Omega Station”

Another way of understanding the existential undertow of the flat circle and how it particularly drove this season’s narrative is a simple application of physics: an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Can a subsequent generation will itself out of the inertia spun onto it by its predecessor? Perhaps it can, as the Omega Station has been reached with an answer to the series’ ongoing thesis: only the right people in our lives can alter our directed courses. Read More

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TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 7 “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”

All the characters are trying to find their way out with black maps as we’re seeing the end of DaVinci’s beginning. Bez and Velcoro accept the circle, Frank tries to undo it, and Woodrugh attempts to outrun it.

New evidence emerges from the stolen documents that link Catalyst and McCandless to Osip. Velcoro directs the link to Davis, but he finds her in a cold motionless revelation marked by blood, the predictable fate of everything and all that tries to be an anthesis to what will always be. DaVinci is a derelict child, like Velcoro (Collin Farell), Bez (Rachel McAdams), and Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch). But can they, will they, turn something bad into good? Read More

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TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 6 Review “Church in Ruins”

hurch in Ruins is why True Detective was worshipped to begin with. So far, the best episode of the season is reminiscent of Rust’s extended action sequence through the ghetto. Bez’s (Rachel McAdams) subplot’s climax evoking–either a Kubrickian or Lynchian (either way, brilliantly twisted and atmospheric) tone–matches Velcoro’s unbridled snowy Cuervo bender. Read More

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TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 5 “Other Lives”

As the first season dictates, crime predestines characters into its fold; their adopted second selves aren’t themselves, and the inevitability of the crime’s determinism has approached. In season one, after they ostensibly solved the crime, we saw Rust and Marty’s interlude draw out seemingly grounded as repaired people then pulled back into the crime’s undertow as they re-disintegrated. We only experienced a blip in this season, not even an episode, as this iteration re-awakens half way through.

And like the first season, the bad men seem amorphous, but there’s always one face formed of many like a mosaic from a distance, one singular expression–and it will reach for everything inside of them–at least, that’s what I’ve been hoping for. With three more episodes left, this dark experiment has a chance for redemption to have its potential culminate in entirety. To pull it off, every character needs to be at the end of themselves and turn back as they face new lengths in human amorality.

Post shoot-out mortem, a new stasis with new self has settled in. The investigation’s been shut down by State Attorney General Geldof, pinning Caspere’s murder on Amarilla from the Mexican outfit–and, strangely announcing his run for governor.

ep13-ss06-1920Thus, Velcoro evades his conscience by dropping the good-cop, bad-cop posture and fully commits to ambiguity by becoming a private investigator while still holding enforcer title with Frank in the midst of an ongoing custody battle; Bez is demoted to the sheriff’s office evidence lock up while pursuing Vera’s disappearance on her own timetable; Woodrugh is promoted to detective but withdrawn from the field to insurance fraud while facing extortion from Lindel; Jordan questions Franks recidivist business practices as the only way out.

But all of the character’s now independent lives and investigations evolve to one focal point of conspiracy. Frank orders Velcoro to snoop on Blake when he discovers him trafficking Frank’s prostitutes to his adversary Osip at a clinic with Pitlor and Tony present. The story takes a hard turn when Bez finds a political connection to Caspere’s hotsheet pawned blue diamonds. With plenty of evidence on the table, state investigator Davis reopens the investigation incognito. Davis wants evidence of collusion between Chessani’s political machine and the state attorney general’s chest full of campaign money–thus, no surprise to Velcoro that the state’s investigation was smoke and mirrors. Woodrugh and Bez match Caspere’s former movements to an a rural abandoned commune fitted with a bloodied sexual dungeon. Velcoro bitch slaps Pitlor around when he spits up old business between Caspere and Chessani involving escorts and real estate deals–all filmed and kept in Caspere’s pilfered hard drive to blackmail influential guests if threatened.

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While Frank has Velcoro by the strings, he attempts to leverage his former place into the corridor by blackmailing a business associate who now operates the development company that holds the land to be bought by the government. He was complicit with Frank and his former waste company in dumping contaminants on the farmland that Bez and Woodrugh discovered to lower its purchase value for the railway. But the person whom Frank then sold it to had his life tampered with involving a car that never ends well with a cliff. Frank is given a quid pro quo back into the corridor if he finds Caspere’s stolen hard drive inspired by cinema verite–this same associate that attended the escort parties Pitlor divulged to Velcoro.

As Velcoro confronts Davis about his grit, another self is revealed. Davis tells him his wife’s rapist was forensically affirmed a few weeks ago–a different lead than what Frank lured him into. As Frank holds Jordan after thinking about selling their stakes and starting over, he looks up at the ceiling and says, “No more water stains.” The dark eyes have closed for the moment.

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For prior Silver Screen Riot True Detective coverage, find archive reviews below:

TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 1 Review “The Western Book of the Dead”
TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 2 Review “Night Finds You”
TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 3 Review “Maybe Tomorrow”
TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 4 Review “Down Will Come”

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TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 4 Review “Down Will Come”

Down Will Come is already here. DaVinci’s desecrated water table has waned Frank Semyon’s (Vince Vaughn) land as it tries for purity out of its poisoned seeds. We further wind down the dark spine into DaVinci’s ethos as the show’s symbology continues to open up like the liquid fingers of a black ink stain.

Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Bez (Rachel McAdams) make a blip to her father’s spiritual commune to flesh out Irving Pitlor’s (the slithery, creepo psychiatrist that succinctly analyzed Caspere’s sexual depravity) backstory. They discover Pitlor came from the Chessani lodge, the family’s branded spiritual sect that crossed paths with her father’s fledgling movement. After divulging Caspere’s picture and their investigation, her father completes the circle with a hippie flashback picture of the wicked trifecta–another bad avocado, but re-stated in quite a stark yin and yang way–revealing what was obscured but obscuring what will be revealed. Continuing with the drama’s unfolding, we’re now seeing the intertwining histories mainlined to the present and inevitable future.

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Velcoro and Bez track down Caspere’s former movements in vast tracts of land contaminated with various metal pollutants, as Velcoro hands Bez a determinism her state investigation won’t change–money and how the hand holds it. Bad land with the glint of a high-speed silver bullet cutting through it makes it badder, and they need a hangman as DaVinci’s dynasty follows through with its century old logical conclusion.

The dark pair of eyes grow darker as they follow Frank. The worse self is becoming his best self as he strongarms old associates to keep from bottoming out and continuing the series’ deep theme. We even watch Velcoro’s inner light tested under Frank’s shadow as Frank tries to lip him out of being a cop and into his fold. Frank’s recidivism is humming with current as he nails his fate to the retrofitted nightclub.

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Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) is accosted by journalists for his secret part in a black ops expose, but more so by his conscience for sleeping with his former combat lover. But his prost canvassing reveals a hooker that tried to pawn some of Caspere’s trinkets. Another pair of fingerprints is dusted off belonging to a Mexican cartel underling as they track down an infinite omen.

Bez speaks of memories like the figurines staring back at her. How her dead mother tried to buff them to a shine out of driftwood.

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For prior Silver Screen Riot True Detective coverage, find archive reviews below:

TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 1 Review “The Western Book of the Dead”
TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 2 Review “Night Finds You”
TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 3 Review “Maybe Tomorrow”

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TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 3 Review “Maybe Tomorrow”

The Conway Twitty impersonator lip syncing “The Rose” deified by the David Lynchian purple blue nebula, may superficially seem like a cheap dressed up redneck mind-fuck, Lone-Star laced with LSD, as season two intentionally commits a slow suicide into the oblivious junkyard of one-hit wonders; not to mention the trippy and densely codified dialog between Velcoro  (Colin Farrell) and his father. But it challenges the audience to lift its eyelids and contemplate a different and deeper sphere of influence. The ditty “The Rose” defines love as a flower, which grows with courage into spring with little sunlight through the bleak winter or, in other words, an endless trial–the song is about change. Read More

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TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2 Episode 2 Review “Night Finds You”

The town of DaVinci looks like it’s day, but it’s really night–in other words, it was born in the darkness as it tries for the light. The first scene’s cold tint hangs over like the pallor of a corpse–literally, as Semyon’s (Vince Vaughn) introspection match cuts to Caspere’s melted eyes. Semyon’s abuse story isn’t just significant as a character piece, it’s the unfolding of what’s to come. Read More

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Out In Theaters: DELIVERY MAN

“Delivery Man”
Directed by Ken Scott
Starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Andrzej Blumenfeld, Bobby Moynihan, Britt Robertson, Jack Reynor, Dave Patten, Adam Chanler-Berat
Comedy
103 Mins
PG-13

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Whether our viewing sensibilities are just outgrowing Vince Vaughn or people just aren’t writing good showcases for him, it is undeniable that his career is not what it once was. Wedding Crashers came out eight years ago. Let that sink in. I’m of the opinion that the problem has been the material. Ken Scott directs the remake of his own 2011 film Starbuck, which provides an avenue for Vaughn to branch out a little from his typical snarkiness. The result is a surprisingly heartwarming film, if not a bit on the forced side. With some serious revisions, this could have been a great film.

 Comedies these days have such farcical plots that you have to just roll with it. If the idea of a man being hunted down by over a hundred of his own illegitimate children doesn’t instantly set off your BS meter, you can probably handle Delivery Man’s multitude of plot holes, inconsistencies, and “yeah right” moments. In reality, the contract of an anonymous sperm donor is rock solid. In the world of Delivery Man, however, David Wozniak has to deal with the fact that 142 of his 500 plus sperm donations are suing to know his identity. On top of this, he has to deal with becoming a “real” father as he accidentally knocked up his on-again-off-again girlfriend.

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After Vaughn learns the identity of the lawsuit children, he takes to stalking them and playing guardian angel. Stalking one of his “daughters”, he defends her from catcalls. For a musician “son”, he encourages donations to his street performances. One particularly offensive thing is the way Scott portrays a daughter who overdoses on heroin. Vaughn has the opportunity to send the 17-year old addict to rehab, but instead chooses to take it on faith that she can handle it herself, making it painfully obvious that Scott has never dealt with drug addiction in any capacity. For anyone reading this, in case you didn’t know, send them to rehab. Disappointingly (for the films own potential), she keeps her word to this man she has never met before, presumably kicking her nasty drug habit and becoming a tax-paying citizen overnight. What a great opportunity to teach Vaughn’s character a harsh lesson about parenthood wasted.

Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt plays opposite Vaughn, as his comically stupid lawyer friend. Their exchanges are often hilarious, but still fail to carry the necessary weight, given how much screen time they take up. Pratt brings much of the films comedy, but might conflict a little too much with the realism of the film. It seemed the writers could not decide whether to make Pratt the responsible one of the duo, or to make him Homer Simpson. He alternates between the two, but plays both roles well. In some scenes, he gives lucid legal advice to Vaughn, while other scenes show him being entirely cartoonish. It may be a nitpick, but it just shows another symptom of a sloppy screenplay, that such a crucial character is not entirely focused. His childlike demeanor in the courtroom scenes exist to show just how open-and-shut this case is.

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Vaughn’s character also owes 80 grand to some seedy folk, adding a sense of urgency to the film that feels artificial. This is basic screenwriting 101 stuff. A plot device like this should be more ingrained within the film. It ends up being his reason for countersuing the sperm donation facility for defamation. Wouldn’t greed be a much more interesting motivator, though? Also, this falls flat because the stakes of his trial aren’t that serious. There should be some consequences when his children find out who he is. Instead, they are joyous and relieved. This is all fine and good for the feel-good factor, but I wanted some more authenticity added to the stakes.

In the end, Delivery Man doesn’t quite have the comedic chops to be a great comedy, nor does it have the dramatic chops to be a great dramedy. And that is the problem. No matter how much I was enjoying the movie, I just felt it wasn’t something I would ever want to come back to. When I think of any film that I love, I think of those classic moments, moments which were sorely missed in Delivery Man. Still, there are a lot worse films in theaters right now and this one is quite enjoyable.

C

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