True Detective on HBO

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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby RocketMan » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:44 am

I wonder if all this intense dislike of TD season 2 along with all the "hate-watching" stuff is partly due to modern people just having difficulty taking in anything that isn't presented with a veneer of sarcasm, irony, maybe even nihilism, and the distancing they provide. Of course I'm not saying that True Detective should get a free pass just because it's so earnest. Hell, some of the dialogue is a bit too ripe even for me, and I consider it a major part of the series' charm. It's just all this talk about it being too complicated to follow, like some people don't even WANT to dwell on what the story implies.

The scene between Farrell and Vaughn at the start of the latest episode was just cracking noir filmmaking. One of the best scenes of the season. I also loved the Brian DePalma-esque sex party scene with the Pino Donaggio style string music. I thought it was a bold choice to have a massive sex party but have it happen mostly on the fringes of the frame with the focus being on Bezzerides throughout. It was an interesting twist on a thriller scene that the major element of tension in the scene was whether Bezzerides would end up having to fuck some elderly oil tycoon for the investigation's sake, not so much whether she would be killed or not.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby brekin » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:10 pm

RocketMan » Thu Jul 30, 2015 6:44 am wrote:I wonder if all this intense dislike of TD season 2 along with all the "hate-watching" stuff is partly due to modern people just having difficulty taking in anything that isn't presented with a veneer of sarcasm, irony, maybe even nihilism, and the distancing they provide. Of course I'm not saying that True Detective should get a free pass just because it's so earnest. Hell, some of the dialogue is a bit too ripe even for me, and I consider it a major part of the series' charm. It's just all this talk about it being too complicated to follow, like some people don't even WANT to dwell on what the story implies.


I think one of the key issues is that sarcasm, irony, and nihilism are sometimes necessary buffers between reality and the way we would like the world to be. Sarcastic, ironic, nihilistic (in delivery not ultimate message), and satirical shows give people the wiggle room to have that distancing effect that allows them to enjoy the show because they can say "Oh, this isn't real-real." Most shows are so stylized in that vein that when something isn't like that- by default it is implying that we are really going to be honest and transformative in how we approach the subject matter. Ironically, by doing so they are utilizing more of a Brechtian distancing effect by removing most of the regular television smaltz and sentimental bullshit and they keep the viewer "entertained" because they promise to confront the status quo propaganda on such subjects. The first distancing effect promises titillation and safety while the other promises catharsis, crisis of faith and little "e" enlightenment on the subject matter. The rub is then that if you are going to walk the hard road of not catering to cheap sentiment and alienate the viewer from their primetime bag of goodies with the promise of something greater, you can't use all the easy tricks that the former types of shows use, because you basically end up alienating them twice, two different ways. The reason season 1 was such a groaner is because they spent all season setting up that something big, real and raw was going to be revealed and they decided instead to go with a pat CSI: True Detective ending. It is one thing to be formulaic, hackney and predictable, that is forgivable, the media is a business and people need to feed their kids, but if you promise something more authentic then you better deliver.

The crux for me is True Detective doesn't seem to even want to dwell on what the story implies. It just wants to use it as background sets for characters to have "heavy" conversations. The problem is then you stop having meaningful conversations after awhile because what is implied never really gets articulated. Its like Hamlet with some cool monologues but that dude from Blues Clues working the dead king's murder.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Monk » Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:01 am

The first season did well because of the two leads in relation to the content of their dialogue, the director, and the intriguing connections between a criminal conspiracy and the occult (with personal story arcs included). Unfortunately, the same season fell apart with the last episode as all three sets of stories were barely resolved.

The second season looks ordinary compared to the first for the opposite reasons.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby guruilla » Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:23 pm

I have been watching the UK show The Fall with Gillian Anderson over the past few weeks, and funnily enough it’s given me the opposite sort of trajectory experience as TD. I started out feeling ambivalent about it, finding it absorbing and well done but a little dull. Most of all, I didn’t like the basic concept, that of the lone, hyper-intelligent serial killer being doggedly tracked by police expert, for reasons that ought to be obvious to anyone but especially to RI readers (and anyone who has read McGowan’s Programmed to Kill). I didn’t and still don’t believe in such characters, on top of which, any show that places modern police activity in the context of catching a craven and cunning killer has to come under “whitewashing” in the broader sense.

However, with the second season, most especially the fifth episode (which is where I am up to), the show has turned into something quite unusual. It occurred to me that it makes a counterpoint to TD, in that, while TD promises much and finally disappoints, The Fall promises very little and yet achieves something of real substance in the end. There is a scene in the fifth episode in which cop-Anderson watches a video recording of one of the killer’s victims begging for her life. It’s a long scene and the camera focuses as much or more on Anderson’s own expression. Due to thoughtlessness, Anderson is directly responsible for this victim’s imprisonment, and as she watches, her face grows more and more stricken until tears come to her eyes. The killer then turns the camera on himself and berates her, the viewer, us, for being sick enough to watch this.

I found it deeply disturbing. By the end, the scene seems to holographically capture the whole psychodynamic of sadism, voyeurism, anima-projection, powerlessness and abuse of power, empathy and lack of it (sociopathology), the acutely agonizing triangle of killer, cop, & victim, which matches up with abuser, caregiver, and abused (maybe even with id, superego, and ego). It places the cop, and by extension ourselves, in the role of helpless witness but also as complicit (literally in the case of Anderson, figuratively in the case of the viewers who this show was created for); and it shows in a very subtle but direct way how the psyche that is fragmented, shut down (the killer-abuser), can’t feel anything except by causing others to feel for it, and so torments others to relieve its own torment. In the scene, the killer’s satisfaction is in causing his victim terror and pain, but also, unseen to him, in causing the witness, the cop, also a woman, to feel the anguish and grief, the empathy for the victim, that he can’t feel, because he can’t feel it for himself. He then accuses her of sickness for watching ~ i.e., feeling such empathy.

So even if the storyline of The Fall is bogus and suspect, the psychology seems to be dead-on. And the feeling I got is that the filmmakers only hit on this by “chance,” out of a desire to explore the psychology of the crime and approach it as compassionately as possible. As a result they hit a deep vein, maybe even the main artery (to mix metaphors) of the beast. They got closer to realism not by trying to expose the truth, but by trying to do justice to the lie they were telling and find truth in it.

I recommend it, anyway.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:28 pm

They're very related thematically and aesthetically, I agree.

It's an absolutely outstanding slice of dark TV, and character of Stella is pretty unprecedented in the annals of TV tropes.

Also recommend "Wallander" -- the original, not the Kenneth Branagh vanity re-make BBC did.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby guruilla » Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:38 pm

Yeah the first thing that leap out about The Fall was the nordic noirishness of it. The first season director Jakob Verbruggen, name sounds Nordic, tho he's practically unknown so maybe it's a pseud.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby guruilla » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:40 pm

[slight spoiler alert]

Episode seven, seems like the show has received a blood transfusion and got its mojo back. The plot’s even hard to follow again, hooray!

I think it relates directly to Velcoro’s facial hair. After he shaved his moustache and got all clean-cut, the show went to shit. Farrell’s regained slickness was reflected by the show’s new superficiality, give them want they want (a clean cut Farrell who doesn’t look like you’d smell him before you’d see him, etc.). By episode seven, he’s unshaven, looking like something a sewer rat dragged back for lunch, and the show is back in the sewers where it belongs.

The final scene between Velcoro and Bezzerides was genuinely moving.

“Do you miss it?”
“What?"
“Anything.”

I got chills, they're multiplying.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Rory » Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:06 pm

I was fairly wasted when I watched this last night but I thought it was the strongest episode so far. McAdams and Farrell were excellent, and the maligned Vaughan was at his best too.

No strong insights just a feeling of the story packing a real and plausible emotional punch
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:08 pm

A friend made a great point: he said episodes 5 and 6 were so cinematic because the characters were basically dissociating into a Heroic Journey narrative rather than facing how fucked they were.

Last Sunday's installment was the reality check.

Frank:
I had ideas of getting out of this, you know.

Osip:
There's no such thing for you, Frank. That world isn't yours, you manage clubs.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Jerky » Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:28 pm

Yeah, episode seven was superior to the entire rest of this season, combined (and I thought eps 4, 5 and 6 were pretty strong).

Too bad it started out on the wrong foot, but better late than never, right? As it currently stands, I think Season Two has a shot at having a posterity that rivals if not outshines that of Season One. The actors are ALL on fire, including the all too infrequently mentioned Taylor Kitsch. Maybe it's just that some of us having a hard time praising Kitsch (heheh). And as one who has been deeply Vince-Vaughn-skeptic throughout this endeavor, with episode seven, he finally won me over.

Too bad it's ending NOW, just when it's turning into the best show on TV.

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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Jerky » Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:32 pm

And in the hopes of making this discussion slightly more Rigorous in its Intuition... Jeez but doesn't that Blackwater sub-plot strike you as being the way things really work in the good old US of A these days.

I discerned a strong undertone of melancholy revelation running through the adrenaline rush of that basement parking scene, which - tragically - couldn't have ended any other way.

J
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby vondardanelle » Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:18 pm

i was initially cool on vince vaughn as well. he felt like the wrong person at the start of this season but now he really feels perfect in this role. sometimes i have difficulty thinking his character would be so stupid, but i think vaughn helps sell that. he's found a great balance between tough and in charge and tragic. i hope his wife doesn't wind up somehow finishing him off in the last episode, but it seems like would be a fitting, True-Detective end for Frank.

from an aesthetic standpoint, i've really enjoyed all of the David Lynch that's all over this season. I would have expected something like that to be really disappointing, but they've done it so well. That dream sequence in the bar was probably the most overt (straight out of the Roadhouse) but that final scene with Velcoro and Bezzerides seemed like it could have come out of Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks in the emotional tone (and even sound track). Kind of asked "Why are there people like Frank?" in its own, beautiful way.
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby 8bitagent » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:16 am

I no longer feel as invested emotionally in the show or characters, but still super looking forward to Sunday's 90 minute finale. To say TD S2 has been a mixed bag is to put it lightly. It's become a running joke how many plotlines there's been. But it's also had stronger acting in some parts with home lives compared to Season 1. Also I felt disappointed by the last half of the final episode of last season.

I like how this season feels so disconnected from the first season, just wish the flow and narrative had been tighter. But maybe the hour and a half final will tie it all together. I just feel it kind of lost steam for a few episodes. Lovvvvved episode 2, loved the heavy Lynchian open to episode 3...just felt it meandered. But I did like episode 7. and I never knew colin ferrel could be such an amazing actor
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:52 am

Jerky » Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:32 pm wrote:And in the hopes of making this discussion slightly more Rigorous in its Intuition... Jeez but doesn't that Blackwater sub-plot strike you as being the way things really work in the good old US of A these days.

I discerned a strong undertone of melancholy revelation running through the adrenaline rush of that basement parking scene, which - tragically - couldn't have ended any other way.

J


Well, not only was Pizzolatto in LA for the Vinci story, he was also in town for the murder of Michael Hastings.

(An incident that speaks volumes to me about the relationship of Jeremy Scahill with the subjects of his "ground-breaking" reportage.)

Between autonomous weapons and private militaries, the .01% don't even need The State anymore. I don't think conversations about political strategies mean a fucking thing at this point.

Edit: This Cpt. Marginal comment from a parallel thread is resoundingly resonant re: private armies in California
viewtopic.php?p=570457#p570457
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Re: True Detective on HBO

Postby Forgetting2 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:30 am

(Last two paragraphs is SPOILER material)

If you look at it as a black comedy, Frank's story fit's that classic structure very well. There's an insane system, which the hero embraces, hoping to achieve that great success promised by the insane system. There's the voice of reason, his wife in this case I'd guess, who he could trust if just he figured it out. But he follows the insane path until he faces a choice of giving in to the insanity, killing himself, or burning it down. Frank made his choice, rather literally, in the last episode. Of course it isn't very funny : )

I think Vaughn is better suited to the part of the role he's playing now. The parts where he was trying to open up his vulnerable side was where he seemed a bit forced, a little actor school-ish. Farrell has always done vulnerable quite well. I think he was born a wounded puppy. Actually always liked him as an actor. Even in monstrosities like the Total Recall remake.

Antigone's fate seams sealed, if she follows the classical tragic hero path she get's her name from. (The black comedy idea doesn't fit as well here. You could kind of shoe horn it, in a mixed metaphor kind of way, more mixed than Frank anyways...) Pizzolotto obviously knows and is playing with the structures, I reckon.

Oddly, I feel much more vested in the characters now. The show's always been interesting; the power theme running through business to sexuality has been pretty deep and insightful. Some themes, like the artificial vs. natural one, seems to play out primarily visually, and simply. Maybe I'm missing aspects of it. (Actually I'm sure I'm missing quite a bit.)

I feel like they somewhat earned the exchange:

Do you miss it?
What?
Anything.

Still don't connect to the Lynch aspects. They seem forced. Too on the nose. Less homage, less integral, rather more cut and paste. The bewildering array of characters is still a bit hard to deal with. Someone brought up Chinatown? That's a simple story by relation. At this point I'd still argue Pizzolotto's bitten off a piece too big. Perhaps I'd change my mind watching all the way through again, once it's over. Sometimes the tropes are a bit heavy handed. When Woodrugh (Rough Wood? Trouble with the wood? Not out of the woods?) is running and the shot switches to slo-mo... well, it's seems clear where he's going. (Don't they train Warrior Gods to check their blind spots? I know he's focused on the phone... his downfall, where the pictures are...) Although the last episode did feel quite a bit less a mash up of themes, tropes and 'homage.'

Anyhoo, it'd take a good deal more serious analysis to get into everything...
You know what you finally say, what everybody finally says, no matter what? I'm hungry. I'm hungry, Rich. I'm fuckin' starved. -- Cutter's Way
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