True Detective – Season 1

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 / Director: Cary FukunagaHBO’s latest offering brough us Matthew Mconaughey and Woody Harrelson as two homicide detectives involved in a dark case. With the initial murder taking place back in 1995 the show flits between then and now. Mconaughey’s Rust Cohle and Harrelson’s Marty Hart are first time partners on the original case but in the modern day Rust has gone off the rails and is a chain-smoking alcoholic, and the pair haven spoken for years. Being interviewed separately about the case they believed to have been solved seventeen years ago but another body has been found. All eight episodes of the season are written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga giving the series an overall style and feel that many shows can’t manage as a collaborative medium.

It’s true that there are a lot of detective shows out there, in all different shapes and forms television has always been obsessed with murder investigations and dirty cops. So the question is why should True Detective be the one you watch? Well, where to begin. The most staggering thing about this series is the quality of the writing. It’s a very dialogue heavy show, which may not suit everyone, but this provides an excellent basis for character development and it doesn’t take long before you see these two A-List movie stars as their characters. Pizzolatto’s scripts are deliciously dark with very little in the way of happiness but he has a real knack for creating flawed protagonists that are still likeable if, at times, questionably immoral. As the tension of the investigation builds so does the action, which is handled ridiculously well by Fukunaga, you may have seen around that episode four (perhaps the greatest hour hour of television you will see for a long, long time) features a six-minute unbroken tracking shot during an undercover mission where, to put it bluntly, shit hits the fan making the show every bit as exciting and cool as any blockbuster movie you’ll go and see. And of course, none of this greatness could have been achieved without a cast to match and Mconaughey and Harrelson deliver some of the best performances of both their careers. Mcounaghey, of late, has become the most exciting actor around and his turn here is probably equal to that of his Oscar winning portrayal in Dallas Buyers Club. Harrelson is just as good, neither of the two ever steal the attention and instead manage to create this very real volatile relationship with each other.

Television is improving at such an astonishing rate that we will soon never be without top quality shows like this. True Detective shows us just how far TV drama has come in recent years and brings with it some of the best stuff you will see on your screens this year. let’s hope they don’t ruin it with a lacklustre second season because this is damn near perfection.

 

Seven Psychopaths

seven-psychopaths-red-band-trailerMartin McDonagh’s debut In Bruges was a breath of fresh air, foul-mouthed off-beat and all round hilarious, he follows it up with this years Seven Psychopaths. It is a film about writing a film, in the same sort of vein as Adaptation. We follow Colin Farrell’s Marty as he hits a block writing his new movie entitled Seven Psychopaths, he is faced with a growing alcohol problem and a lack of any real direction for his script to go in. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is attempting to help him stop drinking and come up with ideas for his psycho’s, they draft in the help of Hans (Christopher Walken) but as events unfold the line between reality and Marty’s script starts to become rather unclear.

There is much to be loved about this film, the cast being one of them. Rockwell is fantastic as is Walken and Colin Farrell puts in a performance to match his In Bruges greatness, a whole world away from what we get from him in his mainstream Hollywood movies. And there are a number of scenes that are just straight up funny as hell, particularly scenes involving Woody Harrelson’s bumbling villain, Charlie as he searches for his missing dog. The premise is an interesting one as well and a lot of the ideas within it are very good but it is in it’s plotting where it also falls short.

The pacing is very strange where at times it felt it was building up to a big set piece and then just nothing happened and it wasn’t helped the overall disjointed array of events merging, Marty’s fictional ideas for psychopath stories with real ones. It sets up a number of intriguing story-lines and in the end resolves some of them well but leaves others to be rushed in a rather unsatisfying manner. It seems as though if things had just been thought out a bit more this film could have been so much better. But unfortunately it seems that the plot line is too close to home and instead of trying to cover it up in the film he’s just written the characters having exactly the same problem resulting in a bit of a messy piece of work.

All that said, it’s still a very entertaining watch despite it’s flaws just not quite the new In Bruges you might have been hoping for.