Ever A Vast Wasteland

9 May

Having a few TV screens around my abode does,from time to timE, tempt me to investigate the available fare without complicating my life with the endless horizon of choices that one may access through various subscription services. A few shows have stood out and relieved the impact of the dreary early season dysfunction by my beloved [Chicago]Cubbies.

I have never been a Julia Louis Dreyfus fan—in fact, I have found her insufferable in just the same way I react to Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler. All comedians who effect a persona that suggests everything that they say and do is just, well, hilarious. In fact, suggesting as well that they are tamping down their volcanic talents so as not to endanger the environs with unbridled hysteria and hilarity.

Be that as it may I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Ms Dreyfus in her new HBO series, VEEP. She plays Selena Meyer,United States Vice President and for the first time that I can recall Dreyfus is not playing herself and in fact is revealing some previously underexposed and untapped subtlety.

Additionally. Brit Armando Iannucci who has a well regarded body of work (political television comedies) in England has seeded this ensemble with a balanced crew of laughable characters (and savvy character actors) playfully exhibiting the silliness of American politics, made all the more absurd by the obvious plausibility of the shenanigans in play. Its silly and smart, simultaneously.

Richard Price by Robert Birnbaum

NYC 22 is a new cop show, which as the name broadcasts, is set in New York City. Now my first reaction, despite the pedigree of the show’s creators (Richard Price, Robert DiNiro)to this series, questioned what new and interesting could be added to the ample video graphic library that makes up the big city police procedural niche? Which admittedly is a short-sighted, cranky stance —to quote the great credo of the grandpappy of such shows,”There are a millions stories in the naked city.”

Anyway, the NYC 22 story line follows six NYPD rookies as they master policing foot-patrolling their precinct. The cast is telegenic (and experienced) in that gritty urban palette, the writing mostly dead (with Price at the helm, it would be a surprise if it wasn’t) on and the montage perky( a style that originated with NYPD BLUE) with a brisk visual energy provided by snappy editing and mostly tight camera work. Three episodes into the series, on the on going narrative thread shows some promise.

If your taste runs to soft core pornography Magic City STARZ channel’s new original series should satisfy you. Okay, there is also a parade off mid century vintage cars (the story is set in early 60’s Miami)but the high incidence of breast and female genitalia shots suggests that carnality and bloody mayhem are the core motifs of this silly melodrama. I mean how seriously do you went to take a story that has gangster named “The Butcher”? Looking to cash in on the current fetish for America’s recent midcentury past ala Madmen, Magic City fails to impress.

One benefit of all venues for video is the eventuality that the almost infinite number of films that is blotted out by the prevailing blockbuster mentality see the light of day. I chanced to see one such obscurity—Mexican director Guillermo Arriaga’s The Burning Plain with an excellent ensemble cast featuring Charlize Theron, John Corbett, Brett Cullen, Joaquim de Almeida, Kim Bassinger, Jennifer Lawrence and one of my favorite actresses Rachel Ticotin.

The story has a compelling now and then temporal jigsaw puzzle feel and one can see the young Lawrence whose charisma led her to be caste in Winter’s Bone. I’m hoping that that Jennifer Lawrence can withstand the corruption of her talents by the success of the Hunger Games juggernaut.

CURRENTLY READING The Family Corleone by Edward Falco (Grand Central Books)

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