American Dicks

21 Jan

It makes sense that there is no consensus about the great contributions to civilization made by America aka United States. Some people have claimed Saran Wrap. The great Czech director Milos Forman offered the Zippo lighter, the Remington rifle and the Harley Davidson motorcycle.At the end of a clever little film entitled Not Fade Away the narrator offers up the atom bomb and rock and roll. All reasonable suggestions.

My vote goes to the detective/crime story. You may argue that the English were there first, the tight sphinctered, polite bloodless who-dunnits of Wilkie Collins,Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle but cast against the cadre of Edgar Allen Poe, Raymond Chandler, Dash Hammett,and the late and great Elmore Leonard, we’re talking bananas and broccoli.For a long time there was American Detective fiction and then that of the rest of the world.And as an additional pleasure there is the ease of adaptability which produced such film gems as The Maltese Falcon,The Big Sleep, The Postman Always Rings Twice (2 versions),The Long Goodbye, Out of Sight

Which brings me to HBO’s newest crime story series True Detective with Woody Harrelson (as Martin Hart) and Matthew McConaughey (as Rustin Cohle) and most importantly created and written by novelist Nic Pizzolatto (Galveston).On the surface a straightforward story (horrific crime, a detective partnership but not a buddy relationship and the surround of rural Louisiana and the colorful way that locale affects crime detection. But from the get go the monologues offered up by the two principals suggest a subtle overview or subtext (you decide) on the nature of crime and a dark existential nihilism offered up by the deeply damaged Rust. There is a delicate equilibrium that needs to be maintained here or the whole narrative devolves into the kind of flatulent gibberish that damned Ridley Scott & Cormac McCarthy’s The Counselor.

I’ve only seen four of eight episodes and in addition to compelling performances by Woody (this one is reminiscent of Harrelson’s role in Rampart ) & Matt the supporting cast does what it is supposed to do with excellent cinema photography and sound-track supervised by T Bone Burnette.

True Detective is an almost pitch black bleak story, well lt. Sometimes that fits the mood…

Currently Reading Forgiving the Angel: Four Stories for Franz Kafka by Jay Cantor (KNOPF)

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