Tag Archives: Justified

Triple Dutch

31 Jan

If Elmore “Dutch” Leonard has ever written a bad story I have not read it—and I have read many, if not most, of his 40 or so published works.Which is not to say that some aren’t better than others but I don’t recall ever having finished a book by Leonard and feeling unsatisfied. And so it is with his latest opus, Raylon (William Morrow).

Those of you who are Leonard fans or are simply alert, should know that the FX series Justified (now in its 3rd season) is based on the Raylan Givens character first encountered in Leonard’s story ” Fire in the Hole” and his novel Riding the Rap. While it is uncharacteristic Dutch to resort to sequels, he has done so occasionally — Be Cool following Get Shorty and Road Dogs reprising bank robber Jack Foley from Out of Sight. In past this eschewing of series/sequels was deliberate, as optioning films rights to a story includes all iterations of the characters involved. Mama Leonard clearly did not raise a fool.

In Raylan , the Kentucky born Assistant US Marshall Givens hunts down the perpetrators of an organ stealing scheme, is assigned to body guard a cold blooded coal mine company official and tracks down a young poker playing Butler University coed who lost the twenty thousand dollars she won betting on Duke in the NCAA championship, playing in a high stakes game— who may or may not be involved in a bank robbing ring. That’s a pretty good threefer.

Naturally weird losers and felons abound:

Delroy Lewis was a member of a biker club one time called pages, all black guys, least fifty of ’emit black leather, the ace of spades painted on their yellow helmets…Delroy rode with the gang four times, got filthy dirty riding ass-end of the pack and quit the Spades.

He owned a cocktail lounge on New Center Road called the Cooz Club that featured chicks writhing bare naked on a pole that rose from a narrows strip of stage back of the bar. They’d get up there in their heels, eyes dreamy, out of focus and the guys at the bar would bet on which chick would fall off, side bets on hitting the bartender or not. He made drinks looking over his shoulder. Once Delroy had the idea, he turned the bare naked ladies into bank robbin’ chicks and was doing just fine til…

No surprise, Delroy does not come to a good end but the how of it amuses and entertains.

Elmore Leonard’s work, as mentioned above, has been adapted to a fair number of movies but in Justified he has found a simpatico group of filmmakers (Raylan is dedicated to producer Graham Yost and actor Tim Oliphant) and stands with Steve Soderbergh’s Out of Sight as exemplars of fine American cinema narratives.

Currently reading Raylan by Elmore Leonard (William Morrow)

The Vast Wasteland

30 Jan

In the half century since JFK appointed FCC Commissioner Newton Minnow pronounced television a cultural “vast wasteland” one could argue that some signs of life have blossomed, Thankfully that’s beside the point today’s modest feuilleton. Suffice it to say that if what used to be called the small screen had spawned no more than HBO’s The Wire that would be sufficient to justify its previous aridity.

Arguably there are (many) other high points in television history (which understandably was hindered by the necessity of collecting large numbers of viewers) but its not a stretch to award HBO with coming up with a different model for programming (keep in mind HBO’s motto, “It’s not television, its HBO.”) Which brings me HBO’s latest offering, Luck

Whatever disclosure is worth, this 9 episode series is being touted as a collaboration between two masters, director Michael Mann( Thief) and writer producer David Milch (Deadwood). Now I don’t doubt Milch’s credentials and talents but I do find his claim of being unaware of Pete Dexter’s wonderful novel Deadwood disingenuous. But, to quote, Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

In any case, Luck with Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina (a Michael Mann favorite),Joan Allen. Jill Hennessy,Nick Nolte, Michael Gambon (playing even nastier than his role in Open Range) and a wonderful ensemble cast, muck about legendary Santa Anita race track involved in any number of high-jinks and naturally mayhem follows.Though one may look upon the intricacies of the Sport of Kings indifferently even a non-horsey person (like myself) was entranced by the race footage and splendor of these complex animals.

Having watched the whole season’s episodes, Luck does make it through the backstretch to deliver at the finish.

Sadly, NBC cancelled their version of Prime Suspect (first done in England with the incomparable Helen Mirren) with Maria Bello.

For the time being you can still catch the first and last season’s episodes here

In addition to the Closer and Law and Order reruns what does that leave on the television horizon? I have heard good things about Shameless, and Breaking Bad but not enough to move me to watch.Justified apparently is in its 3rd season and in an uncharacteristic move, Elmore Leonard has written Raylon (Wm Morrow) another story about Raylon Givens, hero of the series and protagonist of a previous novel, Riding the Rap.

Currently reading Midnight Alley by Miles Corwin (Oceanview Publishing)

The Wasteland

22 Nov

While never hopeful about the offerings on network television occasionally even this degraded media manages to provide some relief from the tedious fashions of real housewives, forensic crime,vampires and gossip. Recently Justified and Terriers were examples of the possibility of interesting and well executed narratives.

This season’s exemplar is Prime Suspect, an obvious derivative of the successful Helen Mirren/BBC detective series. And if you count BBC America’s The Hour and Luther there has been a relative overabundance of watchable stories.Prime Suspect’s US version brings us the arresting visage of Maria Bello as a NYPD detective who has been assigned to a new precinct where she struggles to overcome the inbred machismo of her new colleagues as well as their belief that she earned her new slot unfairly.

Reportedy Prime Suspect is close to being canceled thus reducing this season’s watchable television down to Law and Order reruns (The BBC America shows had 6 and 4 episodes runs) Maria Bello explains the character she plays and her belief in this story.

Triple Dutch

21 Dec

Harper Audio has taken a good chunk of Elmore “Dutch” Leonard’s bibliography, which includes more wonderous reading (stories, characters and dialogue) than any human could believably seem to be capable of creating and released audio book and audio download iterations. I have found so many of Dutch’s 40 novels so pleasurable that it would be misleading to create one of those journalistic contrivances of a top 12 list or such.

Out of Sight the 1998 film by Steve Soderburgh is, however, my favorite film rendition of a Leonard story and now comes the audio version read by George Guidall (who even makes the female voices listenable).Interestingly, each of the three versions has its own merits (and alterations) which have made each of them a fresh and highly amusing experience.

Next, I intend to give Riding the Rap (Performed by Frank Muller) a listen — as you might know, this story’s hero is US Marshall Raylan Givens the lead character in the FX series Justified which I am pleased to report has been renewed for a second season.

And so forth…