Tag Archives: Woody Harrelson

Good Poh-leece

16 Jun
Lincoln Park, Chicago. 1968

Lincoln Park, Chicago. 1968

Growing up in Chicago I had many occasions to witness the Chicago Police Department in action. From corruption scandals to the infamous Red Squad to the police riots in August of 1968 to the murder of Fred Hampton and a number of personal interactions in between, I formed an inchoate sense of police and no coherent thoughts about how policing big cities should be undertaken. Add to this pastiche, my long standing appreciation of crime stories by the likes of Elmore Leonard, George Pelecanos, James Lee Burke, Ed McBain and others and after all these years I am beginning to grasp some of the intractable dilemmas attached to crime and policing and the mine field that is US law enforcement. Not to dwell on this at the moment but these conundrums are what make crime stories so rich in drama…

The second season of True Detectives has two very high benchmarks with which it competes. One being, its first riveting season and the second,the universally lauded and extolled urban drama set in the cauldron of Baltimore’s racial divide , The Wire— especially now that the new blu ray edition has stimulated new conversations about its lofty literary status. One understated notion that is regnant in the Wire is that of being “good police” as in the statement that He/She is good police.” And we observe that in the case McNulty among other of the detectives one can be an alcoholic, ruin their marriage and exhibit numerous signs of dysfunction but obsessive focus on solving cases trumps almost everything.

Having watched the first three episodes of True Detective 2, its hard not to think of the genius pairing in the 1st season of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as detective partners—which is not how the new narrative unfolds.In the new 2nd season, the three poh-leece who meander into the main plot and central crime (one loses count of all the felonies committed by everyone from the street up to corporate suites and city hall offices. In this case Colin Farrell is Ray Velcoro a detective in the City of Vinci (even I know that ‘vinci” is latin for I conquered),Rachel McAdams is Ani Bezzerides a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective and Taylor Kitsch plays Paul Woodrugh a motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol. Toss in Vince Vaughn as a latter day Macbeth and you have the drama’s main players. It should not go unmentioned that the Mayor of Vinci is played with great gusto by Richie Coster in scene stealing moment, he rivals a riveting scene in Bugsy where Harvey Keitel playing the LA mobster Mickey Cohen goes off Warren Beaty’s Bugsy Seagal.

I suppose ahead of the imminent HBO broadcast of True Detective‘s 2nd season on Father’s Day (a holiday I would still like someone to explain to me), gainfully employed typists are doing their jobs by announcing and opinionating on Nick Palazotti’s new creation. From where I watched, the story continues to spotlight the damaged and troubled men and women tasked with solving our society’s most awful crimes—many that sink way below even the Reptilian.As always a vision from which it is difficult to turn away…

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)