The Shield

July 12, 2013

(Turn on the TV) The Bridge

AGAIN

The Bridge – Again

FX is known for putting out fantastic programming.  Just look at the catalog; “The Shield,” “Justified,” “American Horror Story,” “Louie,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Of course I’m missing a few, including “Archer” but you look at their lineup either currently or in the past, and you see the quality.  This brings me to FX’s newest show “The Bridge” a look at crime on the border of Texas and Mexico.  After watching the pilot I was left thinking, “again?”

“The Bridge” is based on the Swedish TV series “Bron” which deals with crime on the Denmark-Sweden border.  Who’d of thought; crime in Denmark and and Sweden, I thought that only happened in Steig Larsson novels.  In this American version, two cops, Diane Kruger, who is ironically German, and Demian Bichir, who is in fact Mexican, so that helps, both find a body on the US-Mexico border.  It’s discovered that the body was cut in half and comprised of two different bodies.  Intrigued?

Moving from the plot aspects to the character aspects for a second, I just want to comment on the character Sonya Cross, or North, depending where you read her character’s name from.  Now this is the third show in the past year where the creators decided to go the now-cliched detective route, namely giving the main detective symptoms of Aspergers.  We’ve had “Sherlock” on the BBC, “Hannibal” on NBC, and now “The Bridge” on FX.  There used to be an age where cops or detectives had the cliche of having a gruff exterior with a soft interior, usually involving “a past event” that shaped their character, but now we are stuck with detectives and cops who have some sort of autism.  It was cute the first time, but personally I think it’s time find a new cliche.

Being that the pilot was an “extended pilot” (clocking in at just over 90 minutes as opposed to your standard 60 minute program) we get some extra time with our main characters and our “killer.”  Yet, I didn’t really feel any type of investment with either North or her Mexican counterpart, Marco Ruiz.  The stakes seem higher for Ruiz who is balancing both personal and professional business in one of the most corrupt cities in Mexico, whereas the only thing we know about North is that she is a little off.

Stylistically, if you took the film “Savages” and gave it the Michael Mann treatment, that’s exactly how “The Bridge” looks, which means it looks great.  I would even say that it even has a little “No Country For Old Man” vibe with the look and feel of the desert landscapes.  They always say imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Overall, “The Bridge” has potential, but in a TV landscape with every cop and procedural show trying to one-up the other when it comes to violence, gory, and autistic detectives, where does this show fit?  Being it’s on FX, the pedigree is there, but it’s where they decide to go with the characters that really matters.  If I want to see gory murders and detectives with problems I’ll stick with “Hannibal.”

Fun Fact:  According to The International Boundary and Water Commission, the US-Mexico border is approximately 1.954 miles long.

March 26, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews March Madness Bracket of Good and Evil Round One Results: TV BAD

JOFFREY BARATHEON (1) WINNER
ATTI OF THE JULII (16)

Atti gets whatever she want by using the gift god gave her.  Her potent sexuality.  However, brat Baratheon usually doesn’t take kindly to people using sex as a weapon on him.  Just as Tyrion and those badly beaten whores he sent Joff’s way.  Baratheon wins…Atti dies.

BEN LINUS (2) WINNER 
THE GOVERNOR (15)

The Governor is a brutal master manipulator.  But where he has to juggle the wills of men and zombies, Ben Linus has even more on his plate.  Smoke monsters, polar bears, shapeshifting evil beings, time traveling islands,  and enough flashbacks to make a Vietnam vet blush.  On top of the fact that The Governor wasn’t coldhearted enough to let his zombie daughter go.  Linus let his human daughter get her head blown off for his own purposes.  Linus wins and The Governor lost.

RUSSELL EDGINGTON (3) WINNER
GUS FRING (14)

When you get down to brass tacks, Russell Edgington and Gus Fring are both businessmen.  Only one wants to rule the human race and drain the blood of every non-vampire like cattle, and one wants to sell chicken and meth; easy enough to understand.  While both these bloodsuckers are master manipulators, Fring forgot one thing;  Edgington is FU*KING IMMORTAL!  Maybe if that meth was laced with silver nitrate and oak he would have had a chance, but Russell takes his battle easily.

NINA MYERS (4) WINNER
SYLAR (13)

There isn’t a superpower out there that can compete with the evil of the 24’s biggest snake in the grass, Nina Myers.  The thing that makes her so deadly is that you never see her coming.  Jack Bauer didn’t and Sylar wouldn’t either.  Time runs out for the power sucker.

BOYD CROWDER (5) WINNER
ROBERT QUARLES (12)

A sadist versus a slick, smooth talking, hustler from the south.  Robert Quarles has many a trick and pistol up his sleeve.  However, not enough to out wit and out battle the man I like to call The Redneck Joker.  Boyd manages to get his enemies to do his work for him and disarm Robert Quarles quick and simple like.

TRINITY KILLER (6) WINNER
PRESIDENT CHARLES LOGAN (11)

If there is one thing you can count on its this;  never trust a politician, especially a sniveling liar-of-a-president like Chuck Logan.  I mean, this guy killed our first black TV president for crying out loud!  But how does one sniveler defeat another sniveler?  Giving the Secret Service and the CIA a day off, the Commander in Chief doesn’t have a chance against the Trinity Killer.  Using his patented “bludgeon a man to death with a hammer” routine, Trinity wins, and goes off to enjoy a scalding hot shower while crying.

ANGELUS (7) WINNER
SHANE VENDRELL (10)

One of the most dangerous things in this world is a desperate man.  And they don’t get more desperate than Shane Vendrell.  However, desperation is exactly the thing a vampire like Angelus would prey on.  Sad thing is, that family Shane is always trying to protect would be an hors d’oeurve for our favorite vain vamp.   Hand grenade won’t work this time Shane-O.

CERSEI LANNISTER (8) WINNER
STRINGER BELL (9)

Cersei Lannister knows how to manipulate; just as anyone from the Stark family, if you can find one.  Stringer Bell on the other hand, is a sucker.  While West Baltimore is no King’s Landing, Cersei reigns supreme in any domain.
December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays: End Of Watch

CHEMISTRY

One of the most constantly compelling occupations to base a film off of, other than a gangster, is that of a police officer.  More specifically, an officer of the LAPD.  It’s why the television show The Shield was amazing for 7 seasons straight.  It’s why Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington’s best work to date is arguably in the movie Training Day.  It’s why I watch the Sean Penn Robert Duvall film Colors whenever I catch it on TV.  It is all common and covered ground, but the dangerous and gritty war zone of South Central LA never allows the material to get stale in our eyes.  There is a terrific show on TNT which I should probably review soon called Southland that captures the drama of being a cop in that world.  End Of Watch is Southland on steroids.  A film that sets itself apart as not just a great LA cop drama, but one of the better cop dramas ever made.  And it works primarily because of the CHEMISTRY.

Found footage films have practically become a genre unto themselves.  Done correctly, you get the enjoyably original Chronicle.  Done incorrectly, you get a Cloverfield or one of the five billion Paranormal Activities.  End Of Watch uses the gimmick as a technique but doesn’t make it an overbearing centerpiece of the film.  It is not the thing that you will come away with as being fantastic after watching the film.  It is the relationship between the two leads that makes or breaks End Of Watch.  On paper, it is just a film about two friends working together and living their lives.  It sounds pretty easy to translate that concept to film.  However, if the CHEMISTRY between the two friends doesn’t feel convincing or affable, the film falls apart.  Writer/Director David Ayers lucked out casting two actors who seem to have a rich and real connection.

Say what you will about Jake Gyllenhaal, but he remains one of the most fearless actors in Hollywood.  His charm and ability to fit into any role and still exude true humanity is a rare talent.  It is still a wonder to me why he isn’t a more popular performer.  His character of Officer Taylor reminds me of every cop I’ve ever met.  This is also easily the best performance of Michael Pena’s career.  Some will more than likely point to his role in Crash.  However, he just a small cog in that film.  In End Of Watch, Pena carries a lot of the film and gives A+ effort throughout.  A nod should also be given to America Ferrera’s almost unrecognizable performance as Officer Orozco.  It had to be pointed out to me that it was her.  She definitely needs to do more films like this because I can see her pulling off grittier roles.

End Of Watch is a movie that I knew would be good, but still surprised me as to how good.  The story itself is somewhat predictable and even a little cliche.  However, because you like these guys so much, you forgive it and still want to follow what happens to them.  Put on your dress blues….gear up…roll out…enjoy your Christmas…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  

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