Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): February 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 7 - "The Final Country"


This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes.

The third season of True Detective started strong, with a bold conceptual frame, a hypnotic style, and a comfortably familiar milieu and mystery plot - reassuring us that the series was returning to the strengths of season one and not venturing into over-ambitious season three territory. From there we might have expected a solid eight episodes, putting us on firm ground again with a series and creator we'd grown worried about. And indeed, this story has avoided some of the more grandiose tendencies of the last one, and even ducked some of the first season's flamboyance even as it offers winks and nudges toward a grand unifying theory: an idea which becomes explicit - and appears to be abruptly dismissed - in episode 7 (I've not yet read this article, but am already nodding along with the headline). Eliza displays Rust's and Marty's pictures on her laptop and eagerly puts forward the idea that the Purcell children were kidnapped by a massive pedophile ring related directly to the Tuttle/Yellow King operation busted up by our original protagonists; Wayne of course is having none of it (he even seems a little disappointed/disgusted with how off-track the interviewer is) but less because it's too big and more because it doesn't seem rooted enough in the reality he knows. Surprisingly, the third season is both much more grounded than any previous iteration of the series, and potentially more accomplished as well. There's a strong argument to be made that this is developing into the best-written season of the show - it's certainly the most mature.

Friday, February 15, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 6 - "Hunters in the Dark"


This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes.

"You walked away," the aged Roland reminds (or informs?) his long-estranged buddy near the end of the previous episode. Was he being literal? In "Hunters in the Dark," we see Wayne and Roland bicker on a 1990 ride home and the angry Wayne grabs the wheel, storms out of the car, and marches down the road in a cloud of dust as his partner drives away. The incident seems like an explosive but nonetheless temporary rupture in their professional relationship (triggered by Roland's insistence that they stop working for the day, although obviously facilitated by other factors), but what if the two would not speak again for twenty-five years? Considering what happens at the end of episode 6, it's not hard to imagine that the investigation comes to an abrupt end and while we don't see the detectives kill anyone (as some cryptic dialogue suggested they might have) maybe what they were really referring to was their treatment of Tom, driving him over the edge. Then again, there's the question of state cop-turned-Hoyt security man Harris James (Scott Shepherd). Why did he disappear in 1990 if not because a suspicious Wayne and Roland cracked down in private? We'll probably find out soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 5 - "If You Have Ghosts"


This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes.

As with previous episode fives, "If You Have Ghosts" places us in an "after" position on the central case. We now know what happened to the original investigation - crime scene evidence (planted, as it's later revealed) linked Brett Woodard to the missing kids and so, conveniently, he was posthumously convicted of their murder. The drama of the middle period is in full swing too, having established the basic scenario against which the partners will be torn apart and a family may be separated. In the almost-present, we're shifting from a reflective look back toward a full-on investigation; Wayne reunites with his partner and makes a crucial realization, that Lucy herself wrote the ransom note (he connects the dots after finally reading his wife's book). So far, so familiar as True Detective story structures go. There are some neat quirks to the storytelling: this season's 1990 scenes combine aspects of both the middle and late periods from season one, and, closer to season two, the older character re-unite to pursue a non-professional investigation at the end of this episode, rather than waiting for the sixth. And of course, we now have a significantly expanded time span to work with (three and a half decades vs. half that time in the original season). Despite these and other small variations, Nic Pizzolatto prefers a certain loose formula and it works quite well here, lending the episode a good deal of its dramatic satisfaction. However, the episode's more profound impact stems from something new.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Last Weekly Patreon Update: John Thorne conversation, Pt. 1 / Before Midnight & Boyhood (+ Kevin B. Lee/video essay history, La Vieja Memoria, La Haine, Lost in Translation, Celine and Julie Go Boating, Dogville, Persona, Death by Hanging, All the President's Men, Emak-Bakia, Faust, Cria Cuervos, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Cold War, BlacKkKlansman, La Religieuse, Mary Sweeney's short film, AOC hits Congress, podcast recommendations & much, much more)


The first part of a three part, two-and-half interview with legendary Twin Peaks scholar John Thorne, creator of Wrapped in Plastic and The Blue Rose magazines, highlights this epic five-hour episode (if you plan to listen to the whole thing, and probably even if you don't, you will want to break it into several listening sessions). I've made twenty minutes of this segment public on YouTube - if you like what you hear, and want to hear more, you can access the rest of the interview as a patron over the next several months.


Episode 51 also includes my first double feature film in focus since last winter, and that's only the surface of its bounty which also includes my reading of a dozen archive reviews, brief thoughts another dozen or so films or TV shows I watched in the past month, updates on many different projects I've been working on, reflections on a very tumultuous month in politics, pieces of listener feedback across several different platforms, and a dive into the work of Kevin B. Lee and the history of video essays. The links section is equally epic, including probably a hundred different resources based on what I discuss in the episode.


Episode 51A: Film Viewing Diary & Political Topics
(The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Cold War, BlacKkKlansman, La Religieuse, Bohemian Rhapsody, Aquaman, The American Meme, Mary Sweeney's short film, second seasons of Mad Men & Veronica Mars, Inside Out, Thirteen, Derry Girls, Hill Street Blues, Christmas film songs, best year in film history, AOC hits Congress, fair use history of a dance meme + intro, updates, podcast recommendations & more)

(+ Kevin B. Lee/video essay history & Opening the Archive favorite films #100-90: La Vieja Memoria, La Haine, Lost in Translation, Celine and Julie Go Boating, Dogville, Persona, Death by Hanging, All the President's Men, Emak-Bakia, Faust, Cria Cuervos)

(+ listener feedback: the Owl Cave ring, spirituality vs. psychology, Ray Wise, LeftTube recommendations & more)