Jodie Foster and Kali Reis shine as a pair of detectives investigating an increasingly surreal crime.
In Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt mysteries, the title character is a brilliant, eccentric detective haunted by the unsolved disappearance of one of her closest friends. Her cases are vitally recognizable and beautifully surreal. When The Infinite Blacktop, the most recent entry in the series, was released in paperback, Gran held a giveaway, including a copy of the book and some fun feelies. On one of those, a pen, the following was printed: “Open your eyes and learn to see that truth lives in the ether.” In the course of thinking about Issa López (Tigers Are Not Afraid)’s excellent True Detective: Night Country, it’s a line that’s been on my mind.
It's the end of 2023. In Ennis, Alaska, the eccentric scientists of the Tsalal research station vanish just as the long polar night sets in. Ennis police chief Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and detective-turned-trooper Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) know that something is not right. Though bitterly estranged, the former partners share a drive to discover what happened at Tsalal and why. Their need to get to the truth only intensifies after the scientists are discovered in a ghastly, bizarre state—a collective corpsicle, all of them nude and visibly terrified. Continue Reading →
The Prime series remains its big, fun, very violent self.
Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson), the “has toothbrush, will travel” man, has returned to television and not a moment too soon. Reacher Season 2 is exactly the kind of low-commitment viewing one craves as the year ends and the holidays overtake everyone’s lives. While a large, jolly man busies himself filling many of our stockings, who better to enjoy than a large, angry man knocking bad guys out of their socks? Especially when, like this time, it’s personal!
Reacher and Neagly (Maria Sten, back from Season 1 and fully second on the callsheet this time, thankfully) first met when they were members of the 110, an investigative military police unit. As seen in flashback, the group is the last time Reacher had anything approaching a stable group of friends. In the present day, several team members have gone missing, suggesting that perhaps someone is targeting them. Reacher connects with Neagly and the two join up with the only other two 110 members they can find. O’Donnell (Shaun Sipos) is the unit clown and womanizer turned family man and inside the beltway fixer. Dixon (Serinda Swan) is a forensic accountant/warrior who shares an obvious but unconsummated crush with Reacher. Continue Reading →
The AppleTV+ spy series retains its humor but gives viewers its most tightly plotted effort yet.
Slow Horses Season 3 reiterates how the series differs from so many other TV shows. While critics frequently discuss film as a director’s medium, television tends to be more showrunner—and thus writer—driven. While Horses indeed derives many of its pleasures from the writers—the returning trio of Will Smith, Jonny Stockwood, and Mark Denton once again man the pens—each season’s unique tone owes to its single director.
James Hawes made the series’ debut season a workplace comedy where the occasional gun battle might break out. Season 2 darkened or ditched much of the comedy for a bleaker, higher action affair under the direction of Jeremy Lovering. In Slow Horses Season 3, Saul Metzstein doesn’t push the team back into the offices. If anything, Slough House appears even less than in Season 2. However, he does re-up some of the mismatched colleagues’ humor, particularly when it comes to the team’s most recent additions, gambling addict Marcus (Kadiff Kirwan) and drug addict Shirley (Aimee-Ffion Edwards). He also further deepens the emotional stakes with a light touch, adding depth to ever-growing complications. Continue Reading →
The crime drama returns to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and rediscovers its best storytelling self.
Throughout the six episodes of Fargo Season 5 screened for critics, the series isn’t exactly subtle. From opening the season with an on-screen graphic defining “Minnesota Nice” as neighbor attacks neighbor during a school board meeting to Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) staring up at a campaign billboard of himself, the show loudly states its theses at the viewer over and over.
However, it never feels like creator Noah Hawley has lost control of the storytelling. It’s methodically over-the-top. The audience is on a roller coaster, but they can feel the quality of the engineering keeping them on the tracks. In other hands, this approach can feel alienating or blunting. Fargo Season 5 benefits from meeting Hawley’s signature energy with a game cast and impressively insightful art direction. As a result, the series turns in its best offering since Season 2’s near-perfect effort. Continue Reading →
Early in For All Mankind Season 4, Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) and Dani Poole (Krys Marshall) reencounter each other for the first time in years on the Happy Valley Mars base. Smiling warmly, each says, “Hi, Bob,” to each other. For fans of the show, it has an immediate impact. The significance of the silly greeting reminds those audience members of the deep bond between these two astronauts. Newcomers likely won’t grasp the specifics of the importance, but Marshall and Kinnaman’s performances make it quite clear that it isn’t some random bit of silliness. Continue Reading →
Despite the lead character’s penchant for brutal honesty and empirical truths, Lessons in Chemistry is not a series viewers should turn to for a gritty look at early 60s gender relations, race relations, or workers’ rights. That’s not to say the word of the Lee Eisenberg-created series—adapted from a Bonnie Garmus novel of the same name—exists in a conflict-free world. It’s there’s a bittersweet gentleness that underpins and surrounds the proceedings, conflicts and all. Continue Reading →
How does anyone justify a revival? The original Justified gave viewers a conclusion in the first 30 minutes and an epilogue with the last 16. It gave Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) a fitting third act, living in Miami as a part-time dad to his daughter and finally enjoying freedom from the town he worked so hard to escape. So how does a creative team go from “we dug coal together?” to that nearly happy ending to a brand-new Givens tale? The simple answer is to head north. Continue Reading →
The 2019 adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel Good Omens was a charming show that succeeded in translating the book’s strengths and weaknesses to the small screen. It was clever like the book, with an ingenious plot (what if there had been a mix-up at the hospital and the Antichrist went home with the wrong family) that parodied The Omen while conjuring an apocalyptic tale all its about an angel and demon whose millennials-long rivalry grew from mutual antagonism, to grudging respect, and finally admiration and even a kind of love. But it also carried over the book’s weaker elements, its wonky pacing, plurality of uninteresting characters, and the fact that the first two thirds of the story is essentially table setting for the final third. Continue Reading →
In 1995, way back last century, I went shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. Accompanied by my mother, it soon became apparent to us both that I, both a big and tall girl, wouldn’t be able to buy a dress in the Juniors section. My options eventually whittled down to one adult black velvet dress that, while the saleswoman assured us was totally chic for weddings, nevertheless showcased to the world that I could not fit into a fun or stylish dress for someone my age and that’s rough. It’s very rough. Continue Reading →
As an act of nostalgia, City on Fire has plenty to offer anyone who lived or spent lots of time in New York City in the summer of 2003. The new series, created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, evokes the era matter-of-factly. Besides nailing the look of early 21st Century Manhattan, it captures the sense of a city in transition. The groundwork for the gentrification that swept across Manhattan and Brooklyn had just been activated. Mayor Bloomberg was taking what Giuliani had begun and pushing it farther and faster than “America’s Mayor” ever managed. And while the series eventually stomps the theme into the ground, the tendency to wonder if every adverse event was evidence of terrorism was very alive. Continue Reading →
If you belonged to a certain group of very online Millennials around 2011, then the chances that a Dear Sugar letter changed your life or permanently lodged itself in your brain are high. I know it’s certainly true for me. That means I’m carrying a certain degree of baggage to Hulu’s newest series, Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book of the same name--a collection of Dear Sugar’s best advice columns)--and Sugar herself, Cheryl Strayed, who stepped forward as the columnist in 2012. Continue Reading →
“Emotionally manipulative” is a criticism of television and film I’ve always struggled with evaluating. If it is doing its job, any show or movie should emotionally manipulate you, at least a bit. It’s why you can go into a dark cineplex feeling a bit in the grip of the blahs and emerge high on the story of Nic Cage and his best swine friend. So know, when I declare Dear Edward “emotionally manipulative as hell,” that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Continue Reading →
The news that Apple TV+ would shell out top dollar for a limited series based on Min Jin Lee’s family epic, the 2017 novel Pachinko, was generally well-received by fans of the book. With book to small screen adaptations like Station Eleven and My Brilliant Friend growing both increasingly common, and popular, it seemed like a natural fit for the sprawling story of a Korean family displaced by the Japanese occupation of their homeland during the 20th century. Continue Reading →
It is difficult to imagine the people who, after Dexter’s largely despised series finale, felt that more Dexter would solve the problem. When you recall the last season of Dexter was also largely despised, it becomes even more challenging. Add in that, for many, the writing on the wall started even earlier, and it becomes damn near impossible. And yet, here is Dexter: New Blood. Continue Reading →
The ultimate representation both of making it, and of giving up, the soul-crushing blandness and hidden darkness of suburbia is a well drawn from many, many times. HOAs and smiling politely through block parties and feigning interest in rose bushes, moving to the suburbs is frequently painted as the end of adventure and creativity. What happens when the couple that moves to their shiny new house to start shiny new lives aren’t just leaving the city but also a trail of bodies behind? Can a relationship work when you’re not just newlyweds and new parents but are also trying your darndest not to murder any more people or each other? Continue Reading →