Categories
Watching

Absorbing “Treme”

It’s way too late on a school night for me to real­ly dig into every­thing I thought about while watch­ing David Simon’s lat­est opus, “Treme,” on HBO. What I have been col­lect­ing, how­ev­er, are oth­er peo­ples’ feel­ings about the show and I am pos­i­tive­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by the response.

I’ll start with the obvi­ous. Lots of peo­ple hat­ed the show! For all sorts of rea­sons! Some of them deserved, some not so much! I’m sym­pa­thet­ic; I enjoyed ‘The Wire’ plen­ty, but only after my wife con­vinced me of its bril­liance and even then I har­bored some angst about the cult of David Simon. He’s arro­gant! Read this great post-mortem with the essen­tial Alan Sepin­wall and you’ll see what I mean.

There are more glib, enter­tain­ing respons­es to the show. I loved the Awl’s shout­ing match. It embod­ies my inter­nal dia­logue — yes, dia­logue — on the show almost too per­fect­ly to admit.

I adored David Raposa’s plea to recon­sid­er trou­bled aca­d­e­m­ic Creighton Bur­nette, even if I nev­er espe­cial­ly cared for his char­ac­ter, par­tic­u­lar­ly because, as a recov­er­ing aca­d­e­m­ic who labored in the lan­guage arts, I can under­stand his pas­sion for oth­ers to share his view, to see the city as he does, to expe­ri­ence it in the rich body of work that has been pro­duced in and about New Orleans.

The only con­clu­sion I can safe­ly draw from all of this is that I need to watch the entire series again, as soon as pos­si­ble, prob­a­bly between episodes of “Mad Men” and “Dead­liest Catch” or what­ev­er you watch in the sum­mer months that isn’t Step Broth­ers on on demand.

(It goes with­out say­ing that I’m one of those peo­ple who LUUURRVEES THE MUSICCCCCC. I lis­ten to it often via the Songs from Treme Tum­blr, which I run through trnt­bl here.)

Categories
Watching

Crazy Heart

What an affect­ing film. Worth watch­ing twice, trust me. It has an inter­est­ing back­sto­ry, too. Orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed for a direct-to-video release, before Fox Search­light gave it a shot at the­atri­cal release. Hard to believe a movie with Jeff Bridges, Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal, Col­in Far­rell, and Robert Duvall would go direct-to-video. It’s the stuff the movie busi­ness eats up! It’s a music biopic! Remem­ber Walk the Line and Ray?

Bet­ter than either of those movies, Crazy Heart does­n’t bite off more than it can chew. We don’t get Bad Blake’s life sto­ry; rather, we see him in his twi­light years, fall down drunk and at the end of his rope. His songs are proof that he once had a career worth talk­ing about. He’s Hag­gard and Jen­nings and Kristof­fer­son and it’s amaz­ing to watch unrav­el. Shame that Bridges won the Oscar for a com­pos­ite char­ac­ter, but he chan­nels the Out­law ethos so per­fect­ly.

The music’s not half bad either, and I have his­tor­i­cal­ly hat­ed any­thing T‑Bone Bur­nett touch­es.

Categories
Watching

The Hurt Locker

Won­dered if it was pos­si­ble for any­one to actu­al­ly make a film that cap­tures the soul-crush­ing hope­less­ness of war with­out deliv­er­ing a ham­fist­ed mes­sage that turns peo­ple off. The Hurt Lock­er did that for me. Grant­ed, it has­n’t changed the fact that we’re still heav­i­ly engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan, despite elect­ing a Pres­i­dent who promised to change all that.

Work hard­er, Oba­ma.

Categories
Watching

An Education

Watched An Edu­ca­tion recent­ly. Won­dered what Band of Out­siders would’ve been like with a hap­py end­ing.

Categories
Watching

Up in the Air

My friend Eric tweet­ed late last night,” ‘Up in the Air’: polite­ly mis­guid­ed lib­er­al fan­ta­sy, or egre­gious­ly clue­less and down­right offen­sive in parts Piece Of Shit?”

It made me think of the clip above. I watched Up in the Air ear­li­er this week and won­dered what the fuss was about. It tries to do a lot, but I’m not sure it accom­plish­es very much. It’s boil­er­plate romance-gone-wrong fare, freight­ed with a mes­sage about how our pri­or­i­ties are wrong and some­how the hor­ri­ble econ­o­my will help us fig­ure out what’s impor­tant. Sor­ry, Mr. Reit­man, but the notion of mak­ing lemon­ade does­n’t work when you can’t afford the lemons in the first place.

For peo­ple who’ve nev­er been laid off, it seems like the stuff dreams are made of. You’re freed from a job you prob­a­bly hat­ed any­way; you get some sev­er­ance, or at least unem­ploy­ment; and you can reeval­u­ate things and move on. Which is the log­ic that informs this amaz­ing­ly hilar­i­ous Onion arti­cle I read way back in Octo­ber 2003, when I was about six months into what would be a 2+ year under­em­ploy­ment bid.

I felt that the tes­ti­mo­ni­als that came at the end of the movie from folks who’d lost their jobs in the recent down­turn echoed the hope the Oba­ma cam­paign gave them. Their opti­mism and their reliance on fam­i­ly to sup­port them in their time of need were both very poignant, but Reit­man con­ve­nient­ly leaves out all the sto­ries from the past few years about folks who’ve lost their jobs and have then gone on to vio­lent attacks on their work­places and com­mu­ni­ties.

Is Reit­man the new W.D. How­ells, that is, some­one who puts a smi­ley face on real­ism? There’s but one “dead end” in the movie, the woman who fol­lows through on her threat to com­mit sui­cide. Every­one else just goes on their mer­ry way, for bet­ter or worse. Whether it’s find­ing a new job, or hav­ing an affair, or just run­ning away from it all thanks to a near­ly infi­nite sup­ply of fre­quent fli­er miles, every­one can find an escape from the hum­drum, if not out­right hap­pi­ness.

I think it’s that that peo­ple dis­like about Reit­man’s movies. The sim­ple-mind­ed­ness. The breezy dia­logue. The beau­ti­ful peo­ple. The whole ‘resilien­cy of the human spir­it’ trope, which some­times just seems a lit­tle more real­is­tic than the way it’s pre­sent­ed here. Reit­man’s youth­ful, priv­i­leged world­view makes it dif­fi­cult to see things dif­fer­ent­ly than he does, that is, through a lens of infi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ty. The prob­lem is that Reit­man’s skies, like those in Up in the Air, are sun­ny and cloud­less.