The first 70 minutes of this movie are excellent. The sound design is impeccable. Stephen Lang’s physical performance is incredibly menacing. The concept is used cleverly, especially during a beautifully shot basement sequence in which the tables are turned on our young robbers. The icing on the cake: a tracking shot early in the movie that lays out where everything is in the house and gives us a sense of the space that’s available. We know, for the most part, exactly what these characters are getting themselves into, and that makes what follows even more effective.
“Everybody wants to rule the world.”
As much as I love Rami Malek’s portrayal of Elliot Alderson, I think taking a breather from his character is a good thing this season. After all, the show really can’t skate by on his mental state exploration forever, and Esmail and co. taking steps to ensure that this is a well-rounded show is essential. It helps ground the series in some type of reality rather than solely in a fantasy world way up there in Elliot’s head. Getting a contrast of the two environments allows each to shape the other in unique ways, so it’s good that an episode like this is coming along at this point in the run.
EPISODE 20: “LOOK WHO’S STALKING”
I’m beginning to suspect that there might’ve been more to that night at Shelly Pomeroy’s than I thought. With the news that Veronica has chlamydia, I’m now wondering whether someone else raped her that night before Duncan came in; after all, this season is now beginning to tie in season one’s events–look no further than the very next episode–into the narrative.
EPISODE 17: “PLAN B”
Well, what an ending that is. We get some progress on other storylines–Woody’s turning into a suspect, Cassidy and Mac break up, and Wallace kisses Jackie–but the episode is mainly building up to that excellent, intense final sequence. Here, the show intertwines its characters and their pasts, and Logan ends up being the one who pushes the plunger that sends Shark Stadium crumbling to the ground; fittingly, this is all set in motion by Weevil, someone who loved Felix (this is emphasized earlier in a truly wonderful scene for Francis Capra). I’m assuming that this literal explosion is only the beginning, as we seem to be moving into the season’s endgame right now.
EPISODE 14: “VERSATILE TOPPINGS”
I don’t have much to say about this episode, but it does set up a nice conflict for Veronica: she has to balance her case-solving necessities with the kids’ desires not to have their identities figured out, and although I must say that it isn’t a very compelling story for me overall, it’s still intriguing enough to anchor the episode. Elsewhere, Kristen Cavallari guest stars as Kylie, and it’s pretty clear that she is a bad actress right off the bat; I guess she fits in nicely with Jay Cutler, her bad football player of a husband.
It would require constantly falling asleep throughout this film not to get what Taylor Sheridan is trying to say, and even then, a line or two might slip in about how the evil banks are suffocating the old way of life in town. As heavy-handed as the dialogue can be, though, this contemplation of generations past effectively lends an air of melancholy to the film. Along with the beautiful photography by Giles Nuttgens and the wonderful score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis–the masterminds behind the even more melancholic Assassination of Jesse James–the script’s themes do a nice job of drawing you into this desperation-filled world.