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Director’s Cut: Helming ‘True Detective’

When it comes to True Detective season 2, any news is fascinating news. Ever since Season 1 wrapped, the rumors surrounding HBO’s literary-minded goth detective series have been almost as mysterious as the show itself. Who will star in the next season? Where will it take place? And, most recently, who will direct it?

Earlier this week, director William Friedkin told Indiewire that he was considering joining the True Detective team, saying “I like this writer [creator Nic Pizzolatto] very much. I’ve met him, and he’s the real deal.” Though nothing is set in stone just yet, the prospect of this collaboration is a good one. Not only does Friedkin have a flair for psychologically compelling horror – he directed the original The Exorcist as well as that underseen study in paranoia, Bug, (all Michael Shannon fans should see it post-haste) – but he’s made some of the more distinctive cop movies in the history of American film: The French Connection and Cruising (which admittedly is a fail in the identity politics department). Indeed, his films – even 2011’s Killer Joe, which is mostly heralded for launching a McConaussance – build to a thrill by cultivating an appealingly broody familiarity he withdraws the minute we feel comfortable. Bottom line: There’s no director better suited to realize the rarified, yellow kingdoms of “True Detective.”

But assuming the seventy-eight-year-old won’t sign on to film every episode, it’s still worth considering who else might helm Pizzolatto’s moody masterpiece. Continue Reading →

2014’s Best Films (May Already Have Come)

The following was originally published in Word and Film.

Let’s be honest: In the dog days of summer, most of us crave popcorn movies that won’t tax our wilted brains. Gross-out comedies and smash-’em-up action pictures are the order of the day, and really, there’s no shame in that. Some of them, like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, are pretty great. (Not so much Tammy or Transformers: Age of Extinction.) Some of them, like Snowpiercer, are even pretty smart.

But for those craving complicated, grown-up cinematic fare – the sort we can mull over for an afternoon while the rest of the world melts away – 2014 has already produced its fair share of memorable films. And it’s worth catching up on them before the autumn’s rush of “Oscar-consideration” movies begins. Distributors tend to release their most artistically adventurous films (that is, the ones likely to alienate the conservative Academy) earlier in the year.

Here are the five best movies of 2014 so far. Continue Reading →

My Day With the (Fault in Our) Stars

The following is a report I originally published in Word and Film.

Ordinarily I avoid any occasion at which people are likely to shriek but I caught myself requesting – nay, begging – to attend a recent The Fault in Our Stars event. This, despite the fact that it promised to be a veritable shriekfest. Like so many others, I am absolutely in love with the book from which it’s adapted.

The good news: The movie does justice to the book. Without disclosing any spoilers, it’s safe to say Shailene Woodley is an ideal Hazel and Ansel Elgort an ideal Gus. Also on point: Nat Wolff as Isaac, Gus’s best friend, and Laura Dern and Sam Trammell as Hazel’s parents. Along with director Josh Boone and author Green, they were all in attendance for a post-screening Q&A as well as a press conference the next day. Here are six things to know about this event. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy