Monday, November 24, 2014

Mailer and the middle finger

Another Mailer obsessive posted in an online forum dedicated to the late writer's life and work that he was of the opinion that Advertisements for Myself was the most audacious work produced in 20th century literature. I scratched my  head, figuratively, and wondered if he meant in all languages, or in literature written exclusively in English? And if the criteria was English only, what titles did Mailer beat out to be the most audacious?

 More than Naked Lunch? Gravity's Rainbow? Ulysses? The Recognitions? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Howl? Preface to a 20 Volume Suicide Note? Wise Blood? Myra Breckenridge? White Noise? The Balcony? Post Office? 

Advertisements for Myself was audacious and brilliant indeed, but claiming it as most audacious for an entire century is more audacious than factually accurate. Mailer has done better and more daring work since that book, more audacious, if you will--An American Dream, Why are We in Vietnam, Ancient Evenings. And I think any number of writers from the 20th century can have an equal claim to literary daring do. 

This is not to take Mailer down but to simply assert that he is rare company, writers with incredibly idiosyncratic lives who managed , against the odds of getting in their own way with fancy and folly, to write literature that is genius of the rarest form. Mailer had competition in that regard, making himself the center of his writing. Bukowski certainly isn't shy showing warts and all, Henry Miller was especially arrogant enough to write about himself past the point of genius to wretchedly excessive confession, and the likes of Lawrence and Genet were prone to make most of their male characters fanciful versions of their public biographies. What matters , 
is the degree of genius the writing reveals; I would agree that Mailer's track record is rather high on the scale.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The stars are lackluster

Interstellar was good in terms of being a technical marvel and an example of what well-composed camera shots can get you, but the film wasn't so stellar as a thought provoking masterpiece that director and co-writer Christopher Nolan likes to attempt making. It has what one could term the "Apocalypse Now" syndrome, where an ambitious director of acknowledged skill and accomplishment attempts to grasp and discuss , in visual narrative form, a series of intellectually daunting notions that, for all the spectacular visuals and endless minutes of characters pondering metaphysics, resist an convincing transition to film.
As much as I have enjoyed "A.N." (I have watched a dozen times easily since its original theater release) , Francis Coppola didn't evoke "the horror" nearly as cogently as Joseph Conrad did in the movie's source material, the short story "Heart of Darkness"; as brilliant as many sections of the movie was , the Viet Nam saga relied on spectacle over interior rumination. Prose fiction has definite advantages over film with respect to seducing the reader into the private cosmology of heroes and villains. But beyond the keen distinctions between what prose and film are able of conveying, it's clear that Nolan is a terrible plotter; he cannot write a third act that provides a satisfying ah-ha!To coin a phrase, the harder he tries for significance beyond the thrills and visceral confirmation of what passes as truth, justice and irony in our popular culture, the more trying his films become to endure. Coppola, to his great credit, had a genius for creating outstandingly comic and absurd scenes even if the all-together philosophy that was to give Apocalypse Now gravitas wasn't achieved, not nearly. It is a watchable, memorable film. Nolan is serious like surgery, humorless, dour, vaguely depressed, mumbling in half-heard abstractions. Not fun."Interstellar" , in turn, concerning a mission to the far reaches of known space to ostensibly find a habitable planet for the population of a dying earth to migrate to, sub themes like love, honor, loyalty and the like are handily mixed in with hazier , not easily rendered subjects, physics and metaphysics alike, which means , of course, that there far too many instances where the otherwise attractive likes of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are sitting in their technological huts literally talking about the meaning of life. It is a ponderous exposition that makes the pace of Interstellar sluggish . Nolan, is at an instance where he has no other method to make his movies move forward. Nolan has a problem writing coherent third acts, most notably in his third Batman film and inInception". Nolan's fondness for large vistas and other sorts of visual exposition, both in "Inception" and "Interstellar". The tendency is chronic in the new film, with grand and sweeping shots of corn fields at the film's beginning and later, on one of the planets being investigated for possible human habitation , large, high contrast panoramas of frozen ice and mountain ranges.

The problem , as usual with Nolan, isn't execution, but duration. The cameras dwell too long on the shots, lingering sleepily. There is in 'Interstellar", as well, an overbearing music score, soundtrack, composed by Hans Zimmer; often times Matthew M's trademarked gritty whisper turns into hushed garble. Entire swaths of dialogue are lost in the conflicted soundtrack. It swells up at moments when there is an explanatory bit of conversation going on. Even the least interested person in the matter of how effective music background can be in creating dramatic tension has the innate awareness of when it works and when it does not; how anyone can leave this production and not feel manipulated , coaxed and otherwise coerced by the noise level to a level of nervous anticipation is, I believe, impossible. Direction, motivation and coherence diminish even more and one is puzzled why the music is bearing down on you when nothing interesting is happening. It is a mess, a hurried, hasty, careless mess. Nolan does not engage the senses, he bullies them.

The final sequence of the film is quite fantastic , a fanciful illustration of another kind of existence, and this is a sequence I would watch the movie again for, but there is the nagging feeling that the plot twist at the movie's mid point was less a what-the-hell?!-moment than it was a set up for the sort of deliberate virtuosity that was lurking around the corner. There is always a sense in Nolan's recent work that he was bored with the process of perfecting his script and rushed into production without really a clear vision of what he was trying to convey. It should be noted as well that Nolan mistakes length and vaguely outlined ideas as narrative poetry, as a sign of greater depth. I think it is actually a sign of weight, not gravitas, and that weight sinks the enterprise altogether.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

In a nutshell, my least favorite and most favored Mailer Novels.



I regard "Barbary Shore" as the only total failure among the many brave books Mailer wrote. In "Advertisements for Myself" he discusses in detail his thinking about wanting to write something completely different from what made him famous--would he write "The Naked and the Dead" Go to Paris--and one can't fault him for wanting a reputation as more than a "war novelist". There are spots where the writing shines, but at the end of the day and the last page. the novel is turgid and reads like a better than average submission to a collegiate short story course. Mailer hadn't yet found a style that suited him and which would avail him a genuinely flexible style that would serve him effectively for several decades. The politics and metaphysics haven't aged well, the sex appeal is awful, the book is a plod. I've read where Mailer has defended the book , as well he should, but I'm fairly sure he acknowledged its shortcomings and  would admit, privately, to a confident, that it was a lesson in how to start and finish a new novel after the rush of creating the first inspired saga has ebbed and what remains to do be done is actual work.  

Barbary Shore has defenders, but it hasn't the flow or rhythmic mastery of the Mailer writing that came with the linking narrative of Advertisements for Myself. Shore reads like an over controlled style, good writing on the face of it but reeking of the exhaustion one witnesses when they read a young writer trying and to not sound like the writers that influenced him. Additionally, I think he was too taken with the convenient metaphor of the boarding house being an existential hell that harbors various creatures who's nerve has failed them; what is obvious is that no one leaves the property for good until one of them makes a decision to do something, follows through on their choice, and then takes full and unapologetic responsibility for the results and / or consequences. Barbary Shore was a practice novel of ideas--he would later write some of the most brilliant fiction of his generation in short order.

In the other extreme , my favorite Mailer  novel is An American Dream, and has been since I read it in high school  in  1970. As was said before, this book is a fever dream, and it supports my notion that Mailer at this period was keyed in to the poetry and poetics of rage like no one else was. Rage, anger, possession by absolute venting makes the world a coherent and connected place, and Mailer's Roszak, an alternately roiling and quaking mass of revenge and maudlin tenderness, is off on a series of hallucinations in which forces behind the appearance of things command him to endure a series of challenges and tests. It is something of a Faustian pact, with the Devil being in the circumstances where Roszak decides to delve deeper into a willful evil in order to rid himself of what he imagines is a disease. Mailer had written so much about violence up to now that the fantasy that is An American Dream is Mailer's headlong test drive of this theories in narrative form, to see , in the act of violence, what new things might arise from the wreckage, what new experiences might result. By the end of the novel, at the phone booth at the edge of the Nevada desert, the hero is a mess, a new kind of man, somewhat flat in emotional affect, a harried soul who has effectively cauterized his anxieties and doubts by severing himself, violently, from his connections to a previous life. The book is simply astounding.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

GROOMED AND DOOMED (a poem)

GROOMED AND DOOMED
He  shaves therefore he is
the smoothest
visage for a
culture of spectacle that
dives behind the signs in the
road and snap cameras at him
that sound like silverware
being moved around a place
setting for the hungry world
that cannot consume his likeness
fast enough.

She wears clothes
 three sizes
too small,
eats only a third of what's
any plate she holds,
hangs a mirror on both
sides of every door
she is going through,
all this resulting
in an outline against
her living room curtains
that gets harder to see
as it shrinks
like hot plastic,

The two of them miss each other
in the morning
when it's the time
to take the day again,
he waxes his arms
to get rid of hairs
that look like
shadows that add
the look of pounds
the yield of years,
he'll lift weights
and walk for miles
on a rotating track
while yelling orders
into a cell phone
to buy, sell,
we'll get those sons of bitches,
and with all this,
the headache will not abate,
the throb
pulses and he feels something
popping in his head, a vein about to burst,
his brain on fire
with drugs
commanding the nervous systems
to drive itself insane,
he walks faster, he yells
louder, the stock market data
streams by him in a blur,
he dreams for a moment he's
in a parade
and has no idea why anyone
is cheering, gee, he thinks,
where did these pearly gates come
from,
and then
all he sees is the floor
coming up after him,
hitting him in the face,
he thinks,
my hair, oh god,
my hair...

She empties the Kleenex dispenser
to fill out a bra, rids herself
of eyelashes and then
plies the soft pencil
from the far sides of her brow
to the ridge of her nose
that shoots up and out,
petite and almost vanishing
as she stares at herself
again in the mirror, before
turning off the light,
a preview of what the world
sees in passing from
rushing bus windows,
from office buildings,
from restaurants
as she'll be carried along
with the hustle and tugging
insanity of crowds,
carried off into
perspectives until
she blurs in the background,
becomes the background,
vanishes already together
as she erases herself
in a dash for lean, flawless beauty.

They drink
the undrinkable,
kiss
lips that are
flush with
market research and
laboratory results.

Then they
make their way
back to the
layouts
that made them
such strange creatures
with body types

that shouldn't happen
to Frankenstein’s monster.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Here comes Brand-ee Boo Boo

I watched alleged Comedian and activist Russell Brand on the Lawrence O'Donnell program on MSNBC a week ago and witnessed the unimaginable. The usually shoulder-first O'Donnell looked  overwhelm by the accented stream of Brand's improvised blend of social critique and self-regarding arrogance. O'Donnell that the interview was more fun than he had counted on. It's my suspicion was saying nice things so that Brand,a man with an allergy to combs and shampoos from appearances, wouldn't raise his voice any higher. Stage lights might have shattered his guest gotten any more shrill.Russell grinned, that grin turning into a sneer, and then he slouched in the chair in a ridiculous posture that I am sure he thought made him menacing like the best idealized renderings of Batman, waiting in the shadows to strike at evil doers again, unseen and unheard.

 Yeah ,he's a bright fellow, but Russell Brand is a blithering, blurting idiot who seems constitutionally incapable of having a conversation . His lefty-anarchist talking points are well and good as far it goes, but they are old ideas, old rhetoric , old insights. He reminds of the kind of the sort who reads Ayn Rand at 17 and is convinced that they are a genius being oppressed by collectivists and free loaders ; the sad part is that they never grow out of it. Brand, in his variation of bad manners, is similar because he discovered Marx, Chomsky and  all manner of post-Soviet leftism and used the abstractions to inflate a personality that has the charm of a box of rusty zippers. It's not that I'm not sympathetic to much of what Brand is talking about. I and everyone else, though, have a choice as to who we listen to about issues and solutions for intractable problems. 

For the good of the causes he says he supports, Brand is their worst enemy, a self-regarding brat with a vocabulary who cannot or will not get over himself long enough to test the merits of his notions in honest exchanges. He is manic, perhaps he should be under professional care. The tragedy is that sooner or later his audience will find a new shiny object to distract themselves with and Russell Brand will be consigned to the Hollywood Squares ghetto of used up celebrities. But even that doesn't exist as an option any more. As more people die of disease, gun shot wounds , unnatural disasters and the like, this braying donkey will sicken the audience that deigned to lend him an ear and both eyes. Waiting for this guy to do something really fucked up; an accident will happen here. Watch this space.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gary Moore,Jack Bruce,Gary Husband LONDON 1998. Chelsea



Jack Bruce passed away today at age 71 , too soon for a man of his prodigious musical gifts. He was  a superb vocalist who's stratospheric, soulful singing defined a blues rock tradition that is still emulated today by latter day blues rockers, he was a championship quality  songwriter who had no difficulty  bridging different musical elements together into a seamless, reinvigorated pulse of musical energy, and he was, above all things, the single most important rock and roll bass player , period. This is bound to start arguments all over the various music communities, but I think that what he did with Cream, a furiously improvising power trio with fellow musicians Eric Clapton on guitar and the ever active, insertive, digressive, polyrhythmic Ginger Baker on drums, was to push  what time keeping in a rock format could do. In this live footage featured below, Bruce revisits the songs he performed in Cream with the late guitar master Gary Moore and the fine and alert percussionist Gary Husband. Buce is alive, agile, intuiting Moore's quicksilver asides, fleet riffs and screaming high notes;  he sets the pace, he takes the lead, he wrote the songs, he was, in Cream and in other sessions with Tony Williams and John McLaughlin and in a series of wonderfully musical solo albums , a splendid, brilliant musician. It's not that Jack Bruce will be missed: he already is, desperately missed. Please enjoy the video and marvel at the genius that emerges from this fiery riff session

Bye Bye Boo Boo, but leave the rope here

 "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" , the egregious reality show on TLC concerning the grating hi-jinx of a so-called redneck child beauty pageant and her bucolic clan, has been canceled by the cable network.  The usual reasons prevail, declining viewership and star controversy. The controversy concerns reports that Honey's mom has been dating an alleged child molester. True or not, that will not do  for corporate image. Read about the rhubarb here. 
 
It's been said that the unexamined life isn't worth living, but we must ask in response if the selectively edited and vaguely scripted actions of the low-branch egomaniacs are worth watching. The fact that millions watch Honey Boo Boo or Duck Dynasty in their prime does not answer the question. The audience, I think, is complicit in whatever undoing occurs to the real life participants who , because of the presence of cameras and the knowledge that their shenanigans would be viewed on national television and beyond, ceased to be authentic (or "real") in any sense and instead began to act out for the lens. 

True , the stars of these shows made their choices and were paid what likely seemed like a good sum of money, but I doubt anyone warned them about the cost they'd pay once the audience turned to another channel and the camera crew went home. It's as tragic as Greek drama or Shakespeare at his most unsparing. It also also bitterly comic. Nathaniel West couldn't have conceived a more lacerating variation on how sudden fame makes fools of most of us.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Gone Girl": another masterwork from director David Fincher

New film releases that receive huge hype and a landslide of enthusiastically favorable reviews sound an alarm for me. With the majority of films being mere blockbuster tent pole spectacles and sequels there of intended only to fulfill audience expectation for loud and tech-y distraction, there has been a habit among movie taste makers  to over praise any film that strays from the formulaic norm and  attempts adult subject matter instead. Too often I walk from the theater with a  vaguely disappointment, thinking many greatly praised releases are over rated by cineastes eager to dust off their superlatives and create and create a cinematic event. It is a variation of the media cluster-bang ups where it seems as though there have only been two or three news items worth mentioning in the last month or so.

That said, I report happily that "Gone Girl", for all the intimidating hype, is a terrific piece of work, deftly, skillfully, subtly directed by the increasingly estimable David Fincher ("Fight Club", "Zodiac", "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"). Without going into plot detail and risk spoiling the film for others, lets say here that this is an intricate thriller, a murder mystery or sorts, a black comedy, a tale that evolves from a sort of "Peyton Place" situation of inane passion and betrayals but begins to morph into a taut, edgy thriller and into a dark, bleak comedy. As I said, this is a tale with lots of detail and surprises, but Fincher has a master's control of the material--use of flashbacks and shifting from points of view add texture and bring you in further into this seductive drama-comedy. We do not lose our place anywhere in the telling.
Fincher, like Alfred Hitchcock before him, has a sense of how to introduce complexity in a film at precisely the moment when you think you've accurately assessed where the plot is going. Especially pleasing is the lack of any rickety deus ex machina, the blatantly mechanical plot device in the form of a stock character or clich├ęd situation that appears only to initiate a generic and predictable twist in a genre thriller. "Gone Girl’s changes, cogently devised and deftly deployed, arise organically from the terrain of lying, cheating and infidelity that's already been laid out.


The casting , as well, highlights a superb ensemble of players. Ben Affleck  fitting vindication for all the fan nastiness that's come his way over the last few years. He is an actor who has a director’s honest estimation of his own talent as an actor; although not the most charismatic or fluidly demonstrative leading man we have in our time, Affleck, as with Clint Eastwood, knows his expressive limits and performs marvelously when he stays within them. We also get a supremely nuanced performance from Rosamund Pike; she has the wherewithal to project the image of an icy prom queen/honors student and the have her character credible into an intellectually inclined problem child who's personality complications arise like boiling water once you get close and have an extended look under the veneer. A big plus here is the presence of Carrie Coon, from HBOs 'The Leftovers", who I think as a fantastic, brilliant actress who will be a talent we'll see much amazing work from. Playing Affleck's twin sister in this movie, she is wonderful with characterization of the odd mixture of sibling love and red hot aggravation. Coon does not go for big gestures but rather captures the right expression, raises or lowers her voice to the right dynamic level, reveals body language that is a marvel to watch for its nuance and sense of containment. Coon is essentially evocative in her movements, having, it seems, a cat like control over emotion and reflex; she can see the build of emotion , whether anxiety, lust or rage, and she has the instinct and skill to make the explosions of personality seem perfectly normal. Jarring, yes, but not arbitrary, not compulsive. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

the rebirth of Twin Peaks

 Showtime has announced that it's reviving the trail blazing program Twin Peaks, David Lynch's monumental deconstruction and redefinition of what can be done with a serialized television drama. Interesting news, yes, but I have my doubts.Truthfully, I thought Twin Peaks ran out of gas by the end of the second season. What had started as funny, ironic and genuinely intriguing deconstruction of crime dramas, Lynch and Frost conspicuously lost interest in having their odd narrative trail lead us to Laura Palmer's killer. The odd twists , turns and eccentric personalities became more important; Lynch has always had a had time with sticking to anything resembling a coherent plot, and it was no surprise, really, that his initially appealing manner, quizzical, off kilter, askew, wore out after one season.

By the end of season 2, we had a mess of a series even die hard Lynch fans complained about. The Showtime revival, to be sure, could give us more structure in terms of actual story lines and believable characterizations ; Lynch's penchant for chronic oddness and quirky situations, where the banal meets the sublime and a series of minor epiphanies occur like quiet, low-spark string of fire crackers, might seem to arise from real motivation and emotional turmoil and not a creator's whimsy. I am hoping that we don't have another instance of 2 short lived HBO programs, John from Cincinnati , created by Deadwood auteur David Milch that tried for a combination of surfing, Zen, spiritual lassitude and copious amounts of assorted surf bums, former cops, henchmen, lovers, muggers, thieves and potheads reciting benedictions that would have confused the most learned scholar, with most of its only season taking place in Imperial Beach in San Diego Country and centering around a quizzical stranger who may be the second coming of Christ  or a chirping cretin. At best the show made you think of Beckett and his idea of depicting characters who are, at some point, beyond the delusion that they have free will and find themselves in locations they cannot leave, shuffling through their own set of stylized rationalizations, weighing the consequences of choices they might might, past events and intimacies that have brought to their current stagnation, ritually going about their daily rounds of meals, laundry, loveless marriages, finally able to come to no decision at all and remain as they are, in limbo, numbed and mumbling.

At worst it was an interminable bit of self deluded artiness, laboring under the stray notion that indecipherable dialogue and facile weirdness equals poetry. Much of the worst poetry I ever wrote and most of the worst poetry I ever read was dense, complex, full of striking images and surreal segues, and very little of it was worth reading in full.  Carnivale is the second HBO program. It was a bleak , dusty bit of depression , again playing around with someone who may or maybe not be the new incarnation of the Savior. Nothing could save the show from losing my attention, though. Set in Depression era America, its road show of bearded ladies, strong men, clowns, dwarfs, ratiocinated preachers and pissed off waifs was an attempt to furnish the downside of Kerouac's America; instead of bliss and spiritual revivification as a result of  hitting the road, there was instead in Carnivale equal amounts of psychic  and struggle and a constant state of rock solid resentment among the roster of players.  Even the happenstance of supernatural occurrences and miracles in their midst inspired not awe but a groan instead. Everyone grimaced on the screen and gritted their teeth until there was nothing left but raw nubs. What must be said about the work of David Lynch is that he wisely avoids the convenient despair and bleak outlook readymade in the infrastructure of most existential literature and moves instead in the area of the absurd; when his images work, they work with brilliant effect, as is the case of his masterpiece  Blue Velvet . That had an actual story line going through it, a beginning,middle and end, and was set up in sharp but credible contrasts of tone, wonderfully represented as the young man in that film, investigating the reason by an ear was severed and left for him to find, leaves the confines of a Hardy Boys like adventure and enters a world of pure criminal psychosis and evil. This is a solid premise for Lynch to place his bits of baroque extremism. It serves the task of representing the journey of naive soul who has his concepts of decencies tested as he his threatened , seduced, manipulated by the presence and logic of the pure evil he pursued. Lynch, with Mark Frost, brought that element of grim humor and absurd consequence to the first season of Twin Peaks.

John from Cincinnati and Carnivale  were shows populated by characters who were angry, always angry at something, and who battled one another in agendas that were vague or un-articulated. They were, at best, ponderous,snarling square diets of bad bread, unleavened by wit or humor. Here is hoping that Lynch and Frost have developed a lighter touch and a better sense of where a story needs to go.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"The Equalizer": Equal parts violence and boredom

The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington is a thriller that 's equal parts stylish violence, over- familiar character types in the form of naive victims and idiosyncratic bad guys. And yes, the villains are Russian mobsters, perhaps the last nationality American directors can cast wholesale as evil doers without an excess of complaints from the political sensitive. It is, in essence, the most recent variation of the avenging angel motif that has been a standard part of Hollywood movies since , director Michael Winner's 1974 Charles Bronson effort Death Wish. On that score, we could go as far back as Shane in 1953, George Steven's masterpiece Western about a retired gun fighter who is forced by circumstances he cannot ignore to put his guns back on and ride off to practice his deadly trade once again. It's the kind of often used formula that almost mixes itself once you open the package: gentleman, quiet man, pushed too hard for too long by bad guys, fights back and reveals lethal skills that swift and sure when used. In the end, lots of carnage, gruesome deaths, screaming bad guys and things blowing up and, to be sure, a firm dead pan on the part of the avenging hero serving his curb side justice. 

The Equalizer, based on a fine television program that featured actor Edward Woodward as a black ops spy who , disgusted with his life of gruesome death and deception, quits his espionage employ and puts his special set of skills in the service of those little people who are beset by awful people and circumstances. Odds against you? Call The Equalizer. This a durable premise for a television series.The movie incarnation features Washington as a schleppy worker at a Home Depot like super store who seems, at first , a nice guy , a good friend, a hard worker, but who reveals, when awful things begin to infiltrate his world by the likes of Russian mob bosses and their tattooed goons, sheds the Everyman guise and reveals what he has been all along, a virtuoso of death-dealing, inflicting fair and unambiguous punishment against those who are irredeemably guilty of something. This is all well and good so far as plot particulars, but we are not really engaged by any of this activity. Washington, who can be a superb actor with the presence and gravitas, is in his lazy mode here, seeming not a little bored with the dialogue and the scenes that he happens to be end.

As with Al Pacino at his most unfocused, his voice takes on a mumbling, nasal quality, and comes near to being sing-songy in rhythm. His deadpan stare, so icy and effective in Tony Scott's taut actioner Man on Fire, here suggest that his eyes are glazing over as he struggles to stay awake. Aside from some sweetly nasty death dealing where the former black ops Equalizer treats an assortment fatal conclusions to a swath of thick- necked creeps , the movie drags its feet and scenes lack any feeling of organic development; it's as mechanical a script from a 70s cop show, say Starsky and Hutch or Ironsides. Director Antoine Fuqua cannot energize the material. The most entertaining stretch of the film are those highlighting Martin Csokas as Teddy, an enforcer for the Russian mob boss; tattooed and scarred, this character is sweet extension of the villain who is well spoken, literate, not without charm or a sense of irony, someone who understands beauty and exhibits fine table manners, but someone can without warning and convincingly become a monster, a determined, obsessed , convulsive instrument of malevolence . The screen crackles and scenes get an edge when he enters the room. Csokas' performance is the one I remember. He didn't phone it in; he brought it in person and was in your face, fatally so.

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING

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Ted's bookshelf: read

The Tortilla CurtainU.S.!: A NovelSlaves to Do These ThingsCrackpots: A NovelThe Incentive of the MaggotFrantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles: An Accidental Memoir

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Ted's  book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists