Sunday, March 11, 2012

Luck - Episode 4

"I've been confused by my behavior for some time now, I'll tell you that."

So says Chester "Ace" Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) to his chauffeur/confidant Gus Demitriou (Dennis Farina) at the end of Episode 4 of Luck.  I must confess that I've been very confused by the series up until now.

But I'm slack-jawed with awe after watching this episode, astonishingly directed by Phillip Noyce, poignantly written by Jay Hovdey, with exceptionally gorgeous music by Jeff Beal (you can purchase some of the source music here).  Here's a trailer for the episode:

I have to say that it took considerable Negative Capability on my part to make it to this episode.  Aside from not being able to understand half the dialogue (literally), I felt like I was wading through the TV version of Finnegan's Wake with previous episodes (if you're struggling, as I was, note that HBO provides synopses of them--here's the one for Episode 4).  But friends who are farther along in the series urged me on, and bless them for doing so.  This episode sealed it for me.  It's like a mini-feature, outstanding in every detail--the lines, the shots, the music.  In the close ups of the Walter Smith (Nick Nolte) near tears, and Ace talking about the character played by Joan Allen, and the fact that, "Sexual attraction and so forth, that ship set sail some time ago and left port.  If I can help the woman, that's what I want to do."

This game changing episode (for me and its characters) provided quite the contrast to Game Change, the HBO movie about John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, and more specifically about Sarah Palin, which I watched last night.

Initially, Julianne Moore (who plays Palin) seemed to be taking off more (no pun intended) from Tina Fey's parodies than from Palin, although I ultimately thought Moore was terrific.  I had a harder time with Ed Harris's McCain, distracted as I was by his bad bald cap and awkward posture.  Woody Harrelson as compaign strategist Steve Schmidt was terrific, I thought (and if you didn't see Harrelson in Rampart, I urge you to rent it).

I wish I had good things to say about director Jay Roach's work here.  In terms of directing and overall production values, I thought the film was fairly pedestrian--lacking in style and looking like it was made on a shoestring budget.  Or was that  perhaps intentional mimesis--a film as plain and unsophisticated as the character (Palin) it's about?

But I prefer beauty with my truth--so I'm putting my money on Luck from now on, that's for sure....

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