Justified

discs toad road

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Toad Road James (James Davidson) is a slacker, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for meaning he sits around all day doing nothing. Instead, he sits around all day smoking, popping, and snorting anything he and his friends can get their hands on, but that starts to change when he meets the new girl, Sara (Sara Anne Jones). She’s new to the drug scene, he introduces her, and she gets hooked just as he wants out. He agrees to one last trip with her. Shrooms in hand, the two head out to the legendary Toad Road to investigate rumors of the seven gates of hell. It goes according to plan until he wakes up to discover she’s disappeared. Writer/director Jason Banker’s debut feature is low budget, raw, messy, unsure of itself, and yet oddly mesmerizing. The “horror” element introduced via the title feels almost like an afterthought added to make the film more marketable, but the core of the film works as a frequently intense and often painful look at the obvious and not so obvious struggles that come with drug addiction. The doomed love story adds to the film’s tragic allure, but the real life fate of Miss Jones sadly cements it. [DVD extras: Commentary with writer/director Jason Banker and friends, deleted scenes, featurettes, booklet]

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310 to Yuma

Elmore Leonard has died at the age of 87, leaving us with millions of already well-worn copies of novels and short story collections. He was a raw talent with a knack for delivering stark, bloody drama that worked strongly both on the page and on the screen. If you don’t already have the physical copies on your shelf, there are more than a few options (some of them free) for streaming Leonard’s adaptations online.

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Justified Season 4

On the whole, season four of Justified was pretty spectacular. With a few exceptions, almost every episode was filled with perfect writing, skillful, action-packed direction, some of the greatest acting performances on television, and really interesting character arcs. We also said goodbye to one of the show’s greatest assets, Raymond J. Barry as Arlo Givens in one of Justified’s greatest show openers ever, a vicious prison shanking. While Arlo’s passing was a loss to the show, we all made it through, and have one helluva episode to remember him by. Though most of this season did involve the marshallin’ stiffy-inducing search for fugitive Drew Thompson, who was Arlo’s buddy in Vietnam, and who brought cocaine to Harlan County. Drew, of course, turned out to be the kindly old Sheriff Shelby (Jim Beaver), who rescued dumb-but-sweet prostitute Ellen May (Abby Miller) from the clutches of Boyd and Ava, since she witnessed Ava kill Delroy… Now that Raylan officially brought in Drew/Shelby and skirted the Detroit mob, this season’s central “mystery,” now what? With most of the season’s plot wrapped up last week, this week’s finale did not have that much to do. Raylan had to tie up some loose ends with the Detroit mob, and Boyd had to get that whole Delroy thing squared away. The episode, entitled “Ghosts,”directed by Bill Johnson and written by Fred Golan and Benjamin Cavell, was certainly a very good one, but Justified could have done just a bit better. There were some unanswered questions left over […]

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Justified Season 4

While Justified never ceased being one of the best shows on television, it entered into a third season slump. After a near-perfect second season, featuring one of the greatest TV villains, Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale), it couldn’t help but underwhelm in its junior year, replacing her with a slew of uninteresting baddies. Season four, however, is proof positive that a show can redeem itself. It has remained Harlan-centric villain-wise, with the exception of Mike O’Malley’s Detroit mobster Nicky Augustine, who is a vast improvement over who he replaced, Adam Arkin. No offense, Arkin… but O’Malley is killing it. Villains aside, the reasons why Justified continues to triumph this season is because of the consistently amazing writing and direction. The dialogue is nearly poetry, with Boyd turning phrases that sound as if they come out of Shakespeare’s notebook – Nicky even tells him this week, “I’m going to need Google Translate on my phone if I’m going to keep talking to you.” This week’s episode, “Peace of Mind,” co-written by Taylor Elmore and Leonard Chang and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton, is no exception. While perhaps less action-packed than last week, it features snappy dialogue, macho encounters, and a fluidity in the transport of people and places as the law and the criminals both chase after Ellen May (an excellent Abby Miller) who is also on the move – from Noble’s Holler, to her former pimp’s house, to the church, to Lexington.

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Justified Season 4

With Justified winding down to its season finale in two weeks, it hasn’t lost the high-octane momentum of last week’s amazing episode with “Decoy” continuing to plow along full steam ahead – an apt metaphor, given that Rachel and Shelby/Drew got the hell out of Harlan on the coal train by the episode’s end. Again, this episode upholds Justified’s high standard for the most clever, well-written dialogue on television (this episode was written by showrunner Graham Yost and Chris Provenzano) and at the helm of director Michael Watkins, had a consistently swift and exciting pace, cutting between various high-tension locations and groups of characters. Each character also got their moment in the spotlight – Raylan and Boyd being clever and badass! Tim’s sardonic wit! Colton’s tortured-ness! Art being Art! Johnny’s bleeding heart! Ava being one tough cookie! – which is a difficult feat to accomplish, given this week’s large ensemble-like nature. So many good things again this week, it’s almost difficult to simmer down and make this sound coherent.

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Justified Season 4

I love Justified. I love Justified so hard. Yes, there is the odd placeholder episode. Yes, there are smatterings of cheesy “reveals.” But when you get down to it, there is nary another show on television that is consistently exciting to watch, or that strikes the perfect, watchable balance between action and character development. That actually gets the plot moving week by week. That rewards fans of the show with little nuggets from seasons past, making the Harlan County crime universe a fully realized place where characters aren’t simply written off but are always lurking somewhere, acting behind the scenes. Oh yeah, and it has probably the most cleverly written dialogue on television, too.

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Justified Season 4

So on the latest Justified, “The Hatchet Tour,” we finally discovered the true identity of the infamous fugitive Drew Thompson. Did we really care who Drew Thompson really was? Not really. Though, my goodness, his true identity truly was a surprise. And the episode as a whole – written by Taylor Elmore and Leonard Chang, and directed by TV great Leslie Linka Glatter) – really, really delivered. It was well-paced, packed with important happenings, snappy dialogue… and was Justified doin’ Justified right.

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Justified Season 4

Tonight came with a huge shock. Before the opening credits. I haven’t fully come to grips with it yet, and I’m not sure if I can say whether or not it was handled correctly. Nevertheless, shocking it certainly was – and it created a huge void in the show.

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Justified Season 4

On the latest Justified, we learned that real men can enjoy an ice cream cone while they drive (Raylan)… but not drink red margaritas (Boyd). This piece of information is, of course, contingent on Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder being “real men,” which, please, of course they are. They can work in a mine, have daddy issues, and shoot a firearm like the best of ‘em. While entertaining (including these ice cream and margarita moments) and filled with many bright spots, this episode, “Money Trap,” proved to not be as clever as its title. It featured a who’s who in primetime drama elite as its guest stars, and some fun action sequences, how Boyd and Ava fare in high society, but perhaps stressed minor plot points more so than important ones (these were squeezed at the very end of the episode). The pacing, therefore, was a bit off, and the structure was perhaps a bit ill-conceived. This episode also paired Raylan with yet another vapid, potentially shifty, woman named Jackie Nevada (Shelley Hennig, an actress with somewhat limited acting range).

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Justified Season 4

This week’s Justified seems like a bit of a present to those of us who are loyal viewers of the show. There was swift Raylan and Boyd banter. There was that Deadwood reunion proper between Timothy Olyphant and Jim Beaver as Sheriff Shelby (or is that Bullock and Ellsworth?) as they formed a formidable crime-fightin’ team. And for all us Marshal Tim fans, he finally got his own little storyline that further revealed some backstory and some more Marshal Tim witticisms. There was also “romantic Boyd,” which clearly was a delight in some respects. However, some of these story threads didn’t wrap up so nicely, so while the episode, “Foot Chase,” certainly was a pleasure to watch, these threads needed a lot more polish. And the plot as a whole needed to unravel more organically, shall we say, in order to join the pantheon of great Justified episodes. There was a lot of loose logic, too, which we can’t abide. If you can think back from last week, this week’s episode is entitled “Foot Chase,” not because there’s some Point Break-style foot chase (though that would be strongly encouraged), but because Raylan joins forces with Sheriff Shelby to track down Josiah Cairn (Gerald McRaney, a third Deadwood alum) who is sans foot. Get it? Well, Art sure did, as he greeted Raylan with a slew of foot-related puns. Ah, Art, you ol’ cut-up!

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Justified Season 4

This latest installment of Justified was a thrill for many reasons, the first being… frenenemies Raylan and Boyd are, again, holed up in the same room, fighting for the same cause (kinda), and engaging in some of their delightful trademark frenemy banter. Seeing Raylan and Boyd together for the first time this season makes you realize the absolute perfection of Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins onscreen together. Each line is delivered perfectly and the relationship between their two characters is just so nuanced. Adding to the greatness, there is also war bonding across party lines between Tim and Colton, an appearance form Arlo, Raylan waxing nostalgic about his mother, Ellen May coming into a greater purpose, and Gerald McRaney’s (and another of Olyphant’s fellow Deadwood alum’s) self-severed foot… Though if I’m nitpicking, we could still do without the whole Detroit invasion. And Mike O’Malley still on Glee, right? This minor transgression is, however, overshadowed by the fact that this episode brings us into even more of a hick milieu that even Harlan County proper: the realm of the hill people. And yes, a Deliverance reference is made (thanks, Boyd!). Them crazy hill people are always encouraged… and no one had to “squeal like a pig” or nuthin’.

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Justified Season 4

So, I guess Justified thought we were in need of some testosterone this week? Sure, why not. The title of this week’s installment is “This Bird is Flown,” and the meaning there is fairly obvious – in addition to the rooster component, Lindsey “flew” off with Raylan’s secret money that he procured from doing his off-the-books marshallin’. Though other than lamenting that he thought Lindsey “liked” him, Raylan takes the situation like the man that he is, procuring a new giant gun (ah, the phallic symbolism!) and brawling in the dirt with Randall, mano-a-mano. Sure, this episode mainly existed to tie up the Raylan/Lindsey/Randall storyline and didn’t cover too much ground in terms of the season as a whole, but it was a helluva fun watch and gave us a much needed break from hearing the names “Waldo Truth” or “Drew Thompson.” Or the term “marshallin’ stiffy.” Though Art and Tim were again sorely missed… it looks like they can’t coexist in the same episode as Rachel? Nevertheless, we also were treated to an interesting thread with Boyd and Ava deciding to off Ellen May, which paid off nicely with ending in an unexpected way. So while somewhat unspectacular, this episode was well-paced and oozing with masculinity… and obviously, Raylan, no woman doesn’t like you best.

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Justified Season 4

While this week’s episode, “Truth and Consequences” was certainly watchable, it was somewhat of a disappointment. Billy died from a snakebite, falling victim to his own blind religious fervor, which seems really premature. Joseph Mazzello really shined as Billy, especially this week, and it is upsetting that his time on the show was so short. Also, Raylan is duped by Lindsay and Randall, who were apparently in cahoots the entire time. Uh, really? Not only is it illogical, it’s not exactly fitting with Raylan’s history as the man least likely to be taken in by the blonde floozie. Raylan is one of the most astute characters on television – nothing gets past him. Also, the Drew Thompson/Waldo Truth mystery is getting boring real fast, y’all… and muddled to boot. The pseudonyms, the drug cartel, whatever… it’s either hard to follow or hard to care about (think, probably it’s the latter). These glaring issues are only compounded by the overall issue of this episode trying to cover too much ground in around 40 minutes. We really don’t need to hear about Rachel’s backstory – just cut that scene with her and Raylan out at the bar, it seemed really tacked on. I guess that was only there to set up her helping Raylan to track down Lindsey/Randall? Also, we got a taste of an interesting storyline – Johnny backstabbing Boyd via Wynn Duffy – but it was covered in one measly scene. That is good stuff and more would have been […]

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Justified Season 4

On last week’s impressive Season 4 premiere, Raylan faced off against imprisoned Arlo and his teenage flunkies on the outside as they tried to take a bag and ID from a 1983 plane crash/drug bust hidden in Arlo’s wall, Arlo shanked another prisoner, Ellen May shot a furry john, and Boyd suspects he has a new adversary in fundamentalist preacher Billy. Winona remains out of the picture, while Ava is still the First Lady of Boyd’s criminal empire. Raylan remains the best. This week’s episode “Where’s Waldo?” brings us many wonderful things. Raylan, Tim, and Art go on a stakeout together – a marshallin’ dream team. There is also perhaps the highest volume of rednecks in a single episode of Justified. We have the Waldo Truth family, a redneck backyard ultimate fighting ring, and a fundamentalist church congregation. And not only are they rednecks by socioeconomic background and/or geographical location, but they serve up some redneck realness. A redneck child throws Raylan double middle fingers! Ellen May gets “saved!” Yes, as established in last week’s recap, Justified is back to doing what Justified does best – luxuriating in the seedy criminal world/religious zealotry of Harlan County. Oh yeah, and crooked businessman Win Duffy (Jere Burns) is back and continues to stir the pot on yet another season – hurray!

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Justified Season 4

When we last left Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and company, his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) confessed to killing Devil, thereby letting Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) free to be the diminutive crime lord he was born to be; Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) lopped off Quarles’ (Neil McDonough) arm with a cleaver; and a pregnant Winona (Natalie Zea) wouldn’t take Raylan back. In only the first episode of Season 4, entitled “Hole in the Wall,” the wrongs of Season 3 are already righted. While thoroughly enjoyable, last season was plagued by having too many villains, and none of them possessed the incredible, Emmy-winning fortitude of Margo Martindale‘s Harlan County crime boss Mags Bennett. Two seasons later, we will never forget you and your Apple Pie. This season, Boyd is still the big bad it seems, and he’s going to be rivaled by a young preacher from a new fundamentalist church, Billy (former child star from Jurassic Park, Joseph Mazzello). Plus, Boyd is joined by his former buddy from Kuwait, Colton Rhodes (Ron Eldard), who is quite the loose cannon. Did you catch all that? Let’s dive in.

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The Best TV Shows of 2012

While the new fall line-up wasn’t too impressive (there are only two freshman series on this list, neither of which premiered in the fall) and former powerhouses have stumbled (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire), this is still an amazing time for TV. The most outstanding programs don’t just have excellent writing and actors, they’re reinventing genres and challenging viewers with daring storytelling. TV is gutsier now (sometimes literally gutsier with blood and innards all over the place) and its fantastic. When compiling this list, I chose the shows that sparked visceral reactions. These are the comedies, dramas, and (often overlooked) animated gems that made me laugh out loud, cringe, cry like an idiot, or yell “oh snap” at every wild turn.

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Justified: The Complete Third Season Deputy US Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is a patient man, but even he has his limits. His feuds with Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Dickie (Jeremy Davies) are still going strong when two more men enter the fray in the form of a Detroit mobster (Neal McDonaugh) and a local butcher named Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson). Not everyone will be standing by the end of these thrilling and entertaining as hell thirteen episodes. Three seasons in this FX series continues to shine thanks to sharp writing, a colorful cast of characters and the absolute coolness that Olyphant brings to Givens. Fun stuff, perfect length, highly recommended. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Commentaries, outtakes, deleted scenes, featurettes, interviews]

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Boiling Point

It seems that we are living in a golden age of television. With shows ranging from Mad Men to Game of Thrones or Modern Family to Dexter, Breaking Bad, or anything else garnering epic amounts of hype, one might view Battleship or its ilk and come to the conclusion that TV is better than the movies. James Wolcott at Vanity Fair came to that conclusion, as did the folks at IndieWire (although Cole took a somewhat different stance). Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong it is. While there is certainly a lot of great television out there, the theater experience still trumps all. Television will never usurp the cinema just as crude sex robots will never usurp hookers. When someone wants to describe a really great looking television show, they say it “feels like a movie.” No one ever describes great films as “being like television.” Television aspires to be film and in some instances, comes close. Film, safely perched on its tower, has no desire to be more like TV.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of trinkets for the weary-eyed, movie-loving masses. A testament to man’s quest for knowledge, the internet’s infinite wealth of silliness and cat videos, and a totem for the lost souls of movie fandom. Come here, my children, come here and bask in the glory of the best links of the day. We begin tonight’s sermon with a shot of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence looking very 1929 in Serena, the upcoming film from In a Better World director Susanne Bier. It’s about a pair of newlyweds who move from Boston to the wild mountains of North Carolina and produce off-spring. Shenanigans ensue.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie-related link dump written by a guy who is having all kinds of trouble typing at the moment. Look out, all you armchair copyeditors. This one might get a little wld. We begin tonight with the story of the afternoon: Simpsons creator Matt Groening has revealed that Springfield, Oregon is the basis behind the Springfield where Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie cause trouble. In response, the folks at Gizmodo have used Google Earth to show us What The Simpsons’ Springfield Looks Like in Real Life. The people aren’t yellow, as it turns out.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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