Top of the Lake

True Detective

There were two McConaugheys broadcast on Sunday night. One was the McConaughey honored for his portrayal of a real-life AIDS victim turned treatment advocate, for which he shed fifty pounds and (symbolically) years of critical bad will. It was a comeback story as predictable as any Hollywood ending. The other, far more interesting and less predictable McConaughey was tucked into the premium world of HBO in the form of True Detective’s Rust Cohle, where each week he delivers free-form philosophical jargon at just above a whisper and performs oh-so-calculated-yet-mesmerizing actorly business with only the end of a cigarette and a six pack of beer. The hive mind has credited True Detective for making an invisible supporting push toward McConaughey’s win in the form of a “reverse Norbit effect,” legitimizing him as a strong performer outside the clichéd obviousness of a recognition like this. But as critical and fan communities show a much stronger collective love for True Detective than they did for the supposed apex of McConaughey’s well-heeled comeback, I’m not convinced that True Detective and work like it is simply another gear in the machine of an industry’s collective good will for a once-dismissed actor. Even with a forecast of movies that promise inventiveness and risk, serial television looks to dominate the efforts and imagination of filmmakers for the near future.

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discs the act of killing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Act of Killing Indonesia, like many countries, has a dark and bloody past filled with brutal death squads and mass killings. The difference is that unlike those others the people of Indonesia continue to celebrate the murderers, and many of those killers still walk the streets as heroes of a cruel and sadistic history. This documentary puts us in the killers’ midst as they tell their story using the medium they love so much, film. Joshua Oppenheimer‘s film is an absolute marvel both in what it sets out to do and in what it accomplishes. The “characters” here are madmen in charge of their own fates and world, and the view they have of their shared history is more disturbing than any horror film. The only thing more terrifying than hearing them talk about what they’ve done and how they feel about it now is watching their efforts to recreate it all in front of the camera. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical and director's cuts, interview, commentary with Oppenheimer and Werner Herzog, featurette, deleted scenes, trailers, booklet]

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Top of the Lake

The news that Jane Campion was debuting a new project at last month’s Sundance Film Festival was met with general excitement – until we all realized that the project was not a feature film, but a television miniseries that runs seven hours that would only be showed but once during the festival. Even if you’ve never been to a film festival, you can probably imagine how impossible it is to schedule a seven-hour chunk on any day, let alone just one set day. Fortunately, Campion’s Top of the Lake is a television series after all, and one that will be showing on the Sundance Channel next month. The series features Elisabeth Moss as a detective tasked with returning to her close-knit (and more than a little dysfunctional) hometown, an isolated hamlet apparently filled with guns and drugs and people operating on a real hair-trigger. Moss’ Robin Griffin’s case is that of a missing girl – a twelve-year-old who also happens to be five months pregnant and who has disappeared after walking into a frozen lake. Campion’s trademark style and beauty are already on display in the series’ trailer, so just imagine how wonderful that will feel in one, big seven-hour dose. Watch the stunning trailer after the break.

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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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