Season 3 Trailer for Ray Donovan

While all the hype for neo noir television is on this Sunday’s premier of True Detective on H.B.O., Showtime quietly released the new trailer for Ray Donovan Season 3. This is a great neo noir series! I was not a big fan of season 1, but didn’t think it was to bad. I gave season 2 a chance and was not disappointed. Season 2 was amazing and I look forward to season 3. This trailer makes me even more excited about season 3. Check out the new trailer below:

Re-Watching the Best of 2014: True Detective Season 1

LjGKxgQP I started this site in January of this year, and there are a handful of great neo-noirs that came out last year I didn’t get to cover.  I know everybody has already seen these and probably wrote their own review.  I still wanted to re-watch these films and television series again and put my own review out there on the world-wide web.  Here is the first of those reviews. True Detective is an original series from noir author Nic Pizzolatto.  I have read Pizzolatto’s novel Galveston before watching this series and found it a very good book.  Something fans of the show may want to read. This anthology series stars Matthew McConaughey as Rust and Woody Harrelson as Marty.  I would classify both as hardboiled,  Rust being the more so of the two. k14lysr4msp2q5887mjy This story starts out with our duo getting interviewed by two detectives played by Michael Potts and Tory Kittles.  Both are being interviewed individually about a case that happened 17 years ago.  In typical noir fashion we get our story with a series of flashbacks.  We quickly see our detectives are worse for wear 17 years after the story started and through 8 episodes we find out why. Our case from 17 years ago is a murder where the body has been staged in a ritualistic way.  This case has no suspects or witnesses and very few clues to go on.  The clues also leads to some missing children cases that may be related to the murder.  Our story takes us to dive bars, whore houses, meth labs, stripper bars, burned down churches and lots of Louisiana backwoods locations. We have a bunch of great characters in this, some are small parts and some are much bigger.  Our lead female, is Marty’s wife played by Michelle Monaghan.  Marty, and Rust for that matter, keep her away from the darkness of the case.  I would consider her Rust’s femme fatale.  We also get two more interesting femme fatales, though they are not part of the murders they do trip up Marty in his private life.  Alexandra Daddario appears in the first half and Lili Simmons in the second half. The show plays more like an 8 hour movie then a television show.  You will want to watch the next episode as soon as you finish one.  The story is intricate, intriguing, and addictive.  The music is dark and fits the southern Gothic feel, T Bone Burnett did a great job with the score. We will be getting a season 2 of True Detective this summer.  It has a high standard to live up to and I hope it can.  The new cast looks outstanding and the trailer looks great.  We go from our country noir setting to one of the most famous of noir locales in Los Angeles.  Can Pizzolatto keep the dark, intensity with the city landscape, a new story, and a new cast?  I look forward to seeing it and if it’s as good as the first season we are in for a treat.

Review: Season 1 of Better Call Saul

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Better Call Saul is a comedy, drama, neo noir mash-up that is pure gritty fun.  Season 1 has just ended on AMC and I really enjoyed it.  Bob Odenkirk plays our main protagonist, Jimmy McGill, he is a lawyer, con-man, overall good guy?  Not how to classify him.  One minute he is conning some innocent bystander and the next he is returning almost $2 million dollars in cash to its rightful owner.

Our next most interesting character is Mike Ehrmantraut played by Jonathan Banks and he is a bad ass.  He is our normal noir protagonist, you know, ex-cop with issues that wants to get out, but seems to always finding himself in the middle of the mess.

We also have Jimmy’s brother,Chuck, a fancy lawyer who got Jimmy out of trouble before. Chuck is played by Michael McKean.  Chuck has an interesting disease that keeps him basically as a recluse now.

These three characters all have one thing in common, they have all left where they came from because something horrible has happened and ended up in New Mexico to get a fresh start.  Unfortunately a new start just means new problems, with some of their past problems hunting them down to boot.

Rhea Seehorn plays good lawyer and is always looking out for Jimmy and Patrick Fabian plays bad lawyer, always out to get Jimmy for some reason.  We also have minor characters of interest who are too numerous to talk about here.

The first season is only 10 episodes long, and hey I wish more American television would do this.  A good series could be great if it wasn’t forced to use sub-par stories to fill a complete 24 episode season.  All 10 of these episodes are great and even though it is a short season we have a lot of story.  The story starts out with a great looking black and white scene looking very film noirish, of Jimmy after the events of Breaking Bad, we then flash back to 6 years before the events of Breaking Bad, and even have flashbacks from there to tell more back story.

I honestly never got through all of Breaking Bad yet, still need to watch the last few seasons.  I look forward to doing so, but the reason I bring this up is you don’t have to have seen Breaking Bad or even know much about that series to enjoy Better Call Saul.

Better Call Saul is for anybody looking for great television in a sea of reality t.v..  If you like dark comedy, good drama, crime stories, and especially us neo noir fans need to see Better Call Saul!

News: Sundance is one step closer to a Hap and Leonard series!

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It looks like we are one step closer to bringing Hap and Leonard to the small screen.  I mentioned this possibility in my recent review of Joe Lansdale book and the movie Cold in July, and now we are getting more good news on the series.  Read all the details here:

http://http://www.nola.com/entertainment/baton-rouge/index.ssf/2015/03/hap_leonard_amc_sundance_baton.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

News: Luther is back!

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Production on a 2 part Luther special is coming to BBC!  It has started filming in London and will be on BBC in the fall, hopefully this means on BBC America as well.  Both Idris Elba and creator Neil Cross are involved.  Hopefully this doesn’t mean we are not getting the planned feature film, but it will obviously delay that.  If you have not seen this television series I highly recommend that you do.  There is also a book that is a prequel to the show, written by Neil Cross(I have not read the book yet, but look forward to doing so soon).  The book is what the basis of the movie will be.  Check out more details here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/luther-shoot

Review: Backstrom: He Who Kills the Dragon, Book vs Television

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I was given a copy of this book from Goodreads and Vintage Crime/Black Lizard publishing in exchange for this review. I entered to get this book, because I saw the first few episodes of the Fox Television series by the same name starring Rain Wilson.  Backstrom is the main character of author Leif GW Persson.  Persson was a professor of Criminology at the Swedish National Police Board from 1992 to 2012.  This may give him an edge on how things work from the inside of the police force.  This is interesting to me, I thought this book was OK, but it was 360 pages long to tell a story that I would think one of the current noir masters could have told in 200 to 250 pages.  I guess I would rather have a great story that is well written, rather than all the details of how the police have to operate.  The other problem with this book could be a culture issue.  Since this was originally written in Swedish and maybe it looses something when translated.  I’m not saying this book is a bad book, and I can see a lot of people who tend toward the more real and procedural type books will like this.

So how does this compare to the T.V. series?  There is not much the same between the two.  The similarities are few, first is the main character, Backstrom himself.  Backstrom is an overweight, out of shape, alcoholic, that tends to be a racist and sexist.  He is forced by his doctors to start changing his life or he isn’t going to live very long.  There is also a character named Nadia too.

Now the multiple differences, these are the ones I think would take away from a fans experience of either the T.V. series or the book series. Only the one book is available in the U.S.A. right now, and it is the second book in the series.  This series only has 3 books so far, so I don’t know why this is the one they published first.  There are a few references in this book that I assume is referring to the first book.  I bring this up because maybe some of the characters I really like in the TV series are missing in this book, but may be in the other two.  Back to our main character, Backstrom, though physically he seems about the same, but on the TV series he is a brilliant detective that can get into the heads of his suspects and figure out how and why they did the crime.  Because he is so brilliant the rest of the team lives with his short comings.  It seems in the book, he is more lucky than good.  He becomes a media darling, more because he is in the right spots at the right times, and his team under him is very skilled and he steals their credit.  This difference along makes the two very different in tone and feel.

The TV series takes place in Portland where the books take place in Sweden, that of course will give you a different feel.  The characters are very diverse in both book and series, but only one is the same, Nadia.  In the book Nadia is a character that understands Backstrom, she is an overweight Russian that works on Backstrom’s team, on the series she is a gorgeous blond that is a computer specialist played by Beatrice Rosen.  Over all I like the series characters as they develop over the course of time. Nicole Gravely played by Genevieve Angelson is the young detective that goes by the book, she was my favorite character in the first few episodes.  John Almond played by Dennis Haysbert is interesting as he is a pastor of a small church on the weekend and has conflict within his professional life because of his beliefs.  Thomas Dekker plays Valentine, Backstrom’s roommate and not always legit antique dealer.  We got other supporting characters like Backstrom’s ex played by Sarah Chalke.  I do wish the TV series would do 4-5 episode story arcs rather than one and done episode cases.  I wasn’t sure if I really liked the TV series at first, I will make a final verdict after the full season.  I seem to be liking it more and more each episode.

The only thing I really miss from the book that isn’t in the TV show is Annika Carlsson.  She is a bi-sexual that Backstrom warms to throughout the book.  I would like to see more of this character, but maybe not enough to read anymore of the books.

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In this battle I’m going to take the TV series over the book.  If you only watched the first few episodes to make your decision, you may want to watch a few more and see if it grows on you like it is me.

Bosch Debuts Today

Unfortunately I don’t have Amazon Prime, but if I did, I would be watching this right now.  It looks awesome!  I also look forward to reading the books it is based on by Michael Connelly.  Titus Welliver looks like a great choice for the lead.  Look forward to seeing this when it is released on DVD, unless I find a friend with Prime and watch it with them before hand.  If you are one of the luck ones seeing it today, what did you think?

What to be Watching Right Now: Better Call Saul

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Fans of the legendary AMC desert noir series Breaking Bad will be tuning in for Better Call Saul, but is it worth it?  I just got done watching the first 2 episodes and found them very good.  I will not pass judgement on the series until I see the whole first season, but I think it is worth viewing. The first episode opens in a classic black and white noir style to sets the tone for the neo noir series. Better Call Saul broke the record for most viewers for a new series on cable T.V. and spinning off of Breaking Bad will do that for you.  Rolling Stone and Rotten Tomato are calling this a comedy-noir and I agree, it can get really dark and the plot can get very twisted, but we get a laugh now and then to break the darkness.  I think the creators did the right thing with this.  Originally this was going to be a half hour comedy, but I think a one-hour more serious program fits better and keeps all the Breaking Bad fans as well as gains new ones.  Bob Odenkirk is great as Jimmy McGill the sleaze bag lawyer, con-artist that we love to root for.  I look forward to seeing more episodes and from the early ratings and reviews around the web it looks like everybody that seen it so far is also excited to see more.