Casino Movie Review

Lets tell a true story, shall we?: Back around 2001, I remember my older brother coming home with a number of  VHS tapes (during a time when DVDs were creeping in and tapes were on their way out.  Therefore VHS was getting cheaper), He may correct me on this introduction, because it was long ago and I was too drunk on puberty to recall very much of it, other than he got them in Makro.  But what he brought home that day was for me, pretty life-changing.  A collection of brilliant movies, including Goodfellas, Resevoir Dogs, Donnie Brasco, The Shawshank Redemption and Casino.  Through these films, I learned a great deal at that young age:  I was introduced to the work of some fanatical nut-job named Quentin Tarantino.  Then I found out that the smaller burglar from Home Alone was actually an iconic actor in Gangster movies (Goodfellas and Casino).  I saw that Azeem from Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves was actually too awesome to be true (Shawshank Redemption), and I learned new words like fuhgeddaboudit and fugazy, and how to use them properly (Donnie Brasco).

Out of all of them, and after all these years, Casino stuck out like a splinter on a bannister.  Not because it was the best movie from those VHS tapes, but because it was the only one I didn’t finish.  Years went by, Blu-Ray came out and HDTV can now reveal the colour of Joe Pesci’s eyes.  Unless an ultra-rare film or tv show or a family/friend memory is on a VHS tape, it’s unlikely that anybody is going to watch something in that format.  Thankfully, I found this film on TV recently, and I can now say that I’ve watched Casino the whole way through. So how was it?  Well…

One plot device that Martin Scorcese has used incredibly well is the “Rags To Riches” story, which under his direction can be renamed “The Fun Road To Hell” story.  By using it as his foundation, he has provided us with excellent morality tales that demonstrate the amazing highs and lows that come from working in Organised Crime (Goodfellas) the Stock Market (The Wolf Of Wall Street) and in the case of Casino, Las Vegas.  Our film stars Sam “Ace” Rothstein as our leading man, who is based on Frank Rosenthal and is played by Robert De Niro (in what was unfortunately his last role to date with Scorcese).  He is a professional handicapper, Casino Executive and Italian Mob Associate (even though he was Jewish) who was hired to basically run the Tanglars Casino (which doesn’t exist in real life).  The other main characters include Nicky Santoro, a mob inforcer based on Anthony Spilotro and played by Joe Pesci, and Ginger McKenna, Ace’s wife, played by Sharon Stone (in what was easily her best acting role).  Nicky’s role is to pretty much make sure that the casino pay their “protection money” to the Italian Mob in Kansas City, which can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.  While Ginger was a hustler who Ace fell for.  She’s a former prostitute who still has feelings and/or care for her ex-pimp Lester Diamond (played by James Woods), and…lets just say that small detail is only 1 of several MacGuffins.

I mentioned this being a morality tale didn’t I?  On the surface it would suggest that having too much money can be a problem, but the problem is actually on the selfishness behind the money.  Ace buys Ginger’s love with millions of dollars, jewellery and fur coats.  By giving her so much of these things, he is also buying her trust, and this is 1 of the problems with such a relationship.  When he gives her money, it’s almost like he is loaning it to her rather than giving it.  How she spends it bothers him and makes him paranoid (Possibly for good reason).  But in the process she has no real freedom, and lets just say by the 3rd act, she deserves that Golden Globe.  It also suggests that in such a risky business, scratching backs does go a long way.  If you could run a casino and make millions of dollars without a license by simply hiring the village-idiot relative of a higher-up, would you?

Something about Casino felt a little Déjà vu for me, to be honest.  Joe Pesci’s performance of Nicky is more or less him reprising his role as Tommy DeVito from Goodfellas and giving him a different name.  The relationship between Ace and Ginger reminds me a little bit of Jake and Vickie in Raging Bull, only with much more money involved and De Niro as the more level-headed one (or maybe they’re both crazy).

This film is notorious for its extremes as well.  It’s at number 5 for the most uses of f*ck in a film (With the Wolf Of Wall Street at number 2 and a documentary film about the f-word at number 1), and the amount of violence in this film, even today, really is excessive.  The gunshot kills look incredibly fake, but that’s the least of the worries.  There are a lot of loud, angry characters in this film, and while it has some great one-liners and descriptions, it wasn’t as funny as Goodfellas and nowhere near as funny as The Wolf Of Wall Street.  In the process, while the film made you feel like a bad-ass watching it in the 1st and maybe even the 2nd act, by the 3rd act it felt very uncomfortable.

What other things can be said about it?  It has an awesome, eclectic soundtrack, ranging from classical music to Blues to rock n roll to big band/easy listening, to Motown, to R&B (not Rap and Beats), to 60s rock, to 70s rock, and even Whip It by Devo.  The acting is phenomenal, even if it feels like Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are playing characters that we’ve seen them do before.  Sharon Stone possibly steals the show.  Her breakdown is so powerful, it’s like she isn’t just acting as an addicted, scorned, furious, bitter, trapped housewife who used to have a life she enjoyed, it’s as if she is actually that person.  A truly uncomfortable, but quality performance.  The slightly more artistic cinematography is trademark Scorcese and he encourages that style very well.  The story is very good with some great dialogue.  But I didn’t get into it as easily as other Scorcese movies.  Apparently in the development they tried to simplify something as complicated as mob-activity in casinos, and while they did a good job, it remained complicated enough to receive an 18-rating without the sex,language and violence on top of it.  And keep in mind, this is a 3 hour film, trying to keep up with what was happening on screen got a little tiring by the third quarter.  No doubt, Casino is excellent, but it’s not my favourite Scorcese film, and it’s far from my favourite gangster film.

10/10 for the acting, 8.5/10 for the story, 10/10 for the music, 9/10 for the cinematography, 8/10 for the characters.  Overall: 91/100.

Game Of Thrones Commentary/Review (As of Season 4 Episode 3)

GAME OF THRONES AS A WHOLE:

Nothing ever created by Men is perfect enough to please everybody.  But when the question of perfection is brought to the individual, the answers quickly increase in number and variation.  It depends on what that person has seen, heard, played, touched, smelt,tasted, and most importantly, loved.  If a man only listened to Mozart, then Mozart will be perfect until he is introduced to Beethoven.  He will then have the choice of calling 1 perfect or like them both well enough to say they’re equally good, even in difference, until somebody introduces him to Captain Beefheart.  I am no exception to the rule, and I can tell you all about what is, to me; a perfect movie (Amelie), a perfect video game (Persona 4), or a perfect TV show (Firefly).  In terms of perfect TV shows, I can tell you now that Game Of Thrones has entered my personal list.

The Sopranos prepared me for this show, but due to the quality of seasons 2 and 5, I can’t call the Sopranos perfect.  Game Of Thrones however, has remained consistent in its quality.  There isn’t a single bad episode.  Every one of them is important to the bigger picture.  It could be suggested that it’s imperfect because you can’t just pick an episode and watch it.  That you need to start from the beginning and watch it in the correct order.  But if you’re used to the extreme content, it isn’t exactly  a chore.  How extreme is Game Of Thrones?  Well, it’s gorier than Gladiator and 300.  It uses a lot of unfriendly language, but isn’t as bad as The Sopranos in this case.  It contains probably the same amount of wedding presents as Osama Bin Laden’s personal collection, and at times it presents us with rather creative torture and death scenes…including more than 1 way to use gold.

The cinematography is exactly that – it is like watching a long, continuous movie that is broken up into seasons and episodes.  Lots of  brilliant and interesting photography involved.  The music is excellent, reminisce of big-time epics about ancient eras as well as the last 15 years of fantasy cinema, Japanese RPGs, and it features that memorable intro theme that I don’t get bored of hearing.  The cast also fascinates me, so many of them from Britain and Ireland, including numerous extras from Northern Ireland (some of whom I know), as well as a handful from the USA, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.  Made by Americans, but mostly not presented by them on screen.  Which should be fine for them, because everybody loves the American actor known as Peter Dinklage after they see this show.

The fact that they shoot in so many locations to tell the multiple stories is not only expensive, but a fantastic idea and a great way to speed through the shooting process (I would assume).  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of the locations where they shot certain scenes (such as the Dark Hedges from the end of Season 2 Episode 1), but unless you could afford to go to Scotland, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco, and Malta, you likely won’t see all of it outside of photographs and videos.

The story?  Yes, the story…what can be said about the story?  It’s a number of the different stories all happening at once, and the viewer is placed in the position of a God or a Devil watching all of it.  Our nicest characters have their flaws, and even our nastiest characters have some redeeming qualities…at least Joffrey behaves himself around Maragaery…that’s something, right?  We see the lies, the mistakes, the misinterpretations in both body and verbal language.  We see the choices that are disagreeable and internally disagreed.  We witness the heart over the head and vice versa.  We witness unjust death, betrayal, self over others, blindness to truth, sweepings under rugs, contradictory orders and corruption.  The list is seemingly endless.  It is a story about humanity in a world of fantasy.

I feel it’s a good idea for me to give an opinion on the different characters in the show, while providing as few spoilers as possible.  No deaths are mentioned, so don’t be afraid if you haven’t seen the show.  Remember, nobody on this show is safe.  They are all in danger of dying.

Thoughts on Characters:

NED STARK: 10 years after SHIELD mysteriously brought Boromir back to life and gave him a new name, new memories and Tony’s ancestors (Don’t ask about Tahiti), Ned is a surprisingly honorable man in such a chaotic scenario. However his desire for truth and the keeping of the rules is among his flaws.

 

ROBERT BARATHEON: A man with a once excellent reputation as a warrior. As a king he is mostly selfish. Hurting others based on his absence, womanizing and neglect, more so than intended cruelty.

 

CATELYN STARK: A beautiful woman in both soul and mind, she has a character that was built from many hard and overcome days, as well as mistakes and bad judgement. However, her growth doesn’t stop when the story begins.

 

ROBB STARK: Robb’s a great kid, but his mountains come from the fact that he’s far too inexperienced for what he’s thrown into, and his youth encourages some hasty, dishonorable decisions.

 

SANSA STARK: Sansa places every viewer and reader into the role of a parent with a teenage daughter. Overwhelmed by excessive hormones and blinded by an ideal life, she is rude, stubborn and annoying. But when her bubble bursts, she eventually becomes quite adorable. She also demonstrates a hidden intelligence

 

ARYA STARK: One of the strongest tomboy characters I’ve ever seen. Arya has her father’s lust for justice, while also maintaining a rebellion of what is expected of her as a girl. However, her goals may lead her down a dark path. Expect her to be an ancestor of Desmond Miles. In Whedonian Archetypes, she is 1 of many warriors, whose fight appears to be never ending.

 

BRAN STARK: On the surface, Bran is damaged goods. But he possesses a gift that succeeds anything he could have done with his body. This is a rarity within a world where his body would have been his prime focus of strength.

 

JON SNOW: Jon Snow, like his half brother Robb, is a great kid. Unfortunately he is not identified for who he is as a person, but rather what his father did to create him. No matter what he does, his mountains are based on choices beyond his control. He also proves to be adaptable, capable in battle, and thoughtful.

 

TYWIN LANNISTER: I personally like Tywin in the show because Charles Dance has such a fantastic presence about him. A tall shakespearan actor, he was an excellent choice for the role. Tywin is a shell of a man, in terms of compassion. But he is capable of it in quieter moments. Unlike many characters, he is also capable of making incredibly difficult decisions that can make both him and a lot of other people unhappy. To say the least, the man has a lot of cojones.

 

JAIME LANNISTER: Jaime Lannister’s burden is based on a different type of reputation. He is a man capable of love, trust and compassion underneath a shell of wit, sarcasm and darkly chosen words. His heroic deeds and loyalty are overshadowed by 1 simple fact: He murdered the last king, even if it was the Mad King, and therefore he cannot be trusted. In their history books, he is known simply as the King Slayer.

 

CERSEI LANNISTER: Cersei, like Catelyn Stark, married a man she didn’t fancy. She experienced many trials and troubles growing up, and they didn’t stop when she became both a wife and a mother. But unlike Catelyn, who became stronger and more mature in mind and character – Cersei became a bitter, scorned and greedy woman. She is a tragic villain who chooses to love nobody but Jaime and her children. She hates the rules and traditions of her world, and she rigs “the game” to not only have a consistent advantage, but also to hide her disgrace. As long as it takes away from everyone but herself, she will make sacrifices. The history behind her actions and behavior makes it all understandable, but it doesn’t provide an excuse for them. On the chart of Whedonian Archetypes, Cersei well and truly is the Bitch. Love Lena Headey, who appears to be a colourful and funny woman off-screen, but feel free to hate Cersei.

 

TYRION LANNISTER: Tyrion is part of the top 3 most disadvantaged characters in the whole story. He is a dwarf (“All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes”), he can’t fight particularly well, his father and sister hate him and blame him for his mother’s death, his nicknames aren’t particularly flattering (Imp and Half Man) and he is preferably hidden away when possible. However despite this, Tyrion is 1 of the most loveable characters in GOT. He is intelligent, witty, charming, honorable, capable of love and compassion, often just, and a devil with the ladies. He has his glimpses of insecurity and loves his wine, but He embraces his role in life, and walks like a Boss nearly everywhere he goes. In Whedonian Archetypes, he is best suited to being “The Relief”.  He almost makes you cheer when he walks into the room.

 

JOFFREY BARATHEON: Joffrey’s character is inspired by the Roman Emperor Caligula in the book, and in the show, actor Jack Gleeson borrowed from Commodus, the main villain in Gladiator (2000). He is a legend, because he well and truly has no redeeming qualities, as a Warrior, a King, and a human being. It could be argued that he was simply raised that way, that his mother Cersei possibly encourages his cruel and bullying behavior. It could also be argued that her behavior rubbed off onto him. However, the fact that Cersei’s other children turned out lovely, suggests otherwise.   The boy is terrible! He’s the classic school bully in the most powerful position in the land. We all hate Joffrey, but from what we’ve seen of his actor Jack Gleeson, quite the opposite. I remember hearing that the nicest people make some of the most amazing villains.

 

STANNIS BARATHEON: Stannis is a very serious, inflexible and humourless man, but also an entitled and religious one. He seeks to be king, but also seeks to do it the ‘right way’. The way the ‘true’ God would want him to do it. His sacrifices are harsh, but less personal and more business. He is very capable in all areas of his work, but has absolutely no charisma, charm or lovability.  It is also debatable whether he is protecting his daughter or ashamed of her.

 

DAVOS SEAWORTH: A smuggler of great legacy in his trade, Seaworth has a surprising amount of honesty and loyalty.  Not a Yes Man in any way, but also assertive in truth and beliefs.

 

RENLY BARATHEON: Renly is a very popular and charismatic king known for his great ability to provide pleasure, distraction and entertainment. However, his easy-going attitude and lack of battle experience makes him rather unpopular with his royal peers.

 

WALDER FREY: A really, really dirty old man. He likes his wives very young. That’s enough to hate him already.

 

LYSA TULLY: Westeros’ resident Hikikomori who chooses not to leave her castle in order to stay alive after the murder of her husband Jon Arryn. Her sense of justice is clouded by her emotions, fears and anger, to the point that her court trials are antagonistic and slandering in nature.

 

SHAE: She is a beautiful, but difficult woman. Though English (or whatever it’s called in Westeros) is her second language and she speaks it well – she is prone to taking anything said to her out of context.

 

THEON GREYJOY: Theon is a young man who experiences an overwhelming identity crisis. He tries to please a biological family that is happy enough without him, while hurting those who really cared for him. A little boy who is trying to fit in with a bad crowd, and doing it badly.

 

SAMWELL TARLY: If Jon Snow were Frodo, Samwell would be the Samwise Gamgee of GOT. A kind, caring, and book-smart young man, who for some reason is greatly hated. It is possibly because of his excessive weight, and possibly because he isn’t warrior material. In truth, it is probably both, as neither would help him in battle against the supernatural forces beyond the wall.

 

MARGAERY TYRELL: Margaery is fun to watch and her goal is simple. She portrays herself as being a very intelligent, cultured and nice person, because she is! However she is also taking advantage of those qualities to get what she wants. Either she is an excellent actress, or what she is doing plays to her strengths with ease.

 

OLENNA TYRELL: This woman is fantastic. An expert in politics, witty, sarcastic and one elderly lady you wouldn’t dare cross.

 

MELISANDRE: The Red Priestess is a real tweener. It’s hard to know if she’s good or bad. Her words are beautiful, encouraging and powerful, but she possesses a dark aura about her.

 

DAENERYS TARGARYEN: The Mother Of Dragons not only wants the throne, but desires to use her great power to free slaves and bringing justice to tyrants, and especially those who abuse women. It is 1 way to win over an audience. The best word to describe Daenerys is “Potential”. She is a higher being who struggles between the person they were and the person they are becoming.

 

VISERYS TARGARYEN: Unlike his sister, Viserys is like a poor man’s Joffrey. He is spoilt, jealous, unhappy, violent, and demanding. Feeling entitled, but deserves nothing.

 

PETYR BAELISH: Littlefinger is a self-made man, and a powerful at that. The council chooses to underestimate him because he wasn’t born into royalty. But often he will have his way. Not a trustworthy man.

 

VARYS: The Spider has many eyes and ears in the form of his child spies, and is potentially the one person in the whole world who knows everything going on. A mysterious man, he has the power to do what he likes with his words, and claims he is all for order and peace. A eunuch, it could be argued that he has nothing to lose but his life.

 

GRAND MAESTER PYCELLE: An old man who is much more than he seems. Also very loyal to whoever he likes best.

 

BRONN: Bronn is awesome, if you pay him. He’s a witty sellsword who is more than capable of looking after both self and others. His scenes with Tyrion are among my favourite to watch.  They would star in an awesome spin-off show together.

 

JORAH MORMONT: Jorah is very much in the role of a foreigner in GOT. A northman like Ned and Robert, he walks through great deserts and wastelands while protecting Daenerys Targaryen and her new family, the Dothrakis. After selling poachers into slavery (a possible good intention gone wrong, as selling slaves is against the law in this world), He was sentenced to die, but escaped. An excellent fighter, particularly for his age, and his respect for the very people he was originally spying on and now protecting is admirable.

 

KHAL DROGO: Little can be said about him, other than he is a man set in his ways, and he is a ferocious leader.

 

THE HOUND: Sandor Clegane is 1 half of a large, brutal tag team not named Lannister. Is there a difference between the tall Hound and his giant brother The Mountain? Yes, The Hound is the nice one…and he has a nasty burn on his face that makes him stand out in the crowd. Is he capable of extreme violence and bloodshed? Yes. But is he loyal? He is, and he also makes exceptions when morally necessary. Although his great fear of fire is enough for him to make his own decisions, and even defy orders.

 

BRIENNE OF TARTH: Brienne very loyal and at times quick to judge.  She is incredibly strong and a great fighter, but she is also overlooked, based simply on the fact that she’s female. A burden she has to overcome.

 

GENDRY: A young armoursmith whose life is made hell simply because of who is father is and who his mother isn’t. He is skilled in his trade, and he ends up going on a big adventure…all because of Robert Baratheon.

 

YGRITTE: An even bigger Tom-Boy than Arya (or at least much more experienced). Ygritte isn’t shy to say what’s on her mind, and would be a difficult person. But at the same time, she’s far from boring.

 

ROOSE BOLTON: The lord of Dreadfort is an efficient businessman who is mild-mannered and patient, but he is also a tactician and prefers climb and increase over loyalty.

 

RAMSAY SNOW: Joffrey might be a monstrous little boy, but Ramsay is a terrifying psychopath. He is like a demon from hell torturing the damned. Some even call him “Heath Ledger’s Joker in Game Of Thrones”. And unlike Joffrey, he’s an excellent actor and very bright, with a morbid sense of humour that milks his deeds. On Michael Stone’s scale of evil, he would be a 21 out of 22…if he decides not to kill his torture victims, but if he does, he’ll definitely be a 22.

 

Overall rating?  I did say it was a perfect show to me.  10/10.

Bloodsport Movie Review

Roughly 5 years before 1 of the most famous fighting tournaments of all time, UFC 1, became a reality, Bloodsport presented a very similar idea.  The movie is based on the autobiography “The Secret Man: An American Warrior’s Uncensored Story” by martial artist Frank Dux, who claimed that between 1975 and 1980 (when he was aged 19 to 24), he took part in secret fighting tournaments known as Kumite in Hong Kong.  He also claimed to have been undefeated and held numerous fighting records that are only known by those who witnessed the events.  I say the word ‘claimed’, because only Frank Dux himself knows whether it’s true or not.  Many dispute the story as complete myth, or part truths.  But at the same time, it has to be admitted – the concept is fascinating.

Martial Arts movies fans and action movie fans will probably be aware of this film, because it was the first in which Jean-Claude Van Damme was not only in a starring role, but he  was the hero as well.  He plays Frank Dux in the film (Obviously), and the bare bones of the story is this:  Frank Dux escapes the Army to go fight in a 3 day tournament in Hong Kong that he has been preparing for since his Sensei decided to make him ‘the son’ who he passes down his fighting style to.  Along the way, he makes friends with an American who is also fighting in the tournament, meets an absolutely scorching journalist, tries to escape the American authorities who want to drag him home kicking and screaming, and obviously play Bruce Lee’s role in the tournament.

This is a fun little movie, but it’s also quite terrible at the same time.  Van Damme apparently worked as 1 of the editors, and it shows because the editing is painfully bad.  It also came across to me as being like a parody of a Martial Arts movie from the ’80s…and yet it was made in the ’80s!  If you’ve developed a diet of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, you’ll probably watch this film and call it complete and utter crap.  And you know what, you’re right…but it still has its good points.

I liked the ’80s synthesiser music that would have been common in most movies from that decade, as well as the end theme “Fight To Survive” by Stan Bush (Which sounds a lot better on CD than in the film).  The film’s concept of different fighting styles coming together to see who’s the best is excellent fun and has a lot of different variations that deserve to be used and exploited for our enjoyment.  Such variations can be seen used in Fighting Games series such as Tekken, Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive.  One other thing I love about Hong Kong movies, and it’s very evident in this one, is their use of stereotypes.  When whites use stereotypes, it can be seen as racist.  When blacks used stereotypes, it can be seen as distasteful.  But when the chinese use stereotypes, it is comedy gold.  Frank Dux’s large american friend, Ray Jackson, is straight out of a fighting game.  He’s a large, loud, hairy biker type who wears all denim, giant white sneakers, heavy metal T-shirt and a bandana.  And unlike most “foreigners” in Hong Kong movies who would normally have a fighting or professional wrestling background, this guy has nothing like that, unless he is simply a “strong street fighter”.  No formal discipline, just the look.  I also thought 1 of the middle eastern fighters looked Thai, and the African fighter with his “Monkey” Martial Arts style?  Yeah…that would go down well today.  The film also got some lovely shots of Hong Kong within its cinematography.

Now onto the bad and the ugly: The acting for the most part in this film is pretty awful.  Even though it featured a young Forest Whitaker.  The story is simple, so simple in fact, that it’s difficult to become invested in the characters, who aren’t fleshed out at all.  I mean, how often does an intimate bromance show itself in a film when they only met 3 days ago?  Same with the Romance after 1 or 2 days?  It’s nearly as fast that 1 of those Titanic animated films that rips off the James Cameron version and feature talking mice.  The fight scenes are nowhere near as good as what you would expect from Hong Kong cinema.  What Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li did back in the early 1990s was a million times better, never mind Donnie Yen’s most recent work.  Having Bolo Yeung as the main villain in this could also be seen as a selling point, because he had a famous appearance in the movie Enter The Dragon.  This is 1 of 2 films he is best remembered for in the west.  The “troubled times” sequence was so bad it was funny.  It could also be remarked that this film is either full of a million cliches, or it was 1 of the first.  The fight sequences were too slow and poorly shot to look convincing.  It was like watching pro wrestling kicks in slow motion and creating little to no suspense of disbelief a lot of the time.  Want awesome action scenes that were 10 years older than this film?  Drunken Master.  What about within 5 years before it?  Police Story.  I’d recommend watching it at least once for a laugh, but never take it too seriously.  It’s not worth it.

8/10 for the soundtrack.  4/10 for the acting.  6/10 for the story.  5/10 for the characters.  6/10 for the fight sequences.  8/10 for the cinematography.  2/10 for the editing.  10/10 for being unintentionally funny.  Overall: 61/100

True Detective (2014)

In an era when many TV detective shows provide us with the often conclusive whodunit   after 1, or maybe at the most, 2 episodes.  Here we have a show that chooses to place all of its time and energy into solving 1 case.  A case that ends up stretching out over a period of 17 years in 8 episodes, each lasting an hour.  A similar length to a movie trilogy.  Our focus is on 2 detectives working in Louisiana.  As polar opposites, you will see plenty of physical and verbal birds flipped between them and absolutely no high fives or knuckle punches.  And yet when it comes to work, they’re perfect for each other.

Now, what original twist can be added to this buddy-cop partnership that makes it stand out from the likes of Sherlock and Watson, Castle and Beckett and Rizzoli and Isles?  Simple:  Martin “Marty” Hart and Rustin “Rusty” Cohle are both corrupt.  They’re corrupt in different ways, but still, they’re both corrupt.  Marty (played by Woody Harrelson) is an extrovert.  He is a family man with a beautiful wife (played by Michelle Monaghan) and 2 girls.  He likes watching sports, drinking beer, and hanging out in bars.  He is also an alcoholic who abuses his authority as a cop, cheats on his wife and is prone to outbursts of physical violence.  Rusty (played by Matthew McConaughey) on the other hand is an introvert.  He is single and very much alone.  His primary hobbies are reading and getting wasted, and unlike his culturally christian partner, he is a nihilist who sees no purpose in anything.  However he is also incredibly loyal and dedicated to his few friends and work.  He likes to finish anything he starts.  He will break or bend the law, and even work outside the police force in order to accomplish his goals.  If he can’t get a warrant on a suspect’s home, he’ll perform a b&e later.

From the beginning of the story, it is evident.  Marty and Rusty are searching for a cult or a cult leader or simply a delusional individual.  A young prostitute is found murdered.  She is in the nip, blindfolded, in a praying position, has a strange, spiral tattoo on her back, and has deer’s antlers on her head, designed to resemble a crown.  She is found in front of a tree, surrounded by burnt crops and twig latticeworks that look like something from the Blair Witch Project.  Sounds normal, right?  That would depend, if every murder was ritualistic in nature.  There is a concern that this isn’t the first time it has happened, and it is also clear that this is a case that will affect both Marty and Rusty on a personal level as well.  Much of the story shows the relationship between them, and considering the actors are friends in real life, the delivery flows like water.

True Detective finished up here in the UK a few weeks after it finished up in the USA.  To say the least, it is a fantastic show.  Excellent acting from everybody, movie-quality production, great soundtrack (even if some songs don’t fit into the time frame, such as “A History Of Bad Men” by The Melvins being used in 1995 when it came out in 2006, still, it worked well in the scene), excellent cinematography, and most importantly, a great story.  Perfect for those who like Detective shows (Story-wise) and Game Of Thrones (Everything that would make you a terrible parent if you showed it to the very young and impressionable).  It is dark, creepy, suspenseful, addictive, engaging, tight, philosophical, and well thought-out.  10/10 for the characters, 9/10 for the story, 9/10 for the music, 10/10 for the acting, 10/10 for the cinematography (there is a scene involving Rusty and a biker, it is 1 of the best scenes I have ever witnessed on TV in terms of cinematography), 10/ 10 for the production.  Overall: 96/100