Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 5/22/22 — 5/28/22

We’ve been up in Arkansas for most of this week so I haven’t watched much television.  Interestingly enough, I have watched quite a few films and written quite a few reviews.  I guess there’s probably a lesson to be learned there.

I have to be honest.  As much as I want to get caught up on all of the miniseries and shows that I didn’t get a chance to see over the past few months, it’s difficult to get started.  It doesn’t help that even the miniseries that sound interesting are still way too long.  I saw a show that I was interested in watching on Netflix but then I checked and I discovered that it’s 10 episodes long, each episode is over 60 minutes, and the first episode deals with the main character’s grandparents.  It’s hard for me to justify spending 11 to 12 hours on a show that doesn’t even start with the main storyline.  During the pandemic, streaming services could get away with that sort of thing because there were no other options.  Today, there are other options, assuming you don’t live in one of those crazy lockdown states up north.

Anyway, here are a few thoughts on what I did watch this week:

1883 (Paramount Plus)

This western miniseries serves as a prequel to Yellowstone, a very popular show that I have yet to really watch.  Sam Elliott plays Shea Brennan, an aging and suicidal cowboy who helps to lead a group of German settlers across the frontier.  Along for the ride are the Duttons (played by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill) and their teenage daughter, Elsa (Isabel May).  It’s a long journey, full of tragedy and violence.  Many people die, some from gunshot and some just from accidentally run over by a wagon.  Elsa narrates.  Shea finds something to live for.  The Duttons eventually settle in the land that will serve as the setting of Yellowstone.  

Each episode of 1883 was sponsored by a store that sells tractor supplies and that pretty much tells you who the target audience was for the show.  For all the graphic violence, sex, and precision F-bombs, 1883 is a fairly old-fashioned western.  That said, it was all very well-done and well-acted.  Isabel May was the cast standout while Sam Elliott showed that, regardless of how you may feel about his Power of the Dog opinions, he’s still one of the most authentic western actors around.  1883 was long but, even over 10 episodes, there weren’t any slow spots and even potentially distracting cameos from Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Hanks didn’t take away from the show’s narrative momentum.

On a personal note, I liked 1883‘s portrayal of Fort Worth as being the most lawless town in Texas.

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

Having stowed away on the airplane that was meant to pick up the British airmen, Edith and Rene found themselves in the UK!  They also discovered that Captain Geering (last seen 3 seasons ago) was now working for the British.  Edith and Rene received medals for Chuchhill and then, to Rene’s consternation, they were promptly sent back to France.  They arrived just in time to keep Momma and LeClerc from performing their new cabaret number.  

By Allo Allo standards, this episode was actually fairly coherent.

American Idol (Monday Night, ABC)

Though I kind of lost interest in this season after Hollywood week, I did tune in to see Noah Thompson win the season on Monday.  To be honest, Noah seems like he’s destined to be one of the forgotten winners of American Idol but I was still happy to see that he beat the annoyingly quirky Leah Marlene and the annoyingly monikered Huntergirl.

Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)

While this week’s episode didn’t feature anything quite as brilliant as last week’s customer service conversation, it was still a very good episode.  Gene’s dinner with Joe Mantegna was cringe comedy at its best.  Meanwhile, Sally’s show was canceled despite its RT score.  At first, I was a bit worried she would take Barry back but fortunately, Barry ruined the moment and she get kicked him out again.

Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)

Poor Howard!  I’ve seen enough of this show and Breaking Bad to know that Howard was probably going to die at some point but I was still upset to see it happen.  Patrick Fabian was terrific in the role.  Hopefully, the Emmy voters will remember Fabian this year.  If nothing else, he’s come a long way since he played Prof. Lasky on Saved By The Bell: The College Years.

Creepshow (Shudder)

On Friday, I watched the third episode of season 3.  A tech billionaire destroyed the wrong painting.  A prisoner took revenge after his pet spider was killed.  It was all enjoyably macabre.  Those killer spiders were especially creepy!  Agck!

Dynasty (Friday Night, The CW)

All the scheming and the plotting and the melodramatic dialogue continued this week.  To be honest, I was a bit out of it on Friday because I had strained my back earlier in the day so I’ll probably have to rewatch Friday’s episode.  I just know I’m going to miss Dynasty when it’s gone.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

Maryanne won.  I was happy that Maryanne won.  I know some people are saying that she only won because she was likable but Maryanne did engineer the Omar blindside so I think she earned her right to claim victory.  That said, I am getting a little bit tired of people riding their immunity idols all the way to the end of the game.  The show needs to put a time limit on those idols.  Anyway, I wrote about the finale for the Reality TV Chat Blog!

We Own This City (Monday Night, HBO)

This week’s episode was a bit heavy-handed but that’s what most of us have to come to expect from David Simon’s recent work.  We Own This City works when it’s dealing with the corrupt cops but it comes to a halt whenever the focus shifts to the DOJ investigators.  Treat Williams’s cameo as a reform-minded police academy instructor was embarrassingly over-written and felt out-of-place.  That said, the good still outweighs the bad when it comes to this show.  It may be uneven but, at its best, it’s still a thought-provoking look at the warrior cop mentality and how systemic corruption can destroy a city.

Here Are The Winners of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival

The 2022 Cannes Film Festival has come to a close! 

To be honest, I didn’t hear much about Cannes this year.  Maybe it was because I’ve been on a mini-vacation for the past two and a half weeks but it seems as if the Cannes coverage was a bit more lowkey than usual.  There weren’t any big controversies, perhaps reflecting the fact that everyone is kind of unified in hating Putin right now.  It seems like the biggest event was the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick and Tom Cruise receiving a special prize for being one of the last of the old school movie stars.

Well, regardless, the winners have been announced!  Looking over this list, I don’t see any films that really jump out as probable Oscar nominee so, if you’re looking for another Parasite to come out of this festival, you’re probably out of luck.  Here are the winners:

Palme d’Or: “Triangle of Sadness” by Ruben Östlund

Grand Prix: “Close” by Lukas Dhont and “Stars at Noon” by Claire Denis

Special Prize for Cannes’ 75th anniversary: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes, “Tori and Lokita”

Jury Prize: “Eo” and “Le Otto Montagne”

Best Actress: Zar Amir Ebrahimi, “Holy Spider”

Best Actor: Song Kang Ho, “Broker”

Best Director: Park Chan-wook, “Decision to Leave”

Best Screenplay: “Boy from Heaven”

Camera d’Or: “War Pony,” directed by Gina Gammell and Riley Keough

Short Film Palme d’Or: “The Water Murmurs”

Scenes That I Love: Bo Hopkins and Richard Dreyfuss Flip A Cop Car in American Graffiti

I just read that the veteran actor Bo Hopkins has passed away at the age of 84.  The last movie of note that I saw Hopkins in was Hillbilly Elegy, where he had a small role as Glenn Close’s husband.  However, if you’re a fan of older films, you will probably recognize Bo Hopkins, even if you don’t know the name.  He was a handsome but weathered actor with a Texas accent and a reckless attitude.  He was a doomed member of a gang of old west bank robbers in The Wild Bunch.  In Midnight Express, he played a mysterious government agent who turned out to be not as benevolent as he originally seemed.

And, in the 1973 classic American Graffiti, he played the leader of the Pharaohs, the local gang of small town James Dean wannabes.  Even though Hopkins didn’t get a lot of screentime in American Graffiti, he definitely made an impression as the intimidating but ultimately friendly aspiring delinquent.  In the scene below, he and Richard Dreyfuss flip a cop car.

RIP, Bo Hopkins.

Hard Case Crime Strikes Again!

Hard Case Crime publishes novels about crime.  Some of them are reprints of classics from pulp era.  Others are new works by authors paying homage to hard-boiled detective and crime stories of the 50s and 60s.  The retro covers also pay homage to the pulp era.  Some of the best cover artists around — from Robert McGinnis to Glenn Orbik to Chuck Pyle and many others — have done covers for Hard Case Crime and I absolutely love them.  There are many people who buy these books strictly for the covers.  I’m one of them.

I’ve shared several Hard Case Crime covers on this site.  Here are a few of the more recent covers to come out of Hard Case Crime:

by Claudia Caranfa

by Claudia Caranfa

by Claudia Caranfa

by Paul Mann

by Paul Mann

by Ron Lesser

6 Shots From 6 Films: Special Gordon Willis Edition

4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today the Shattered Lens celebrates what would have been the 91st birthday of the great cinematographer, Gordon Willis.  Willis was the master of using shadow and underexposed film to create some of the most haunting movie images of the 70s and 80s.  He was also one of the first cinematographers to take advantage of the so-called “magic hour,” that moment when the sun is setting and everything is bathed in a golden glow.  Today, everyone does that but Willis was the first.

Willis has often been cited as one of the most influential cinematographers of all time but, amazingly, Willis would receive only two Academy Award nominations (for Zelig and The Godfather Part III) and he would never win a competitive Oscar.  Remember that, the next time someone argues that the Oscars are the final arbitrator as far as cinematic quality is concerned.

(Actually, does anyone argue that anymore?)

In memory of Gordon Willis, here are….

6 Shots From 6 Gordon Willis Films

End of the Road (1970, dir by Aram Avakian, Cinematography by Gordon Willis)

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola, Cinematography by Gordon Willis)

The Parallax View (1974, dir by Alan J. Pakula, Cinematography by Gordon Willis)

The Godfather Part II (dir by Francis Ford Coppola, Cinematography by Gordon Willis)

All The President’s Men (1976, dir by Alan J. Pakula, Cinematography by Gordon Willis)

Manhattan (1979, dir by Woody Allen, Cinematography by Gordon Willis)