Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bayou detectives

HBO's latest offering, True Detective has been getting a lot of attention, and soaring in the number of viewers each week for what is supposed to be a conclusive 8-part series.  Judging by the reviews, the series offers a a number of tantalizing metaphysical and existential trappings, with quotes from Nietzsche and a subtext lifted from the pages of Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow.  But, judging from trailers and clips this is a very stylish buddy cop movie with Woody Harrelson as your quintessential Southern good ol' boy and Matthew McConaughey as an existential cowboy.

The story is set in the bayous of Louisiana with industrial plants looming on the horizon, not much unlike Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Darkness blurs the edges, as if on the eve of destruction, so no surprise that religious motifs abound, but they have become perverted much like the Yellow King himself.

Emily Nussbaum wasn't as glowing in her New Yorker review as others have been.  Despite all its trappings, the story basically comes down to two guys with the female characters little more than eye candy.  In this sense, it seems to take more from pulp magazines of the past, from which it appears to have taken its title.  Nussbaum said it would be much better if the show didn't take itself so damn seriously. There doesn't seem to be even a touch of irony.  But, this hasn't stopped others from gushing over it.  This review from The Daily Beast is pretty typical.

What I find fascinating is the transformation of McConaughey.  This past year saw him take on a number of projects in which he has literally reconfigured himself.  From the previews, it doesn't seem as though he put on much weight since the making of Dallas Buyers Club, looking gaunt and utterly vacant in expression.  He had played a cop (albeit a dirty cop) once before in Lone Star, but his character was fleeting.  Yet, there is the same two-tier time element in this serial, much like John Sayles employed in Lone Star.

I'm always leary of "revolutionary" new shows because they are rarely that revolutionary, but True Detective looks like it would be fun to watch just the same.

1 comment:

  1. Slate had fun with the old magazine covers,

    in parodying the series.