cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (shut it)
Specifically, jumping off from The Zanzibar Marketplace Job:

Okay, I had a problem with this episode: that it was so unfuckingbelievably awesome that I couldn't help thinking that I wouldn't mind at all if the show was always like this episode, with Nate and Maggie as an on-again-off-again couple getting into scrapes and Tara as the team's grifter. I like Gina Bellman as Sophie quite a lot, so I feel super-bad saying this, but I did not miss her at all in this ep, or for that matter in The Bottle Job or in The Future Job. Nate and Tara work well together, and the fact that they're strictly professional and not romantic at all is actually a bonus--I just watch them work the room as partners and delight in how good they are at it. I also like the way Tara interacts with the other cast members--I dig that she's not part of the family, but instead, the outsider they call in for special jobs; she also has fabulous chemistry with everyone; I think TV producers cry at night hoping to get this kind of strong chemistry with their regular casts, never mind the guest stars. I've always liked Jeri Ryan, but I'm surprised by just how much I like her in this role; I will be genuinely sorry to see her go when Gina Bellman comes back. I'd settle for Tara sticking around when Sophie returns, but I know it won't happen.

I don't dislike the ship of Nate and Sophie...but I ship the hell out of Nate and Maggie, because Timothy Hutton and Kari Matchett have that once-in-a-lifetime chemistry that you can see for your own damn self in the multiple different roles where they've worked together (A Nero Wolfe Mystery, 5ive Days to Midnight, and, y'know, here). Goodness knows, Nate and Maggie's history is at least as tangled and compelling as Nate and Sophie's, so for sheer dramatic material, it's kinda just a matter of preference. But Nate/Sophie is the endgame, I know, so I will not let myself get any more maudlin about Hutton and Matchett and how they are screen magic, baby...

Other unworthy thoughts: I totally love that Nate's drinking again. As some commenter on John Rogers' blog put it, he's more interesting as a functional alcoholic than he is sober. Self-destructiveness can be very painful to watch--in real life, it pretty much always is, unless you carry a major hate for the self-destructive person--but under the right circumstances (with a well-written character, a good actor, a convincing scenario) nothing in fiction is more compelling. To me, Nate and Nate's issues and Nate's drinking are definitely in the camp of compelling. I could and will watch Timothy Hutton in anything; he's such an interesting actor, and usually the most powerful actor every scene he's in (tho' he's a consummate pro, and does not steal focus when he shouldn't); sober Nate is thus still interesting. But I think the absolute highlight of Hutton's performance in the show was in The First David Job, when we were seeing his drinking and his self-destructiveness and self-delusions pretty much at their peak. It's a killer part, and he nails every second of it.

(Okay, he might have topped it with that absolutely devastating scene in The Second David Job where Nate tells Maggie the truth about the death of their son--it's rawly painful, and I have never been able to watch it without crying. But any decent actor should be able to go to town with material that juicy, and I think it's a little more difficult to hit the right notes in portraying someone who's spiraling out of control, but not yet hit the bottom.) Watching Nate transition from being a (presumably) reasonably happy person (successful in his job, married to the awesomeness that is Maggie, raising their much-loved, late-life son with her--Nate's obviously always had issues, but it does seem like he enjoyed his life at that point) to the staggeringly messed up person we know--well, seeing that would have been hard. But we got to skip it; we were introduced to Nate as a mess, so instead of watching him go through the initial, awful decline, we've just watched him struggle along in the dirt, sometimes getting his head up and even looking approximately in the direction of okay; mostly not. That mess is just fascinating to me. Nate needs to wallow in it? Hell yeah, let's wallow.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Archival post: The Hooded Utilitarian blog post #6: Female Creators Roundtable: Jane Austen and yes, eventually, some damned zombies. Originally posted at The Hooded Utilitarian by Cerusee on 7-26-2009.

Female Creators Roundtable: Jane Austen and yes, eventually, some damned zombies. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (things still surprise me)
--Never has the unlined face of youth seemed so dumb to me.


--Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton do not look remotely like father and son. Hutton and Moore don't look alike, either. But I can't quibble, because they all act the fuck out of this movie. I keep having these nagging 20th century upper class psychoanalyst film thoughts, but as films about the emotional travails of privileged wealth go, this is pretty heart-rending, and the casting is a big factor in its effectiveness.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (shh daddy's plotting)
Fabulous analysis of Nathan Ford, and why he's so fascinating, here. It's a great summation of everything I was struggling to articulate in that previous post. Spoilery for the first season.

I truly love everything about this show, all the characters, but Nate is definitely the character that pushes it into obsession for me.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Watching Ordinary People, the famous 1980 film for which Timothy Hutton earned an Oscar; I'd never seen it before.

How weird, to see Hutton in this. I saw Moore first in The Dick Van Dyke Show, and then in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and of course she's older here, but that's what people do; they get older. Sutherland is stranger, because I've only ever seen him as an older man, and here he's just middle aged, but it's not the hardest leap, to take twenty years off of an old man.

But Hutton...I've only seen a three-decades older Hutton, the incredibly able Hutton, with his charisma, his presence, the fine command of dialogue and deliberate body language: all in the vehicle of an middle-aged body, a deeper, rougher voice, a face that is quite attractive, but also lined and lived-in. This teenage Hutton is shocking to me, because he is instantly recognizable as the youthful version of that man; you recognize him at the first sentence, the first facial quirk. The mannerisms and the voice are the same as the adult version; the body is so incredibly young. How is this smooth-faced, light-voiced child this good of an actor? It seems only fair that a man Hutton's age can do what Hutton can do, with all those years of practice, but how is he here so good, so young? I can't believe my eyes.


There's a scene, near the middle of Ordinary People, in which Beth Jarrett, Moore's character, wanders out into the chilly yard to talk with her son Conrad. We have already seen that there is no intimacy between mother and son, and they strain to connect somehow; Conrad reaches for childhood memories--a pigeon that used to nest on Beth's car and frighten her, a dog that Conrad and his brother wanted when they were young--but Beth is uncomfortable with the note of discontent in Conrad's recollections, and the conversation quickly implodes; she retreats back into the house, abandoning her tentative effort at being a parent to her surviving son. It's very powerful, and it's a microcosm of the film; symbolic of everything wrong with the Jarretts, everything that Beth has withheld from her family. It's beautifully played--the ambiguous, wistful longing from both parties, the inevitability of their failure to make a connection, Conrad's pain, Beth's unwillingness to make anything but the most superficial acknowledgement of his existance. Her token gestures of motherhood--telling Conrad to work harder at swimming, to wear his jacket in the cold--are revealed as meaningless by her total inability to share a single moment of emotional honesty with her suffering son. It's quietly, almost gently heartbreaking, all this failure.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (shh daddy's plotting)
The appeal of Leverage can be summed up in five parts: (1) Smartly written (2) likable, interesting characters who like each other (3) skillfully work together (4) to run clever, entertaining scams in order to earn justice and recompense for (5) innocent people who have been crushed by the wealth and power of governmental and corporate corruption. Our heroes trick, hack, swindle, grift, and sometimes jump off of buildings (in order to break into them, cat-burglar style), all of which is super-fun television. They do all this equally because they enjoy running scans and (in the words of Christian Kane's last TV show), in order to help the helpless. The cast is excellent; the characters are endearing. It's light and breezy, maybe just a little bit too much so, but I forgive it, because it is so faultlessly entertaining.

We can choose not to be bastards. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (shh daddy's plotting)
[Poll #1433675]
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (shh daddy's plotting)
You know what's awesome? Leverage. I'm at a loss as to what I like best about it: nommable Timothy Hutton, delectable Gina Bellman, the overall awesomeness of the ensemble cast, or the fact that apparently Kari Matchett is going to turn up somewhere, playing Hutton's character's ex-wife. Matchett played a variety of roles in the A&E adaptations of Nero Wolfe mysteries, including Lily Rowan, the non-exclusive and incomparable girlfriend of Archie Goodwin; Goodwin was played brilliantly by Hutton. Matchett was fantastic in all her roles, and had strong romantic and comedic chemistry with Hutton in many of her roles, particularly as Lily. If I could, I would pay for lots of movie tickets to see Hutton and Matchett paired up in romantic comedies, so just the idea of Matchett playing Nathan Ford's ex-wife makes me foam at the mouth in a good way.

Hutton is too scruffy as Ford; I liked his smartly-groomed Archie Goodwin look better. That is my only complaint so far. Oh, and also that in Netflix's Watch Instantly set-up for Leverage, it seems to be skipping around in the episodes--either it's out of chronological order or several episodes are just not available at all; I don't know which. But that's not the show's fault, it's Netflix's, so I won't hold it against them.

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