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Monday 13 July 2020
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TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘WESTERN BOOK OF THE DEAD’ REVIEW

TRUE  DETECTIVE 2: ‘WESTERN BOOK OF THE DEAD’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: EPISODE 1 REVIEW – John Carter from Mars and a Mean Girl look moody with Alexander the Great and  Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend.

I used to be a big fan of James Ellory. I loved the LA Quartet and American Tabloid. But The Cold Three Thousand. Spoiled it for me. There’s a point when you hard boil something that everything evaporates and all of a sudden all you have is the smell of burning. In that book there was nary a sentence longer than four words. Everything was clipped and succinct to the point it suc.t.

The Western Book of the Dead – the first episode of the second season of Nic Pizzolatto’s HBO anthology series True Detective is geographically and tonally in prime James Ellroy territory, a dark noir set in the underworld of Los Angeles and environs. It features a set of characters, none of whom ever go to supermarkets or laugh at reruns of The Simpsons (the first five seasons). None of them have even heard of Game of Thrones. Colin Farrell plays Ray, a corrupt cop who drinks, does drugs and who has a fat dopey ginger haired son who is probably the son of his wife’s rapist. Rachel McAdam is Ani, a police officer whose day’s work seems to be going around the county arresting her own backstory – sister’s a prostitute, dad’s a mystic. Taylor Kitsch is officer Woodrugh, a traffic cop and war veteran who is so troubled that he can’t even have a blow job without a haunted facial expression. And Vince Vaughn is the local mobster with the Corleone urge to get into some legitimate business and leave it to his yet to be conceived heir.

I’m not sure if this anxiety over paternity that goes through the first episode is directly related to the shadow cast by the success of True Detective Season 1, and I do have to remember that I couldn’t stand the first show for at least the first three episodes. However, the incessant soundtrack, clipped dialogue and the constant moodiness feel like they’re covering up something superficial and wrong: ‘I wanted to be an astronaut,’ Ray complains into a voice recorder. ‘But astronauts don’t even go to the moon anymore.’ Well, boo-f*cking-hoo.

The body turns up at the end, giving the impression that this was all prologue and there’s hope this might find its groove, as the characters finally swoop on the story, but the familiarity and Justin Linn’s full immersion in True Detective style is not a good omen. And some of the writing is awful. Police detectives approach the mansion of a local big wig who has gone missing: ‘This is a big house for one man’, which is political commentary + exposition – anything anyone would actually say. The guy lives in Los Angeles and he hasn’t noticed that rich politicians live in big houses? Maybe I’m being harsh but Ray did say ‘I welcome judgement’.

Oh and finally…

[SPOILER PREDICTION: If it turns out that Vince Vaughn set up Colin Farrell’s wife’s rape as a way of compromising a cop and putting him in his debt, and then Colin Farrell finds out in episode 7, I will be very displeased.]

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