The Deuce: Maybe It’s Time You Watched This Show

The-Deuce-Season-2

HBO’s The Deuce is, as the good folk over at Birth.Movies.Death nailed it: “the best show nobody watches” and maybe it’s time to rectify that. Check out the season two trailer:

David Simon and George Pelecanos, two of the creators behind The Wire, have been quietly producing one of the most engaging and fascinating shows on TV and y’all haven’t been making much noise about it.

The Deuce is set around 42nd Street and Times Square in the 1970s and follows the lives of a disparate group whose lives are intertwined with the lights of the marquees and the sweaty trades that ply behind them: sex workers, junkies, hustlers, cops and those that pull their purse strings, and wraps around them the story of the emergence of the porn industry into its brief life as ‘porno chic.’

It has an ensemble cast to die for, brilliantly headed up by James Franco (doing superb work in double roles, as brothers Frankie and Vinnie) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (as sex worker Eileen “Candy” Merrell, who engineers a life behind the camera in porn), and features the same kind of measured, unwinding storytelling and sharp eye for character that made The Wire so watchable. It also shares with that show a certain tarnished poetry of the streets, making the criss-crossing lives of those who inhabit them beautiful and vivid, without ever glamorising or papering over their often harsh realities. You can practically smell the disinfectant from the peep shows.

The second season will jump forward some four of five years, to the late 1970s, and if we’re really lucky HBO will renew The Deuce for its third and final season, where Simon and Pelecanos plan to show the beginning of the end of the Times Square fleshpots in the late 1980s, before Disney moved in and made it the family-friendly, conglomorate branded tourist spot it is today.

If you aren’t watching this show you’re missing out on one of the single best pieces of drama on TV. Time to buy a ticket to The Deuce now…

Franco’s Film Is No Disaster – The Disaster Artist

the-disaster-artist-f72066

When talking about James Franco’s The Disaster Artist it’s probably best to get the elephant in the room (no pun intended) out of the way first.

Franco has had a number of troubling accusations leveled against him, and while trial by social media is a dangerous arena you’re going to have to put them aside if you want to enjoy this film as it’s the Franco show all the way.

Still with me? Okay, well this recent news is made all the more sad and frustrating because Franco has made one hell of a film. Telling the story of the unlikely friendship of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, and their even unlikelier journey to making one of the truly great cult movies of all time, The Room.

If you’ve ever seen that remarkable creation, or have knowledge of the bizarre circumstances of the film’s production, you’ll understand that it would have been all too easy to make The Disaster Artist from a position of sneering at its subject. Instead, Franco and co have crafted something which not only gets as close to finding the man beneath the enigma that is Wiseau (who lies about both his age and background) as we’re ever likely to get, but does so with a surprising amount of heart and frailty. More importantly we’re allowed to see the sheer force of will it took Wiseau to self-finance and write, produce, direct and star in his own movie. Fans of The Room will not be disappointed at the lovingly recreated sections of that most bizarre of movies (and stick around until the end of the credits for a typically gonzo appearance from Wiseau himself).

Anybody who has ever attempted an act of creativity will empathise with Wiseau and marvel at the true story of something that became derided but loved by millions of moviegoers. Much like Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, this is a film about the outsider and one which celebrates and exalts that position.

It’s possible Franco is about to get firsthand experience of being a Hollywood outsider, and if the allegations against him are proved true then that will be deservedly so, but until we know more I’m going to judge the film on its own merits, and this is a warts-and-all look at a true individual and is one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen in a long time. Highly recommended.

Humans return in Alien: Covenant prologue!

alien-_covenant_-_twitter_-_h_-_2016

Fox have just released this four minute prologue sequence for their upcoming Alien: Covenant, not part of the film itself and directed by Luke Scott, Ridley’s son.

Rather encouragingly, these four minutes contain more recognisable human qualities than the entire two hours of Prometheus, as we’re deftly introduced to the crew of the colony ship Covenant just before they enter cryosleep.

James Franco, Danny McBride, Katherine Waterston and Michael Fassbender are all front and centre, with Fassbender as Walter, a different android character to that of David from Prometheus, last seen as a collection of body parts jetting off into the unknown with Noomi Rapace.

How that film’s ending ties into Alien: Covenant remains to be seen, but this new production obviously feels confident enough to land one mother of a joke at the expense of the original Alien’s now-classic dinner scene with John Hurt.

All of which bodes well for Alien: Covenant. At least it can’t be any worse than Prometheus, right!? Right, Ridley…!?