Copenhagen Cops – The Department Q Trilogy

So over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I think we had just one day when the Mouth that Roared (DJT) was thankfully silent. Taking advantage of that fact, I concentrated my efforts at watching a scruffy detective out of Copenhagen, Denmark, and his partner, solve three cases.

The series which I watched on the Netflix streaming service, is actually three two-hour films. Collectively the series is called Department Q – Trilogy. But the reality is that these films were produced in 2013, 2014, and the most recent in 2016.

The first is called The Keeper of Lost Causes (in Danish Kvinden i buret). Detective Carl Mørk is just back from an extended leave. He had been recuperating from something. Mørk is a smart, even a brilliant cop, but not one given to either following orders, or being a team player. His vices include being a heavy smoker and a drinker. He’s unkempt, and that’s being generous or kind.

He doesn’t shave (or likely bathe) very often and to say that the complete package of Homicide Detective Carl Mørk is distinctly an unpleasant person seems more than apt.

conspiracyoffaith02

Anyway, he and his partner are on a stake out when they determine that their suspect is in the building in front of them. They are ordered to hold their positions and wait for back-up to arrive. But Mørk, played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, isn’t about to sit there waiting. Against the orders issued and his partner’s reservations, they enter the building.

Shots are fired, and the partner is shot resulting in a serious wound. He lives but he may never walk again.

Mørk’s superiors are not happy. Not only did Mørk disobey direct orders, but now, no one is willing to work with him. So he’s removed from the Homicide Division. They demote him down to Department Q, a previously non-existent department. His task is to go through twenty years of  unsolved cold cases. In short, he’s been sent to the ‘Siberia’ of police posts anywhere in the world. Cold cases barely registers above evidence locker in most police departments. Solving the cases is not what the brass wanted. They wanted Mørk and company to simply clear the cases. The task is to close three cases a week with a written report.  In short make no waves.

Mørk is assigned a partner, a detective named Assad, played by Fares Fares, who you may have seen in Safe House, Zero Dark Thirty, and will soon be seen in the upcoming Star Wars film – Rogue One. While Mørk considers that he has been both demoted and tossed aside, Assad sees it as a promotion because he had been stamping paperwork at the train depot. Assad is a Muslim and has no personal life to speak of. He eats at the same diner every day of the week.

So to finish the set up – The Keeper of Lost Causes is about a politician who disappeared after boarding a ferry. They, the detectives who handled the original investigation have called it a suicide. But Mørk is not convinced. Check out the trailer for The Keeper of Lost Causes:

The second film is called The Absent One (in Danish – Fasandræberne). This one is about some murders in an exclusive and expensive private school. The belief is that a certain student witnessed a pair of murders of some students at this school. There’s another school of thought that this ‘witness’ also took part in these killings. By the way, this female student apparently has been missing since 1994. Seems like another lost cause doesn’t it?

Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Well another year has passed into history, and is now a topic for books and historians. It’s been as tumultuous a year as I can remember. But that’s real life – I’m not making any such statements about the world of art. The year I referenced is not a calendar year but rather a Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving year. As has been my custom for this blog – I celebrate Thanksgiving by bringing you some art to admire, to think about, to be puzzled by – or to simply make you say WOW!

I Hope you will enjoy the art. I don’t think that there are any Art Galleries that are open today Thanksgiving Day), and maybe not too many museums, if any. So you may enjoy the selections here without taking to our nation’s roads, highways, or airports. So without further prologue or warm up lets get into it.

Art is a medium that strikes each of us differently. It doesn’t matter if you see the art on a museum wall, or in some one’s home, or even in an art gallery – your collective reactions are as different as the topics artists choose to memorialize.

The painting at the top of this post is called Old Glory. The artist is the Texan, Clinton Broyles. I led off with this work even though I know that not everyone is a fan of guns and or whiskey. But that leads us to the natural follow-up by Mr. Broyles. Yes, there’s still a gun, marked down from a rifle to a handgun, but the whiskey is not present.

This second one from Broyles is called Texas Two Step.

In case you didn’t get the score, the NFL’s hottest team right now is the Dallas Cowboys who today, Thanksgiving Day, won their 10th straight game. These two Broyles paintings also represent an art genre called Still Life – which is a kind of painting that has gotten very little coverage from me over the years.

Our next batch (of three) are about people looking at art. The first is called Puzzled and is by Chris Chapman who hails from Bournemouth in the UK. The next one is by Pauline Roche and its title is Discovering the Degas. Pauline was born in London but grew up in Australia. Her specialty is what she calls people in quiet contemplation that reveal a connection between the people and their surroundings

We’ll let Mr. Chapman close out this section with a work similar to Puzzled. He calls it Head Scratching. Even the dog isn’t sure of what he’s looking at.

Chapman is an illustrator and has done a whole series of similar works called Fraud Monet, Roy Lichtensteinish, and Jason Pillocks.

Switching gears, or should I say the type of art, let’s look at some paintings from the school of classic realism. The first two are by painter Alfredo Rodriguez.

The first is called Free Trapper. Just look at the details of his fur hat, or his beard.

Continue reading

Allied

Allied is a term you don’t hear very often these days. While there are plenty of allies, or alliances, it is quite likely that when you hear the term ‘allied’ you will most likely think of a moving van company, or your thoughts will stray back to the WWII era.

Which is exactly where director Robert Zemeckis and screenplay author Stephen Knight have taken us in the brand new film Allied. The film has Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as the leads. Pitt plays a Canadian called Max Vatan who is on loan to the British Royal Air Force, and Cotillard is a Frenchwoman called Marianne Beauséjour, who is in the French Resistance to be accurate.

We find both of them in Casablanca. Morocco, a then French colony under the control of the occupying Germans. It is 1942. Pitt, as Vatan,

parachutes in, landing in the desert, while Cotillard, is already up and running, as a smart and desirable member of the Casablanca high society. Which said another way means that she is hobnobbing with the German High Command in Morocco.

Vatan is picked up on a road that leads back to Casablanca. He’s given a suitcase which is filled with all the requisites – you know – passport, Letters of transit, cash, and of course weapons. His driver gives Vatan the intel just as he’s about to be dropped off at the tres chic nightclub, called The Rivoli,  in Casablanca.  Your wife will be in a purple dress. Look for the hummingbird.

And there she is. You can see the hummingbird’s wing at the bottom of the photo above. This is exactly what Vatan saw. Max is going to be passed off as Marianne’s husband who after many months in Paris is now able to join his wife in Casablanca.

So the tale is now in motion. There’s some concerns about Vatan’s French accent, (in the film he’s Canadian after all, but his ‘wife’ thinks he sounds like he’s from Quebec rather than Paris) and some other hurdles will come their way – but hopefully, they will be able to complete their assignment which is to assassinate the German ambassador.

Now that seems a fine set up for the movie. But the problem is that this part is only the first half of the movie. There’s a second half and almost all of that takes place in London and the some suburbs called Hampstead and Hampstead Heath.

While the first half is about the mission it is also about Pitt and Cotillard’s characters a) getting to know one another, 2) getting to care for each other, and 3) falling in love. It’s near perfection. Every box has been checked and every mark was hit. Exotic location = Yes. Spies and espionage – Yes. Action – Of course. And the love-story part.

Pitt and Cotillard get to wear the most beautiful clothes imaginable. Pitt? You’d never know he is 50 in real years. In the film he doesn’t look a day over 38.  I’ve been a fan of Cotillard for some time, and in this film they certainly didn’t skimp on her costumes. Breathtaking is a word that comes to mind.

Continue reading

Good Girls Revolt – New Series Streaming on Amazon

It is late December, 1969. We are in the Editorial Department of a fictional national news magazine called News of the Week. The news coming across the teletype machines is reporting the outbreak of violence at a free concert held at Altamont, CA. Four people would die and scores were injured. We may not have realized it at the time, but the 1960’s were not going out on a high note.

So begins the Amazon Original Series called Good Girls Revolt. Actually, the opening credits feature video and still images of New York in the late 1960’s. The Rolling Stones song Gimme Shelter was the accompanying music.

Managing Editor Wick McFadden (Jim Belushi plays Wick) has just called the entire editorial staff into the room. He proceeds to read the lead paragraph of what was to be a cover story.

McFadden: This piece hit the bull’s-eye.
Researcher Nora Ephron steps forward: That was me…he did do a court story. I rewrote it.
McFadden: Girls do not do rewrites
Ephron: Why not?
McFadden: That’s simply how we do things here. We have rules, protocol…
Ephron: Those rules are dumb. If the copy is good, it’s good.
McFadden: Young lady. You might not want to make waves; lest we have doubts about our decision to hire you.
Ephron: But you just said my rewrite hit the bull’s-eye. That was your word..bull’s eye
McFadden noticing that every one in the room is listening intently…Why is is everyone standing around? Back to work. [Looking at Ephron] You too dear…

Ephron: This is ridiculous… I quit!

That was Grace Gummer as Nora Ephron. 

And in that minute and four-second clip from Episode One, we have the substance of Good Girls Revolt. This was the sixties and while there were women in the workplace, at this magazine, the women weren’t reporters or editors – they were called Researchers. They assembled files of information for the reporters. They fetched coffee, made copies, did the filing, wrote captions for the photos, and the all the rest of the grunt work that went into creating a published piece in News of the Week Magazine. But the reporters, they were the ones that got the by-lines, the fame, and of course, the higher pay.

If you think that News of the Week might be a thinly disguised company name for Newsweek Magazine; You’d be right. You see, this dramatic series is based on a real story. Some 46 female employees of the magazine filed a complaint in 1970 with the EEOC charging the management with systemic discrimination against them in the practices of hiring and promotions.

This series is based on a non-fiction book by Lynn Povich called The Good Girls Revolt. Povich herself was one of the women who was a party to this historic lawsuit.

The case was handled by Eleanor Hughes Norton, here played by Joy Bryant.  As stated above, the events of the series take place in December of 1969 through March 23rd of 1970.

It was on that day, that the formal complaint was filed with the EEOC, and a press conference was held at the ACLU headquarters in Manhattan.

Continue reading

Goliath – New Series now Streaming on Amazon

I just finished the new legal thriller TV Series that is currently streaming on Amazon. It’s called Goliath and stars Billy Bob Thornton as Billy McBride, who once upon a time was a super successful lawyer for a multinational law firm that bore his name – Cooperman & McBride.

For reasons that are not immediately made clear to us, Billy is no longer a partner in that firm. His wife, one of the top attorneys at Cooperman, has divorced him, and Billy currently lives and works out of the infamous and real Ocean Lodge,

a Santa Monica, CA hotel. He drives a beat-up Ford Mustang. He drinks more than he should. When he is not in his residence at the Ocean Lodge, Billy may meet with clients at the neighborhood dive bar –

Billy could usually be found on the last bar stool at the far end of the room

Billy could usually be found on the last bar stool at the far end of the room

called Chez Jay, which was just next door.

The series runs for 8 hour-long episodes and can be most easily described as: A disgraced lawyer, now an ambulance chaser, gets a case that could bring him redemption or at least revenge on the firm which expelled him.

Now this is not a new story. Heck, it is almost a staple in the film and TV industry. Goliath might be called L.A.Law Meets The Verdict. Or maybe we can call it Michael Clayton meets The Rainmaker.

Yes, as viewers we love the underdog attorney, the alcoholic attorney, or the attorney who no one thinks can win the case, which involves taking on a behemoth of a corporation, or an insurance company, or even another law firm.

Yeah, I cheered when Tom Cruise as Lt. Daniel Kaffee took down the US Marine Corps, represented by Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessup and Kiefer Sutherland as Lt. Jonathan Kendrick in A Few Good Men. I fist pumped when the inexperienced lawyer Rudy Baylor played by Matt Damon, won a huge case against a huge insurance company and their attorney Leo Drummond played by Jon Voight. That film was called The Rainmaker.

Or The Verdict. Paul Newman played an alcoholic attorney called Frank Galvin who took on a case about a comatose patient. His opponents – a major Boston hospital, the Catholic Archdiocese, and attorney Ed Concannon, played by James Mason, who was usually referred to, in the film, as The Prince of Fucking Darkness.

Goliath is a series that fits right in with those films. Billy Bob Thornton’s Billy McBride is your basic brilliant lawyer who has had many major reversals recently; so much so that you might tend to believe that he’s going to be chewed up and spit out by opposing counsel.

So who is he going up against: a huge corporation, Borns Tech,  that has major contracts with the US Department of Defense to develop, build, and deliver weapons. And that firm is represented by Cooperman & McBride, which is, of course, Billy’s old firm.

While the foundation of the story is a familiar one, and the title suggests a win for Billy McBride – I mean the biblical Goliath was downed by David armed with just a sling-shot, this is not a series that you should by-pass.

In fact, the series first aired on Friday the 14th, and I finished it on the night of the 16th. Okay, I didn’t binge-watch the series from start to finish, but I did managed to watch 8 episodes in 48 hours.So let’s get into it.

Continue reading

Notorious – New ABC-TV Series

I remember the first time I heard the expression – Let’s toss out the rundown. That was pretty much about the same time that I heard another expression – Let’s drop that into the C Block.

That’s right, those words came from the lips of MacKenzie McHale (played by Emily Mortimer) the Exec Producer of Will McAvoy’s (Jeff Daniels) news broadcast on the fictional cable news network ACN. The show was called The Newsroom, and it first aired back on June 24th, 2012.

Well the expressions are back, even if The Newsroom isn’t. This time we are talking about the new series on ABC-TV called Notorious. The words were spoken by one Julia George (played by Piper Perabo), who is described as a powerhouse television producer of the number one TV News program in the country – Louise Herrick Live.

T

George has an unwritten agreement with a ‘charismatic’ defense attorney called Jake Gregorian who is played by Daniel Sunjata. Their agreement is to never lie to each other.

Their relationship gives them the opportunity to try to control the media, and to manipulate the justice system in the directions they want. Jake, being a high-profile defense attorney, attracts well-heeled clients who have had the nation’s spotlight turned on them for either scandals or outright crimes. Jake can get his clients or himself on Louise’s show and he can try to sway public opinion.

From Julia’s perspective, she’s getting exclusive interviews with the people who are making headlines on the nations newspapers every day. It seems like a win-win for both.

Only it is not that simple. Detectives are at work, as are independent investigators. What wasn’t even considered yesterday is on the front page tomorrow. Things have to be managed by spin doctors on a daily basis – and between them, George and Gregorian are doing just that.

So that’s the set-up for the series. But there are complications, reversals, twists, and more often than you might think, we as the audience are misled as well.

It comes down to who can you trust?

Let’s have a look at the case that series begins with. An internet mogul, a billionaire, is accused of driving a car that was involved in a hit and run accident. Unfortunately, the victim was a young man (just 15 years old) that died as a result of his injuries.

Kevin Zegers as the internet mogul Oscar Keaton

Kevin Zegers as the internet mogul Oscar Keaton

Was this dot.com honcho driving his car? Or was some one else behind the wheel?

Julia George herself is dating a man who has been just appointed as a federal judge. But there’s evidence that’s been sleeping with hookers.

Continue reading

Westworld

HBO rolled out the first episode of the much hyped and highly anticipated series called Westworld tonight. I know that this was only the top layer of a series that’s likely to be far deeper than what we’ve seen. But to be absolutely up-front about it, I was sorely disappointed.

After some terrific, very interesting and intriguing images that were shown during the opening credits, the episode had no place to go but downhill.

Not like a locomotive steaming across a bridge that has been blown up. No, much slower than that. In fact, very early on people are arriving at a town somewhere in the vicinity of what looks like Monument Valley as well as the Grand Canyon

The time period appears to be the 1870’s or 1880’s, and the locations, the set design, and the costumes sure place this in the same place as every western movie you’ve ever seen.

So what goes on in this town? The arriving train disgorges its passengers and we learn that most if not all of them have paid money to someone somewhere in the real and modern world (none of that is explained besides the fact that these guests have paid money) to visit Westworld.

Westworld is most easily described as a resort that will fulfill your dreams. The people already in Westworld look and sound like people. They act like real people. There’s just one thing. They are all machines or androids of some kind.

You know, in this setting you can expect to see homesteaders, cowboys, Indians, sheriffs or marshalls with deputies, bartenders, hookers, con-men running some games of chance, and other people who are just going about their business as townsfolk.

The key element in how to tell the difference about who is real, meaning a guest visitor, and who is a host – that is, someone who is already there – is revealed early but not explained.

The hosts do not react at all when an insect or a house fly crawls on their face, or even sits on their eyeball.

So people come here to relive the days of settlers, gunslingers, and the like. The hosts apparently have designated roles and they are able to repeat their actions again and again.

For example, Evan Rachel Wood, who appears to be the lead female, Dolores Abernathy, at least of the hosts, will come down the stairs in their home, say good morning to her father, and head into town. We will see this happen four separate times. Always the same except that in the fourth stanza, there’s a differently looking man as the father.

The first father apparently malfunctioned and had to be taken offline for examination and or repair. As the lead programmer (Bernard Lowe) played by Jeffrey Wright said – he went off script.

Now Wright’s character has a boss called Theresa Cullen, She’s played by the actress who starred in Borgen, a three season drama about Denmark’s first female Prime Minister. Sidse Babett Knudsen has the role. She seems much more corporate than does Lowe.

Continue reading

Snowden

Snowden is the latest from classic film director Oliver Stone. Yes, it is kind of a biographical character study of Mr. Snowden. But it is also a thriller of sorts, and a romance, and … a film that poses the questions about whether or not Snowden is a heroic whistle-blower or a traitor.

mv5bmtg2mzyznzgzof5bml5banbnxkftztgwotg4nzq4ote-_v1_sy1000_cr006411000_al_

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden and Shaileen Woodley as his g/f Lindsay Mills, the film opens in a room in the Mira Hotel on Nathan Road in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Present are documentary film maker Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo), the Scottish journalist Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), and the American Journalist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), along with Mr. Snowden. He’s about to turn over the files he had in his possession which detailed how the US Government was using sophisticated technology to keep an eye on its own citizens.

In short, this hardware and the programs written for it enabled the US to monitor every cell phone in the world.

But it is at that point that film give us a flashback to a far younger Edward Snowden.

This time he’s a member of a squadron of Special Forces trainees in boot camp. A slightly built man, we learn that the stress of carrying 80 pounds of gear was a bit too much for Snowden’s legs.

The doctor shows him the x-rays and tells him, it appears that you have been going through the drills with stress fractures in both legs for at least a couple of weeks.

The doctor is going to discharge Snowden from the active military. He tells him, you will have to find another way to serve your country.

Which leads Snowden to apply for a job at the CIA. This is where he meets Corbin O’Brian who will become his mentor. O’Brian is played by Rhys Ifans, who comes close to stealing the film away from Gordon-Levitt and Woodley.

I hadn’t seen much of Ifans. I think the only two films I saw him in were Notting Hill in 1999 and The Replacements in 2000. In both of those, Ifans came off as a somewhat, if not downright, goofy character. Here, he’s altogether different. This time out he plays like a younger Max Von Sydow. And he’s very good.

So much for our introduction. Snowden’s career in the intelligence industry has just begun. We are going to follow Snowden as he meets Lindsay Mills, then takes on posts as an intelligence contractor to locations like Geneva, Tokyo, and Oahu in Hawaii.

The film follows Snowden’s career from posting to posting. As a contractor he’s doing very well financially. He has a relationship with a fine woman, and yet – he’s not happy. His job involves long hours as well as travel and he can’t tell Lindsay anything of what he’s done, doing, or working on. It eats away at him.

And this is Oliver Stone’s main point.  His set up is that Snowden did not just blow the whistle for the sake of blowing the whistle. Yes, there came a point when he could no long reconcile to himself, that his specific work had nothing to do with events that happened, not only within the US but across the world as well.

Continue reading

Designated Survivor

 

The Capitol has been attacked. Eagle is gone. Sir you are now the President of the United States

ABC unveiled the premier of Designated Survivor last night. Within the context of the series, it was just another night, albeit the night of the President’s State of the Union Address, and Tom Kirkman, a member of President Richmond’s cabinet, drew the short straw, or maybe it goes by ranking, or some other formula to be the designated survivor for the night.

That means that when all the ranking members of the government are in one place, a designated survivor is named, then taken, by the Secret Service to a secret location, just in case the worst thing imaginable happens.

On this particular night, the United States Capitol Building was blown up, with the President, the Vice President, and all the members of Congress losing their lives. Yes, the worst thing imaginable, and this all before the opening credits.

Before the dust has settled, but the opening credits have been shown, we learn that just 15 hours ago, Tom Kirkman, was relieved or fired from his cabinet post and given a foreign posting, as in an ambassadorship which would be based in Montreal. Mind you, this was not the same as being named as the American Ambassador to Canada.

One could only see this as a step-down, a demotion, a kick in the ass, as well as a good riddance and goodbye. And while you absorb that, Kirkman has to give a speech to the American people (it’s just a few hours later) as well as take a tough meeting in the Emergency Situation Room.

The news coming out of the Middle East is that Iran wants to flex its muscles and make a run at the American Navy. Not likely an act of war, but certainly an act of both bravado and defiance. The thinking being that while in a state of disarray, let’s push the Americans buttons and see what the new guy is made of.

Now Kirkman has to deal with people who don’t think he’s Presidential material, as well as a hawkish Joint Chiefs General who wants to immediately unleash the dogs of war. But Kirkman is not quite ready to start WWIII, at least not on that night.

He says that despite the misgivings of the remaining Presidential staff, and that gung-ho General, he’s going to do things his way, and see how or if that works. If my way doesn’t work, then we can try yours.

So the Iranian Ambassador is summoned to the White House. He of course denies that the Iranian Navy is anywhere near the Straits of Hormuz , a strategic choke point between the Persian Gulf and open ocean.

Kirkman tells the Ambassador that he can go back to his embassy, and get in contact with his government, and if the American Navy does not report an Iranian naval retreat within three hours, tomorrow, the headlines on the front page of every newspaper in the world, will not only be the destruction of the American leadership and Capitol Building, but the full destruction of the Iranian Capital as well.

KAL PENN, KIEFER SUTHERLAND, NATASCHA MCELHONE

That’s about it for an intro to the series. Kiefer Sutherland has been cast as the emerging President, and just like what we saw in Madam Secretary, he’s got a family.

His wife is played by Natascha McElhone. I kept expecting her to speak with that lovely Irish lilt as she did playing opposite Robert De Niro and Jean Reno in the thriller called Ronin, but it never happened.

The hawk of this tale, General Cochrane is played by Kevin McNally who might remind you of Brian Dennehy as Sheriff Will Teasle from the first Rambo film.

Continue reading