BOSS: Sn 2 Episode 7 – The Conversation – Recap

When Boss, Episode 6, closed – there were more than a few unresolved situations. Like Mayor Tom Kane’s experimental treatment that he received in Toronto. Which tied in with the fact that he had been missing from contact and sight in Chicago for a couple of days while the city blew up. This required the National Guard being called out by Governor Cullen – at Meredith Kane’s suggestion.

Like Babe McGantry not liking the fact that he and his cohorts had been squeezed out of the Lennox Gardens redevelopment. Or what about Ben Zajac’s arrest at the demonstrations. Then there was Kitty O’Neill becoming a major player behind the scenes with both Sam Miller, the Editor of the Chicago Sentinel and Senator Walsh – but where was she heading?

And there was still more that carried over from last week: Emma’s failed drug test because she swapped in her grandfather’s urine. Mona Fredericks becoming more and more uncomfortable around Meredith Kane. Then there was Darius becoming frustrated about his relationship with Emma. Trey Rogers and Alderman Ross plotting more mayhem. And let’s not forget State Attorney Doyle and the assassination suspect and Kane’s plans to have some of his former partners charged, a plan already in motion after Ian Todd got the Judge to agree.

And I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of the Ezra Stone hallucination. But all of the above can be put into the ‘that was then‘ category. Which brings us to the present, so let’s let it rip.

Right from the jump, we get a shock. Actually it is Meredith Kane who gets the shock. She’s looking in Tom Kane’s laptop. She’s seeking some guidance, details, facts, stats, plans – whatever – to help her stay on what ever course Kane was heading. But what she discovers is that Tom Kane is a voyeur and he’s obsessed or worse about Mona Fredericks. Meredith is horrified. It can’t be easy learning such things about your life-mate.

Speaking of whom, Tom Kane arrives home after being off the grid for 48 hours. He’s shocked that there are tanks in the streets. But he’s feeling better and he announces to Meredith that he is at his best when he and his wife are aligned. He says he needs a mirror, someone who sees things as they are. Meredith looks down at the laptop and says, We have much to discuss.

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Looper

Looper opened today. This was one of the most highly anticipated films of the fall season. I mean look at all it had going for it: the future, time travel, specialized assassins called loopers, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Jeff Daniels, sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, AND Emily Blunt.

If you saw the trailer you had to be hooked. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you can see it at the conclusion of the review.

Okay here is the premise. We open and it is 2044. Big cities, and a lot of homeless folks. The usual dystopian future. Except that it still has a lot of what we have today. Sure, there are wheel-less motorcycles, and robot crop-dusters, but folks look and dress much like we do these days.

Our man with the gun is called Joe. This is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His job is that of an assassin. In the parlance of the times he is called a looper. By 2074 time travel has been invented and outlawed. So you simply can’t trot over to a ticket counter and say something silly like – give me two first class tickets to Diamond Head Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, September 28th, 2012.

What has happened is that the ‘criminal organization’ has the operative hardware for time-travel, and they use it to de-commission gangsters that are proving to be problematic in 2074. They zap them back to 2044, and when they come out of the space-time continuum, to a predetermined location, a looper is on the spot, ready to terminate them instantly, and then dispose of the body.

For the criminals in 2074 – it is the perfect solution. The problem goes away, and there’s no body to dispose of.

For the looper in 2044, their payment is usually in the form of silver ingots taped to the body of the soon-to-be-disposed gangster. They live the high life of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. But there is a catch – in 2074 and going forward – every loop will be required to be closed. In short, that means that the loopers themselves are sent back, as in they too are decommissioned. Only there’s no mothballs for these guys. It is a quick bullet to the heart followed by incineration.

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End of Watch

End of Watch is a film about a pair of LA street cops. There are no cool detectives, no defense attorneys, no courtrooms, no bail bondsmen, and no medical examiners. We aren’t going to see the judicial system at work, nor will we see any cops visiting criminals in prison for intel about some pending case.

Another key element is that the ‘bad guys’ have zero redeeming qualities. To them, the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles is a war zone. For them, every day is a fight for survival.

From another perspective, this isn’t a film about corrupt cops. The last cop film I watched prior to this one was Rampart – a film that was about one corrupt or maybe we should just call him a disturbed cop. In this film, we can trust these guys because they trust each other. As Officer Mike Zavala, played by Michael Pena, said to his partner Brian Taylor, played by Jake Gyllenhaal – You’re my brother, if anything happened to you, I would take care of your kids…

And when they say it – we believe it. Brian and ‘Z’ work in LA’s toughest neighborhood – South Central. What are they looking for? Dope, guns, and money – which could turn up at any time – even on a ‘routine’ stop for a traffic violation.

The film opens with a car chase. This is South Central so there are a lot of back alleys and turns involved. Our perspective is from a camera mounted on the police car. A shoot out ensues. Our cops are later cleared as the shooting is declared legal. At that point the film begins in earnest as we meet Officers Taylor and Zavala.

The film was written and directed by David Ayer. He’s a guy with deep knowledge and understanding of the Los Angeles police milieu – he wrote Training Day and S.W.A.T., and he directed Street Kings. Which means he’s in a familiar place with End of Watch.

What he’s done to give the film a uniqueness is to have Taylor enrolled in Law School, and he’s also taking a course in film-making as an elective. So he’s always got his video camera with him. Ayer’s thing was to incorporate footage from Taylor’s camera along with footage from the police car’s mounted cameras, as well as the traditional style of third person perspective that you get from a standard movie camera.

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Rich Man, Poor Woman

Start with a character a bit further along yet still like the one Jesse Eisenberg played in The Social Network (Mark Zuckerberg). You know, a savvy computer guy who struck gold. Blend in a character somewhere between Cinderella and the one played by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman – the point being a beautiful girl who will someday capture the heart of Prince Charming. Stir gently. Season with the computer wizard’s partner, and his sister, who wants Prince Charming for herself. Then serve it chilled over an 11 week period.

What you have is a Japanese TV Series called Rich Man, Poor Woman, that just closed its broadcast run a week ago on September 17th.

The series had decent if not great ratings. Maybe a dot.com romance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea in these difficult economic times. But from my perspective, I liked the show.

Here’s an amalgam of how Fuji-TV, the network that broadcast the show in prime time (Mondays at 9:00 PM), and  the Asianwikipedia,  described the show:

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BOSS – Sn 2 Episode 6 – Backflash – Recap

It’s not so much that this episode was confusing because it really wasn’t. But the overriding sense was that it was difficult to watch because so much of it was a display of Mayor Tom Kane’s thoughts and/or hallucinations – both auditory and visual. While difficult to watch – these were very informative.

We received information about a younger Kane paying off a woman with a child, and about Kane feuding with Mayor Rutledge who is Kane’s wife Meredith’s father. Read on.

Long ago while Rome burned, according to popular legend, Emperor Nero fiddled. In the following days, other reports hinted that Nero may have set the fires himself – to clear our a dreary part of the city and then reuse the land for a new imperial palace. Was this the first case of urban renewal without compensation? The evidence is inconclusive. Plausible of course, but unproven unless you consider that Nero took his own life rather than face an assassin’s sword.

In the present, in the starz Original Series – Boss – Chicago burned, and the Mayor of Chicago, Tom Kane, well, he sizzled. In the dark of the night, Kane, accompanied only by the hallucination of Ezra Stone, made for Toronto, and the experimental treatment for his disease.

I used the term sizzled, maybe I should have said fried, because part of the treatment involved electro shock so maybe the word sizzle was mainly rhetorical.

Where is the Mayor?

In other events – while the Mayor was missing, his wife Meredith Kane managed to put the assassination behind her, and she climbed right out of her recovery bed in the Kane home. She made straight for City Hall, where she stepped in and picked up the Mayoral reigns. Something had to be done. The fiasco of the Lennox Gardens had sent the city over the edge and straight into chaos. You will tend to have an unhappy citizenry on your hands when forced evictions occur.

The Mayor is safe in an undisclosed location …

But things got real nasty after the Chicago Police Department went over and beyond SOP in their methods to evict some of the Lennox Gardens people. People were protesting their ouster from Lennox Gardens, while in nearby neighborhoods, other people were protesting that the Lennox Gardens people were allowed to move in to foreclosed properties.

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Trouble With the Curve

If there’s one thing you can bank on with a Clint Eastwood film – it will be done with expertise and care. While Clint isn’t at the helm of this one called Trouble With the Curve, as he’s working only in front of the camera instead of both in front and behind it, the direction was handled professionally and competently by Eastwood’s long time producer and some times second unit director or first assistant director, Robert Lorenz. This is the first film for which Lorenz will receive the credit as Director.

The story is about Gus Lobel, a long time baseball scout. Lobel has been around the block more than a few times meaning he is getting on in years. As he describes himself in the film, he’s just a broken down old man. But Eastwood still has it. In addition to his trademark squints, and gravelly voice as he plays the cantankerous old baseball scout, you will be treated to a new piece of physical acting. This time it is the lip-quiver. That is his bottom lip and you’ll only see it just briefly. So watch for it.

Lobel has been asked to help the Atlanta Braves with their number one draft pick for that year, and he’s part of an entourage of professional scouts from other teams (with recognizable character actors)  that are looking over a highly regarded hot prospect, the high school slugger named Bo Gentry who has been wreaking havoc in a North Carolina High School conference.

But it’s not just about qualifying a prospect as a number one Draft pick and giving the kid a big contract. The scout’s job is to put the prospect under a magnifying glass and then make a judgement based upon the scout’s years of experience and baseball knowledge. Last year at this time we had a baseball movie called Moneyball – and that was about scouts’ judgements being set aside in favor of number crunching otherwise widely known as statistical analysis.

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Paris (2008)

With a trip to Amsterdam and Paris coming up next month, I thought I’d take a look at Paris cinematically before I step off the train in Gare du Nord next month. Yesterday, I started a film called 2 Days in Paris (2007) which was written and directed by French actress Julie Delpy. She also co-starred in the film along with Adam Goldberg. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the first 20 minutes of the film. Goldberg played the same kind of obnoxious character as he did in his stint on Entourage when he played film producer Nick Rubinstein in 2007.

So today, I was back at it. This time I watched a winning film set in The City of Lights. The film was written and directed by Cedric Klapisch and was entitled Paris.

‘Paris’ is a both a comedy, a romance and a drama. The central character is Pierre (Romain Duris) pictured at work above. He’s a dancer working in a big time Parisian night club. He gets some tough news from his doctor. His heart isn’t working all that well. Pierre awaits a heart transplant which at best has about a 40% chance of success. So while he waits, he must avoid all strenuous activity. For a professional dancer this is like a death sentence.

He has a nice apartment with a balcony, and from this balcony, he spends a lot of time watching life in all its infinite variations go by him. Pierre has an older sister Elise (Juliette Binoche), a divorcee with three children who decides to move into Pierre’s apartment to care for him. She is a social worker and dealing with people with problems is what she does.

From this two person thumbnail of the film we can see how the film is set up. While Pierre frets about his health and possible impending death, and Elise deals with the loneliness of being a 40 something without a significant other – life goes on.

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BOSS: Season 2 Episode 5 – Mania – Recap

Boss Season 2 Episode 5 called Mania aired last night. Let’s put it this way. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, I’d say it was the darkest episode of the season.It was an episode without any positive actions by any of the characters except Sam Miller. But let’s hold off on Miller for a bit.

Mayor Kane doesn’t sleep well at all these days. It seems that his constant companion, a hallucination of Ezra Stone is with him nearly constantly. Maybe I should amend the sentence describing Kane’s sleep patterns to – The Mayor doesn’t sleep at all these days. On this night he calls the State Attorney Jeff Doyle at 4:00 AM to alert him that some major corruption cases will becoming his way later this morning. State Attorney Doyle says to his wife, Apparently Satan doesn’t sleep at all.

While Kane breakfasts, the arrests are being made. Ezra Stone tells Kane that he did profit in those shady deals he participated in. Ironic as the very people who were involved in the deals were now being arrested. Stone says, Power is a form of currency.

Kitty O’Neill makes her way onto the Walsh campaign bus. She’s working on something and says into her phone, It happens when I say it happens. We don’t know what she’s referring to. Kitty calls Walsh with the news that Kane is lopping off heads. His own people are the ones being arrested. Walsh is pleased.

Last week you will recall that Miller told Kitty O’Neill that he would agree to do a positive piece about Senator Walsh in exchange for the name of the man arrested (Chad Langley) who might have been the shooter in the Kane assassination.

This week, the piece about Walsh has been published, Kitty O’Neill reads it as she sits on the bus, as does Kane who asked  his driver take a side street and avoid some traffic. It is on this side street where they ride over a pot hole. Kane stops the car so he can call Commissioner Hardy and tell him to have that pot hole fixed today. Stone’s comment is, They say the measure of a man is how he handles power. Kane tells Stone to shut up, but his driver thinks he meant him. Kane apologizes, Sorry, Jimmy.

Mona Fredericks arrives at City Hall reading Miller’s piece. Before she can even sit down Ian Todd comes in and tells her that the phones are ringing off the hook. People aren’t happy about the Mayor having folks arrested.

In Hammond , Indiana, Joe Young, the contractor that was given the contract for Lennox Gardens finds that his equipment has been vandalized. His foreman says there are plenty of jobs in Indiana.

Ben Zajac is also reading the piece by Miller. He’s not a happy camper. Maggie Zajac comes in to tell him the good news. Unlike Kane, Ben Zajac has a future for high office in the state. Ben isn’t mollified. He feels manipulated at every turn by Kane. Maggie says this is your time, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are covering the gubernatorial debate. To further lift Ben’s spirits, she comes on to him, and finally rewards him with some sex, after denying him for months. She says, You’re going to win this thing.

At City Hall, Mona Fredericks comes into Kane’s office to tell him about the vandalism. He says, have Young beef up his security, but things will stop. In the wake of the arrests, the ‘children’ are just acting out. Kane then hallucinates that Ezra Stone is handling Mon’s breasts from behind her.

Ian Todd comes in, and Kane tells him to send out a million dollars to Zajac’s campaign. When Todd starts to question him, Kane says, Don’t worry about the money.

Jackie from Sam Miller’s office calls City Hall. She’s surprised that the Mayor takes the call. Any comments about the arrests this morning?. Kane says, Yes I have a comment. I’m doing the right thing.

Emma (Hannah Ware) at the rehab meeting

Emma Kane is in group therapy for drug users. She speaks about her strained relationship with her family and mentions that the only one she ever connected with was her grandfather – that would be old man Rutledge, the stroke victim.

Kane and Fredericks have a meeting with some big shot bankers. The problem is the properties awaiting foreclosure. Kane and Fredericks want these properties to be foreclosed so they can start putting the displaced Lennox Gardens residents into them. The bankers are saying that the rents would be too low. And the leases would tie their hands for years. Fredericks say that have a ‘no fail date’ of two years at which time the properties would be vacated. The bankers still resist. At Stone’s urging Kane sweetens the pot by offering a $500 subsidy per month per unit. They still hesitate. They would need the courts to accelerate the foreclosure proceedings. Not a problem says Kane. Consider it done.

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Arbitrage

Let’s see – it’s been 30 years since Richard Gere as as young Zach Mayo got the daylights kicked out of him by his D.I. Sgt. Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.) near the beginning of the film, An Officer and a Gentlemen.

And it’s been 30 years since he carried off his dream woman, a factory worker named Paula, played by Debra Winger to end the same film.

At that moment, Gere’s Mayo may not have been anything more than a man in love. But as an actor he’d grow into more mature and adult roles. By 1990, Gere was partnered with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

In this film he was already a Master of the Universe – meaning he was a man who could have anything, or anyone he wanted. Until he ran into Roberts as Vivian Ward, a woman who’d play for pay. Only this time it wasn’t just about money.

Except at the box office where this film took in a very healthy 460 Million plus.

Fast forward to 2012, and we now have Richard Gere as Robert Miller in the new film, Arbitrage. In this one, Miller controls a hedge fund worth a ton (billions) but with an inexplicable $400 million hole in one of its i-beams. Miller lives in a Gramercy Park mansion in New York.

His trophy wife  Ellen is played by Susan Sarandon, and he has two adult children and grandchildren.

His  beautiful daughter Brooke, with her own MBA, is played by Brit Marling. Brooke is the CFO of Miller’s firm. In Miller’s own words, after all – he had it all  – I am a patriarch.

Brit Marling as Brooke Miller

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