Blood Ties

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.

Blood Ties is about relationships. Set in Brooklyn, NY in 1974, this is the tale of two brothers. Chris is played by Clive Owen, and he is a criminal, while Frank, is a NYC Police detective played by Billy Crudup.

The film starts as Frank and his fellow cops bust into an apartment on a raid. A shootout ensues. As the bullets fly, we hear the song New York Groove performed by Ace Frehley. To complete the bookended film, the film closes in New York’s Grand Central Station with bullets flying once more. Violence to begin and violence to end the film.

Directed by Guillaume Canet who also directed Tell No One, you may be surprised to know that this film is a French production even though it was filmed entirely in the USA. From that opening raid, we quickly shift to the outer gate of a prison. Chris is being released, not fully – it is a weekend furlough. His brother Frank and his sister Marie, played by Lili Taylor, are there to pick him up.

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Magic City – Review/Recap of Episode 2: Angels of Death

Oy Vey! The megillah continues over at the Starz Network’s¬†Magic City. The second episode of Season 2 was called Angels of Death ( A Jewish Passover reference) and it wasted a ton of time on a unnecessary Passover Seder at Ike Evan’s.

****SPOILERS  AHEAD*****

We get it. The Evans family is Jewish, and Ike’s wife Vera has converted to Judaism. But it feels like show creator Mitch Glazer thinks that we need to be reminded over and over to make sure we know it.

The show is a rather curious mix of early 1960’s fictional criminals, historical facts involving the CIA and its dealings with Cuba, sex, and violence – all of it seasoned by tossing in Yiddish expressions in what feels like every 6 or 7 minutes.

Vera pushed Ike away when he wanted to fool around because she had to go make the gefilte fish. Bel Jaffe calls Stevie Evans boychick. Jimmy Caan finally showed up as Sy Berman and had one scene this week. He managed to get the word fercockt into a conversation he had with Ben Diamond. Fercockt is the Yiddish equivalent of ‘all fucked up’.

I don’t know about you – but I am once again losing patience with this show. Last year, I bailed on the show after the first three episodes. This year, I’ll give the show a few more chances. But I think Glazer and his writers have to tighten the show up. Things don’t have to be served up and spelled out for us.

As an example – Caan’s Berman is having a talk with Danny Huston’s Ben Diamond in his greenhouse in Wilmette, Illinois. Seems like Sy had to give Benny a good talking to.

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Magic City – Season Two Starts June 14th

MGC2During the spring of 2012, the Starz Network introduced a new tv series called Magic City. It was set at the very end of the 1950’s in Miami Beach with Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Isaac (Ike) Evans, the majority owner of a fabulous Miami Beach hotel called The Miramar Playa.

In nearby Cuba, Fidel Castro was about to take over the country, and that would mean that the big Havana tourism industry with its triple threat attractions of the exotica, the beaches, and sex, all found at the hotels, would be nationalized, and US interests in Havana, including those of organized crime, would have to find a new place to put their stakes into the ground. That would of course be Miami and Miami Beach.

Evans was a widowed man with two grown sons, and small daughter. He had remarried and he had met his new wife when she worked at a dancer at Havana’s Tropicana Club. She’s played by Olga Kurylenko.

Danny Huston portrayed mobster Ben (the Butcher) Diamond who was Ike’s silent minority partner. When Ike Evans was facing a strike threat by the hotel workers, he had to go to Diamond, who promptly took care of it by the simple measure of having the union boss (with a gun pointed at his head) call off the strike.

Once that was done, the union boss, Mike Strauss, who was Ike’s boyhood friend, was quickly sent to ‘sleep with the fishes’. So Ike owed Diamond.

Diamond’s wife Lily (above) played by Jessica Marais, was the lover of Ike’s son Stevie Evans. This would run all through the first season, and involve blackmail, murders, and ultimately, as Season One ended, would lead to the cliff-hanger finale of Ike being arrested for murder.

I had watched the first three episodes of Season One, and did a review (<—click), and basically wrote the show off. I didn’t like the casting, thought the stories and characters were dull and uninteresting. I also stated that I thought the show spent far too much time in dark interiors watching people drinking, smoking, or having sex. Not that people shouldn’t do those kind of things, but the show lacked dramatic intensity as well as balance because of this.

I later went back and watched the last five 5 episodes of the 1st season. I haven’t changed my mind. However I will state that the show showed decidedly positive signs of improvement. Topics like voyeurism, adultery, and criminal activities are fine topics for adult TV. When you bundle those against a period when people didn’t have cell phones or personal computers, when Castro’s forces were taking over Cuba, and set the whole show in Miami Beach, with ever-increasing amounts of time given to AT & T – alcohol, tobacco, and tits, I can see the appeal to viewers better now than I did after just three episodes of April 2012.

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