Michael Shannon

Sundance 2015: ’99 Homes’ is a bold, big and tense examination of the American dream

“America doesn’t bail out losers, America bails out winners!” preaches Richard Carver (Michael Shannon), like a modern day Gordon Gekko of real estate to the young, innocent but determined Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield). This is what the American dream is now. It’s not enough to work hard anymore, achieving the American dream is to win at all costs. Ramin Bahrani’s examination of the American dream and the corrupt nature of it follows Dennis Nash, a young father who with his son and mother (Laura Dern) are evicted from their family home. To get it all back, Dennis begins working for the man responsible for his troubles, greedy real estate broker Richard Carver. This is the American dream.

Boardwalk Empire, Ep. 5.04: “Cuanto” is Margaret’s finest hour

With “Cuanto” we mark the halfway point of the final season, and its first major death. As fans of Boardwalk will attest, though, the only real surprise was that it took as long as it did. If you were running the numbers in Vegas, or Atlantic City for that matter, the odds would come up quick that there will likely be a lot more to come. If only Arnold Rothstein was still around to roll the dice on that one.

Boardwalk Empire, Ep. 5.03: “What Jesus Said” consists mainly of setup

“What Jesus Said” opens with Chalky and his loose cannon partner breaking into the house of the latter’s former employer. In what is easily the low point of the episode, Chalky’s plot consists of balancing precariously between his edgy accomplice, Milton, and the a mother and daughter whom they have taken hostage. Although on paper, the idea might sound engaging, it plays out in a mostly uninspired manner due to the fact that Chalky isn’t given a whole lot to do. These scenes, which take up roughly 1/3 of the main plots explored this week, consist widely of three other characters who we are given little emotional investment in.

Boardwalk Empire, Ep. 5.02: “The Good Listener” tightens the noose for several necks

There are revelations aplenty as we catch up with a few more members of the cast after the crash, and in the beginnings of the Great Depression. Gillian is seen early on under surprising circumstances; in not a prison, but a mental institution. Her initial sequence, in which she dozes comfortably in a steam bath while discussing frivolities is rapidly dissipated when one of her fellow patients loses control over a radio program, and riles up the other patients in kind.

Boardwalk Empire, Ep. 5.01: “Golden Days for Boys & Girls” stops roaring and gets dirty

There is an air of finality to even this first episode of Boardwalk Empire’s final season. From the opening scene to the final moments, “Golden Days for Boys & Girls” has the distinct feeling of a ticking clock. Ironically while the episode takes its sweet time, from skipping out on several of the shows most notable characters to adding in a recurring flashbacks of the childhood of the Thompsons, it only further solidifies the fact that this is the end. Like the last ruminating drink of a dying man, the simplest of things only matter more with the end in sight.

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