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.
Much of season four of Boardwalk Empire has felt disjointed. The series has a surplus of talent, with far more characters than it seems to know what to do with, and rather than cut down the cast, they’ve jumped back and forth between these characters (taking the same approach as they did in season three), often shelving characters and arcs for weeks at a time. What this inevitably leads to are peaks and valleys throughout the season, as the episodes featuring viewers’ favorite characters engage significantly more than those centered on less interesting characters (William, anyone?). This week, Boardwalk Empire focuses on Mueller/Van Alden and, given this reviewer’s enjoyment of that character and performer all season, it’s little surprise that “Marriage and Hunting” is one of the clear standouts of this season.
As many viewers will no doubt be aware, Der Erlkönig is a poem by Goethe based on Danish folklore that was adapted by the great (early) Romantic composer Franz Schubert into one of his most famous lieder, or art songs. To set the mood for the discussion of by far the best episode this season, so far:
In last week’s season premiere, we checked in with most of our main cast, the significant exceptions being Michael Shannon’s Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller and a touted-in-the-marketing new character played by Jeffrey Wright. Both are front and center this week, along with Agent Knox and the ever intriguing Richard Harrow, and prove to be excellent additions to the ensemble.
A couple of years ago, a rather controversial and divisive pitch black comedy/murderous drama called Killer Joe rocked the Kasbah in critical terms, sharing the adulation of some and the damnation of others. It was grimy, grotty and often deliberately gratuitous (to the point that its most shocking scene earned a subtle nod on its DVD cover) and did a number of things apart from splitting a bemused audience right up the middle.
One of the better elements of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen, and widely considered its best sequence, was that film’s opening credits montage, which forcefully played with pop culture iconography to impressive degrees. In a way, that sequence was an effective hint of what was to come with Snyder’s reboot of the Superman property; a cultural icon lavishly portrayed in a titanic fashion.
The Iceman exists in a strange kind of cinematic purgatory, in which reside those movies that are both too rushed and too slow. With actors like Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and Winona Ryder among the key players, this period piece about a particularly sociopathic Mob enforcer’s rise to some level of infamy is, at best, decent.
All coming-of-age stories are, really, about the death of innocence, the moment at which each of us realizes that our innate ability to be impressionable has allowed us to blind ourselves to adults’ imperfections. As such, the new film Mud is a welcome entry into the genre, documenting a particularly memorable time for a young boy as he comes to grips with the idea that he cannot bend his world to his will, to make it as perfect as he’d like