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Mindhunter is overrated artsy psychobabble designed to impress the pseudo-intellectual

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Mindhunter

When reviews came in for Mindhunter, the Netflix crime drama set in the 1970s, I was extremely excited. I’ve been impressed with pretty much everything Netflix has put out (my favorites have been Stranger Things and Longmire), and as a lover of crime dramas I had high expectations following the rave reviews.

I was disappointed. There’s not much here other than an interesting premise.

No spoilers, but the premise surrounds a small team of FBI agents and a consultant who are compiling data by interviewing serial killers. The start is brilliant and edgy. The character development is creepy but enthralling. The technical aspects like cinematography and editing are spot-on.

What’s the problem? It has no true drive. It’s artsy without the art. It’s suspenseful without the anxiety. It confuses criminality with motivations and leaves the viewer wandering around waiting for the real juice to boil over. Then, it never does.

I can understand why it’s so nicely reviewed. It’s attractive from many angles, but there seems to be confusion over how to piece it together properly and build up the suspense without getting too cheesy. They avoid the cheese so well that there’s not enough suspense. Because they err on the side of caution, reviewers find very little to dislike. What they don’t realize is that they don’t find much to like, either, other than the grimy feeling it leaves on our psyches after the season ends.

Perhaps the best way to explain it is through art itself. It’s easy to duplicate the style of Jackson Pollock and most people couldn’t tell the difference between a Pollock and a junior high art project. That’s what we have here. It has the components but refuses to deliver the payoff. They are moving through slowly to prolong the series, but this should have been made with the intention of two or three seasons, max. Instead, they’re setting it up for the standard five+ seasons that make it financially prime.

I’d love to have seen it designed to be shorter. Then, they would have been forced to pack more into it rather than focus on too many nuances.

Okay, one minor spoiler just to give you an example. To develop one character, the put a cat in her laundry room. We never see the cat. But we hear it (it’s apparently a kitten) and we have evidence that it’s there because the tuna can she leaves it every night is empty the next morning. One morning, she goes down and finds bugs in the full can.

That’s it. This is character development designed to express her loneliness. It’s creepy because it’s in a dimly lit public laundry room. There’s suspense because we want to know if there’s anything to the kitten story, whether it has something to do with the cat itself or if her nightly trip is being monitored by a dangerous element. So far, there’s nothing. After one season, there was just a cat that she fed a few times.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some amazing scenes in this show. The elevator scene from the image above was nothing short of outstanding.

Perhaps I’m the pseudo-intellectual who just doesn’t get it. Maybe the critics are all at the right level and I’m just too dull to grasp what the emperor really does have clothes. After season 1, I’m sticking with my perspective.

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2 Comments

  1. Norman Doyle

    February 1, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    If anything, Mindhunter is fodder for the crowd of ID, Oxygen and TruTv “re-enactment crime” shows. Most of those are cheap, gratuitous, exploitative trash that either place a no-name pseud above the title or the killer as a kind of mythologized figure.

    The latter is the main problem with Mindhunter. Rather than strip away the mystique around a group of people that has been romanticized ever since Douglas and Ressler identified them AS a group, the program adds another layer of ‘boogeyman’, re-igniting a fire around people who were sliding away from the public consciousness.

  2. Monday Loner

    February 10, 2018 at 3:22 am

    Many years ago I read an interview with writer James Ellroy, can’t remember where. Discussing his appreciation for Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, Ellroy indicated that fictionalizing serial killers and the people who hunt them was a literary cul-de-sac, so to speak. Harris had hit the mark so well, according to Ellroy, that the sub-genre of serial murderer in crime fiction was perfected, therefore played, so he turned his attention to the filthy underbelly of post-WW2 LA.

    Ellroy’s Black Dahlia shares an aspect with Joe Penhall’s Mindhunter: real victims, fictitious investigators. Of course, Mindhunter has real killers too, which sadly, from a non-fiction standpoint, The Black Dahlia does not have.

    But there I think the similarities end. It may be that in the late teens of the 21st Century, with serial killers (or their body counts, at least) on the decline, a new dramatic light could be shone on the crimes in the last third of the 20th.

    Unfortunately, Mindhunter fails in this regard. Instead of a more clinical, detached approach, Penhall, David Fincher etc. have reclined in the perverse romance and mythology around serial murderers, with the killers as stars. All Mindhunter does is remind us that the victims are footnotes. I’ve started to notice once again the comments from people who call themselves fans of murderers, which I just don’t understand. Moreover, these people look at depictions of Ed Kemper and Richard Speck as uncannily accurate, when nothing could be further from the truth.

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Entertainment and Sports

Binge-worthy show: The Night Manager shows why Tom Hiddleston should be the next James Bond

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Binge-worthy show The Night Manager shows why Tom Hiddleston should be the next James Bond

He’s too posh. He’s too pretty. He isn’t intimidating. He’s too big as a Marvel character. There are many reasons people have dismissed the notion of Tom Hiddleston playing the role of James Bond in the famed series. All of these reasons can be dismissed by watching The Night Manager.

Available on Amazon, the AMC-BBC collaboration is six episodes long. There are reports that it could be brought back for another series, but if it never comes back, rest assured the single series is still worth a watch. The funny part is that Hiddleston might be the main draw, but he’s not even the best overall performance. That honor goes to Hugh Laurie, the well-mannered villain of the show.

As usual, no spoilers.

Much effort is put into making the beautiful people look as beautiful as possible in lovely settings even when things get crazy. It opens with Hiddleston cutting through a crowd of protesters just prior to the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He’s on his way to work to engage in his craft as a manager at a high-end hotel in Cairo. Even through the chaos, Hiddleston holds an air of separation from both the protesters and the military holding them back. And he does all this while wearing cargo pants and an untucked linen dress shirt.

This is where the presence of Hiddleston comes into play and demonstrates why he would be able to play James Bond. His sharp eyes announce he’s not to be reckoned with while simultaneously charming the observer. As one character later notes, “Everybody is attracted to you.”

The men want to be on his side and the women (and one man) want him to be by their side.

His impish grin may have been perfect for playing Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it takes a more menacing turn in The Night Manager. We realize there’s grit behind his boyish looks that betrays two tours in Iraq and a personal grudge he’s held with him for years. If Daniel Craig brought emotionless chills to the Bond character, Hiddleston would bring an emotional fortitude. He’s only truly happy when he’s doing the right thing, which may go against the stereotypes associated with a world-class assassin, but luckily we’re in a world where stereotypes are being broken.

There’s another reason Hiddleston would be the right person for the role. Unfortunately, it’s a political one. Some are pushing for a minority or a woman to take the role to the next level. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as it’s done with the most qualified person in mind and not just to make a political statement about inclusion. With Hiddleston, it’s an opportunity to use the same formula while mitigating the damage that is sure to come if they don’t select a minority or a woman. Everyone likes Hiddleston. He’ll make the passing on a controversial choice easier to swallow.

There’s even a scene when he orders a vodka martini at a bar in Cairo. It was the most obvious nod to the Bond franchise they could have made without asking for the drink to be shaken.

If you only watch The Night Manager to verify my Bond assertions, so be it. If you watch it for its great acting, engaging espionage, and brilliant storyline, well that’s even better. Either way, get your six-hour binging snacks ready.

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‘Ralph’ tops box office again, ‘Aquaman’ is a hit in China

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Ralph tops box office again Aquaman is a hit in China

NEW YORK (AP) — In the calm before the Christmas storm at the box office, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” remained No. 1 for the third straight week, while the upcoming DC Comics superhero film “Aquaman” arrived with a cannonball-sized splash in Chinese theaters.

For the second week in a row, no new wide releases opened in North American theaters, allowing Disney’s animated sequel to again lead domestic ticket sales with $16.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The top six films at the box office were all unchanged. Universal’s “The Grinch,” still a major draw in its fifth weekend, trailed in second with $15.2 million.

But the weekend’s biggest new arrival was in China, where Warner Bros.′ “Aquaman” debuted with $93.6 million in ticket sales. That marked a new opening-weekend record for both Warner Bros. and DC in China. Considering the checkered recent history of DC films (“Justice League,” ″Suicide Squad”), the big launch in China was a promising sign for the spinoff starring Jason Momoa.

“Adding to the success of ‘Wonder Woman,’ this is a really solid performance and portends big numbers for North America in two weeks when it opens,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “This is a movie, along with ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ and ‘Bumblebee’ and other movies, that’s going to give December that boost that a ‘Star Wars’ movie would give us.”

“Aquaman” will expand to 40 international countries next week and arrive in North American theaters Dec. 21.

“Aquaman” wasn’t the only big-budget holiday season release receiving a lift this week. Paramount’s “Transformers” prequel “Bumblebee” played a one-night sneak preview in 326 theaters nationwide ahead of its Dec. 21 release.

Paramount declined to share ticket figures but domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies said theaters were mostly sold out. Perhaps more importantly, the film directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld aided its word of mouth with largely glowing reviews — a rarity for the “Transformers” franchise.

Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” due out Dec. 19, also helped its cause with four Golden Globe nominations Thursday, including best picture, comedy or musical, and acting nods for Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The feel-good interracial road trip period tale “Green Book” fared even better at the Globes (five nominations, including best picture, comedy or musical, and acting nods for Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen) and had good results at the box office to show for it. In its fourth week of release, “Green Book” held with a rare 0 percent drop, earning $3.9 million in 1,181 theaters. It has grossed $20 million in total.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ comic period drama “The Favourite” continued to pick up steam. The acclaimed Fox Searchlight release, starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, expanded into 91 theaters over the weekend to gross $1.4 million ($15,000 per theater).

A more traditional royal drama, “Mary Queen of Scots,” also opened strongly in limited release. The Focus Features title, starring Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, debuted in four theaters with a robust $50,045 per-theater average. Lis Bunnell, president of distribution for Focus, said the film’s modern spin “made it resonate with audiences in a powerful way paralleling so much of what is still going on today for women.”

Also opening in limited release were “Ben Is Back,” the family addiction drama with Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (a $20,243 per-theater average in four theaters), and the caustic pop music critique “Vox Lux,” with Natalie Portman (a $27,000 per-theater average in six theaters).

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” Universal re-released the Holocaust epic in 1,029 theaters. But it failed to turn out large crowds, grossing a modest $551,000.

Next weekend, the box office is expected to be significantly busier with the release of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” ″Once Upon a Deadpool” and Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” and “Mortal Engines.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.

1. “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” $16.1 million.

2. “The Grinch,” $15.2 million ($25.9 million international).

3. “Creed II,” $10.3 million ($5.2 million international).

4. “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” $6.8 million ($22 million international).

5. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $6 million ($29.2 million international).

6. “Instant Family,” $5.6 million ($1.7 million international).

7. “Green Book,” $3.9 million.

8. “Robin Hood,” $3.6 million ($7.5 million international).

9. “Possession of Hannah Grace,” $3.2 million ($4.8 million international).

10. “Widows,” $3.1 million ($4.5 million international).

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:

1. “Aquaman,” $93.6 million.

2. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $29.2 million.

3. “The Grinch,” $25.9 million.

4. “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” $22 million.

5. “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” $18 million.

6. “Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” $8 million.

7. “Robin Hood,” $7.5 million.

8. “A Cool Fish,” $6.9 million.

9. “Door Lock,” $5.3 million.

10. “Creed II,” $5.2 million.

___

This version corrects Ali’s first name, Mahershala not Maheshala.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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SNL cold open wasn’t funny and Robert De Niro shouldn’t do live TV

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SNL cold open wasnt funny and Robert De Niro shouldnt do live TV

There are plenty of people who do not agree with Saturday Night Live’s political satire who still find some of their skits funny. They often lampoon the President, and even though I don’t think they should they still make me laugh. The latest installment of the SNL cold open was another attempt at going after the President’s family.

It failed. Miserably. It wasn’t funny. The only thing worse than the premise of the skit and the failed jokes was guest star Robert De Niro’s performance as special counsel Robert Mueller. It was embarrassing. His trouble reading the lines on the teleprompter magnified his lack of humor.

You can watch it if you want, but I wouldn’t. It was the bad. Take my word on it.

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