Monday, March 31, 2008

Pedro Costa at PFA. Link dump.

by Ryland Walker Knight

As I write up each day of the series I'll update this post with links to the essays at The House. So far, so good. Coming out of Day 2 I said to my friend, I'm just so out of practice watching this kind of cinema that it adds another layer of difficulty to my project. Still, it's kind of exciting. And the films are very good, if not my usual (preferred) brand of cinema. I forget who lumped Costa in with "the European miserablists" like Béla Tarr, but, even though that label is kind of silly (and maybe misguided), I would say it speaks to the other part of my difficulty with these films beyond my expected attention span problems: shit is kinda grim. However, and this is a rash generalization, I see Costa's project as much more affirmative than the little I've seen of Tarr, which has me excited to see where the series goes from here. Stay tuned! [3/3/08]

UPDATE 3/12/08: The past weekend, full of movies, was great. But I didn't get time to finish all my Costa work as promptly as I'd have liked, given other obligations, to so my coverage is a bit delayed. We're hoping my next two will hit the webwaves shortly, though. A quick final thought before a longer collection of final thoughts: it was a great week of cinema, a pleasant diversion from my American genre work of late. In Vanda's Room is a special thing. I wish I wasn't in school so I could have gone home right away to write but homework and friendship and The Wire certainly got in the way.

UPDATE 4/2/08:
Michael Guillen's lengthy interview with Costa was finally published over at GreenCine today. As his last posts (one & two) on the retro covered the films the last day of the event offered, I slacked on writing them up. Now that we have this interview I have decided to forgo writing up Casa de Lava and Tarrafal at this moment because my calendar is so swamped with thesis work and film screenings I find unmissable (irresistible), like A Grin Without A Cat tonight at PFA -- et Ne Touchez Pas La Hache demain soir au Shattuck. So, in a way to wrap up my experience, I will say I enjoyed the break from routine Costa's films provided and I look forward to revisiting the Fountainhas Trilogy once it gets the Criterion treatment, whenever that is. Maybe then I can write the essay that In Vanda's Room deserves. Here's two images (one stolen, bald-faced, from Darren Hughes) that kinda-maybe summarize the impression the series left on me. Keep looking.

a closed door that keeps us looking
in vanda's room

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nina Eats the Soul

by Steven Boone

Shamelessly sentimental mashup of Nina Simone and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The idea is that Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is two films. The first is about two lovers dealing with the terrible, disapproving world. The second is about the two lovers, having conquered the world, dealing with what poison it has left in each other's system. Nina sings a song for each "film."


by Steven Boone

Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville is a gorgeously photographed low-budget science-fiction film with an okay story. What it could use is some Miles Davis. If you've seen Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows, you know what I'm talking about. This Alphaville montage is set to Black Satin, from the Davis album On the Corner.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tactile affect for the evening.


[Maybe the best scene in Manhunter, maybe the best scene in Michael Mann.]

Elsewheres on screen for the day.

miami vice

[1. Manhunter / 2. Miami Vice]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Perpetual Motion

hide your eyes
wipe your face

These images come from two films that are superficially divergent but thematically (spiritually?) very close, maybe even kin. A small part in this cross pollination is the use of The Kink's "This Time Tomorrow," which I've made available right here. The other parts are, among other things, youth, cinema, lust versus love (locating desire), fraternity, movement, making colors and spaces (say an affect) in words and physical forms (through poetry, sculpture, cigarettes, prayers), and taking drugs. I wish I had more time to explore these paths. But for now I can say, after seeing just two pictures by Philippe Garrel now (each viewed during the early, half-light AM hours normally reserved for writing (my apologies, Michael)), that I'm digging his vision of how to organize a film: it's measured, one might say doucement in French (has anybody?), to deny big moments, to linger on quiet spaces between people, between stories even. I hope that new print of Je n'entends plus la guitarre travels West. It probably will, right? --RWK

Monday, March 24, 2008

A conjunction of quotations #1

— edited by Ryland Walker Knight

look up

Explanations come to an end somewhere.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Beyond this explicitness in recognizing an end of words, implicitly the form of the principle part of the Investigations manifests this fate (namely, of being silenced in the face of the other) throughout, in which, in its 693 sections, philosophy comes to an end 693 times.
Stanley Cavell

Criticism has nothing to do with hierarchies.
Manny Farber

A synthetic approach corrects the critic's literary bias towards portentous narrative and his purist bias towards visual bombast. In the process it centres our attention on the normal function of the director: not to devise stories and not to construct painterly patterns but to realize given material and organize it into significant form. In order to comprehend whole meanings, rather than those parts of the meaning which are present in verbal synopsis or visual code, attention must be paid to the whole content of shot, sequence and film. The extent to which a movie rewards this complete attention is an index of its achievement.
VF Perkins

Überhaupt hat der Fortschritt das an sich, daß er viel größer ausshant, als er wirklich ist.*
Johann Nepomuk Nestroy
*It is the nature of every advance, that it appears much greater than it actually is.

My temporality belongs to this larger temporality, and this belonging-to no longer seems capable of being submitted to the Kantian criterion of the distinction between a sequence indifferent to order and a rule-governed sequence. If the physical object may still be constituted by this distinction, the historical object calls for another sort of constitution, a constitution that would take into account a multitude of temportal fields themselves placed into relations of contemporaneity, precedence, and descendence, within an all-encompassing temporal field which is history itself.
Paul Ricoeur

The nostalgia affect

The image may not first and foremost be a mnemonic but it bares its history, it bares history. The grain of the image tears and tears. Edith Piaf, of course.
Daniel Coffeen

Citizen Kane, in 1941, antedated by several years a crucial change in films from the old flowing naturalistic story, bringing in an iceberg film of hidden meanings. Now the revolution wrought by the exciting by hammy Orson Welles film, reaching its zenith in the 1950's, has run its course and has been superceded by a new film technique that turns up like an ugly shrub even in the midst of films that are preponderantly old gems. Oddly enough the film that starts the breaking away is a middle-1950's film, that seems on the surface to be as traditional as Greed. Kurosawa's Ikiru is a giveaway landmark, suggesting a new self-centering approach. It sums up much of what termite art aims at : buglike immersion in a small area without point or aim, and, over all, concentration on nailing down one moment without glamorizing it, but forgetting this accomplishment as soon as it has been passed; the feeling that all is expendable, that it can be chopped up and flung down in a different arrangement without ruin.
Farber, again.

[Hermeneutics] is not a method or system or theory or any position to be defended or advanced but exactly a context of argument about understanding -- a context whose boundaries are determined not by conceptual traditions, much less by school disciplines, but by the thing itself, that is, by the question of what it is that happens (what the practical consequences are) when we try to make sense of something. What sense this question will have for us, however, is determined by how we frame it, and there are multiple, intersecting, and conflicting frames. Hermeneutics, as I understand it, is this whole network of lines and angles on the question of verstehen.* There is no getting outside of this network and giving a comprehensive view of it, which is one reason why it is not easy to give a conceptually coherent account of what hermeneutics is.
. . .
So with respect to a discourse or a text, verstehen is less knowing what the text means in itself than it is knowing how we stand with respect to it in the situation in which we find ourselves.
Gerald L Bruns

Philosophy simply puts everything before us, and neither explains nor deduces anything.--Since everything lies open to view there is nothing to explain. For what is hidden, for example, is of no interest to us. One might also give the name "philosophy" to what is possible before all new discoveries and inventions.
Wittgenstein, again

If the description does not move, then criticism is no more than a dull copy or repetition of the object. The kind of descriptive act required cannot be determined before the encounter with a particular object, but certain guidelines (at least those that work for me) seem to emerge through this writing. One is to ride an impulsive move toward whatever draws one to something in the object—a color, a gesture, a phrase, an edit point, a glance, a rhythm, a whatever. Enter the film through this and describe exactly what is heard and seen, and then begin to describe the film in any order whatsoever rather than the order in which it unravels itself. Soon one’s own description begins not only to mimic the object, as a preliminary move, but also to redraw the object. This is not a betrayal of the object through an enthroning of the primacy of the subject’s narcissistic projection but rather the activation of an encounter, a means of entering the object, though not necessarily through the door marked “Enter.” An eccentric, impulsive, descriptive drive will cut the film up and link the fragments differently from the way the film is itself organized. It is through this montage of description that a reading might emerge.
Laleen Jaymanne

On my better days, I still think of film as the quintessential artform of the last century--a medium for expression uniquely suited to our Modernist Yeatsian decomposition, what with its malleability beneath the knife, as it were, cut and spliced back together again as the un-spooling literalization of some patchwork Prometheus. Likewise, in its 24 flickers a second, it's an illusion of life, teased from the amber of still photography, drawing, painting; mixed with symphonies; blended with dance and movement; enslaved to the syncopation of words and imaginary drum beats. It's a miracle, a golem, capable of illuminating the rawest humanity in one stroke and of exhuming the most abject failure of human impulse in the very next. Its tractability is astonishing--protean, not too much to say magical; in describing his first film experience as a visit to "the kingdom of shadows," Maxim Gorky brushes up against the ineffable sublimity of a medium that mimics the eye, stimulates the ear, and has as one of the key elements of its academic study a concept that suggests the moment a viewer finds himself "sutured" into the text. Like all fine art, then, when it's right, its "rightness" is indescribable--Frank Zappa's "dancing about architecture." And like the stratification of art imposed by some in varying orders to describe the proximity of each to the inexpressibility of their souls (prose to dance to painting to poesy to music, for me), when film aspires to combine the more abstract elements of human expression in its melange, the results, always mixed, at least have the potential to be grand.
Walter Chaw

Instead of Durgnat’s list (which is a fascinating one!), I personally would propose these three words, which are certainly at the driving heart of my own practice: richness, intensity and gesture. Each word responds to a very different ‘level’ of the cinematic experience. I value (as probably most critics do) richness in cinema: the richness of great works that repay endless viewings, works with a complex logic, works that demand a real effort of ‘reading’, interpretation, deciphering, films that are ‘deep and meaningful’. But not all good, important, worthwhile cinema is rich or complex. We also have to make a place – a large place – for everything that is strikingly and memorably excessive, mad, spectacular, breathtaking, in a word intense, in cinema (and our experiences of it): phenomena that happen more on the surface of a work, rather than in its depths. This investment in intensity has led me to the popular forms and genres I love: crazy comedies, teen movies, horror, action etc .., but also the avant-garde! Lastly, gesture relates to a more politico-historical, socio-cultural dimension of cinema: that powerful wave of significance when we sense that a film is making a move in relation to all those other works with which it forms a ‘family’: when an entrenched stereotype is being lifted or twisted, when a taboo is finally being broken, when two hitherto separate ideas or genres are suddenly being fused together … Only a few people, such as Jim Hoberman, have tried to write fragments of a history of cinema beginning from these kinds of moves or gestures, which sometimes have little to do with either ‘art’ (richness) or the ‘cinematic’ (intensity).
Adrian Martin

What is this prepossession of the visible, this art of interrogating it according to its own wishes, this inspired exegesis?
Maurice Merleau-Ponty

I suspect I am, far more than not, in your own situation: deeply interested in moving pictures, considerably experienced from childhood on in watching them and thinking and talking about them, and totally, or almost totally without experience or even much second-hand knowledge of how they are made. It is my business to conduct one end of a conversation, as an amateur critic among amateur critics. And I will be of use and of interest only in so far as my amateur judgment is sound, stimulating, or illuminating.
James Agee

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lick your wounds like a flame and burn forward in circles. Paranoid Park.

by Ryland Walker Knight

paranoid park

If Gus Van Sant's last feature, 2005's "Last Days," can be understood as a cubist portrait of waning time, then his new film, "Paranoid Park," may be described as an impressionistic sketch of subliming memory's weight.

My Daily Cal review hit the stands (and the web) a little later than the rest of the blogosphere due to this whole marketing machine we find ourselves a part of: smaller films get rolled out slower to build word of mouth. But, you know, like, whatever. This is about the work. I hope to see the picture again on a big screen because, even though the film is thin, it's lovely; and Christopher Doyle's photography should be seen as big as possible. Plus, Gus Van Sant's sound design is funny, curious; and his editing is only getting better, more affective. It's not quite Last Days quality -- they are altogether different kinds of films -- but it's better than Elephant and a possible sign that Milk may be pretty excellent. The great thing about Paranoid Park, really, is that, despite the death at its center, the film is about living, not dying. Sure, you could argue that the "Death trilogy" is about living, too -- all art is, right? -- but all three of those end with some death; this picture ends with a boy waking up and moving in the world. You can read my take on Paranoid Park by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Three "Fake" Trailers

by Steven Boone

1. Teaser for Chungking Express.
A short celebration of Wong Kar-wai's ageless gem, with assist from the Beach Boys.


2. Trailer for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.
If I were a trailer editor for United Artists in 1974, um, my promo for Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece might look something like this. The music is Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns.


3. Trailer for Bullet in the Head.
Arguably action director John Woo's worst film, Bullet in the Head nevertheless makes amazing trailer/montage fodder. Good music helps: Here it's Roland Kirk's cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Poems for the month (visual style):
Untitled 1, Lafia
Où gît votre sourire enfoui?, Costa

by Marc Lafia


by Pedro Costa

[I think these speak to one another. --RWK]

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Monday Evening Wire. No More Steps.
Episode 60, "-30-"

by Cuyler Ballenger

gus in back

[I want to quickly say that I really enjoyed writing these weekly re-caps, they were as fun as they were challenging (this was my first attempt at any sort of "serious" writing online). So thank you, Ryland, you're a sharp as shit editor and a generous host. Additionally, this final season of The Wire brought together some of my closest friends each week in my living room for food, drinks, jokes and insights. Thanks to you all Rach, Al, Cam, Willie, Ry.]


Well, it's all over, and while I knew last week's episode couldn't be topped, the finale sure didn't disappoint. I think for the final write-up I might try something new and give a brief look at each element of Baltimore.

The Hall

Carcetti had no idea what to say or do about the news that the homeless serial killer -- the one he's been using as a platform to run for governor on -- never was. We've had the luxury of watching, week after week, as the case compounded into the pile of unbelievably large poop that it is, but taking it all in one dose was too much for Mr. Mayor. In the midst of threatening Bond and Rawls with their jobs, Carcetti was interrupted by a laughing Norman, who was genuinely amused. I think I had one of those "'Road to Damascus' moments" right there, when I realized he is one character who's become only annoying. His snide one-liners about life in the hall are tired and no longer witty. On the other hand, Carcetti's chief of staff, Michael Steintorf, who the show has I think attempted to make only annoying, has become not only bearable, but really intriguing. He and Levy are the only non-street characters who, because of their acting, have turned evil roles into almost like-able people (I know a bunch you will probably disagree, and I'm fully aware Levy could never have been the guilty pleasure Snoop was, but Michael Kostrof and Neal Huff were great last night). Anyhow, it all worked out again for Carcetti, as McNulty's actual police work brought a face to the homeless killer and effectively ensured Carcetti's place in Annapolis come November. (I believe the politician Carcetti is based on, did in fact become governor.) The hall was exciting in season four. Seeing Carcetti's charisma and optimism in the mayoral race was a nice change of pace from the pain that was the school, but with really nothing more to offer to this season, save the constant bitching, I don't think the show would have suffered without him.

The Paper

From the season premiere, I knew it would be an uphill battle for the paper, having to compete with last season's power house, Edward Tillman Middle, and a battle it was. As I stated almost religiously over the past ten weeks, there were standout performances, mostly from Clark Johnson's Gus (who directed the finale), but Tom McCarthy's Templeton ended up capturing my attention as well. Templeton's final scene, one of many within the signature concluding montage, had him on stage at Columbia with Klebanow and Whiting receiving a Pulitzer they may just have to give back, going down in the books with Blair and Glass and the others Gus listed off earlier in the episode as notable phonies. There was no question D. Simon had it out for The Sun all season, and seeing his head peeking out from above a cubicle, but tilted down, obviously working, was icing on the cake. He is still working hard to report on a story everyday in Baltimore, he's just found a more potent medium. But there were signs of hope for the paper last night, even though Alma was canned. Fletcher's piece on Bubbles was printed, Sunday edition front page center, and though Bubbs was initially hesitant about publicizing his story, seeing as the only reason Fletcher could proffer for consenting was that "people will read it and maybe think differently," in the end, Bubbles' sister let him come up from the basement and join her family, showing that Fletcher's claim, like his writing, was true. A city as messy and gritty as Baltimore doesn't require reporters to embellish anyway, just people who are willing to look around and take part in their city. This is a point Simon made quite clear when an article on Omar's death was cut from the paper two weeks back. And it is made further visible in seeing Gus stay at The Sun, and knowing Simon himself still lives in Baltimore.

The Law

Jimmy and Lester were hung for their scandal, but neither put in bracelets. Actually, it seems as though they both got pretty good deals. Lester retired with pension, to his wood carvings and his girl. Jimmy looks like he's taking a break from the Jameson, and while he may not see any pension, he won't see prison either (as long as Marlo doesn't, more on that in just a minute). I've never seen him as content as when he looked at Beadie, taking off is coat and gun and said, "yea, home." He put in only thirteen years, and while Carver joked at his wake about a certain organ putting in considerably more time, the essence of the crack rung true. Jimmy expelled both his physical and mental health on this last case. And I commend the show endlessly for the way they handled the final resolution. It seems everybody was concerned with what would actually happen to Jimmy and Lester. Would they walk? Would they do time? They did neither, but that wasn't even the emphasis. The reason that Michael, Snoop, Marlo and Chris were the focus of last week's "Late Editions" was so the finale could be devoted Jimmy's wake, the literal death of the police drama that was the root of this series. In the green-lit local, the camera moved around the BPD's finest, each displaying the traits we know them best for: Jay being the wise-ass wordsmith, Bunk smoking his cigar, Carver just being that stand-up guy he is, Sydnor tucked in the corner attentively watching and Jimmy and Lester in the center of the action, being praised overtly the same way they've been praised subtly throughout the course of their time on the show. It was a long scene, but not too long, just the right length to be affective and not cheesy, and it ended fittingly; with Lester watching, Jimmy opened his wallet and handed a bill to a homeless guy as he walked off down the dark street. I guess he figured he owed him one.

The Street

I should first say that I feel sort of stupid for commenting last week on Andrew Johnston's argument of what Michael would come to be, for if I had just been a more attentive reader, I would have noticed that he had already seen "-30-" when he wrote his article for "Late Editions." Sorry dude, I was projecting my wishes for the show, instead of just paying attention. You were right, obviously. Michael has been my personal favorite since early last season when he wouldn't take the money from Monk (on behalf of Marlo) to buy back-to-school clothes. He walked off and Marlo approached him from across the street, in almost a run, something we had never seen him do before, and has not done since. He accused Michael of being a coward, in so many words, for not taking his money because he thought he might know where it comes from. Up to this point, Mike had not made eye-contact with Marlo, but the accusation instantly popped his head up, offering Marlo a look not so unlike the one he gave Snoop before he sent her shattered skull through the driver-side window of her SUV. Marlo's reaction was strange, a sort of smile, followed by a glance back at Chris who was watching the whole exchange. Marlo acknowledged Mike's presence, his intensity, his wit, and he liked it. From that episode, Michael quickly became a killer on the same level as his tutors and moved up the ranks within Stanfield's crew. He showed a couple signs of disapproval with the way Marlo handled his business, but nothing that hinted at him having some sort of serious moral code. I mean, he did attempt to kill Omar! Michael came off as an independent dude, sure, but so did Cheese. Simply inserting a shotgun into his hands, throwing a black hood over his head, teaming him up with some random guy and having him disappear into the darkness was an unnecessary (and sort of lazy) way to remind us that there are gangstas like Omar. I don't think any fan of the series would have been upset had Mike gone and jacked Vinson with the nine he was using before. His character was well articulated and bad-ass enough for us to believe he could just be Michael, not young Omar. That being said, Tristan Wilds, great job son!

Marlo walked. Chris will do life. Cheese will do death. And Monk will do twenty. Marlo sold Vondas for ten million and won't lose a dime to the law. But his last appearance was debated about for maybe a half hour after the show's conclusion last night. What did that scene mean? Marlo obviously still needed to know (immediately, as it were, for he didn't bother to lose the suit) if his name was his name. Well, it was and it wasn't. The two kids he approached didn't know him, but he never really made his face known, and he didn't actually say his name. When they flashed on him, he diverted the gun shot (in a move that looked all too natural for the martial arts-trained Hector) and threw a quick right hook to the jaw. The other dude dropped his knife and the gun sat at Marlo's feet. In the silence of just another anonymous, abandoned West Baltimore street corner, Marlo took a deep breath, assessed his minor wound, sort of smiled as he looked down at the gun, half nodded his head and whispered "yeah" as the camera pulled away from him. To me, that was Marlo's way of understanding that he only had a name in the first place because he did shit like that. That he wore the crown, he ran Baltimore, and even though he won't go invest in harbor-side property, he won't remain on the streets. His abilites there (on the street) are unmatched, the show has proven that; Stringer and Joe are dead, Wee-Bey and Avon are locked up for life. He needed to know that, he needed to almost lose everything he just gained to come to terms with his future position in Baltimore, whatever it may be.

standing tall

"...the life of kings" - H.L. Menken

Friedlander at SFMOMA.

by Ryland Walker Knight

head shot
god bless america
look back
"Friedlander's America is a bowed space: streets and minor monuments appear bent by his short lens; flesh weighs people in place; faraway light, often obfuscated by trash and chain link fences, or reflected in display windows, offers a lift. "

A while back I looked in on the Lee Friedlander exhibit currently occupying the North side of San Francisco MOMA's fifth floor. Due to all kinds of other content and news, and the length of the run of this exhibit, my piece is now finally seeing the published light of day. Go here to read what I wrote. And go to the SFMOMA to see the pictures in real, tangible life -- they're delightful, joyful, and indeed seminal. Kind of fitting that this runs today, the day after The Wire ends. But more on that, and my idea of America, and the worth of that kind of art, later -- maybe next week. Look for Cuyler's finale wrap up later today tonight, as ever.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Monday Evening Wire. Just a Step Behind.
Episode 59, "Late Editions"

by Cuyler Ballenger

fuck a re-up, son

Clocks and maps open the best episode of any show I've seen (save any Sopranos and the finale of John from Cincinatti). Freamon, like clocks, knows what time it is, and Sydnor, like maps, knows where it's at (insert Snoop's "ya heard" right here). Within the first ten minutes, Monk, Cheese, Chris and finally Marlo are all arrested. Sydnor is smiling. Freamon is triumphant: he stares down at Mr. Stanfield, he kneeling, roll of cash and cell phone laying out in front of him on the street. Freamon shoots Marlo one last look, holding the confiscated phone in one hand and the clock in the other, and I can see him repeating the line he just said to McNulty over and over in his head, "Oh hell yea!"

But "Late Editions" was a two part episode really, the first part devoted to the "good day for the good guys", and the second, a poignant look into most of The Wire's key characters' motivations, fears and futures. I'm not sure why Snoop wasn't picked up (maybe because she was in the meeting with Levy), but the goodbye point/wave Herc offered her was enough to keep me from questioning further. With all the key players locked up, not to mention the Russians at the drop site, and Snoop, high enough up in Marlo's ranks to have earned a certain immunity, attention was turned to Michael as he was the only "source of information" Marlo could link to their arrests. And though Chris believes Michael didn't say anything to Bunk (which he didn't), Marlo has never been one to base his decisions on the character of his victims, telling Chris essentially, "Michael goes or you go." Snoop, being the only one left on the street, is left with that task -- one that proved fatally difficult, in yet another intimate and creepy point blank blast to the skull. Over at the The House Next Door, Andrew Johnston noted that this scene set the stage for Michael to become the next Omar. I can see that, I guess, but I'm more inclined to think that D. Simon paints a more complex picture of the Baltimore streets, as he made clear earlier this season by insisting that "Marlo isn't Joe" and, further, that Marlo isn't Avon -- whether or not they are set to be cell-mates. Yes, there are undeniable similarities in Mike and Omar, but Omar sobbed when Butchie got killed, whereas Mike told Dukie he couldn't even remember last year just moments after he didn't hug his brother goodbye. The streets are the streets, sure, but it does a disservice to the show on the whole to consider them (the streets and those inhabiting them) as cyclical or repetitive.

Johnston did say one thing I very much agree with though: Jamie Hector brought it! Both the scene in the holding cell, with his three boys, and, later, orange-clad with Levy, Hector revealed new sides to his character as his Marlo's circumstances changed. It was a move which matched the drama of the episode, one that reminded me Mr. Stanfield's inner intensity is what got him to where he is now (well, I mean, before he was arrested). The question I'm asking myself tonight is, Would I be satisfied if Marlo wasn't included in the finale, but just Levy speaking on his behalf? I only ask this because there is so much to cover next week, what with Carcetti's bid for the capital, Gus' investigation of Templeton and above all, the fates of Jimmy and Lester, I can see the streets taking the back seat to city politics. If that is the case, and Chris is locked up on a murder charge, Snoop (bless her evil soul) is dead and Michael is on the run, the Baltimore drug game took a major blow, one serious enough to leave an inkling of hope for kids like Bug.

Sadly, there is something terrible on the horizon. Something really pointless and stupid, though it does come from arguably, a good place. Kima ratted out Jimmy and Lester to Daniels. I swear, the ring of Marlo's phone in the evidence locker was almost as heartbreaking as Dukie's tears as he parted from Michael and walked down the wrong alley. The episode two weeks ago devoted to Kima allowed her to step back and re-discover why it is she does what she does: to protect kids like her own and help those who are past protection, like the boy numbed to life after his family lost theirs. But her actions this week were done out of a kind of blind rage, and they are going to reach further than she calculated. The case on Marlo will be compromised, and with a lawyer like Levy, a sort of more powerful Clay Davis (scary!), I wouldn't be surprised if Marlo escaped this charge. Kima, if I remember correctly, had never acted this erratically in the past, and this shortsighted fight against corruption may have next week ending on a disappointing note after all.

Namond, like Randy, got his cameo, although his was considerably more positive than the latter. Bunny was a better teacher than he was a cop and maybe a better father than teacher. Namond looked and sounded sharp, preaching about how shitty the U.S. treats Africa, a new kind of global argument about this country from Simon (though one that I didn't read into much, given the speaker). No matter, Namond, standing tall at the podium, sporting a suit, talking about something other than himself made me smile. And because in "Late Editions," we saw the first of probably many doors, closed in Michael's face and Dukie's future on the same smack Mike was pushing, the optimistic sun shining down on Namond and family as they walked to their towncar was especially rejuvenating.

Over at the Sun, Gus is doing a bit of police work himself. Or, as he calls it, "scratching an itch" named Scott Templeton. Given that the focus of this season was meant to be the press, and there are so many stones still unturned, I imagine I'll be able to spend a great deal more time next week investigating this sect of Baltimore myself. I'll say, for now, if the message we are to walk away with this season is that there are lying reporters and there are honest reporters, both in the lowest and highest ranks, this aspect of the show clearly failed to provide the quality the rest of series offered. One long episode can change that though, and I hope it does.

I feel the need to end with Bubbles. I'm sure you understand. His speech was the single best moment in The Wire, both in story and directing. That cut to the empty stairwell just before he said, "my people couldn't make it today," was perfect. It was a subtle and smart way of revealing, before he even said it, that there is hope, there are strong individuals, there are survivors. It's not cheesy, it's not a cliche: Bubbles did it alone and that's something to be applauded. As is Andre Royo, someone I hope has a big future in film (and something I'm sure Ryland and I will discuss in more detail in two weeks). That speech spoke to other characters on the show as well, both overtly, in that he was finally able to come to terms with the death of Sherod, and, more discreetly, "aint no shame in holdin' onto grief, as long as you can make room for other things too." That's about pride, about not having too much. That's about Jimmy losing Beadie, about Kima making a bad decision to tell on her partner and about Michael "not remembering" the ice cream truck. Bad shit is gonna happen to everyone, and thats important, its important to own that and know that, but its important to live on, we are not all islands, this is a city.

the city

Fuck a re-up, son! -- Freamon


(PS -Fuck you Herc)


Deserve aint got nuthin' to do with it -- Snoop