12/15/12

The end of our elaborate plans, the end


Forbrydelsen (The Killing) III starts off as a mood piece with Sarah Lund too far in the background, crowded out by her male colleagues. Lund has become the formalist instead of the maverick, the passive spectator rather than the active investigator, the weakling. Once she was driven: now she's just upset. The red herrings and interruptions are dispensed professionally to the point of routine. (Does anyone in Lundland ever finish a phone call?) Creator Søren Sveistrup shares the scripting duties this time around, presumably for scheduling reasons. The series feels like he hammered out a synopsis and the other writers fluffed it up. But things get going in the last four episodes, when Forbrydelsen suddenly becomes very good again. Stick it out for Sofie Gråbøl's performance and a tidy wrap up. Spoiler alert: everyone's fucked. Not a happy ending, but a good one.

Sveistrup talked to Holy Moly about creating the series:
When we started there were a lot of episodic crime shows. You know, these 45-minute shows with a heroine who solved the case and caught the killer and started dating the forensic guy, wearing heels. And I thought ‘well we won’t do that and we’ll try to do it more like a novel.’ Television is a great window to the world but it’s often used to do nothing. So I thought if somebody offers me this window, at least I can do my best. I can try not to be a recipe, I can try not to imitate the Americans or the English and try to do something original. Try, try, try.
He wanted Lund to be the strong, silent type:
She doesn't really talk much. She has to have these characters around her to push her into saying anything. The partner role is very important as it generates some pressure on Lund and pushes her in other directions. If she was just alone she would be speechless. And it's to show her annoyance with other people. She is always annoyed when the phone rings and that's part of the game: to annoy Lund.
Sveistrup has compared Lund to Clint Eastwood's Harry Callaghan:
I've always been fond of Clint Eastwood. The parts he plays are so silent, sometimes a bit biblical. If you watch Dirty Harry he's not especially likeable and I like that paradox about a character.
Director Birger Larsen said he modelled Lund on Clint Eastwood's The Man With No Name:
"I wanted her to be wearing a poncho like Clint Eastwood and I worked with that for many weeks. But Sofie said that she couldn't draw her gun. I said, 'if Clint Eastwood can do it, then you can do it as well'. But she said, 'no, it's not right'. And she looked so wonderful, so sexy, so good in the poncho. Exactly the Clint Eastwood one. She came along one day and said, 'I've got this sweater, perhaps we should use that'."
There are nods in the final episode to a certain Swedish trilogy. Sveistrup told Holy Moly that his influences also include the Mark Frost / David Lynch series Twin Peaks:
"The first episode of Twin Peaks begins with the discovery of the body of Laura Palmer and the first episode of The Killing ends with the discovery of the body of Nanna Birk Larsen. But I saw a lot of shows before we started writing and shooting. I was a big Twin Peaks fan when it was first shown and week after week I couldn't wait for the episodes, but then I guess I was a bit disappointed when the resolution happened. But today I can see that David Lynch was deconstructing the whole genre, and he was actually making a comedy. And in that sense it's perfect.

"I wanted to see if I could do it with no humour. And especially taking the parents into it, and their grief, I wanted to see if I could portray it in a more realistic way instead. So I think I owe a lot to Twin Peaks but it's an entirely different genre. We couldn't invent things like throwing a stone to decide where the investigation went – which must've been fun to come up with in the writing room – we couldn't do that. We had to stay loyal to the grief and the importance of the investigation."

12/10/12

Safe





Well, it finally comes out that the idea of Harry the Horse and Little Isadore and Spanish John is to get Big Butch to open the coal company's safe and take the pay-roll money out, and they are willing to give him fifty per cent of the money for his bother, taking fifty per cent for themselves for finding the plant, and paying all the overhead, such as the paymaster, out of their bit, which strikes me as a pretty fair sort of deal for Big Butch. But Butch only shakes his head.

'It is old-fashioned stuff,' Butch says. 'Nobody opens pete boxes for a living any more. They make the boxes too good, and they are all wired up with alarms and are a lot of trouble generally. I am in a legitimate business now and going along.'
-- 'Butch Minds the Baby' by Damon Runyon, Furthermore (1938)
Victorian crime literature, official and popular, often seems obsessed with keys, as if nothing else mattered. But in those days, as the master safe-cracker Neddy Sykes said in his trial in 1848, "The key is everything in the lay, the problem and the solution."

We forget how extraordinarily cluttered Victorian rooms were. Innumerable hiding places were provided by the prevailing decor of the period. Furthermore, the Victorians themselves adored secret compartments and concealed spaces; a mid-century writing desk was advertised as "containing 110 compartments, including many most artfully concealed from detection." Even the ornate hearths, found in every room of a house, offered dozens of places to hide an object as small as a key.

Thus, in the mid-Victorian period, information about the location of a key was almost as useful as an actual copy of the key itself.
-- Michael Crichton, The Great Train Robbery (1975)

Rififi (1954), Thief (1981), Die Hard (1988), The Score (2001)

12/6/12

There was something aboard





"On 16 July mate reported in the morning that one of the crew, Petrofsky, was missing. Could not account for it. Took larboard watch eight bells last night, was relieved by Amramoff, but did not go to bunk. Men more downcast than ever. All said they expected something of the kind, but would not say more than there was SOMETHING aboard."
-- Dracula, Bram Stoker (1897)
Dracula, Bram Stoker (1897) The Demeter is the Russian ship that brings Dracula to England. During the voyage the vampire sustains himself on the crew, picking them off one by one until only the captain remains.

Star Trek, 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' (1969) Samuel A. Peeples, Gene Roddenberry. Two crew members become invested with terrifying mental powers. As their abilities grow they lose all human empathy and threaten the crew.

Alien (1979). Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett. An alien infects a crewmember, hatches on board the vessel and infests it, feeding off her crew.

Firefly, 'Our Mrs Reynolds' Joss Whedon: (2002) A stowaway con artist overcomes the captain and crew, betraying the vessel to her cohorts.

The Star Trek and Firefly episodes are two of the most satisfying of their respective series. In each, the antagonist's actions force the protagonists to reveal their character through action. By the end the audience requires no further introduction to the characters: the exposition is an integral part of the drama, and the story is complete.

12/4/12

I got into a self-destructive pattern





I rewrote the character for McQueen. All the sentences had to be short, a character of internal integrity who's not afraid of a fight. -- Alan Trustman
To Catch A Thief (1955), Mélodie en sous-sol (1963), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Ocean's Eleven (2001).