Bloodline: Season Two – Almost Shakespearean (Review)

Netflix poster for Bloodline

The second series of “Bloodline” aired May 27 and while it was only 10 episodes this time around, this slow moving, almost Shakespearean tragedy, is  impossible not to watch.  Having missed the first season, it was fortuitous that Netflix gave newbies a recap that was as engrossing as the entire second season.  In fact, it was so interesting that the first season had to be binged in order to get completely caught up in these latest proceedings.

Tri-Creators Glenn KesslerTodd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman bring us a Southern family, based in Florida, who have more secrets than Carter has little pills.  None of the players are likable, too caught up in the selfish pursuance of their lives and businesses to care much about each other.  This is not a close knit family, although three of the siblings manage to team up for one to murder Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn) and the other two to help him hide it. 

Kyle Chandler is John Rayburn the cop in the family, a detective with aspirations to be the next Monroe Country Sheriff.  Linda Cardellini  is Meg Rayburn the lawyer in the family, Norbert Leo Butz is Kevin Rayburn alcoholic boat yard owner.Sissy Spacek is the matriarch  whose husband, played by Sam Shepard, died in season one. 

Beau Bridges plays what can best be described as the devil as he pours money into John’s election campaign and bails out Kevin.  He also apparently is  the man above drug runner Wayne Lowry (Glenn Morshower).   

In season one the Rayburn clan  clearly won the dysfunctional family award, at least in Florida,  and season two carries on the theme while Meg, Kevin and John conspire to continue hiding  the murder.

Oddly enough, this Netflix original series features characters that are not very nice or overly charismatic. The siblings, with the exception of dead Danny, all profess support for one another and do manage to work fairly well together until John’s opponent for sheriff starts digging up clues about Danny’s murder.

Even Sissy Spacek’s character, despite her twinkly eyes and ready smile, is not overly pleasant. Sure she is friendly to the paying guests but she has yet to fix that shower in bungalow three. She also lashes out violently at another character in this season.

It is not just the Rayburn family that come over as deeply unpleasant. John Leguizamo plays small time crook and leech Ortiss and he is sort of a friend to Eric O’Bannon (Jamie McShane) who is a low-level miscreant who was Danny’s best friend for years. Evangeline, Danny’s wife (played by Brit actress Andrea Riseborough) is a sponger and possible con artist. 

Danny, who manages to pay back the entire Rayburn clan by dropping  them so deeply into the sh*te that it seems they will never climb out, was no worse than his entire family.

The show is slow, almost plodding in its snail’s pace of delivery, but there is something compelling about the entire series.   Part of the enjoyment comes from brilliant camera work, great set pieces and convincing set dressings, not to mention as great plot.

Of course the main reason is that sterling cast.  Kyle Chandler literally screams cop from his every pore. Cardellini convinces whether she is on the attack or so vulnerable that one wants to scoop her up in a blanket and sooth her.  Mendelson, in his flashbacks and visits to brother John, is just brilliant.

Bridges as Ray Gilbert is like Ka from “The Jungle Book.” Cool, soothing and hypnotizing, this man is pure evil dressed as a mega-rich and benevolent businessman.

Anyone who watched the first season will not be amazed at the way season two ends.  No one, it appears, gets out unscathed. It does literally end in tears and with another murder, possibly two.

This drama is compelling and hard to stop watching. Once the first episode is seen, it is nigh-on impossible to turn off till the end.  In fact the only real complaint about “Bloodline” season two is that it ends far too quickly with only 10 episodes.

(On a sidenote: Spacek literally seems to have conquered aging.  It is delightful and not a little unsettling to see how well the Oscar winning actress has aged.)

Catch Sissy and the rest of an uber talented cast on Netflix. All at once or a bit at a time, you will not be disappointed.

Gravity Holds Carrie and Captain Phillips Down Over the Weekend

Gravity Holds Carrie and Captain Phillips Down Over the Weekend

Gravity with its 3D depiction of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s lost in space adventure has managed to hold down Carrie and Captain Phillips over the weekend. The Alfonso Cuarón thriller has come in at number one for the last three weekends since the film opened.

Carrie Remake Adds Modern Touch but Not Much Else

Carrie Remake Adds Modern Touch but Not Much Else

In keeping with Hollywood’s preoccupation with remaking, it seems, just about every film existing; the decision to remake Carrie was not a surprising one. The director, Kimberly Peirce, has given the film a woman’s touch as well as added a more modern feel to the story but not much else.

The Help…Mississippi’s Burning in a skirt

Actress Emma Stone is certainly very busy these days. It seems like only yesterday she played the love interest in the nerd-rom-com that was Super Bad. Now, when she is not being wooed by Jim Carrie via YouTube, she seems to be in everything.My daughter Meg pointed out this film to me. She then rented it from iTunes and pretty much insisted that I watch it. I am glad I did.
Set in Mississippi during the civil rights unrest that was the sixties Emma plays Skeeter Phelan. Skeeter has graduated from college and now wants to be a writer. She returns to her home town to re-establish ties with old friends and to check on her mother who has cancer.

The first thing Skeeter does is get a job with the local paper, ghost writing for the Agony Aunt columnist who is having a baby. Viola Davis plays Aibileen Clark one of the many black ladies who work as “the help” to the white members of the community. The whole cast work brilliantly in this ensemble film. I will admit that I was overjoyed to see Cicely Tyson in a big-ish cameo as Skeeter’s family maid. Of course I have to mention Sissy Spacek  who has the small role of Hilly’s long suffering mother. She is delightful to watch.

Now amazingly the film’s main  plot deals with the issue of toilets. The local white community follows Hilly Holbrook’s lead on the “separate but equal” practice which was prevalent in the sixties. Hilly has gotten the local government to pass a law that makes it a criminal act to use the white residents bathroom. The help must instead use an outside one specially made for them.

As played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Hilly is a nasty piece of work. A bully who is sly, malicious, and vengeful Hilly rules over her little flock of the Ladies Club with an iron fist. It seems that while the black community might be good enough to clean the white folks’s houses, cook their meals and look after their children, it is not okay to use their employers bathroom.

Skeeter is outraged at this new law and decides to write about the ‘separate but equal’ travesty. She teams up with local housekeeper Aibileen with the idea of writing a book. This book will be filled with all the terrible, funny and sad things that the black workers have encountered . At first the only “help” that will work with Skeeter is the slightly hesitant Aibileen, but as events in the Mississippi town get worse she finds herself inundated with offers of more stories.

Mary Steenburgen has a microscopic role as the editor Elain Stein who encourages Skeeter to write her book and guides her toward publication with her company. It was nice to see Steenburgen on screen again and I do wish they had used her a bit more.

I loved this film. It has the same feeling as Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and Driving Miss Daisy. This film made me angry, made me laugh and made me cry. I cannot begin to express how well this film was presented. The sets, the location, and the costumes all felt like the south in the sixties.

The characters as they were written also felt right. Overall a real gem of a film. It attempts to show that some people were racially aware in the civil rights fraught sixties. I think it does this very well, without resorting to bloodshed or gun play.

And on a closing note, never has the phrase “Eat my Shit.” been so appropriate and funny.