The Verdict: The Matrix Resurrections

I was very much looking forward to this The Matrix sequel as I am a devoted fan of the first movie and I, as opposed to many others, also appreciate the sequels (especially Reloaded). So I was ready for it. HBO Max, which has just started its streaming service in the Netherlands, offered The Matrix Resurrections as one their main big blockbusters to stream. Bring it on! I thought, but man, what a total disaster this was!! Neo and Trinity are somehow still plugged in the Matrix and Neo works as a game programmer who made the successful Matrix game series and he falls in love with Trinity once again. How very meta. I hated this storyline and thought it didn’t work at all, but I continued to watch this turd hoping that somehow it would redeem itself. This never happened. Even the action looked much worse than in the original movies. How is that even possible? As much as I tried to like it, I cannot think of a single thing to recommend this for. It falls apart from the start and is best considered as a glitch in the Matrix that should never have happened.

The Matrix Resurrections is now available on HBO Max.

The verdict: to stream or not to stream? Definitely NOT to stream

TV Dungeon: Deadwood

(2004 – 2006, USA)

Creator: David Milch
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Brad Dourif, W. Earl Brown, John Hawkes, Paula Malcomson, Powers Boothe

3 Seasons (36 Episodes)


’Some Fortunes Are Better Left Unclaimed’

Sheriff Seth Bullock, pimp and saloon owner Al Swearengen, prostitute Trixie, and alcoholic Calamite Jane. Just a handful of the colorful characters that inhabit the raw and lawless frontier town of Deadwood. In the midst of Indian land, the late 18th century laws don’t apply. The power lies with Al Swearengen and his cronies. Through deceit, intimidation and murder he controls the town. Al Swearengen is Deadwood. But new opportunists arrive that all want their share of the wealth that the trade and the earth in Deadwood generates.

This is certainly one of the most ambitious productions ever by HBO. Not only ambitious in scale but in storytelling as well. These characters are not your average gunslingers. Creator David Milch wanted to show the west as it really was; dirty and corrupted. Filled with people scheming, swearing and double-crossing their way through life. There were no gunfights every ten minutes. Entrepreneurs operated sneakily to be able to fully profit from the rising economy. Although the show reminds of Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, it is something we haven’t quite seen before.

Deadwood breaks with the typical western tradition. Vicious killers dominate the setting and famous western figures such as Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp are not the legendary characters they are generally made out to be. They are as human as the rest. Plagued by faults, addictions, self-pity and regrets. Despite their raw nature, the characters talk in very complex Shakespearian dialogues (filled with lots of cuss words) which makes it hard to understand their motivations at times. Figuring out the function of some characters in the main storylines is equally challenging. This, and the fact that there are quite a lot of uneventful episodes, could be off-putting for some viewers.

But those willing to invest their time will be rewarded with beautiful art-direction, cinematography and lighting. Not to mention a few shocking surprises and some monumental performances. The most intriguing (and humorous) character by far is Al Swaerengen, wonderfully portrayed by Ian McShane. He can cut a throat without blinking an eye, but is also able to show mercy and understanding to those in a weaker position. Because of his witty lines, amicable moments, and because of the constantly disgusting behavior of Swearengen’s rival Cy Tolliver, one can easily forget that this is an evil man. The frequent reminders of his ambiguity are among the most powerful moments of the show, as well as other character revelations that often occur in the form of extremely violent outbursts or other displays of ugliness.

Besides McShane, the other casting decisions have turned out very well. Timothy Olyphant is in his element as the frustrated lawman Seth Bullock, and Powers Boothe is utterly hideous as the gambling house owner Cy Tolliver. Then there is Molly Parker as the opium addicted Alma Garret, a widow due to Swearengen’s lust for gold. Her character as well as Calamite Jane’s show the independent spirit of the female, since most other women in the town are ruled by men like Swearengen and Tolliver.

The rise of a civilization is shown in many forms. Business opportunities are exploited and political alliances are formed. In the course of the series Deadwood sees the establishment of a hardware store, a school, a theatre and a bank. Also represented is healthcare (Doc Cochran) and the media (the Deadwood Pioneer). The primary human needs in Deadwood seem to be booze and prostitution though. Swearengen and Tolliver are more than willing to provide the people in that department. The church is only present in the form of one reverend who suffers from a brain tumor. Ironically he gets mercy-killed by Swearengen at the end of the first season.

Deadwood is based on real historic persons and events. Although I doubt that they exactly spoke like these characters, the series feels like an authentic vision of the west. Unfortunately it was cancelled after three seasons. 10 years later it was concluded in a TV-movie.

To those who have seen it already, re-watching the show is recommended. Where the first viewing requires concentration, the second time around more subtle things will come to the surface. You got that, you cocksucker!

Script Idea: Masters of the Underworld

Type: Limited Series (9 episodes, 50 minutes)
Screenwriter: Jeppe Kleyngeld (episode 1 till 3 and stories)

Tagline: An unknown assassin is taking out bosses of the powerful crime organisation that rules over Devlin City. They must find out why!

Short Story (First Volume): Devlin City, early nineties. In a depraved American city, a sinister and powerful crime syndicate controls everything. One day, a mysterious masked killer shows up and starts killing leaders of this group one by one. Is this the beginning of the end for the Outfit? And what is the identity of this crazy assassin? Find out in Masters of the Underworld: Volume I.

Episodes:
VOLUME I
Episode 1: The Great Valuation
Episode 2: The Outlaws of Delacross
Episode 3: Two Godfathers
VOLUME II
Episode 4: The Silenced Minority
Episode 5: Billy, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
Episode 6: The Legend of Nino Lugiere
VOLUME III
Episode 7: Los Scorpios Rising
Episode 8: At the Gates of Hell
Episode 9: Final Devlin Wars

Episode 1: The Great Valuation
Peter Whitehouse, a city journalist who wastes his time writing about new entertainment venues at a paralyzed newspaper, falls in love with prostitute Mireia. He wants to declare his love for her, but fate intervenes. Bad men, who just got word about a mysterious killer who caused a bloody massacre at a funeral attended by their fellow gang members, are out on a night drinking. They end up at Mireia’s place of employment where things go violent very fast. Mireia escapes and runs to Peter, but the gangsters are quickly on her trail. Will she end up like so many victims of the all powerful Outfit? Or can she escape with Peter and start a new life? Find out in the first episode of Masters of the Underworld. Only on Netflix/Prime/HBO.

The Night Of… (HBO mini-serie)

Miniserie van HBO over een Pakistaanse jongen die na een wilde avond met een borderline-meisje wakker wordt in haar huis en haar doodgestoken aantreft. Niet veel later wordt hij opgepakt met het moordwapen op zak. Dit is het begin van zijn helse tocht door het Amerikaanse rechtssysteem. Via een New Yorks politiebureau naar de gevangenis op Riker’s Island naar uiteindelijk de rechtbank waar een jury moet besluiten of hij het meisje wel of niet vermoord heeft. Advocaat John Turturro – in een rol die oorspronkelijk geschreven was voor de in 2013 overleden James Gandolfini – staat hem bij. De werking van het Amerikaanse rechtssysteem, dat voor een veel te groot deel berust op toeval, economische principes en raciale vooroordelen, wordt zeer helder getoond in ‘The Night Of’. Echte gerechtigheid is er slechts voor de rijken en zeer gelukkigen. De serie heeft voorbij de helft wat zwakkere wendingen, maar begint en eindigt subliem. Met memorabele rollen voor Riz Ahmed, John Turturro en seriefavoriet Michael Kenneth Williams (o.a. Omar Little in ‘The Wire’).