Update: evil robots, dirty cops,anxious Swedes and a neurotic Jew

My apologies for the recent lack of postings — I am finishing up an assignment and have been dealing with two kids over the moon about the arrival of Halloween.

I have little of interest to report — or perhaps, more accurately, I have little energy at the moment to report anything. However:

ITEM! [info]urbaniak and I watched Terminator 2: Judgment Day last night. I have little to say about this movie that hasn’t been said many times by many others. It has a screenplay of similar structure to the original (two mysterious strangers from the future show up, one wants to kill the protagonist, the other wants to save him, the first act is devoted to putting the pieces in place, the second act is about explaining the rules and catching the audience up to the action, the third act is about all the pieces coming together in a massive, bone-crushing action sequence) but vastly improved and with about a hundred million more dollars worth of production values. A pinnacle of American movie-making and James Cameron’s greatest achievement. I would also like to commend the two leads, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of whom turn in career-best performances that, for my money, stand next to another beauty-and-beast team from 1991, Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, for sheer effectiveness. Schwarzenegger is okay but a little clunky in the first movie, but he’s just spectacular in T2 — slimmed-down, poised and in total command of his movements and voice. Schwarzenegger gets a lot of stick for playing a robot but what he does in this movie is a lot more subtle, complex and nuanced than one would expect from the big guy. He was a special effect in the first movie but here he’s a real actor giving a real performance — and not hogging the camera, either. As for Linda Hamilton, she seems like a completely different actor than the woman in The Terminator. She tough, uncompromising, no-bullshit and impossible to take your eyes off of. I watch her in this movie and am baffled that she doesn’t have a career equal to her contemporaries. I guess there just aren’t enough roles written for women with rock-hard shoulders who want to play moms whose kids can help them load machine guns.

ITEM! While finishing my assignment, I’ve been taking breaks by watching Season 3 of The Shield. If you’ve never heard of The Shield, stop what you’re doing right now, run to your video store and rent the first season. The pilot of The Shield is not only the greatest pilot in television history, it’s the spearhead of some of the greatest dramatic writing I’ve ever witnessed. Show after show for six seasons, this show kept up a seething, scathing, furious boil of urban Jacobean drama. Astonishingly intelligent, jaw-droppingly intense and complex. When I see a movie these days, I don’t say “Is it as good as Citizen Kane,” I say “Is it as good as an episode of The Shield?” Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackie is one of the great television performances of all time, on a par with Carrol O’Connor on All in the Family, Peter Falk on Columbo and Hugh Laurie on House. The fact that Mackie is perhaps the most unpleasant character ever delineated on television makes it that much more compelling.

ITEM! Before he became one of the 20th century’s most important and enduring artists, Ingmar Bergman was a screenwriter, just like me! His first produced screenplay is called Torment (there’s a calling-card title if I ever heard one). The movie was directed by Alf Sjoberg, but oozes Bergman all over the place. Students of excellent screenwriting must, must, must familiarize themselves with Bergman’s screenplays — they are expertly balanced, classically structured, compact little gems that manage to plumb the depths of human desires and needs without making a big deal about it.

ITEM! Took my son trick-or-treating tonight in Santa Monica. Certain blocks north of Montana were as crowded as Times Square the night before Christmas and as garishly decorated. A splendid time was had by all and I had the pleasure of sighting Larry David making his way through the crowd. As a New Yorker, I am forbidden to approach a celebrity in the street no matter high my admiration for his work.

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14 Responses to “Update: evil robots, dirty cops,anxious Swedes and a neurotic Jew”
  1. Anonymous says:

    About a month ago I took in 5 seasons worth of The Shield in a little under two weeks. I was completely blown away. It quickly became one of my all time favorite television shows.

    Am I the only one who thinks the character of David Aceveda is the hero of that show? He does a lot of bullshit political maneuvering but damn if he doesn’t seem to always come down on the side of law and order.

    I don’t think I’ve ever liked a main character (Vic Mackey) more and yet I wanted him and his buddies to get caught. It was a very weird dichotomy going on inside my head while watching it all.

  2. urbaniak says:

    Yeah, come on, post more! What’s the matter with you?

  3. teamwak says:

    Ive got season 1 of the Shield by the DVD player. I have too many distractions nowadays, but I will movie it up the list.

    PS. I watched The Philadelphia Story! Awww Im in love with Ms Heppburn! And Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart verbally sparring was fantastic!

  4. Anonymous says:

    What’s your take on the (WGA) strike?

  5. r_sikoryak says:

    Unlike you and Mr. Urbaniak, I have been utterly consistent in the frequency of my posts, since I opened my account over a year ago.

  6. stainedecho says:

    Would you say The Shield is a better cop/drama show than The Wire on HBO?

    • Todd says:

      I have been told by many that The Wire is the greatest show in the history of television, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. The reason: seasons of The Shield sell for under $30 apiece used, The Wire goes for $60 a season and is never available used. But I’ll get to it.

  7. toliverchap says:

    Yeah I’ve heard The Shield is a really good show. I recently started watching The Wire which everybody all my friends say is the best dramatic television show they’ve ever seen.

  8. Anonymous says:


    Jeezus fuckin’ christ, are you on fire this week, or wot?

    • Todd says:

      Re: posting

      You could say I’m always on fire.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: Bergman

        As an aspiring screenwriter, I’d like to thank you for your time and articulation.

        May I ask you what you’d recomend I start with in reading/ watching Bergman? I’m embarrassed to say I’m not familiar with his work.

        Thank you,

        • Todd says:

          Re: Bergman

          Most people start with The Seventh Seal, but I found it more useful to start with Through a Glass Darkly. For sheer entertainment value, it’s hard to not like Fanny and Alexander. And for an electrifying, life-changing cinematic experience on the level of 2001, try Persona.