Tag Archives: olivia thirlby

Amazon Prime’s Goliath: Season One

Amazon Prime has sneakily started to put out some incredible original shows in the last few years, it’s really worth signing up (way cheaper than cluttered ass Netflix) to see the exciting directions they’re headed in. One such show is Goliath, which on the surface appears to be a slick, spotlight showcase for Billy Bob Thornton in another one of his now platinum alpha male loudmouth roles. It is that, to an extent, but it’s also a detailed, densely written mosaic of Los Angeles life viewed through a prism of classism, corruption, dishevelled family values and high powered corporate war games.

Thornton is Billy McBride, a disgraced lawyer who helped found the largest and most powerful mega-firm in LA only to be barred from it years later and left in exile. He mopes around in a cheap Santa Monica hotel, wanders the beach at night with bottle in hand and gives a local stray dog some love. This is until maybe the biggest lawsuit of his career yanks him out of bleary eyed entropy and pits him against not only his old firm but the largest high tech weapons manufacturing giant in the country. The show is aptly titled and works beautifully as an underdog story. Billy is low rent, works out of motel rooms and storage units, hires whoever will tolerate him and often prepares speeches and depositions over a high ball at the local dive. The firm is clean cut, ruthless, well researched and not afraid to get extremely dirty in protecting their powerful, scary client. Atop the skyscraper’s penthouse sits co founder Donald Cooperman, a bitter old Machiavellian lunatic played by William Hurt. Hurt embodies him like Harvey Dent crossed with a Bond villain, an eccentric asshole who coldly shunts his lawyers and clerks around the firm’s checker board and communicates with a paratrooper clicky thing, making every move he can to stonewall Billy’s case.

This is Thornton’s best role in years and he does get to do that patented snarky thing that every Bad Santa fan always cheers for, but McBride is also a well rounded, very human character rooted in backstory, fuelled by emotion and dynamic in his interaction and well guarded compassion for the people in his life. His law clerk is an escort girl (Tanya Raymonde), his ex wife (Maria Bello) works for Cooperman’s firm and his daughter (Diana Hopper) resents his wayward lifestyle but loves him unconditionally. There’s an eventual loyalty and tribal feel to his ragtag entourage that I picked up on and enjoyed a lot. They have casted this thing to the nines and picked unique actors for parts you wouldn’t have pictured them in too. Molly Parker is a right cunt as the firm’s lead shark, scene stealing like a pro and positively dripping acid in court. Olivia Thirlby nails the rookie just coming out of her shell, Nina Arianada is a sharp, foul mouthed go getter as a lawyer representing the family suing this firm, and watch for appearances from Jason Ritter, Brent Briscoe, Sarah Wynter, Dwight Yoakam, Damon Gupton and Harold Perrineau as a shrewd, no nonsense judge.

This is of course only a review of the first season, but on its own I can’t really think of anything wrong with it. It’s smartly written, emotionally relatable, super exciting and looks beautiful visually. It’s a story of redemption, one of the little guy standing up to essentially the biggest bully you can dream up and even has elements of family drama as well as thoughtful romance. Thornton and Hurt lead the herd like the pros they are, but everyone in their wake gives equally as powerful work. The locations feel authentic, lived in and detailed, considering they shot in the actual Santa Monica motel and bar that we see onscreen. This tale reaches seemingly mythic heights at times but never falters in catching the little moments, the gaps in between important plot establishing scenes that show characters simply interacting casually or chatting about their favourite movies. You don’t see that kind of care put in much, but damn it goes a long way. I’m somewhat apprehensive about season two after a reported writer switch up that garnered some nasty reviews across the board, but we’ll see. As it stands, season one is its own enclosed story, works spectacularly and I’m happy we got it. Highly recommended.

-Nate Hill

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Dredd: A Review By Nate Hill

  

After the floundering absurdity that was 1995’s Judge Dredd left a nasty taste in the collective mouths of fans, all wen quiet on the cinematic front of Dredd for nearly two decades (I call it the Batman & Robin effect). The clouds parted though, and we finally got one streamlined masterpiece of a flick with 2013’s Dredd. Not only is it achingly faithful to the comics right down to Dredd never removing his helmet, but it stands as one of the ballsiest and well made action pictures in recent years. It’s never overstuffed or busy, takes the violence seriously, has genuine suspense, a bone deep and super tough performance from a grizzled Karl Urban, a sexy, no nonsense villain and the best original score of 2013 by a country mile. Not too mention it’s atmospherics, which are helped by said score of course, to create a sonic mood board of post apocalyptic ruin and urban rot. Dredd is part of an elite department called the Judges, who roam the smoky desolation of Mega City One and act as judge, jury and executioner wherever they see fit. Dredd is a trigger happy juggernaut with no use for scum or criminals and has not a qualm with taking them out like the trash they are, often in brutal, bloody and uncompromising ways. On day he’s partnered up with judge in training Cassandra (Olivia Thirlby, perfect), a rookie with blossoming telepathic abilities. A routine call leads them to a gargantuan Mega Block tower called Peach Trees, a sting irony once we see the rampant squalor inside. This tower happens to be controlled by the fiercest criminal overlord in town, Ma Ma, played by a purring, lethal and altogether terrifying Lena Headey. Her tactics go beyond barbaric and she’s sitting on the manufacturing of a drug called Slo Mo, which makes the users feel like time is passing at one percent it’s normal rate (a gold mine for setting up a scene visually). Ma Ma locks down the tower as the two judges arrive, and decrees that she wants them dead. Now it’s a visceral fight for survival against her armies of thugs and miscreants, and a slow ascent towards her penthouse lair, for Dredd to finish her off. The whole film takes place in Peach Trees, so it’s a self contained, one location affair, and a goddamn knockout of a movie. There are R rated films that dabble in violence a bit and barely earn their stripes, and then there are R rated films that leap at the chance to show people dying six ways to Sunday. Dredd absolutely decimates Ma Ma’s armies in high style and often in super slow motion as they face him while they’re high. The slo mo never feels tacky, but has a tactile richness and fluidity that makes the inflicted carnage so satisfying as it unfolds. The score by Paul Leonard Morgan is an uproarious rallying call that drives forward constantly, charging out of the gate in the opening minute as Dredd pursues a van down the highway on his thundering motorbike, and pummelling each scene with heart stopping force until it mellows out for an eerie passage called ‘Ma Ma’s Requiem’ which is my favourite piece in the film and can be listened to on repeat. Pure genius. Thirlby is the voice of reason and the eyes of the audience, experiencing for the first time how ugly this crime fighting business is, and holding her own wickedly. There’s a dark sense of danger to the whole thing, a frank and outright lawlessness to the villains, as it’s just another day on the job for them. No overacting, no histrionics. Just mellowed out murder and meanness all round. This is the Dredd film that we’ve been waiting for, and have long deserved after that other mess. Low box office returns means we may never see a sequel (wtf is wrong with people, like, who didn’t go see this??), but we’ll always have this little blitzkrieg of a flick to re watch time and again. I know I will.