TV Room: ‘The Night Of’

Riz Ahmed in ‘The Night Of’ (HBO)

night_of-posterA long-in-development, eight-episode miniseries, The Night Of has the heft and snap of that rare crime novel which seems to have been written by somebody who has actually talked to a few cops and crooks in their time. That’s because it’s written by Richard Price, whose gritty, funny novels from The Wanderers to The Whites provide a kind of alternate history of New York.

What’s it about? In short, a good kid from Queens (Riz Ahmed) goes out when he shouldn’t, hangs out with a girl who fairly screams bad news, and ends up in a police station. For murder. John Turturro plays his low-end lawyer with a heart of gold; in a role that James Gandolfini originated not long before his death.

The Night Of is on HBO Sunday nights; check it out. My review is at PopMatters:

The world of cops, judges, and lawyers is one that sorts the people who come within its grasp. That’s at least the case in crime fiction like HBO’s darkly sparkling new noir miniseries The Night Of. It’s generally a binary thing, without much shading…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Film: ‘God’s Pocket’

Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in 'God's Pocket' (image courtesy of IFC Films)
Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in ‘God’s Pocket’ (image courtesy of IFC Films)

For his directorial debut, John Slattery (Mad Men) chose to adapt a seamy crime novel by Pete Dexter, stock it with a couple Academy Awards’ worth of talent—Richard Jenkins, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his three posthumous roles to hit theaters this year—and then play the whole thing as a kind of cosmic gag. It very nearly works.

God’s Pocket is playing now in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

The title comes from the neighborhood where all the action is set. It’s a scabrous, Southie kind of place where the bars are packed, the walls are covered in wood paneling, the air is thick with cigarette smoke and barely controlled rage, the mood black, and the faces white. As the beautiful wounded bird at the center of all the story’s ugliness, Slattery’s “Mad Men” co-star Christina Hendricks plays Jeanie Scarpato. She’s the blinded-by-love mother to Leon (Caleb Landry Jones), a drugged-out, scrubby kid who doesn’t make it too far into the film. He’s so busy at his job one day ranting and raving and spitting racial slurs that when his sole black co-worker clocks him with a lead pipe, it’s a complete surprise…

You can see the trailer here: