Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Even if I didn't want to see this new HBO show, I couldn't miss it. Last night when I turned on the TV and surfed the movie channels, which include ten (eleven if you count the Spanish dubbed one) HBO channels usually with a different program on each, eight out of the ten were showing LUCK!
It's a David Milch creation (full disclosure, Milch and I have known each other since the late 1960s and were good friends for several decades in there though I haven't been in touch with him in years) with Michael Mann as his partner and directing the first episode which debuted Sunday.At his best, Milch creates some of the greatest TV of our era. NYPD BLUE and DEADWOOD being his most successful, both critically, audience response wise, and for my own personal taste (and again, full disclosure, I acted on both NYPD BLUE and DEADWOOD).
I don't know Michael Mann but love his work (though friends don't like it, his version of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS with Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my favorite movies, despite the revised history, that's one of its charms as it's almost like an old Hollywood version of history, beautiful stars and settings, though Lewis and Madeline Stowe are also terrific actors).
Together they've created in LUCK, as others have already pointed out, a kind of reflection of the times. Focused so far mostly on the limited terrain of Santa Anita racetrack, and the world of race horses and betting and the usual macho (it's Michael Mann and David Milch after all) bump bump competition of male dominated settings.
Lots of good actors starting with Dustin Hoffman as a kind of mob elder who just did three years and looks like he wants some kind of pay back. I wasn't entirely crazy about his character and what he (or Mann and Milch) is doing with him yet (felt even more that way about Nick Nolte's crusty old horse trainer character), but nonetheless he was pretty interesting to watch as always (I preferred the character he played and should have been nominated for in BARNEY'S VERSION).
Richard Farina plays Hoffman's character's driver and muscle, and does his always competent job. But it's the actors I don't know that impressed me most. And despite the fact that I actually find the track and betting on horses boring at best and aggravating at worst (my father made some book and I used to take bets over the phone and playing the ponies was the major sport I grew up around, but my father ruined any interest I had in it as a kid by rubbing my nose in some of the real consequences of getting too attached to the track and the betting), I still have to admit I found the first episode sucking me in and I look forward to seeing where it goes.