Wednesday, July 6, 2016

If You Haven’t Already, Binge On Bosch

I’ve read most of Michael Connelly’s books. I haven’t reviewed them here because he gets a giant’s share of crime writing attention as it is.  Deservedly so.  I did praise the film, Lincoln Lawyer on this blog. I loved the book, but I was shocked at how much I liked the movie. I wasn’t a Matthew McConaughey fan, but his incredibly believable portrayal of the too easily compromised attorney was more than convincing. There was a sense of gritty reality to both the book and film that came across.  Magic.  I bought it all.  When the folderol exploded for Amazon’s Bosch series based on Connelly’s books, I was curious, but not impatient to see it. In promotional footage I saw brief flashes of Titus Welliver who would be Bosch and I thought “naaaah.”
Titus Welliver And Jamie Hector

I had been wrong about McConaughey.  And now I have to admit I was wrong about Welliver. So wrong. He is good, walking a thin line between being foolishly human and holding fast to his principles. I binged on the bookseller-gone wild’s bold entrance into programming. The day before the Bosch binge, I watched a big-budget crime-action film with a major star as the driving force.  I found myself predicting every scene, what was going to happen before it happened, and the whole point of the film – revenge – when the super hero killed off a whole contingent of bad guys single-handedly.  All we needed to know about the characters is the bad guys were bad guys, the good guy was not only always right, but he could dodge bullets and deal deathly blows to a well-timed onslaught of attackers.  He must have killed 20 bad guys. With Bosch, I had a sense we were dealing with believable people in dramatic but believable situations.

I guess loving superheroes is as valid as anything else.  We are talking fiction. I certainly don’t mind stylistic approaches to crime cinema.  Sin City is a favorite. Blade Runner is at the top of my favorites list. But if a movie wants to reflect the moment, I need to be convinced the moment really exists. I don’t want to know what’s happening next and I certainly don’t want cardboard characters being shot like targets at a gun range.

Bosch's Boss, Amy Aquino
The Bosch series avoids the pitfalls.  The cinematography is by Eric Allen Edward, who gets L.A. just right, and the actors, especially cops portrayed by Amy Aquino, Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick, bring this often underplayed realism to a suspenseful story-line.  The story or stories were developed by Eric Overmyer who, I think, smartly decided not to do the obvious, simply put each of Connelly’s books on screen, but instead decided to use an amalgamation of some of Connelly’s books for each season.  Also smart was having Connelly himself close by for the writing and production. I’m told that writers are often on the lowest rung of hell in Hollywood. This should help right this wrong way ship.

For those unfamiliar with Connelly’s most popular protagonist, the first season sets up police homicide detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch as he searches for a serial killer. The story echoes or perhaps pays homage to the darker turn by author James Ellroy, The Black Dahlia. Whatever the intent, it works well, giving us the background necessary to understand Harry’s underlying bitterness.

Season two is a little slower than one, providing a bit more backstory and depth of character. It is also not as gritty and tough as “The Wire.” Understandable. This isn’t front-line Baltimore. These are L.A. stories being told. They are as much about the soft life in the bedroom as the tough life on the streets.  I’ve only visited Los Angeles — or as some might call it, ‘a whole bunch of suburbs in search of a city. A few days here and there on business and visiting friends.  After 20 episodes of Bosch, I feel like I’ve lived there. And now I do, sort of.  I’m a couple of hours east in Palm Springs.

Amazon says it is definite: There will be a season three. When is it going to be available? No one seems to know, but those more in the know than I suggest a premier in early 2017.

If you binge and need some refreshments as the hours go by, remember Bosch orders beer.  Flat Tire.  But we’ll spend most of our time in Southern California. It’s hot. Lemonade will do.





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