In the End, ‘True Detective’ Fell Into Its Own Traps

By True Detective‘s fourth episode, it was fast on track to becoming one of my favorite television shows. And pretty much everyone who watched it would agree; True Detective is compelling, both in its style and in its storytelling. Like Breaking Bad before it, it manages to be both wonderfully intellectual in its artistry and complexity, but also just as exciting and accessible as an action movie.  I particularly fell in love with the show’s structure– two older and broken men commenting retrospectively and somewhat nostalgically on their lives as detectives, husbands, fathers, and, perhaps most essentially, men trying to understand the universe. I loved the unreliability of their narratives, the ways their lies and hypocrisies rose gently to the surface, and how the commentary from 2012 shed light on the complexities and subtleties of 1995. I felt that this structure was what made the show special and what would eventually be the key to answering the crime’s questions. Like Papania and Gilbough, the questioning detectives, we were groomed to be doubtful of Rust’s and Marty’s histories and their reliability, even if we trusted Rust’s overall innocence.

This promo though, is gold.

A little over halfway through the series, the structure changed. We stayed in 2012 for the rest of the show’s episodes. We started taking everything at face value. The show became more about the ins-and-outs of solving the crime than about the detectives’ very subjective and complicated journeys. That’s not to say that solving a crime isn’t interesting. British television’s The Fall and Broadchurch created similar sensational followings, and both made sure to wrap up their questions by their season finales. But those shows never really lost that special lens on the crime. True Detective lost its lens. And I also couldn’t help feeling like I had been misled to believe this show was supposed to be about something else.

Let’s look at what most of us took away from TD’s first half:

1) Rust is unreliable. Even if we knew that he was not the murderer, there was reason to suspect his fascination with the case. His nihilism is coupled with sensory hallucinations, drug use, possibly some kind of PTSD, and a history of loss. Again and again, we got quotes from him saying things like, ‘the answer’s right in front of you even if you don’t see it’ and ‘everyone’s a terrible person on the inside’ and ‘everyone’s truth is subjective.’

Where is the payoff from all this buildup? How did these tensions resolve themselves? How do they play into the solving of the murder? I’m not sure. Childress speaks similarly, telling Rust to ‘take off his mask’ as he guts him. What’s this mask? And what does Rust see in that cosmos hallucination he sees in Carcosa? His daughter’s love? Goodness?

2) Marty is totes a misogynist and treats his family with contempt. After seven episodes of lies, cheating, and violence, this tension is wrapped up with a scene showing the family gathering around a wounded Marty at the hospital. And everyone’s okay? Marty’s not exactly a great detective either. He gets into more trouble than good, and Rust is primarily responsible for their successes. I would have loved to see Marty’s ineptitude and Rust’s unreliability figure more largely into the season finale, say with them botching the case, or discovering their own complicit involvement. But no, their character study ends up having little to do with the case itself, much like any crime procedural with a quirky lead.

3) The structure that was so integral to the show’s first half, and the prominent doubts of Rust’s innocence get resolved a little too quickly, and Papania and Gilbough proving to be much less of a threat or hindrance as we thought they would be. Looking back on the entire series, they seem like little more than plot devices.

4) I’ve never been a fan of the crazy internet theories going around about who the Yellow King is. I never saw anything in the show to latch onto in the way of secret conspiracies. I knew all along that the answer would be a straightforward one. But after all the buildup, it ends up that the killer wasn’t much of a surprise, and a bit of a letdown. You can’t fill a show with so much doubt, so many unreliable facts, and so many references to the obscurities of the world, and then introduce us to the killer in the last episode. It just seems a little too cut and dry.

Let me just reiterate: the problem with True Detective’s finale was not that it was predictable, or sentimental, or even straightforward. The problem is that the show lost sight of its style, its unique voice, its promises. It never manifested any of the many, many obscure themes that it touched upon. In the end, most of those delightful complexities (Rust’s philosophization, the past-present timeline, the Yellow King, etc.) did not come to fruition, leaving me to feel like they were red herrings all along, or, as much as it hurts to say this, something close to gimmicks. The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber says it best: The finale left him feeling like TD’s finale was “a high-budget genre retread with the false veneer of profundity. (As opposed to what I’d hoped for: high-budget genre experiment with actual profundity.)

5 Things the Oscars Should Do Instead of Those Redundant Montages

The most annoying part of sitting through a three-and-a-half hour awards ceremony is not, as most people would have it seem, the winners’ speeches. At best, they’re inspirational, witty, or just goshdarn poetic. At worst, they’re dry and cliche. But we the audience are gracious enough to give the winners their chance to speak because we know that the road to success can be a long one and these folks deserve half-a-minute to spill their hearts to us.

No, the worst part of it all is the clips and montages we’ve already see a thousand times this awards season. Why, in introducing the best picture nominees, does the Academy insist on showing us the same basic advertisements that flooded our televisions, theaters, and devices? I mean, I’ve basically memorized every shot in that Wolf of Wall Street trailer! And then, you’ve got some weird superhero theme going on, which gives some fanboy with final cut pro in the backroom a chance to mash up clips from all the superhero movies from the last fifteen years and make it look like Man of Steel was actually a good movie. This is the most self-congratulatory the Academy can get: Let’s honor In the Heat of the Night in the same category as The Amazing Spiderman, because everything Hollywood makes is ah-mazing, especially if there’s a hero, which is basically every movie you guys! How conveniently marketable!


Here are five things the Academy (and other awards-giving organizations) can do instead of these ridiculous montages to make their show more meaningful.

1) Ally themselves with relevant charities and organizations

This years best picture nominees touched on a whole lot of societal issues that could use some attention. Dallas Buyer’s Club discussed LGBT issues, as well as corruption in big pharmaceuticals and government administrations. 12 Years a Slave presented a snippet of America’s long racial history. Philomena looked at the oppressive practices against single mothers. Why not make film-to-real life connections more clear? Celebrating these films’ successes is great, but we are at risk of forgetting their eye-opening messages and depictions of suffering amidst the glitz and glamor of Oscar night. As Lupita Nyong’o said so fricking eloquently “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s.” Have a representative from the film (any one of the cast or crew) team up with an organization that aims to solve one of the issues presented in the film, and document some of what they do in a short feature. Put a website at the bottom of the screen, and voila! you’re putting art into action!

2) Show behind-the-scenes footage

How about instead of the same old trailers and montages, we show something new. Maybe the directors/writers talking about how they approached the film? How about footage showing JLaw goofing off on set or explaining how Christian Bale’s hair did…that? Maybe some background information with the real-life Captain Phillips or Philomena? You know, cool stuff!

3) Expose some emerging new artists

Remember these folks? They’re Team Oscar, students who plan on becoming future filmmakers. Judging from the contest applications (write an essay and create a short video about how you plan to contribute to the film industry), these aren’t active filmmakers with an existing repertoire. But hey, how about we see clips of those videos they sent? How about we invite writers to submit short screenplays and the winners’ screenplays will be filmed using other emerging actors, directors, and film crew? Then, we don’t have to feel so guilty about idolizing Meryl Streep every year or giving Cate Blanchett another Oscar because we’re simultaneously exposing new faces and talents. It’s a good way for those at the top of the Hollywood community to give back to those still climbing up the ladder.

4) Something educational?

Okay, we get it. Sidney Poitier is awesome. But average non-film buff of my generation might know the name but not the significance. We know the “Mr. Tibbs” line, but not why it plays in these montages every year. How about a featurette on Sidney Poitier’s significance to the film industry? Which does NOT mean another montage! It means asking experts and other filmmakers to provide a sentence or two on camera about why Poitier’s such a badass. Or asking Poitier himself why he still bothers coming to these things even though the man is 87 years old!

Or who is this scary Kim Novak lady and why is Matthew McConnaughey flirting with her in front of his wife? Give us a little background info please. Or instead of a Wizard of Oz montage, show us footage from the film’s 1939 premiere. Tell us about why it was technically and creatively so groundbreaking.

How about what a film editor or a sound designer or any of those techie people actually do? Find the most charismatic or socially-adept nominees, and give them some screen time.

5) Play the animated shorts

They’re short. They’re cute. They’re rousing. Who doesn’t love an animated short from time to time. Get the rights, you guys!

Get it, Academy.

“The Disinherited” @ AMC Empire 25

Director Jay Scheib premiered a both film and play this week—only they’re the same piece. Scheib adapted an unfinished Chekhov play, and while the theatrical performance was happening downtown at the Kitchen, Scheib was simultaneously filming and editing a film version that would be playing in theaters all over the city.

The play’s the thing… or is it a film?

I was really excited to see The Disinherited, the film version of the event. (The play version goes by the play’s original title, Platonov.) While simulcasting theatrical performances isn’t new, Platonov/The Disinherited offers a different experience: taking in one story in two distinct mediums simultaneously. It is an intriguing premise, and one I hope other artists consider and utilize in their own work.*

Mainly because The Disinherited is, unfortunately, painful to watch. The title sequence and opening credits hint at a movie, but the earnest, wide-eyed performances indicate something much more theatrical is going on. Meanwhile, the shaky-cam cinematography skews toward an amateurish home video more than an indie film. The Disinherited‘s main failing, however, is that a comprehensible story never seems to be told—and that’s necessary for any artistic narrative, regardless of medium.

Charles Isherwood attended the live performance of Platonov, and in his review says,

For newcomers to Mr. Scheib’s wacky world, the moviegoing route might be a more comfortable choice. At least then you have the option of fleeing this indulgent experiment without trampling on the sensibilities of the talented performers. Maybe you could even sneak into something more palatable: “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” is currently an option at the AMC Empire 25.

Mr. Isherwood, I have to confess that I was one of those moviegoers who fled The Disinherited after twenty minutes. While I can’t confirm or deny if I snuck into something “more palatable,” I can say that “Anchorman 2” is pretty damn good.

*Speaking of awesome theatre film hybrids, Deconstructive Theatre Project does an inventive live film reimagining of the Orpheus myth called “The Orpheus Variations.” You can read our review about it here.

Top Tweets about the Sound Music Live

Bless me, Audra McDonald, for I have cringed. It’s been four days since I watched NBC’s The Sound of Music Live, and I’m not exactly sure whether to repent or not. On the one hand, I wasted three hours of my life MESMERIZED by the EXTRAORDINARY AWFULNESS of this eye-roll-a-minute disaster master. We here at LMezz had high hopes for this show and were able to give Carrie Underwood the benefit of the doubt. Then these hopes were dashed upon the jagged rocks, located at the bottom of WTF Mountain and next to Bad Choices Valley.

On the other hand, if I hadn’t watched this hot mess, I wouldn’t have been able to understand these awesome tweets below!

Regarding Carrie Underwood:


Those sets though:




That ‘awful’ dress:


Praise be to Audra:


Capture27And to her awesome comeback at a racist tweeter:


And them kids:


And them Broadway stars who got paid a ton more than their regular earnings to do this hot mess:




And then the swastikas:


Looking back on the past:



And forward to the future:

Capture38And probably to some DiGiornio’s Pizza in the near future:

Capture8Capture7Capture6And don’t forget to check out our own tweets!

Five Ways to Heal After The Sound of Music Live

SOML left a gaping hole in our musical theatre hearts. Here’s how to mend it so we’re all good and happy again.

1) As if watching the Mother Superior singing “My Favorite Things” with Carrie Underwood (right after she tells Carrie Underwood that she shouldn’t sing in the convent BTW) wasn’t bad enough, then NBC had to go ahead and cut “Confidence.” But then again, would we have wanted to add it to the long list of songs Carrie Underwood butchered? Watch she-should-have-been-casted Broadway singer Sierra Boggess sing “Confidence.”

2) Christopher Plummer may not be fond of his role as the original Captain Von Trapp, but we sure are. Let’s just flip through Tumblr and Google photos of young (and old, imho) Christopher Plummer.

Me? Yes? Now? Immediately? OKAY

3) In a similar vein-

Julie Andrews. That’s really all that needs to be said.

But I’ll say more, just in case that name doesn’t strike horniness adoration into your wounded hearts. EVERYTHING this queen has done is FANFRAKKINTASTIC and in case you need a reminder of it, watch the original SoM, or Victor Victoria, or Mary Poppins, or her recent Colbert Report interview, or even the Princess Diaries. Or just enjoy gifs of her throwing shade on everything and anything.

4) Laura Benanti’s and Christian Borle’s Inner Monologue Before the Show Aired: “Yes! NBC has been kind enough to resuscitate our television careers!”

Laura Benanti’s and Christian Borle’s Inner Monologue After the Show Aired: “Never again, NBC! Never again!”

Type either one of those actors names into Youtube, and just watch. There’s a 99% chance that whatever you pull up will be golden.

5) Remember that while the show ultimately stunk, it did pull in over 18.5 million viewers. And hey, NBC decided to air a live musical for three hours in their prime broadcast schedule instead of their usual repeats of The Voice, and that’s a huge plus for culture. Let’s hope the huge ratings convince television networks to take chances on shows like this more often.

Trailer Alert: Only Lovers Left Alive

Somebody decided to make a movie starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as vampires, and now we have a Japanese trailer for it.

The film is called Only Lovers Left Alive, and while the creative team obviously had a penchant for putting the entire cast in Hermione Granger-esque wigs, the film looks like a blood-sucking good time.

Speaking of sucking…

And the moody cinematography and trailer’s Japanese voice overs reminded me of Moon Child, aka the best vampire J-Rock film ever.

The film won’t be released until 2014. I’ll continue being jealous of a popsicle until then.

Why the NBC’s “The Sound of Music” Won’t Suck (As Told Through Julie Andrews GIFs)

When I first learned that karaoke contest winner Carrie Underwood was going to play Maria in a new televised version of The Sound of Music, I was none too pleased.

Not only is Carrie Underwood a karaoke contest winner pop star, she is a country pop star at that. Her cutesy twang might fly for an Oklahoma revival, but The Sound of Music is a whole ‘nother story. And we’d have to be subjected to a live telecast, with no opportunity for dubbing or a gentle autotune?

I’ll see myself out, thank you.

I mean, network and cable television already air the 1965 film multiple times a year. And no one can sing on the hills better than Dame Julie Elizabeth Andrews.

Come to think of it, I’m sure Julie Andrews would be available to reprise her role. She’s been ready to kick Mary Poppins’ ass for years now, so why not tackle The Sound of Music while she’s at it?

Then I saw the new teaser trailer for The Sound of Music, Live!

And found several surprises.

The supporting cast includes Broadway royalty such as Queen Audra Mcdonald, Archduke Christian Borle, Countess Christiane Noll, and Princess Laura Benanti. And then there’s the actor playing Captain Von Trapp: Stephen Moyer.

I have no idea if he can sing, but I am more than willing to find out.

Even Ms. Underwood sounds less twangy than I’d thought she would.

While nothing can compare to the original, I think we are in for a musical treat come December.

Giveaway! Win Tickets to the CBGB Festival

cbgbfilmfestWe’re super pleased to announce our first contest at Letters from the Mezzanine! We’re teaming up with the CBGB Festival to see some awesome new films, and you, gentle reader, can join us.

To enter, “like” our Facebook page. Once you like us, comment on our Facebook post and let us know what you want to see! Here are the films and their dates:

1. Don’t Follow Me (I’m Lost) East Coast Premiere with artist Q/A

10/10 4:30pm at the Landmark Sunshine Theater

An intimate “fly on the wall” documentary about iconoclastic rocker Bobby Bare Jr., son of country music legend Bobby Bare, and his struggles dealing with the repercussions of a perpetual life on the road- the constant separation and the disconnect from loved ones back home.

2. Passione with artist Q/A (John Turturro)

A musical journey through the city of Naples, past and present.

10/11 2:30pm at the Landmark Sunshine Theater

3. Don’t Ask Me Questions  East Coast Premiere

Don’t Ask Me Questions is about the life and music career of Graham Parker and the Rumor.  Featuring Bruce Springsteen, Paul Rudd, Judd Apatow and many others, the film follows the bands short career of international acclaim and their unlikely reunion 30 years after breaking up.

10/11 6:00pm at Landmark Sunshine Theatre and October 12th at 5pm at the Indie Screen

10/10 8pm at Anthology Film Archives with artist Q/A and performance by Bobby Brown

or 10/12 at 1:30pm at Anthology Film Archives

4. Heart of Bruno Wizard

Bruno Wizard is a London punk musician who became an underground legend. He performed at the Roxy club alongside The Jam/Generation X, and was part of the Blitz kids scene, squatting with the Warren Street mafia. His lifelong loathing of the establishment has led him to follow his own heart. At all costs!

10/10 11:30am at Indie Screen US Premiere with Q/A

or 10/12 5:30pm at Anthology Film Archives

5. Viva Viva

Steeped in the riotous music of urban chaos, meet two generations shaping a global culture of dissent. From the slums to the city center of S‹o Paulo, Brazil, the punks invite us to open our eyes. Viva Viva!

10/10/13 at Anthology Film Archives 1  11:30 am

6. Twenty Feet From Stardom

Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names.  In his compelling new film, Twenty Feet From Stardom, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.

10/11/13 at Indie Screen 6:30pm

7. Shorts Center

on 10/11 11:30am or 10/12 at 11am at Wythe Hotel (all the following films)

Spacetime Fabric Softner
The Beast and the Angel
Pussy Riot: Putin Pissed Himself
Tunnel of Love
Leave It All Behind
Good To Me
Who Shot Rock N Roll
Frank Turner: The Way I Tend to Be
You Don’t Know Jack
The Johnny Thunders Story

“What a Story, Mark!” Reviews “The Disaster Artist”


The Room, my favorite little-bad-movie-that-could, now has its own book by actor/line-producer/survivor Greg Sestero. I was so excited about this book that I contacted all the publicists and received a copy before publication date. Now you can read my review for it on While you do that, I’ll be online shopping for Lisa-blonde wigs in preparation for Sunshine Cinema’s monthly midnight screening of The Room, where Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero will be making an appearance.

PS. If you missed it: Greg Sestero did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit. You can read it here.

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