S07E03: I’m not too thrilled with Weeds at the moment. And I’ll be honest with you because we’ve grown to know and trust one another, I feel like I owe you the truth at the very least. Prior to reviewing the show in an official capacity, I had never watched Weeds on a weekly basis. I got into the show sometime around when the fourth season was ending and subsequently watched each season after their completion in one fell swoop. Maybe the show was more palpable weekly in its earlier days, but I have a feeling this is turning into a season that needs to be watched in one fell swoop to be fully enjoyed.
That’s not to say it was "Game-Played’s" fault. There were certain moments that I found enjoyable and entertaining, but the glacial pace of the developments almost sucked all interest of the show out of me. Not to mention the baffling actions of most of the characters.
Like with Nancy, I honestly have no idea what the hell she thinks she is doing. What exactly is her motivation to start selling again? I guess I can understand “try again, fail better,” but these three years behind bars must have really messed with her head. Or maybe I can just see the manipulations better. Like her interactions with Andy and the new drug counselor. She’s obviously upset about her sister wanting to get custody over Stevie, but she turns on the charm with the counselor lady and gets her way. I’d almost feel sympathetic for her (because she really does love the kid and want him back), but then she goes and runs all over Andy. Granted, he does everything she asks of him, but he’s basically a big dog. He’s loyal, true, good-natured, and when she’s off to go screw her dealer and leave a bag of explosives in his new apartment, he’s still in love with her. And Nancy takes advantage of that.
"Ooh! Bottomless bacon! Yes!" - Doug
As mentioned before, Andy bought an apartment that can, at best, be described as threadbare. Having gone through the housing hunt in New York City, I can attest that you find some strange places (a giant St. Bernard in a tiny, tiny two bedroom apartment -- huh?). It seems like a good central spot to root the family. Shane tries to enroll in college, but finds it a bit more difficult than he thought. But when he mentions that he could possibly be an international student, the admissions office is a bit more welcoming. And when the subject of payment comes up, student loans are touted and Shane takes off to the bank. I know next to nothing about loans, interest, fixed rates and what not, so if Shane is trying to play a game with them I probably won’t understand it, but will pretend like I do because that’s how I roll.
And finally we get to the one interesting story that was compelling throughout: Silas’ art world gig with Lindsay Sloane. Sloane plays the typical “artist” who has grand reasons for hiding her identity and nearly killing her performers and luckily, she doesn’t play it too over-the-top. Instead, she is just a girl. Silas doesn’t really appreciate nearly being suffocated, but Sloane has grander ideas in mind. She wants someone to step up and save the model and somehow Andy is the only one to do that. It's an interesting idea that could have become pretentious or horrible satire, but it struck a nice balance.
Luckily, the previews for next week look promising. We’re finally getting some Martin Short and Andy beds Lindsay Sloane. Works for me. I still wish I could just fast forward in time and watch the season in one big chunk, but the world doesn’t work like that for me. Yet. I’m working on it.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Julia is a down-on-her-luck fortysomething alcoholic. She’s at her wit's end when she meets a woman at an AA meeting and is soon immersed in a kidnap-for-ransom scheme involving the woman’s nine-year-old son Tom the victim of a nasty custody battle. Events quickly careen out of control and Julia finds herself on the lam in Mexico kid in tow trying to stay a step ahead of low-life local hoods who believing Tom to be her son nab the boy and demand the money in return for sparing his life.
WHO’S IN IT?
Although the entire cast in this low-budget thriller is excellent Julia is really noteworthy as an Oscar-worthy tour-de-force display of sheer acting brilliance by the dazzling Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) who throws herself into this blowsy ballsy role with such abandon it will make your head spin. Swinton easily delivers the year’s best performance -- male or female -- so far and it’s a shame that this independently-made tough-minded melodrama will likely get only limited theatrical exposure. Acting honors are also owed to Saul Rubinek who plays a key role in the film’s climax as Julia’s ex-boyfriend and confidante. Kate del Castillo (Under the Same Moon) really only turns up in the film’s establishing scenes but is wonderfully effective as Elena the boy’s volatile and colorful mother. As nine-year-old Tom Aidan Gould is understated and neatly effective in a role that requires a range of emotions. Bruno Bichir is amusingly one-note in his best baddie mode as Diego the lead Mexican bandit.
Making his English-language debut director Erick Zonca (The Dreamlife Of Angels) keeps things moving at the pace of a speeding freight train never letting his star come up for air and allowing her to bring many different shades to this fascinating unsympathetic woman whose life is a complete mess. Zonca effortlessly turns what starts out as a character study into some outrageously juicy stuff. The shift is tone is seamless and will blow you away. This is one hell of a ride.
At 138 minutes the film is overlong and could have used some tightening in the latter portions when Julia and Tom get to Mexico. The portrayal of Mexico’s criminal element also borders on stereotype and is mostly played in one dimension by a group of fine local stars who aren’t given much opportunity for subtlety.
A scene in the bus station where Julia arranges the ransom money to be dropped off is nail-biting sweat-inducing suspense at its finest allowing Swinton an ace-acting showcase to boot.
DIDN’T JANE FONDA ALREADY MAKE THIS MOVIE?
Don’t be flummoxed by the film’s title. It has nothing to do with the Oscar-winning Jane Fonda/Vanessa Redgrave drama released in 1977. In fact although not a remake this Julia much closer in tone and spirit to the 1980 Gena Rowlands film Gloria which was later remade in 1999 with Sharon Stone. Have we sufficiently confused you now?
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Considering the indie style and minimal marketing budget your best chance will probably be on DVD where it is not to be missed.