“Goliath” — A New Amazon Prime Winner



This is a bingeworthy new eight-episode series from Amazon. “Goliath” characters are deeply flawed and yet vividly human and at least, to some extent, understandable. “Goliath” is extraordinary television.

Part film noir, part legal drama similar to “Good Wife” or “Law and Order”, with a bit of “Damages” and “House of Cards” thrown in, “Goliath” tells the story of a derelict, drunken grizzled lawyer, Billy McBride (played by Billy Bob Thornton in a star turn).   McBride was once a leading legal mind who, with Donald Cooperman (the haunting William Hurt in one of the best roles of his career) had started one of the most powerful law firms in Los Angeles. Now Billy McBride is a bottom-feeder taking on a case which turns out to be against Cooperman. Think of the movie “Lincoln Lawyer” (see my April 5, 2011 review).

Billy McBride’s former law firm still bears his name and the opposing counsel at Cooperman-McBride are simply over-the-top in their ferocity and callous pursuit of victory. Donald Cooperman is a nightmare of Shakespearean proportions who monitors all legal proceedings like a voyeur through his complex closed circuit surveillance system. His legal staff pursue the case while he watches as if it were a gladiator fight.

Hurt’s Cooperman is unforgettable, cunning and unforgivable. Thornton’s grizzled McBride is evenly matched to battle Cooperman in court. [A bit more backstory on some of the key players would have been welcomed.]

In addition to the startling cast (which includes supporting roles by the superb Maria Bello and Molly Parker)  the script for “Goliath” is masterfully written by David E. Kelley (of “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal” fame).   The cinematography lends a a very strong visual identity to downtown LA, Santa Monica, and Venice, particularly with the driving scenes and time- lapse shots

But perhaps the most idiosyncratic of the episodes in the “Goliath” series is the last minute of the last episode. It is one of the most ambiguous I have ever seen in a movie or have read in a novel. “Goliath” left me wondering and wanting more. There are too many unanswered questions and too many characters with unresolved futures. I must see a second season of “Goliath”. Amazon is currently in negotiations for giving us more!

“Bron”—The Original “Bridge”



“Bron”—the original “Bridge” is a well written, well balanced story in which every episode is riveting, complexly plotted, and occasionally funny. The Bridge has earned the honor of two versions being produced: an American/Mexican and a British/French one (renamed “The Tunnel”–see my August 7, 2016 review).

With three seasons now completed and only the first imitated in the other versions, we are seeing one of the best narratives in a television series ever.   This detective series, in its second and third seasons, outdoes its own standard of excellence. The main character—Saga Noren (the incomparable Sofia Helin)—is a reserved, non-emotive personality. She is brusque where her male partners (two different ones—Season 1: Martin and Seasons 2 and 3: Henrik) are the emotional, sensitive policemen trying to understand her behavior and lack of social skills. And as the series progresses, the viewer comes to admire her professional drive and ache for the damage and horrific backstory that makes Saga who she is.

It is rare when the succeeding seasons are better than the first, but “Bron” is the exception. Season 3 is also the most complicated with parallel storylines running through and crossing over each other so that the subplots are difficult to follow at times.

The two leading characters –male and female, Danish and Swedish—dance in a dynamic that is an interplay of pain and release, over and over again. While neither is sympathetic most of the time, the viewer will see humor in their idiosyncrasies. Saga and Henrik will certainly rank as some of the most original TV detectives to date. This series was a joy to watch with so many twists and turns before learning the identity of the killer that I think I may have to watch Seasons 2 and 3 again, before Season 4 is released next year. Rent them on Netflix and binge view one of the best detective dramas developed to date.

Even if you don’t like subtitles, after the intensity and suspense build up you will forget about those little white letters at the bottom of the screen!

Trust me—this is drama at its very best!

Posted in Unhealed Wound | 2 Replies

2 comments on ““Bron”—The Original “Bridge”

    • Great write up! Love, love, loved Bron season 1 and 2 and have been waiting impatiently for season 3 availability for way too many years. Bron is the reason I was unable to appreciate The USA version of The Bridge. I know what I’ll be watching now that I’ve just finished Gomorrah, a superb Italian series that reminds me a lot of The Wire and I can’t recommend enough.

      I missed Bron when it first aired on the BBC UK . So happy Netflix finally picked up all 3 seasons.

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“Snowden”—A Companion Piece to “Citizenfour”



In Oliver Stone’s new biopic thriller, “Snowden”, we see the humanization of a young 20-something US software engineer who is self-taught and brilliant in his deciphering the surveillance agenda of the CIA and the NSA in 2013. In what is now the most well-known disclosure of US intelligence and surveillance practices, Snowden has opened a window to how counterintelligence is carried out in the global arena.

“Snowden” opens with the naïve yet idealistic twenty-one year old going through Army bootcamp. Injured, Snowden is discharged, obtains his GED and a master’s degree online and then employed as a consultant for government contracts dealing with terrorism. Snowden (played in a subtle interpretation by Joseph Gordon Leavitt,) develops “Epic Shelter” for backing up multiple databases at the secret NSA underground facility in Hawaii. Accidentally he discovers that Epic Shelter is being misused for cyberspying on US citizens, and intercepting corporate data belonging to Google, Yahoo and other companies as well as foreign governments.   Outraged, Snowden is portrayed as an American patriot who has lost faith in his country. Concerned for his girlfriend’s safety, Snowden resigns from NSA and reveals thousands of classified documents to journalists at the Guardian (UK),  Washington Post and Laura Poitras, an independent filmmaker (for what would become the 2015 Academy Award-winning documentary “Citizenfour”. See my review, “Citizenfour”—“Big Brother’s Doppelganger”, March 24, 2015).

On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Snowden with two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property. Two days later Snowden flies to Moscow hoping to seek asylum elsewhere but resigned to secret residency in Moscow after other nations refuse to offer a safe haven. For now, he is still living in an undisclosed location in Russia while seeking asylum elsewhere.

Snowden has been called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot and a traitor. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the last three years. His disclosures have fueled debates over government surveillance, and the balance between homeland security and citizens’ privacy. President Obama refused to grant him a pardon, Apple co-­founder Steve Wozniak called Snowden a hero, Secretary of State John Kerry called him a traitor, and Donald Trump called for his execution.

Oliver Stone has never been intimidated by politically charged stories (“Platoon”, “Born on the Fourth of July”, “Wall Street” and “JFK” to name a few) and this is no exception. No matter what you think of Snowden’s disclosure of classified documents, this epic story of why he did it and how he pulled it off makes for a compelling and exciting film. It should be seen along with “Citizenfour” which provides less of the idiosyncrasies of Snowden’s personality and more of his software genius as well as the motivation for his disclosures to Poitras, in particular. Oliver Stone recaptured some “Citizenfour” scenes almost in identical detail. This is a must-see for 2016!