Peaky Blinders Review

Peaky Blinders Review

The above article is review of the Netflix show Peaky Blinders that I think is pretty much right on the money.  The article acknowledges that although there is really nothing new at the core of the show, the execution of everything, from the acting to the sets, succeed in making it worth watching.  There are some minor quibbles I have with the soundtrack at certain points, as stylized shots with modern songs playing glamorize the violence sometimes in ways that aren’t needed.  (It would be far better if the violence was always portrayed as horrific and brutal as it would fit the themes of the show better.  Most of the violence on this show is portrayed in a barbarous way, but occasionally it does dip into Guy Ritchie territory, which seems out of place.)  There are also moments of coincidence that can briefly take you out of the action as they expose the seems of the writing.  The article above compares the show to Deadwood, and I think that is a fair comparison thematically, although this show doesn’t even come close to matching the writing of Deadwood.  (Deadwood is the best show of modern times, with writing on par with the best of literature.)

However, these things aside, I do like Peaky Blinders.  It is an extremely entertaining show.  I do think the acting, the set design, the costumes, and the cinematography are top notch.  I do think, especially in the first season, that it has themes and ideas that takes it beyond mere entertainment.  The way that society perpetuates violence is interestingly addressed.  The violence that these working class men carry out is partially the result of the violence that they were forced carry out during the war.  The show seems to be saying that violence, once introduced to society, is a cancer that we are stuck with, long after the fighting of war is over.  The ruling class sends these men to do horrible things in the trenches, only to condemn them when they bring their new “skill set” home.

Anyway, I more than commenting on it myself I wanted to point you in the direction of the above article, because I do think the writer, despite a few minor quibbles, does a good job of conveying the merits of this show.  (I think Tom Hardy’s performance in Season 2 is one of hat season’s highlights.)  I myself will look forward to watching Season 3 whenever that comes out.

Addition:  I don’t exactly mean to criticize something by comparing it to Guy Ritchie.  Although there is no doubt that some of the things he has done are shite (Sherlock Holmes movies!), some of his early films are at least fun entertainment, that have their own style and energy.  I don’t mind things being just entertainment.  My point is that in this show, the more choreographed moments of violence do not fit the overall mood, and it takes me outside the world of the show, a world of which I find myself fully immersed in for the most part.  

Peaky Blinders and Black Sabbath

Peaky Blinders

I just watched the first episode of the Netflix show Peaky Blinders.  It is a show based around a gang in Birmingham just after World War I.  One episode is not enough to judge a TV show by, but the first episode has gotten my attention.  The show makes you aware of many of the economic and cultural forces that shape life in poverty stricken Birmingham.  As much stylization as the show has on the surface, it at least seems rooted in real world concerns.  (It also seems like it will be featuring a great deal of sex and violence to reel in the casual viewer, those who might not be as interested in the the larger themes the show is hinting at.)   However, I will deal with the show in further detail concerning its plot and meaning once I have watched more.

One thing that seems of undeniable quality is the cinematography and set design of the show.  It is black on black almost to the point of looking like a Edgar Allen Poe story.  When there are striking colors introduced, it is when the characters leave the slums of Birmingham.  The only other use of color is in the dress of a beautiful girl from Ireland, who comes to the neighborhood to get a job.

The reason I am mentioning the look and feel of the show is that I couldn’t help but think of Black Sabbath.  The seminal heavy metal band was from Birmingham.  Although this show is obviously presenting a stylized noir version of the city, there is no question that the Birmingham of this period, and for many years later, was often a bleak place.  My point being is that, for any of you that wondered why a town in England would father a band like Black Sabbath, you can get a pretty good idea of it here.  In fact if I had any early criticism of the show at all, I wonder why they didn’t use Sabbath’s music, or music that was similar, given that they have already modernized the score.  The show looks like Black Sabbath sounds.  Many that only have a passing knowledge of Black Sabbath probably think of the typical fantasy imagery that many metal bands would go on to use.  (To be fair Black Sabbath played into this perception at times.)  But Sabbath sounded like they did for a reason.  This was dark music reflecting the bleak surroundings of their environment.

We Give Speed to Children and Don’t Allow Adults to Smoke Pot

“If you want to know how fucked up this country is, know that we give the best speed available to our children (adderall), and we don’t allow adults to smoke pot.” – Lewis Black  in Old Yeller* 

If you want a good laugh watch Lewis Black’s comedy special Old Yeller.  It starts a little bit slow but builds up steam as it goes along.  As usual, Black is spot on in his comic observations of American life.  I was thinking about how I have to go out canvassing this afternoon, after just getting back from the road yesterday, and I started thinking about how it would be nice if I had some speed, and therefor…

*This may be slightly paraphrased.  I searched the internet for awhile trying to find the quote, but I couldn’t.  There are some other blogs/websites that use this quote, but it didn’t look to me like they were accurate in what he actually said.  So I went as best I could from memory.  

Advertising and Children

The above is an interesting article on how advertising influences kids.  It was written by Derek Thompson for The Atlantic.  I think with Netflix, DVD’s, and video games, that now is a better time than ever to keep TV advertising out of the home.  Plus as George Carlin has pointed out, they can always just go out in the yard and dig a hole with a stick!

Where Does the Time Go?

Last night, at my show at Scholz Garten in Austin, I heard several people talking about Miley Cyrus.  I have seen several headlines concerning her at Huffington Post over the last few days.  I can connect the dots that she did something outrageous at the Video Music Awards.  However, exactly what she did has completely escaped me.  One of the benefits of not having cable is not having an overabundance of stupidity enforced upon you.  Things that might normally make my eyes bleed are now just minor occurrences off to the side of the stage.  I sort of know they are going on, but they are far away, as they should be, like an airplane across a cloudy sky.

I once read that Obama has a whole closet of almost identical outfits.  He does this to cut down on the amount of decisions that he has to make in any given day.  The more decisions that you make the less able you are to make decisions well later on in the day.  If you are the President you don’t want to be using too much of your brain power to pick out a tie.  You have far more important things on hand.

There is a lot of great television out there.  Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Killing, Real Time With Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, Game of Thrones, and The Daily Show are just a few of the programs I have consumed over the course of the last year.  I watch them online, on Netflix, on DVD, or at a friend’s house.  I’m able to consume all of these great TV shows without ads and without getting sucked into mindless claptrap like Celebrity Ghost Stories.  Yeah, that’s a real show, and I’ve seen it when I was at a house with TV.  Sometimes it’s hard not to torture yourself.

I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else.  I have watched some of the stupidest shit known to man and enjoyed it.  But there are a whole host of other things I like to do, like read books and play musical instruments.  If suddenly I had the option to watch Survivor Midget Edition, I might not spend as much time doing these things.  If you enjoy cable then keep it.  Someday I too may want it again.  But if you find yourself descending down the rabbit hole too many times, and asking where your time has gone, cut the cord.  You will find some other way to fill the time, trust me.  I think I need to go save Princess Zelda again…

A World Without Ads

I’m sure some of you this fair Saturday night are out shooting whiskey and stealing babies from cribs.  I’m going on tour in two weeks and until then I want to be home with my dog as often as my schedule will allow.  I’ve spoken before that I have some introvert tendencies.  As much as I love being out on the road, seeing the world and meeting new people, I also need time away for myself to let my imagination wander.  I need that balance.  What’s he building in there?

Tonight I’m part of the large trend in binge watching TV on Netflix.  I happen to be watching season two of The Killing.  This show is great, but what’s even greater are no commercials.  One of the many reasons that I don’t have cable TV is that I don’t want the world of advertisements entering my home.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a mass consumer like everyone else.  I’ve been trained well by society.  However, I don’t need my intelligence insulted in my own home, at least not by anyone that isn’t a friend or loved one calling me on the phone.  .

Last summer I was in La Rochelle, France.  I was walking around the town and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.  All of a sudden it dawned on me; there were no billboards or mainstream commercial advertising anywhere.  There were hand painted signs on shops.  There were store windows displaying appealing looking goods.  There definitely was plenty of commerce going on.  However, the kind of gross bombastic advertising that we accept as part of our daily life didn’t exist in that town.

Just remember that we don’t have to accept things the way they are.  We get so used to things being one way that sometimes we fail to imagine an alternative.  Somewhere around the bend there could be a better world for us;  a world where we don’t have to spend every night being told about boner pills and waffle tacos.

Praying For a Spray Tan

The names will not be revealed to protect the innocent.  However, recently some people influenced me to watch the show Toddlers and Tiaras.  If you were to call this show a giant piece of shit, you would be right.  However, I would also like to call it a sociological dive into the realm of the absurd.

The show is about child beauty pageants in the United States.  I have realized that I am not only in a different land from some of my fellow countrymen and women, but possibly on an entirely different planet.  Just when I was starting to regain my sense of hope again, this show has to come into my life.

I kid you not in one episode a woman prays over whether or not to give her daughter a spray tan.  A fucking spray tan!  God approved by the way.  Dear Lord in heaven humanity is jinxed.

Guess what state she was from?  Yep, Oklahoma, you got it right.  These are the wizards that are responsible for Senator Jim Inhofe.  He has one of the worst environmental records of any U.S. Senator.  He has claimed that climate change is a “hoax”.  He also compared the EPA to the Gestapo.  I now completely understand how this man came to power.

Look I live in Texas.  Those of us that live in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones.  If I’m ribbing you a little Oklahoma, just know that you can laugh right back at us.  We have the governor that humiliated himself in front of the entire nation.  The man that could have been king ended up being the court jester.  And we elected him.

My mood darkens.  How do you reason with people that spend their days praying over spray tans?  Maybe it’s time I take up witchcraft or sorcery.  Combat one form of gibberish with another.

Ignorance is bliss.  I should have destroyed my TV or canceled Netflix account when I had the chance.  But I have been reeducated and entertained.  There is no going back to the life I once led.  I must go forward with this show.  Onward into the void…