Big Little Lies – Season 1 (HBO) Written by David E. Kelly Directed Jean-Marc Vallée
Madeline Mackenzie is a wealthy woman living in Monterrey, California where she spends her time shuttling her youngest daughter to school and playdates while helping produce a local production of Avenue Q. On the first day of school, Madeline meets Jane, a single mom who has just moved to town. During pick up, the daughter of Renata Klein, a fellow power mom, accuses Jane’s son of choking her during class. This moment sets off a series of conflicts between Renata and Madeline, who stands up for Jane. Meanwhile, Madeline’s friend Celeste is dealing with an increasingly abusive husband, trying to hide her bruises and wounds when going out for coffee with friends. Throughout the series, we’re given flash-forwards to the night of a murder that happens at a school fundraiser, slowly learning the details and which of our female leads was involved.
Big Little Lies (HBO) Season 1, Episode 1 – “Somebody’s Dead” Written by David E. Kelly Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
There is so much television I hear I should watch and with 24/7 streaming services abounding it can quickly become overwhelming. To finally get a taste of all these great shows I will start doing TV Tryouts. Each month I will watch a couple of pilot episodes of series I have been hearing rave reviews about and see if that first episode can hook me to keep watching. Now, an argument you might make is that you have to view the first six or entire first season before a show “gets good.” To that, I say, “I just don’t have the time.” A television series should have strong enough writing that its characters, dialogue, and plot naturally compel me to keep watching. If it doesn’t then that’s ok, plenty of shows for everyone.
The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017)
Written & Directed by Jared Moshe
Lefty Brown is a simple-minded ranchhand whose glory days are far behind him. He’s about to bid farewell to his longtime friend, Ed Johnson who has been elected senator of Montana. However, tragedy strikes and Ed will never make it to D.C. Old friends Tom Harrah and Governor Jame Bierce arrive to comfort Ed’s widow while his affairs are put in order. Lefty takes off to hunt down the killers and is joined by Tom who is trying to bring the old man back home. Instead, they pick up a young kid enamored with the mythology of the West, and whom quickly learns the stories he has heard are not as fantastic and pretty as he thinks. A conspiracy is uncovered behind Ed’s murder that connects to his election as a senator and leaves Lefty as a suspect fighting to redeem his name and avenge his friend.
Written by Eskil Vogt & Joachim Trier
Directed by Joachim Trier
Thelma grew up in a fiercely sheltered and religious home. Now she’s eighteen and attending university, out on her own for the first time. Most of her days are spent trekking from class to class and then in her apartment alone, eating dinner. This changes when she meets Anja, a fellow student that has concerns for Thelma after witnessing one of her seizures. The women begin an intense friendship which suddenly takes a turn for the serious after some wishful thinking on the part of Thelma. Questions arise about what is causing Thelma’s headaches and seizures and what happened in her childhood home years prior. The revelation of these things will shake the foundation of this woman’s life forever.
Written & Directed by Laura & Kate Mulleavy
Theresa is a troubled woman who is grieving the recent death of her terminally ill mother. She spends most of her days wandering around the small home in Northern California she has inherited. Her lumberjack boyfriend Nick pressures her to sell the place so they can leave and start over somewhere else, but Theresa just can’t. When she finally returns to her job working in a marijuana dispensary alongside her friend Keith, he notices she is withdrawn and unwillingly to start living again. A series of tragic circumstances lead to another death in Theresa’s life which finally pushes her to a breaking point. Through a hallucinatory exodus, she will come to a final realization about her life and relationships.
A Ghost Story (2017)
Written & Directed by David Lowrey
A man and woman live in a small house in rural Texas. There is an ongoing argument about whether they should move to a place with more opportunities or stay in this place. The woman wants to leave. The man wants to stay. Then he dies, his car t-boned by another vehicle. After she visits the hospital morgue and goes in tears, the man rises, still covered in the sheet and wanders back home. This is when he begins to haunt that small house. Time slows to a crawl; then it passes in torrents. The man eventually comes to see his time in this home from a new perspective and comes to a very final conclusion about not just his life, but all of ours.
The Exception (2017)
Written by Simon Burke
Directed by David Leveaux
Captain Stefan Brandt, a member of Hitler’s Third Reich, is assigned to protect the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II at his country home in the Netherlands. Once there he finds a former monarch who is hesitant to throw his support behind the Fuhrer. The Gestapo shows up to check out a rumored English spy among the villagers, and Brandt seems rather uninterested in this side hunt. Instead, he becomes enamored with Mieke, a young maid in the Kaiser’s staff. Things suddenly become even more complicated when word comes that SS Commander Heinrich Himmler is coming to secure the Kaiser’s loyalty. Brandt finds himself torn between his duty to Germany, his admiration of the Kaiser, and his love for Mieke.