Friday, May 18, 2007

the shield: "man inside" (d. white, 2006); forest whitaker

After a lackluster first half dozen episodes that seemed to indicate a cast & crew whose interests were elsewhere, Season Five of The Shield begins to pick up interest, and the result is the best episode since the show's producers decided they could afford Glenn Close (or vice verse). Paradoxically, the material is at its most mawkish - Claudette's post-interrogation breakdown is straight out of '30s melodrama, and some of the dialogue is awful - so what attracted me was the remarkably supple deployment of the "typical" Shield camerawork with some really fluid editing. (For the first few episodes of the season, I frequently wanted to cry out that the cutting was "all wrong!" - specifically its narcotic dependence on aimless, drama-less parallel editing.) Here is an example of style transforming lame material into something pretty close to great.

The subsequent episode - "Kavenaugh" - is nearly as strong, and suggested to me that "Man Inside" wasn't a fluke. Forest Whitaker continues to be the show's strangest - possibly the worst, possibly the best - onscreen performer. He is to The Shield what Rod Steiger was to Jubal, both in his character's Iago-ized villainy and in his predilection towards giving just a lotta bit more than a scene needs.

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