February 15, 2012

WHEN DID DUSTIN HOFFMAN GET SO OLD?:

Luck Is a Winner for HBO (Tim Surette, Jan 30, 2012, TV.com)

I've never understood some people's fascination with horses. Horse lovers can go on and on about the creatures' beauty, their gracefulness, their mystique. Me, I see overgrown donkeys that would love nothing more than to kick me in the nads. But HBO's Luck, the new drama about horse racing that debuted tonight, is taking my ignorance for quite a ride of clarity. Through the eyes of Michael Mann (Heat) and the words and characters of David Milch (Deadwood), the jaw-dropping beauty of horses and desperate atmosphere of the world of horse racing come to light in what could be HBO's best new series.

Just as Boardwalk Empire's pilot benefited from producer Martin Scorsese's directing chops, Luck's pilot benefited from Mann's. But Mann outdid his fellow Directing Hall of Famer and just about everyone else on the planet with masterful work here. Luck is absolutely gorgeous, and Mann's ability to capture the brutality and grace of the Sport of Kings with mind-boggling camera angles and how-did-they-do-that tracking shots (seriously, how DID they do that?) is staggering. Shots that dart back and forth between a wild horse's eye and an intense jockey's eye only emphasize the tenuous bond between rider and animal, and remind us that these are human beings careening around a track at ridiculous speeds on top of a frickin' beast.

But Luck isn't just about the duos racing around the track, it's about everything that goes on around the track. Milch turns his eye toward all tiers of the racetrack hierarchy; here, they involve the recently released from prison Ace (Dustin Hoffman), scheming horse trainer Turo Escalante (John Ortiz), a pair of jockeys looking to make names for themselves, an owner named Walter Smith (Nick Nolte) who just might have the next great thoroughbred on his hands, and a quartet of lowly gamblers trying to win enough to buy their next meal. In the pilot, we saw how all of their lives intersect, and how risks and gambles taken by one of them affect the lives of the others.

One of the best things about having Mann direct was that he brought in a couple of the regulars from the great series Crime Story--Ted Levine and Dennis Farina. 


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Posted by orrinj at February 15, 2012 6:27 AM
  
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