WEIRDLAND: Fear and Suspense: "Ride the Pink Horse" (classic noir) and Mr. Robot (cyberpunk) Finale

Friday, September 04, 2015

Fear and Suspense: "Ride the Pink Horse" (classic noir) and Mr. Robot (cyberpunk) Finale

A long early shot shows protagonist Lucky Gagin (Montgomery) arriving in the fictional New Mexican town of San Pablo with revenge on his mind. He puts a check in an envelope and deposits it in the bus station locker. When he buys a stick of gum from a vending machine and starts chewing, you know what’s going to happen next. He attaches the gum to the key and conceals it on the back of wall map.

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes, a journalist who lived much of her life in Santa Fe and reported for the Albuquerque Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Herald-Tribune and others. Hughes died in 1993 and penned another hard-boiled classic, “In a Lonely Place,” that was also turned into a noir classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.

The mysterious Pilar (Wanda Hendrix) and Tio Vivo operator Pancho (Thomas Gomez) hide the wounded Gagin from the bad guys in the merry-go-round after Pancho and Gagin bond over a night of tequila drinking.

Folks who have lived in Taos much longer than I have off and on over the years say locals flocked to theaters when the movie was released to see their beloved Tio Vivo on the silver screen.

Author/journalist Hughes drew upon her New Mexico experiences to imbue her writing with a non-Anglo perspective, critics say. Hughes’ talents have not been forgotten. The reissue of Hughes’ 1963 novel “The Expendable Man” has “given readers the opportunity to rediscover the extraordinary Dorothy B. Hughes,” Christine Smallwood wrote in a 2012 article for The New Yorker. Her books were “widely praised for their atmosphere of fear and suspense,” the article says. Source:

Paranoia feeds the suspense in Mr. Robot: Paranoia is a tricky device to deploy well. If your hero thinks everyone is out to get them, they can quickly lose credibility. But, when the plot feels earned and suspense is carefully maintained, paranoia can be a powerful tool. Because we aren’t sure who’s after Elliot, or even if the people he sees coming for him actually exist, paranoia works incredibly well in Mr. Robot.

In Elliot’s calmer moments, we get the sense that he is lost deep in his own mind. The pace of the editing slows down; the shots get wider; the soundtrack takes over, washing onto the shores of the dialogue. The editing doesn’t just enforce Eliott’s point of view, it brings us deep inside his mind. Source:

But despite memorable moments for Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, all the members of fsociety, and even the actor playing the suicidal Evil Corp exec, this episode, like the season, belonged to Rami Malek. You just can't get away with building an hour around a character demanding many answers and only getting a few without an actor this compelling, and this sympathetic even playing a guy who willfully (sort of) plunged the world into such a big mess (even if it's one that's beneficial to the people who just got their debts erased). Watching Elliot rage at the absent Mr. Robot, and then suffer the physical consequences of letting Robot take the driver's seat in his body, was just riveting. Elliot lashes out because he's broken, but also because he feels the world is broken. Source:

-While I haven't been able to work it all out in my head, there have been times where I've questioned if Tyrell is real or another manifestation of Elliot's. Do you think at some point you have to establish ground rules about what the audience can believe in since Elliot is clearly an unreliable narrator?

Esmail: -Ultimately, anything that we discover with Elliot, we can always bank on. We can always say, "This is the firm ground." And when Elliot's not on firm ground, we can comfortably say, "We're not on firm ground here," because he never lies to us. He's always honest as much as he can be with us, [even as] he admits he's our unreliable narrator. Honestly, if it wasn't for Rami and his great performance and holding onto that authentic truth about how he's feeling, we would've lost the audience already. But because we really buy that this guy really doesn't know what's going on, that this guy is blurring the lines of reality, we're with him, and that's the thing that's tethering us to this world. Source:

Malek makes the show, the perfection of Malek is the key. I wouldn’t want to imagine it, but you could probably put someone other than Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad or Jon Hamm in Mad Men and have either series work, at least for a little while: a superb but ill-fitting actor in place of Cranston or Hamm gets you maybe four episodes before the evidence suggests that something is off. Something is missing. But there was so much else going on in those shows — specifically the writing — to carry them well beyond what the main star brought to the table.

Malek’s wide-eyed shyness but determined, expressionless stare – no distracting ticks and head shakes – makes that happen. But Esmail is also asking him to be a combination of addicted, addled and empty – an unreliable narrator (there’s that voiceover again) who can and will lead us astray. The entire show demands that viewers just go with it – that they follow Elliot’s dubious mental transgressions and life decisions as the story careens ever more wildly from episode to episode. With the wrong actor, nobody gets out of here alive. Nobody watches a second episode, much less an entire season. Source:

Mr Robot (It's the End of the World) video, featuring pictures of Rami Malek and co-stars, mostly from "Mr. Robot". Soundtrack: "It's a Crazy Mixed Up World" by John Lee Hooker and "It's the End of the World As We Know It and I Feel Fine" by REM.

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