By Victoria Looseleaf
Say it ain’t so, Terence Winter. Has the fabulous Mr. Darmody, AKA, Michael Pitt, really left your incredible HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, for that great TV heaven in the sky? (Wherever the hell that is, resting place of erstwhile Sopranos’ folk, including Big Pussy Bompensiero, Adriana La Cerva and Cousin Tony, played by Steve Buscemi, the only dude in recent memory to resurrect himself as a leading man, thank you very much, as the cutthroat but somehow endearing Enoch Thompson).
We are crushed. We are beside ourselves. We are in disbelief. Pitt, as far as we’re concerned, is the actor that Leonardo DiCaprio should have been. With more emotion in those steel blue eyes than the whole of Leo’s puffy, overly made-up body/face (J. Edgar does the erstwhile Titanic star no favors; click here for info on buying our out-of-print Leo bio, for as low as a whopping solitary cent), not to mention his enigmatic, always pensive look, as well as that perfectly tuned BE gimp walk of his, Pitt has been on our radar since Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, from 2003 (above). And as we recently returned from Parma, Italy, the director’s birthplace, we’ve also taken the opportunity to revisit that unsung film, swooning, we might add, ever since.
Then, of course, there was Pitt’s star turn as the Kurt Cobain-like stoner in another overlooked flick, Last Days (left). Directed by Gus Van Sant in 2005, the film featured Pitt as not just another pretty GVS boy, but one who could actually act, ultimately parlaying his fathomless depths into enticement and charm, even while portraying a zombie-like druggie.
Okay, enuf already with the superlatives, platitudes, plaudits. Excuse us, but we’re just really, really pissed off. Did we see it coming, after the surprising – and merciless – executions of Darmody’s wife, Angela (the always reliable Aleksa Palladino) and, gasp, her girlfriend, by Manny the Butcher Horvitz (a chilling William Forsythe who is a far cry from the phenomenal American born-choreographer of the same name living in Germany – click here for the terpsichore, seen below).
Perhaps. But did we honestly believe that Nucky could find it in his heart for some sort of forgiveness? And what about, er, redemption? Well, fuggedaboudit. After all, Boardwalk Empire is about revenge, a dish best served, if not always cold (something we don’t quite understand, as there may never be lukewarm revenge), then certainly steaming, as in the freshly-fired bullets of retribution/payback/settling of scores, which, when ya think about it, seems perpetual.
These past 12 or so Sundays have been both gratifying and anxiety-inducing, what with Homeland (another mind-boggling winner of a Showtime series that we’ll get to in a later post), rattling us to the core with its present tense tension and BE, taking us back to the roots of this country’s organized crime factions and the beginnings of terrorism, so to speak, the two shows butting up against each other in decidedly bi-polar, but gaga (and not the Lady ilk), i.e., awe-inspiring, ways.
We also love the notion that many of Boardwalk Empire’s cast and crew are Sopranos’ veterans. Hello, director Tim Van Patten, whom we met at the old Barbara Stanwyck/Robert Taylor manse when we were doing an LA Times article on the dance drama, the Ramayana (click here for that), and only rue the fact that at the time, 2004, we did not have HBO and thus didn’t fawn all over Mr. VP. For shame! (Admittedly, though, we much prefer La Stanwyck as the double-crossing vamp with Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder‘s classic noir flick, Double Indemnity, below, than as Taylor’s wife, in name only, we understand, as she was a dyke.)
But we digress: Life is short. DVR this stuff while you can, then revisit the shows On Demand. (As we’re currently doing with The Wire, a series from 2002 that we originally couldn’t get into – perhaps the ghetto-speak was hard to grasp – and began to do so only after the Baltimore-based series wound down in 2008. We ended up full-blown Wire addicts, though, as it helped us recover from jet-lag after having returned from a trip to Italy; click here, then, for that piece, Debt In Venice.) Not to worry: We’ll also be getting to The Wire‘s phenomenal Dominic West in a future post. In the interim, click here to read our coverage on him and Ben Whishaw in The Hour, while Michael Kenneth Williams is doin’ himself proud going from The Wire‘s big bad Omar to BE’s bruising Chalky White.
Whew! And so, still in shock (and fighting off the remnants of yesterday’s evil migraine), we now have plenty of time to muse on BE’s Season Two closer. One of our thoughts is this: Why the killing off of Jimmy and not his mother, Gillian Darmody, for example, played in her singularly whiny, albeit still physically gorgeous way by Gretchen Mol, an actor we’ve not only met but can also say that we own one of her hand-beaded purses. (Big whoop and puhleeze, don’t ask…) Why didn’t Eli (Shea Whigham), Nucky’s half-wit of a brother get the gun-to-the-head arrivederci?
Why, indeed? And does this ending mean that it’s goodbye to incest? Was it all a bad dream? Or has Pitt moved on in order to make his mark on the big screen in a far bigger way than he has in the past. (We see no flicks for 2012 and beyond on his IMDB page.) Whatever it is, we are not, repeat, we are not thrilled. And Sunday nights will never be the same…until that is, next September rolls around.