Idris Elba to Play Nelson Mandela

I can’t wait for this. Elba will be playing Mandela in the big screen adaptation of Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. This, plus Prometheus, are making me really, really excited. I keep hoping he’ll be cast in better movies than the ones he’s done so far. Sorry, Mr Elba, I don’t think I can endure Ghost Rider 2 and Nicholas Cage even for your sake!

Some great Stringer Bell moments from The Wire (Warning: Clips contain profanity and the N-word).

That time when Stringer tried to sell a condo to Detective McNulty. He’s really taking this going legit thing very seriously. The look on McNulty’s face is priceless.

This scene is very funny, but it gets to the heart of what Stringer wanted to do with the drug business. Make it about the quality of the product and not about disputing territories, that way they can reduce violence, hence reducing police presence. It seems like a good business model, but like Slim Charles said, even if they have the best product, how are they going to sell the product if they don’t have a place to sell it?

This is brilliant in so many ways. “Welcome New Day Co-Op. Tomorrow’s Success Stories Start Today”. Heh. Proposition Joe comparing the drug dealers to a bunch of Republicans, that guy taking minutes of meeting because that’s what Robert’s Rules said they have to do (it’s the same guy who was holding the Robert’s Rules of Order book in the previous clip). Gee, did you forget you guys are engaging in a criminal conspiracy? This isn’t a co-op selling organic vegetables, you know.

From Luther (the BBC series). I love this actress. “Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.”


I Confess My Undying Hatred for Jimmy McNulty

So the Washington Post has a slide show celebrating the most memorable characters from The Wire, and guess who gets the prime spot on the second slide after the introduction slide? Jimmy McNulty. Seriously, I don’t get all the love for this guy. He moaned and whined his way throughout the five seasons, all the while convinced that he’s the smartest guy in the police department, and that he’s the only one who cared about everything – solving crimes, putting bad guys in jail and on and on and on. Please, McNulty, you’re not all that. This is the caption for McNulty’s photo:

Jimmy McNulty (played by Dominic West), a Baltimore cop, was one of the show’s mainstays, a classic anti-hero frustrated by the system and often driven by a mix of hubris and booze.

“Classic anti-hero”. Bleghhh. The kids from Season 4 (Randy, Michael, Duquan and Namond) are listed together, which I think is a little unfair to Michael, who had a much more interesting storyline in Season 5 and probably deserves a spot of his own. My own list would have included Slim Charles, Cutty and Rawls. I would have ditched Brother Mouzone and “the journalists” (it’s strange, almost as if David Simon suddenly forgets how to write complex, interesting characters with the Baltimore Sun storyline). Top of my list would be Lester Freamon and Stringer Bell, advantage Lester because he’s in more episodes (sorry String, it’s your own fault for making Omar your enemy.)

WaPo slideshow:

The Wire – Evaluating the Political Career of Thomas J. Carcetti

I’m not an expert on American politics, especially American politics at city and state level, but is it really possible to go from a City Councilman to Governor in the space of 6 years? (That’s my rough calculation, in Season 3, when we first saw Carcetti, he said he’s been a Councilman for 3 years. The mayoral election took place in Season 4, so I’m guessing he became Mayor after his 4th year as a Councilman. In Season 5, people were complaining that Carcetti was too busy running for Governor after only 2 years as Mayor, which gets us to 6). The people of Maryland must really love Tommy Carcetti.

If The Wire is a lesser, more conventional show, Carcetti might have been used to show how a good man is corrupted by a screwed-up political system. But The Wire is ambiguous about Carcetti from the very beginning (I would argue though that the ambiguity disappeared completely in Season 5. He really is just another crass, opportunistic, lying, promise-breaking politician by that point). There are moments when I thought he was being absolutely sincere about fixing a problem, only for him to turn around and use that issue in an opportunistic way to further his political ambition (without actually doing anything to fix the problem he’s railing about). I guess you could say that’s par for the course for a politician, but like Cedric Daniels, I was suckered initially into believing that he’s something different. Mostly it’s due to little moments – Carcetti playing Battleship with his daughter in the middle of the mayoral campaign, Carcetti taking a walk with his wife just before the election result is announced, Carcetti looking Cedric Daniels in the eye, looking so earnest and confident and promising A New Day in Baltimore and for the police force.

It’s great to see Carcetti squirming. Aidan Gillen is GREAT in this scene, but he’s always good anyway, even (or maybe especially), when Carcetti is at his slimiest.

Aidan Gillen, Tommy Carcetti and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish

I think it’s supposed to be a mystery whether Littlefinger would end up betraying Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, but the minute I saw that he’s played by the same guy who was Tommy “whiny Mayor” Carcetti in The Wire, I knew the answer already. Aidan Gillen is fantastic in both parts, though. As much as I end up hating Carcetti, he had his moments of great charms and heartfelt sincerity. Maybe that’s why I end up hating Carcetti so much, despite my usual cynicism about politicians, in Season 3 and early Season 4, I did sort of believe that maybe he’s not so bad after all. One showdown with the Governor later, he proves to be just as slimy as the rest of the politicians on the show. 

The Wire Retrospective

One of my more frivolous New Year’s resolution this year was to rewatch all five seasons of The Wire. Five days before the year ends, and I’ve finally done it! Yay! Some random observations for now:

Marlo Stanfield and his crew is a poor sustitute for the complexity, nuance, poignancy and epic tragedy of Barksdale-Bell. There’s some flashes of interesting storyline in the relationship between Marl0 and Prop Joe, but that was over too soon (thanks a lot Cheese!) I’m ashamed to admit that I smiled a little when Slim Charles shot Cheese.

I’m still not a fan of McNulty. I don’t reallyunderstand why the show chooses to focus on one of the least interesting characters as the main POV for the police side. I would have picked Season 4 as my favorite anyway just because of the awesomeness of Randy, Namond, Michael and Duquan, but the fact that McNulty was pretty much sidelined as a beat cop for most of that season is more than just icing on the cake.

I appreciate the fact that despite David Simon’s strongly held belief about the uselessness and tragedy of the Drug War, the show did not turn a blind eye on the problems that might occur if drugs are legalized. When Major Colvin quasi-legalized drugs in certain areas of his District in Season 3 (nicknamed “Hamsterdam), it’s not shown as a trouble-free utopia.

Stringer Bell and Robert’s Rule of Order – recipe for unintended hilarity. Taking minutes of meeting of a criminal conspiracy!

It didn’t bother me that much the first time round, but wow, Carcetti is so darn whiny. I’ll still wake up white in a city that’s not, it’s the Governor’s fault for playing politics with school funding (yeah, you’re challenging him for his job, what did you expect, free puppies and ponies?), and on and on and on. He’s probably worse than Mayor Royce ever was, Royce was pretty open about his sliminess, Carcetti gave people hope and then yanked them away, all the while making excuses and talking about how bad he feels.

I don’t believe Scott Templeton would have been stupid and reckless enough to invent a quote from a high-ranking politician. Of all the crimes against journalism Templeton committed, (inventing a story about a wheelchair-bound African American boy who can’t get into a baseball game, pretending that a non-existent “serial killer” phoned him up and threatened him, making up a story about saving a homeless guy from being dragged into a van by the “serial killer” etc etc), that is the one I find most implausible. A serial liar and fabricator like Templeton must have a good instinct for self-preservation and sucking up to the powerful; he would have known better than to cross the City Council president.