Sunday, December 22, 2019

Retribution | Lefsetz Letter


It will make you want to go to Scotland.

And speaking of traveling, you might have caught the story about Norway refraining from drilling for oil off the Loften Islands. That’s important news, but even more staggering is the picture that accompanied said news, see it here:

Norway won’t drill in Arctic archipelago for billions of barrels of oil

Now if that does not make you want to go there…

So I’ve run out of sure bets on Netflix and Amazon.

Oh, let me throw down some criteria. I don’t watch movies. Well, I don’t watch non-fiction movies, just like I do my best not to read non-fiction books. If it’s based on a true story…well, I’d rather just read the story. I’m looking for a series, something I can dig my teeth into. And after finishing “Mrs. Maisel,” we pulled up “The Kominsky Method,” and after three episodes turned it off. There was some good word of mouth, but could anything by Chuck Lorre be worth watching? You know, the guy who did “Two and a Half Men”? Hopefully this kind of entertainment will die with network television. You know, lowbrow trying to appeal to the masses. It’s kinda like music, that which is unique, that takes itself seriously, is usually the most appealing. I’m not a big fan of Radiohead, but it fits this paradigm.

Now I’m not lacking for recommendations. My inbox is full. But it’s kinda like music recommendations, people don’t understand the concept, it’s not what YOU like, but what you think I will like. Believe me, when I’m recommending music I don’t start off with Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, even though I love that initial LP.

Then again, there’s the issue of having the light shined upon you. (“Shone”? Who knows!) Like the NYT Sunday “Book Review.” They ask people what they read and they proffer the most obscure stuff, in order to make themselves look cool. Or maybe you should check out the WSJ’s best albums of the year

The Best Music of 2019: In an Age of Short Attention Spans, the Album Is Alive and Well

Oh, they mention Billie Eilish, Brittany Howard, Lana Del Rey and even Justin Howard/Bon Iver. You’ve probably heard of all those. But how about the first LP mentioned…the Brooklyn band 75 Dollar Bill, with their big hit album “I Was Real.” You’ll be glad to know none of the cuts on the LP reach six digits on Spotify, one doesn’t even reach five! Then there’s the famous Angel Olsen, and her album “All Mirrors.” Five of the tracks actually reach seven figures on Spotify, but with all this talk of hip-hop/pop concentration at the majors, the label is…Jagjaguwar, same as Justin Vernon/Bon Iver. Or how about Big Thief’s “U.F.O.F.”? A bunch of tracks in low seven figures, but have you even heard of the band? Oh, there is a rapper, Polo G. And at this point, most people have heard of FKA Twigs, at least those paying attention to the scene, but how about Jessica Pratt and her LP “Quiet Signs”? Actually, one cut does have four million streams, but the rest don’t break six digits.

And the point is not that the music featured in the WSJ list is bad. Who knows, I haven’t heard a bunch. But it certainly isn’t what you’re seeing on the “Billboard” chart. Used to be a limited number of projects were released per year, now it’s virtually endless. And almost nothing worth listening to is on a major label, and all the hype is only about what’s on major labels, and if this doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed and want to check out, you’re a better person than me, and one with more time.

That’s the problem with TV shows, they take a lot of time. You could click through a playlist of the above, but watching a number of TV shows? And as for playlists, we’re inundated with them, and after you skip through a bunch of bum tracks you beg off. Yup, music distribution has been figured out, but not music marketing. Used to be you could rely on the deejay, when the deejay could choose what to play, now you’re on your own, good luck!

As for short form video… Did you read the story in the WSJ about creators being burned out?

YouTube Created a Generation of Young Stars. Now They Are Getting Burned Out.

How many articles have we read about the YouTube stars being the future? The same wankers writing this are the same ones pontificating about the election and swaying it. Now even PewDiePie is taking a break. Want some good advice? Go to college, get an education, preferably one in the humanities, then you’ll be able to navigate the future.

Which brings us back to…

“Retribution.” A four part miniseries shot in Scotland and released by the BBC in 2016.

That’s what I love about today, art is a time bomb, just waiting to be discovered. You don’t have to be first, you don’t have to be hip, you can wend your way and find the good stuff eventually, it’s like a glorified board game and you’re the only one playing it.


At first “Retribution” seems a bit hokey.

No, not at first, at the end of the first episode, when the construct is revealed, you think you’ve seen it before, you might even wince.

But as you power on…

Everyone’s got complications. No one is pure. And that reflects real life. Go under the surface and everybody’s got issues, even if they don’t reveal them to you. And life isn’t fair even though you want it to be and do you go along with the group or your own way and end up ostracized?

You’ll recognize John Lynch from “The Fall” (watch that before this) and “In The Name Of The Father.”

Lynch is calm, and then he’s intense. And just when you think he’s gonna hit someone, when he’s in their face, he doesn’t. And that’s a big issue… Could you ever hit your wife or husband? Don’t immediately say no. It may be you’ve never been put in certain situations, you might not know about certain situations, and if you do…

As for Laura Fraser, the DI…you’ll recognize her from “Breaking Bad” (which you should binge, you get hooked, but I’d say to binge “The Americans” first).

And you’ve seen Gary Lewis (not the one with the Playboys) and Juliet Stevenson and Joe Dempsie but the star is Joanna Vanderham, who is constantly confronted with crises of conscience.

So who did it?

That’s one of the things I hate about mysteries, there’s always a twist at the end, to a great degree it’s why I don’t read them. But unlike mystery books, the miniseries made from them are often fleshed out to the point where the conclusion is not the most important part.

So the two families are living in the middle of nowhere, what happens when you know everybody and everybody knows you?

And are you a weak person, can you endure the twists and turns of life?

And can you trust anybody but yourself. I know, I know, that sounds extreme, but you’d be surprised how the most loyal are not.

And are you listening, or are you alone together?

We watched the first hour and I wasn’t so sure about going back. But last night we marathoned the final three episodes, we couldn’t turn “Retribution” off.

Now I don’t like how they explain things. I prefer when you can infer, from what happens, what is said. Then again, is everything true?

Now “Retribution” is not light. It’ll change your mood. And that’s a change from so much of today’s disposable art.

And it’ll make you wonder about your own choices, your own life, it’ll set the wheels turning, and isn’t that what we want art to do?


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