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Michael Rispoli (#110 of 6)

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 6, “Why Me?”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 6, “Why Me?”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 6, “Why Me?”

The first five episodes of The Deuce foresaw the drastic transformation of New York City's sex trade, and in “Why Me?” a new framework finally materializes. The brothels are open. Porn is here. And keeping with the show's devotion to historical accuracy, the revolution is far from explosive.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 5, “What Kind of Bad?”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “What Kind of Bad?”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “What Kind of Bad?”

Tonight's episode of The Deuce, “What Kind of Bad?,” opens with Darlene (Dominique Fishback) in North Carolina, after a well-intentioned Abby (Margarita Levieva) bought her a ticket out of New York last week. Instead of reuniting with family, though, Darlene lures her friends to the Big Apple with a series of lies about her lucrative “modeling” career. The scene upends our perception of Darlene, the sweet bookworm and budding cinephile; here, she's a calculating predator, duping anyone naïve enough to return with her and work for Larry (Gbenga Akinnagbe)—ostensibly because it would boost her seniority, or at least shift Larry's attention away from her for a while.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

Symbolism in The Deuce isn’t always subtle. Sometimes it’s as obvious as a rat crawling onto a prostitute while she gives a blowjob in a porn theater. When that happens to Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in the opening sequence of “I See Money,” the husky rodent does more than portend the indignities awaiting her. An inevitable symptom of Times Square squalor, the rat is an emblem of the collateral damage we see everywhere in the episode.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

The Baltimore Sun reporters from The Wire described their city as “Dickensian,” a comparison that stuck as a critical shorthand and pervasive cocktail-party quip about the HBO series itself. The Deuce seems intent on recycling the parallel: In “The Principle Is All,” Darlene (Dominique Fishback) reads A Tale of Two Cities, curious to acquaint herself with the source material of the 1935 Jack Conway film adaptation that moved her to tears in “Pilot.”

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Officer Chris Alston (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) issues the titular ultimatum of “Show and Prove,” the second episode of The Deuce, to hookers during a farcical street raid: Show a property voucher proving your residence or spend the night in a holding tank. Alston is nonchalant as he demands paperwork allowing him to plausibly overlook the block’s rampant prostitution, and arrest only hookers who don’t pretend to be merely half-nude loiterers. Like paper bags concealing liquor bottles, the vouchers provide a shroud of willful ignorance for the cops who tolerate squalor but not brazenness.

Review: Todd McGowan’s Spike Lee

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Review: Todd McGowan’s Spike Lee
Review: Todd McGowan’s Spike Lee

“In 1989, 10 films got awards [at the Cannes Film Festival] and Do the Right Thing wasn’t one of them. I don’t use awards as validation, but when all is said and done, if the choice is between a director like Steven Soderbergh and Spike Lee, they’ll give it to the golden white boy every time.” These words were spoken by Spike Lee following the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, where his new film Jungle Fever had just lost the Palme d’Or to the Coen brothers’ Barton Fink. Several writers, including Gene Siskel, weren’t fans of Lee’s “straight talk,” which led Siskel to ask: “Does [Lee] stop to think before he speaks?”

Todd McGowan’s new book remains largely inconsiderate of Lee’s public persona, instead focusing the analysis exclusively on the director’s films, seeking a link that unites them. For McGowan, excess and its negotiation is the defining unity of Lee’s filmmaking—an excess that “draws the spectator’s attention to form” and “disrupts the smooth functioning of society and makes evident the failure of all elements to fit together.” However, McGowan seeks to move past prior understandings of excess and claims that a new theory is needed to understand Lee’s films, “one that focuses on the intimate link between excess and passion.”