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The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 9, “Do You Remember Moon Flower?”

Just how soap-operatic are Soderbergh and writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler willing to go?

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The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 9, “Do You Remember Moon Flower?”
Photo: Paul Schiraldi

Tonight’s episode of The Knick, “Do You Remember Moon Flower?,” is bookended in flashbacks to Nicaragua, six years before the series takes place, that finally reveal the meeting of Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) and the Knickerbocker hospital’s benefactor, shipping magnate Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines). Director Steven Soderbergh wastes no time establishing the stakes: Thackery arrives at an encampment where people are suffering from smallpox, having been called in under the impression he would be treating yellow fever. He encounters the captain handcuffed to a post, held hostage by the Nicaraguans after his form of compensation—“trinkets and blankets”—apparently started the outbreak.

Trading his medical expertise for the captain’s freedom, Thack figures out a way to treat the patients, each receiving their own longish take from Soderbergh’s camera while it surveys Thackery at work. It’s another instance wherein a sparse framing device suggests multitudes, but Soderbergh’s aesthetic attention to the quotidian is also of note throughout these early scene. The Knick has always deviated from showing off its impressive production values for their own sake, which is a lamentable trend in feature films and shows that take place within capital-h History.

The action then jumps to the hospital circa 1901, where Thackery remains devastated by the suicide of his girlfriend-cum-patient Abigail at the end of the previous episode. Technically, he should be coasting off of a triumph, as the conjoined twins, Zoya and Nika (Miranda and Rebecca Gruss), he separated are finally able to walk independent of one another, as well as fit to be released from the hospital. But the sendoff is delegated to Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland), who then gets into a fight with Dr. Gallinger (Eric Johnson) over the operation the latter sabotaged.

After Thackery comes outside, he collapses to the ground—and Dr. Chickering (Michael Angarano) opts to slice him open to see what’s wrong with him, calling in the expertise of his former boss, Dr. Zinberg (Michael Nathanson), a bizarre (and subdued) twist that goes unexplained. And don’t be surprised, given how each episode’s fast pace and economy of storytelling runs the risk of abridging a narrative though line like this, if we never see or hear from Zinberg ever again.

For a spell, things are looking up for the episode’s heretofore bad guys: The corrupt administrator Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) has finally been admitted to the Metropolitan Club, and Soderbergh telegraphs volumes in one medium close-up of the man after his $2,000 entrance fee has been accepted. But then his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Effie (Molly Price), turns up with incriminating documents in hand, effectively promising to blackmail him if he doesn’t pay her half of everything he makes. The majority of the scene plays out in one long shot with Effie behind Herman, both parties facing forward, so only the viewer can see his reactions while she speaks; once again, Soderbergh is devising not just pretty pictures or “bravura” shot lengths, but the most economical solutions to each scene’s dramatic prerogatives.

Gallinger is visited again by a New York City detective, who tells him that the death of Dr. Cotton was by incremental arsenic poisoning, confessed by Cotton’s sons. It’s a ridiculous McGuffin, but it allows for Gallinger’s later triumph, which comes when Edwards attempts to petition the New York Board of Medical Examiners to get Gallinger’s credentials revoked on the basis of his sterilization of teenage “idiots.”

Johnson has never made Gallinger sound prissier than when, afterward, he chides Edwards: “You realize you’re just proving my entire thesis!” Edwards is too angry for words, and, not for the first time, Holland is masterful: As the character rolls up his sleeves for a proper fistfight with Gallinger, his eyes remain measured while a seemingly impossible frustration overtakes his physical being. Nearly every word out of Gallinger’s mouth should be just cause for Algernon to strike first, but in fact, Gallinger does—and then punches him again after he’s down—all for the sake of eugenics, which Gallinger has taken to calling “intellectual reason.”

Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) has been up to all kinds of insane extra-curricular activities this season, a few of which she whispers to her bedridden father, A.D. (Stephen Spinella), felled by a stroke and admitted to the Knickerbocker in the previous episode. While Lucy’s exploits have featured prominently in the series, the monologue she delivers clarifies her intent in a way that’s almost jarring, telling her father just before injecting him with poison: “This world offers too much, and contrary to what you think, I’m too smart to let myself turn out like that. If that means sinning to get what I want, so be it.”

Stirring words on paper, but Lucy’s monologue makes the scene dramatically lopsided to the point of didacticism—complicated only by Soderbergh’s decision to juxtapose two fixed perspectives at play. The main angle belongs to Lucy’s vegetative father, staring up at her as Hewson whispers directly into the camera; the other is from her point of view, looking to him repeatedly for a response and finding none. The interplay of these two angles gives the scene a low, husky intensity.

Finally, the episode climaxes with a meeting between Captain Robertson and his daughter, Cornelia (Juliet Rylance), on the top floor of the nearly completed new Knickerbocker. She lays it all out: how she uncovered her father’s bribery of port officials, and how she determined that he had Health Inspector Speight murdered for discovering a strain of bubonic plague smuggled into the city by Robertson. Thanks in no small part to the aristocrat characters’ dulcet tones, the dialogue is as operatic as The Knick has gotten, but the scene is nevertheless fraught with suspense.

It, too, plays out in a long take (with both actors in profile), and Robertson seems legitimately surprised at the accusations. Before he can address them, however, he notices a smoldering fire on the hospital’s ground floor, and helps Cornelia clamber down a ladder to safety—only to jump to his own death from the top of the inferno. There’s a very good chance the fire was started deliberately, but it’s unclear the show’s makers could keep that a mystery in the one remaining episode without explicitly withholding crucial details—in effect, betraying the omniscience of the show’s adopted aesthetic. Which points back to a question that’s haunted The Knick for its entirety: Just how soap-operatic are Soderbergh and writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler willing to go?

For more The Knick recaps, click here.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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