"Banshee" and "Blade Runner 2049" are this week's picks.
It's Valentine's Day, which means love is in the air. It's the reason for the season, if by "season" you mean "Hinge Blog," and today's installment is no exception. I want to hear from you all, though: What are your favorite romances of the silver screen? They don't have to fall into Hinge Blog's niche, i.e. they can be from traditional romance/rom-com films, but they DO have to make you cry, either tears of joy or sadness. Let me know in the comments below.
I'm at a commitment for my real job right now, so I'm going to keep this short and get right to the selections.
Cinemax, rated TV-MA, 60 minutes (38 episodes)
In college, I took a class on literature (and other things) released serially. We read things like “Far From the Madding Crowd,” originally released serially in Cornhill Magazine, and “Watchmen,” released as a monthly comic book before being compiled into one volume in 1987. It was one of the best classes I took in college, and it taught me a lot about the advantages of releasing things in pieces and forcing your audience to sit with your work and discuss it with others before consuming the next piece. It’s how communities form and bonds tighten. It’s why shows like “Lost” once formed communities that had fans frothing at the mouth for the next episode. You want to be in people’s heads for months, or years, and not for a long weekend. (This is, as I’ve said before, why the binge format of television drops is starting to die, but I digress.)
Our final class assignment was to write an essay talking about four television pilots and what made them so enticing that viewers had no choice but to stan, immediately. “Lost” was one of my selections. “Mr. Robot” and “The Americans,” too.
The last one?
“Banshee,” a show that few people had watched at the time and even less remember now. I don’t ever hear about it mentioned in discussions of “prestige television,” nor was it on any decade lists I spotted in December. I’ll be honest, I often forget about it too, even though I love it. I don’t know why that is. Maybe because it aired on Cinemax, the channel known to most people older than me as “Skin-emax” for obvious reasons. Despite efforts to move away from that reputation in the past 10 years, it persists, and “Banshee” remains on the channel’s MaxGo service instead of Netflix or Amazon Prime, two places I think it would thrive and find an audience.
Actually, let’s amend that. I know it would thrive and find an audience. There’s a lot of reasons why, namely its action scenes, which are still inventive today and paved the way for movies like “John Wick” in their realistic depictions of injuries and their “any means necessary” attitude. It also has great villains — come on, who doesn’t want to watch an Amish drug kingpin/psychopath get taken down a peg? — and sympathetic heroes.
The star of the show becomes obvious as it goes along, though, and that is the relationship between Lucas Hood (Antony Starr) and Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic), lovers who, before the series begins, are jewel thieves and lovers. While on a job, the two are forced to run from the authorities, and Hood allows himself to get caught, so Hopewell can get away. Years later, once Hood gets out of prison, the two find themselves in the tiny town of Banshee, Pa., where Hopewell is married to the mayor and has two kids, and Hood … well, via a strange set of circumstances, he finds himself as the town sheriff, a path that put his and Hopewell’s lives in serious danger.
The pair clearly have feelings for each other, but there’s not much they can do about it without their past transgressions bubbling to the surface. I don’t want to spoil four seasons of television for y’all, but it's fair to say that these transgressions eventually do get found out. The evolution of their relationship is at times beautiful, at others heartbreaking, and it buoys a show that can get bogged down in its own bullshit from time to time. (It was developed by Alan Ball, if that tells you anything.)
“Banshee” takes cliches, romantic ones included, and twists them into its own, fucked-up version, making them totally unique. It’s the show’s biggest strength, and it does that multiple times in the pilot alone. That, if you’re wondering, is why the pilot is so engrossing.
I got an A on that paper, so it must be true.
“Blade Runner 2049” (2017)
Amazon Prime, rated R, 163 minutes
Yes, I’ve discussed this movie before. I don’t care. This scene is so romantic, and the effects are so amazing that it needs to be watched on Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s a scene where a man makes out with a hologram (and also a real woman, at the same time). Deal with it, prudes. This movie is everything.
Happy V-Day, everyone.