Luck Leaves Nothing to Chance
So the other night HBO decided to do a bit of a sneak preview by airing the pilot for Luck a new series coming in January from the creator of Deadwood David Milch. Being an ENORMOUS Deadwood fan I've been waiting for this show to premiere for months now and after watching the pilot I must say I'm even more excited. Normally I wouldn't write up a post about one episode of a show that isn't even on TV yet but the other name that was thrown into the mix was Michael Mann who came on to executive produce and more importantly, direct the pilot. Here we go.
The show centers on a number of intersecting lives at a horse race track. Going into the series I saw a lot of potential for crime and gambling themes in this setting but the horse racing itself sort of left me wondering if I would enjoy it. This is where I'll start talking about Michael Mann.
Mann hasn't been doing much lately. He made Public Enemies a few years ago now and that film was far from perfect. Though I'm madly in love with a number of the action sequences. So I'm trying to treat the hour long Luck pilot like a true Michael Mann film. The nice thing is, I think Mike did the same. This thing reeks of Michael Mann....liness. Mann has great switches from handheld to stable photography throughout the film and his music cues are fucking perfect. As good as they ever were in Heat or Collateral. He utilizes these great distorted guitar riffs that simply bleed cool and really help to build an awesome atmosphere to have all of these characters walk around in.
The real power of Michael Mann's involvement though is the horse race photography. Keeping cameras right up in the faces of horses running as fast as they can is no easy feat and the fact that he does this with razor sharp accuracy is something that should be lauded and applauded. That isn't to say that the cinematographers shouldn't be because in this case they hold just as much sway. The episode actually had two. Stuart Dryburgh and Lukas Strebel. My guess is that one was resposible for the race photography though I can't actually find that information. Let's just say that the crew on this shoot deserve plenty of praise.
David Milch was the head writer throughout Deadwood's production and I actually saw a lot of him in this first episode. He's got a town's worth of intersecting lives at this tiny race track and after seeing the snippet at the end of the pilot forecasting that's to come in the series I see even more of him. The promise of crime, corruption and pretty edgy intrigue surrounding the owners, gamblers, jockeys, and pretty much every possible character to fill every possible position at this race track only reminds me of the best moments in Deadwood. With any luck at all, the show will get a longer life than Deadwood and HBO will actually appreciate the revenue and fans it brings to the table.