Posts Tagged ‘the assassination of gianni versace: american crime story’

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Five: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

February 15, 2018

Watching Jeff’s final confrontation with Andrew prior to the murder is painful, then, both because of what he gets right and what he gets wrong. “I don’t know what you stand for,” he shouts at Cunanan. “I don’t know who you are. You’re a liar. You have no honor.” Correct on all counts — possibly lethally, so if you figure this contrast in their outlook is a big part of what drove Andrew to kill. But when Andrew rightfully points out that he believed in and supported Jeff while his beloved Navy treated him like shit — “I saved you!” — Jeff bitterly retorts “You destroyed me. I wish I’d never walked into that bar. I wish I’d never met you.” He says he wants his life back, as if Andrew took it from him, instead of Bill Clinton and Uncle Sam. Andrew doestake his life away, eventually, mere hours from that moment in fact. But in a sense, he was just an accessory after the fact. Jeff signed his own death warrant the moment he decided, in the face of society’s hatred, that some principles are worth fighting for anyway.

I reviewed last night’s episode of ACS Versace for Decider. This is a great show.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Four: “House by the Lake”

February 15, 2018

“You can’t do it, can you?” “I can’t what?” “Stop.”

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is what Matt Zoller Seitz once described, by way of a subtitle to his blog, as “a long, strange journey toward a retrospectively inevitable destination” — the titular murder, seen in the cold open of the very first episode. We’ve already seen where we’re going; what’s left to the show is to depict how we got there. Even those swept along and killed by Andrew Cunanan during the journey seem to sense it. Hence the exchange above. Promising young architect David Madson is the love of Andrew’s life, to hear Andrew tell it. He’s a man to whom the murderer is so fanatically committed that he not only slaughters his rival for David’s affections, his own former love interest Jeff Trail, with a hammer, thus beginning his murder spree, but then manages to convince the shellshocked David that he has some how become an accomplice to the crime and must flee by his side. As time wears on and the shock wears off, David grows less pliable to Andrew’s nonsensical advice and admonishments, but also more honest with himself about where his journey as the Bonnie to Andrew’s would-be Clyde will end. He has no more hope of survival than Andrew has a chance of shutting the fuck up and telling the truth. He can’t do it, can he.

I reviewed last week’s episode of ACS Versace, another tremendous piece of work, for Decider.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Three: “A Random Killing”

February 15, 2018

I’m glad, in that beautiful terrible way tragedy can make you glad, that Marilyn Miglin gets the last word of the episode, even as Andrew continues shopping and driving and killing on the way to his appointment in Miami. She returns to her gig hawking her signature line of fragrances on the home shopping channel almost immediately — a gutsy move with which the show challenges us to continue to feel empathy for her as she slips into the uncanny valley between sincerity and showmanship, just as the mere presence of any older woman with a glamorous background triggers our societally induced suspicion and revulsion at female failure to remain young. “He believed in me,” she tells her audience, completely honestly. “How many husbands believe in their wive’s dreams? How many treat us as partners? As equals? We were a team for thirty-eight years.” That’s what they were, even if it’s all they were. That’s an achievement. That’s what Andrew destroyed.

Marilyn ends the episode by recounting the advice she got when she first began selling stuff on TV, a technique for connecting with the camera and the people on the other side. “Just hink of the little red light as the man you love.” She stares at the light, at the camera, at us, and as the impenetrable black mascara of her wet eyes closes and the scene cuts to black, her thoughts are ours to imagine.

I reviewed episode three of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, a truly magnificent hour of television, for Decider. Thank you for your patience with this flu-delayed piece.

A quick note on “ACS: Versace”

February 13, 2018

Yes, I wrote a review of episode 3 (which has not been posted by Decider yet) as well as episode 4 (which has)! But I was badly delayed in handing it in due to the flu. Given how long ago it aired it’s understandably not a huge priority for my editors to get it edited, formatted, and posted, but I’ve been assured that they will eventually. My hope is that it will be up prior to my review of tomorrow night’s installment, episode 5. Once it goes up I’ll link to everything in order the way I usually do, but I’m waiting until then just to keep things straight. Thank you for your patience!

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Two: “Manhunt”

January 25, 2018

Just two episodes into the series, Darren Criss is cementing the status of his portrayal of Cunanan as one of the all-time great on-screen serial killers, not just calling to mind Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, Tom Noonan as Francis Dolarhyde, Ted Levine as Jame Gumb, or Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, but actually earning the comparisons.

He’s certainly helped in this respect by Smith’s script and the direction of People v. O.J. cinematographer Nelson Cragg. The reference set they assemble for Andrew to inhabit includes a genderbent shower scene by the beach with Andrew’s ersatz friend and escort manager Ronnie (a warm, wounded, marvelously understated Max Greenfield), combining Psycho’s defining visual with the pre-shower/murder rapport between Norman and Marion Crane, not to mention its star Perkins’s closeted sexuality. (A motel also figures prominently, again with roles reversed: Andrew’s the guest on the run from the law, not the person at the front desk, and he must ingratiate himself to her instead of the other way around.)

Elsewhere, a scene of excruciating sadism, in which an underwear-clad Andrew dances to the Big ‘80s strains of Phil Collins and Philip Bailey’s pounding “Easy Lover” while an escort client slowly suffocates beneath the duct-tape mask Cuanan wrapped around his head (“You’re helpless…accept it…accept it…ACCEPT IT…”) drags the male-on-male-gaze subtext of Bret Easton Ellis and Mary Harron’s respective American Psychos squirming into the harsh Florida light. Simultaneously hitting Pulp Fiction‘s gimp sequence, Boogie Nights‘s “Sister Christian”/”Jesse’s Girl”/”99 Luftballoons” coke deal gone bad, and Silence of the Lambs‘ Buffalo Bill/”Goodbye Horses” buttons as well, this is a scene people will remember. (A closing scene in which Cunanan prefaces his usual torrent of bullshit about his life by straight-up saying “I’m a serial killer” to a prospective suitor also tears a page from the AP playbook.)

And in the most chilling allusion of all, Ronnie — a sweet guy who moved to Miami because he’d heard “people like living by the ocean who don’t have much living left,” then got unexpectedly healthy, and now dreams of opening up a small florist shop with the money he and Andrew have amassed from his escort gigs — knocks on the bathroom door and finds Andrew in full Manhunter Great Red Dragon mode on the other side, the top half of his face rendered obscure and inhuman by the duct tape he’d applied to himself. Because the context of each of these scenes is so specific to who Andrew and Ronnie are, none of it feels derivative or plagiaristic, the way the generic King/Carpenter/Spielberg rehash of Stranger Things does, for example. Indeed, it’s no different from the way it alludes to Christ telling Peter he’d deny him three times when Andrew tells Ronnie, who’s desperate for connection even as Cunanan flees, “When someone asks you if we were friends, you’ll say no.” As I’ve argued before, the horror genre exists in conversation with itself, and Versace is simply using the language established by its forebears to tell a story all its own.

I reviewed the extraordinary second episode of ACS Versace for Decider.

“The Assassination of Gianni Verace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode One: “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”

January 17, 2018

However you feel about Ryan Murphy’s other projects, ACS‘s debut season, The People v. O.J. Simpson, is unquestionably his apotheosis. In conjunction with writer-creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Murphy revisited a media-circus murder case nearly everyone thought had been exhausted of any creative or sociopolitical potential, and the result was a kaleidoscopic, knockout-powerful examination of racism, sexism, celebrity culture, journalism, the judicial system, the rise of reality TV, domestic violence, police misconduct, and the whole goddamn human condition. It was one of the best television shows of all time, full stop. Can Murphy, now working with writer Tom Rob Smith and adapting journalist Maureen Orth’s book on the case Vulgar Favors, draw water from that same dark well a second time?


I reviewed the premiere of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, the brilliant new season of American Crime Story, for Decider, where I’ll be covering the show till the end.