Sunday, October 21, 2018

HBO'S THE DEUCE 10/21/18

James Franco and James Franco
Maggie Gyllenhaal is carrying THE DEUCE on her shoulders. She is terrific in this HBO series which traces the evolution of pornography and prostitution in NYC focusing on 42nd St. and Times Square in the 1970's and '80's. The creators David Simon and George Pelecanos methodically document the early days of the king pimp's domination and exploitation of young women. We see the close connections to the Mob as well as the police - both greedily in on the sex-trade action receiving weekly payoffs in return for "protection".  This well-oiled system would not be allowed to operate if the powers that be were not profiting on a grand scale. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal

As society gradually changes via new technology, civil rights, and feminism - the effects are reflected in the industry and it is forced to change or die.  Pornographic films become a big business and Gyllenhaal as Candy becomes an entrepreneur and gains confidence in her own skills as a movie director - pitting her own vision against the traditional cheap peephole fuck films. 
Maggie Gyllenhaal
The ambiance in THE DEUCE is so authentic that the sticky, smutty rooms, filled with desperate male customers looking for a quick release of their frustrations/ fantasies, wash over me, and I glance around for anti-bacterial soap to rid myself of their sweaty desire. The "hookers" are  often innocent women from every social class coming to NYC to seek "fame and fortune," but unlike the cleaned-up Hollywood movies, Simons and Pelecanos show us the reality of the heartbreaking agony of drugs and poverty which they often fall into and the  often cruel and ruthless men who "take care of them."

James Franco does a great job playing twins, lower-class ambitious/conflicted brothers that grew up in one of the outer boroughs of NYC and land up on 42nd Street; one runs a bar for the mob and the other is a grifter/gambler. Franco is so understated that we forget that both characters are performed by one glamour -puss actor. There are many humane portrayals in this series - the range is wide and the insight into each personal choice is differentiated and individualized which I attribute to the incisive vision of David Simon whose previous work-particularly on HBO's The Wire and Treme should be seen.

Dominique Fishback and Margarita Levieva

The scrutiny of one small area in NYC as a microcosm of an illegal underground enterprise is deliberate and disciplined. Sex is often hard, boring work with moments of ecstasy and violence, and that love has nothing to do with it. Money and a hierarchy of corruption are at the root of THE DEUCE which is buffeted by winds of change.