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Film Review: “Bosch”

Film Review: “Bosch”
Rated TV-MA
51 Minutes per Episode
Streaming on Amazon, Released February 6, 2014, 7th (Final) Season, to air in 2021

“Noir” literature and film reveal a darkness that surrounds the environment and the characters. In this style right and wrong are not clearly defined, and the main players are often tragically flawed. They are forced to deal with corruption in politics, in the legal system and in their personal lives. The genre grew from the post World War I disillusionment evidenced in German Expressionism of the 1920’s and1930’s, and in France post World War II. On the surface you may perceive noir works as being pessimistic. However, in the hands of skilled writers, filmmakers and television ensembles, these stories can be surprisingly uplifting tales of courage and perseverance. Such is the case with the TV series Bosch, available for streaming on Netflix.

The inspiration for the name of the lead character is legendary painter Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) who lived during the period referred to as the Dark Ages, between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, a time when there were relatively few cultural accomplishments and an economic decline. That of course is oversimplified history. Bosch was a noted artist, widely collected during his lifetime. His art was based on humanity’s dreams, desires, questions and fears brought on by a reliance on religion to explain all the mysteries of life. His patrons and collectors probably recognized their own nightmares as depicted in Bosch’s bizarre paintings, which are alarmingly and amazingly relatable to noir literature and film today – same social commentary, different time.

The protagonist in the TV series is Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, brilliantly depicted by Titus Welliver. He is an LAPD homicide detective with a tragic history, a psychological suitcase full of flaws and a heart of gold. He is the anti-James Bond, gritty, with a hair-trigger temper and a compulsion to help the downtrodden. The work of the superb ensemble of actors in Bosch is extraordinary.

The series is based on the novels of Michael Connelly, so far 22 written since 1992, which portray the history of “Harry Bosch” and the rich characters surrounding him. The writing in the TV series is sensitive and nuanced. There is violence, not overdone, just realistic. Thoughts and feelings are often communicated with a cryptic remark, a fleeting glimpse. The story moves neither too slowly nor too quickly. It meanders like streams into a river, to the climax of each episode. The sound track is jazz, “Harry Bosch’s” favorite music, and the camera work is some of the most creative I’ve ever seen, reflecting the style perfectly. The settings follow those in Connelly’s books with a real house in the Hollywood Hills portraying Bosch’s home, set precariously on a high hillside with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the city. It’s not only reminiscent of 50’s architecture and noir style, it also sets Bosch apart from society, as if he lives on the outside looking in. The view of LA from his enormous windows is reminiscent of the painter Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.” Ironically, Welliver’s father was a famous landscape painter, and he is himself a well-regarded painter in his leisure time.

Bosch is a must-binge. It’s a modern day work of art for us to enjoy, with universal themes and inhabitants that recall the world of a renowned painter who lived 500 years ago.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com

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