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I’ve talked to you guys about Rectify beforeRectify, Sundance Channel’s dreamy, introspective show about Daniel Holden who  was convicted of a crime when he was 18 and spent the last 19 years on death row.  New DNA evidence has emerged which frees him from prison, but he is not exonerated.  He is sent back into the lion’s den of Paulie, Georgia, a fictional small town where everyone has been steeped in this crime for the past two decades and everyone has an opinion on Daniel’s guilt or innocence.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

It is an absolutely brilliant show.  I’ve met a lot of other fans online and they are truly some of the most rabid, enthusiastic people you could imagine.  Much of this is due to how original Rectify is.  It moves at its own pace, intentionally slower and more deliberate than most current shows.  It gives its characters time to breathe and allow us to learn much about them in moments which would be smaller in another show; Daniel’s magical wonder at watching and feeling the feathers from his pillow after having not seen or felt a single one in 19 years.  The writing is incredible and uses silence just as loudly and profoundly as the most eloquently-written speech.  The characters are all given fair treatment; there are no black and white “good guys” and “bad guys.”  They are all just people trying to do their best.

And the casting… my god, there are no words.  It is just perfect.  Perfect in every single way.  There are no weak links anywhere.  From the leading roles, Daniel’s family, to what could be considered “small” parts – Chet, the bookstore owner, played by Brian Bremer, or Marcy, the waitress, played by Kim Wall; every single one is a real person and the talent of the actors makes them big.  You wish you could invite these people over for dinner.  Much praise has been heaped upon the lead actors, and every bit of it is well deserved, but even the people you only get glimpses of are perfect.  Bruce McKinnon, playing Daniel’s step-father Ted Sr. reminds me so much of my late grandfather, I wish I could hug him.  Kerwin, played by Johnny Ray Gill, will change your life.  I don’t have enough space here to list every actor and describe how wonderful they are; you’ll have to just watch it for yourself.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Another thing I adore about Rectify is the heavy use of symbolism, metaphor and philosophy.  I talked about this more in my first post about Rectify, so I’ll just touch on the broad strokes.  The first season is six episodes long, with each episode covering one day.  This brings to mind the seven days of creation in the Bible and how God created man on the sixth day.  The mysterious Goat Man… is he representing God wrestling with Jacob or Satan tempting Jesus in the desert?  Or both?  Guilt and innocence, sin and salvation are recurring themes.  As you watch, you pick up more and more tidbits of metaphor, making the story that much richer.

It is a genuinely original and remarkable show, especially compared to everything else on TV right now.  I consider myself a Rectify pusher, as almost everyone I know personally who is a fan of the show started watching it because I insisted they give it a try.  And I will recommend the same thing to you 🙂  Season one is streaming on Netflix.  Season two, given a whole 10 episodes, just finished, but I imagine it will find its way to Netflix soon.  Rectify’s thoughtful pace is seriously ramped up at the end of episode five… I usually recommend to people that they only watch episode five when they can go straight ahead to six, because you will be dying to.

Jayson Warner Smith as Wendall in Rectify. Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Most of the Rectify cast can be found on Twitter and they have all proven to be extremely friendly and happy to interact with fans (time permitting, of course; they still have lives).  I’ve given them all a standing invitation to come join DreamWorld any time they’d like, which may happen soon to my delight!  Over the course of chatting with some of the lovely actors from the show, I got to know Jayson Warner Smith a bit, who plays Wendall; Daniel’s creepy, sinister neighboring inmate.  At first I was almost afraid to talk to him because Wendall is so… well, Wendall.  But Jayson is just an absolutely lovely person who is nothing like Wendall.  He is an actor, after all 🙂  Here’s a great video highlighting some of Wendall’s best/worst moments from season one.  You’ll also see Daniel Holden, played by Aden Young, and Kerwin Whitman, played by Johnny Ray Gill.

I asked Jayson if he would mind doing an interview for my blog and he was kind enough to say yes and take time out of his schedule to answer my questions!  Jayson is currently living in Atlanta though he lived in Hollywood for two years.  He’s also well-versed in both stage and screen acting, though I haven’t had the chance to watch him perform live yet!  Read on for the interview, then I’ll tell you about my latest image which was Rectify-inspired.

 

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1. Do you have a favorite role that you’ve played?

Bobby Gould in Speed the Plow on stage in ATL. Love the Mamet language. Oh and Jack in The Weir also on stage in ATL.

2. I was impressed to find out you’re a musician as well as an actor!  Do you have any part in writing the songs?

I wrote the two on my site. Those were recorded with an iPhone at a party. Turned out pretty well. I seem to work best with a deadline it seems. I had to have them done in a month for this party.

3. If a horrible world existed where you could only practice music or acting, assuming they paid the same, which would you pick?

Ha. They both do pay the same right now.

Acting. I’m not disciplined enough to be a musician.

4. What would your dream acting role be?  It can be anything, including parts from movies which already exist.

That depends on so many things. The best experience would be working with super talented collaborative people. To have a role in that setting that the audience completely empathizes with.

Also, Elwood P Dowd in Harvey.

5. Do you have a favorite way to get into character, or does it vary from role to role?

That’s a novel. Sorry.

6. What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you?

I’m just a regular guy. And I love F1. Go McLaren!

7. What music do you find yourself listening to frequently, and what shows are you sure to never miss?

Pandora has become my soundtrack. It rotates from Lyle Lovett to Rufus Wainright to The Shins to Blitzen Trapper to Radiohead to Avett Brothers to Sigur Ros etc.

TV? Mad Men, Top Gear (UK), Cosmos, Halt and Catch Fire, Downton, Justified.

8. I thought it was great that you participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (and you were so smart in how you performed it!)  Are there any causes you’re passionate about?

Just the Boy Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout and it made me a better person. It’s a shame that all of this political mess has gotten involved lately. Their organization has been trying to please everyone and as a result the whole program is becoming useless. It’s a real shame.

As Bill Cosby is quoted as saying: “I don’t know the key to success but I do know the key to failure – Trying to please everyone.”

9. Does playing Wendall in Rectify leave a film on your soul or are you able to shake him off quickly once the scene is done?

It’s just acting.

10. What do you like best about living in Atlanta that you wouldn’t have living in Los Angeles?

A house.

Hah- absolutely to answer #10!  Thank you, Jayson, so much for taking the time to do this!  It was a pleasure!  Now if we can just get you out to LA just for a little while… 🙂

Now, on to the photo!

Waiting For Paulie

Waiting For Paulie

The title is a play on the name of the town the show takes place in.  I created this just after season two ended – and ended on a very bad cliffhanger too!  Thankfully, season three has been secured or I just would not have known what to do.

I’d been eagerly counting the days for the second season to start and was enthralled with every new episode.  I’ve watched season one probably a dozen times already (I have it on DVD.  I’d also like to state for the record that I watched the entire season in one day; I REALLY love the show).  Season two, with more episodes, was able to expand upon the groundwork laid in season one, but as the show tends to do, it left us with more questions than answers.  I think I held my breath for the entire last half of the finale, which was a magnificent climax to the season.  After watching it though, I felt so sad that this season was over.  I wouldn’t see anything new from these characters for another year.  And they feel like friends to me, not fictional characters; I truly care about them.

After moping around for most of the morning after the finale, I finally decided to channel my impatience into a self portrait, because that’s what I do.  I set out intending just to use the window and have a couple feathers drifting down, reminiscent of Daniel’s experience with his feathers.  But as I worked, nature kept insisting on making herself known in the image.  Before I knew it, ghostly birds were flying everywhere while vines and smoke crept up from the corners.  I didn’t over-think it as I was creating, but as I thought about it afterward, it felt very true to the show.   Life and death.  Dark and light.  Magical moments between the mundane.  Nature and hope triumphing.  Light illuminating the shadows.  It summed up a lot of my feelings for the show in a way I still can’t really put into words.

There are some detail shots below, but if you only take away one message from this post, take this: go watch Rectify right now.  You will not be sorry 🙂

Waiting For Paulie - detail

Waiting For Paulie – detail

 

Waiting For Paulie - detail

Waiting For Paulie – detail

 

Waiting For Paulie - detail

Waiting For Paulie – detail

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Something a little silly and fun for today….

One of the very cool things that Geoff and I got to do over our Christmas road trip was drive by the house used as the exterior shots of Walter White’s house in Breaking Bad.  To both of us, it was a mini pilgrimage, a holy shrine dedicated to one of the best shows television has ever produced.  (Seriously; we were talking about it the other night and couldn’t think of ONE single time the show had miss-stepped even slightly in its entire run.  What other show can you say that of?)  I brought my Heisenberg hat along the entire trip just for this one moment, and it was completely worth it.

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I tried to be cool, but inside I was fangirling and squealing over the fact that I WAS STANDING IN FRONT OF WALTER WHITE’S HOUSE OMG.  It ended up being a very Breaking Bad Christmas all around; AMC ran a series marathon right around Christmas, and Geoff and I both gave each other some very fun Breaking Bad gifts.  His stocking contained some “blue meth” sugar candy from a great shop on Etsy 🙂

While running the marathon, AMC’s website had some really fun Breaking Bad extras for fans to enjoy, such as a quiz which would tell you which villain you were most like.  I was perversely proud and pleased when the quiz told me I was most like Gus Fring.

Copyrights belong to AMC.

Copyrights belong to AMC.

I even saved my results because they were so fun.  And you know?  I can kind of see it.  Were I to take the path of the bad guy, I probably would be that scariest kind of quiet, seemingly peaceful villain who, when the mask is dropped, threatens to kill you, your wife, your son and infant daughter, then slits a man’s throat with a box cutter in front of you just to prove his point.

So who am I?  Gus Fring?  You’re goddamn right 🙂

All Hail The Queen, my Breaking Bad homage.

All Hail The Queen, my Breaking Bad homage.

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Sundance Channel’s new six-episode drama last year had my attention when, during the trailers, I heard the words “from the producers of Breaking Bad,” and “How does it feel to be free but not exonerated?”  My ears were sufficiently pricked.

Starting intentionally slowly-paced, the show gives you time to warm up to it, get to know it and its characters well.  You come to love or loath them all quite intensely by the time the end of episode five comes and leaves you gasping.  The first time I watched the show, I’d recorded them on the DVR and was watching while I edited; I rarely watch TV without editing.  I was enjoying myself the whole time, but at the end of episode five, I literally stopped breathing for a few seconds.   And I was so glad I could immediately launch myself into episode six.  It was compelling enough for me to set my editing completely aside, and I wept through almost the entire second half of the last episode.  To say it hooked me would be a dramatic understatement.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

I kept those beautiful, perfect six episodes on the DVR for a long time.  In fact, I recall only feeling comfortable deleting them when I knew that the season would be released on DVD soon.  I was compelled to go back and watch them over and over again.  Like the very, very best story-telling, there is enough for you to grab onto the first time through, but it has so many layers and levels, you pick up new details and nuances each time you experience it again.  And good heavens, how ballsy is Ray McKinnon, the show’s creator, for waiting until the very last moments of episode five to sink that hook into your mouth?

Rectify follows the story of Daniel Holden, a man who has spent the last 19 years of his life on death row for the brutal rape and murder of his highschool girlfriend.  New DNA evidence has emerged to show that Daniel at the very least could not have been the sole perpetrator, and possibly wasn’t involved in the murder at all, so he is released from prison but his name is not truly cleared.  Back home in the imaginary small town of Paulie, Georgia, everyone has an opinion on Daniel’s guilt or innocence.  The town has been steeped in this murder for the past two decades and everyone is prepared to fight for what they believe is the truth.  Is Daniel truly guilty or innocent?  The show bravely decides to not supply the viewer with the answer outright, but leaves you with enough breadcrumbs to follow if you wish.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

Rectify is perfectly cast.  I was new to Aden Young, but his strikingly soulful eyes and body language say so much for him without needing words.  Daniel was always shy and not much of a talker and spending 19 years away from society hasn’t helped that any.  To those who believe he’s guilty, his awkwardness is another nail in the coffin.  To those who believe he’s innocent, anybody would be a little awkward in his situation.  One of the most brilliant bits of the show is that through some very clever plot points, Daniel himself does not know whether he’s guilty or innocent.  The waters are murky for everyone.

I have to say, I love Daniel, in a way which almost rivals my love for Richard Harrow.  There’s something similar about both of their characters too; by no means are they interchangeable, but the Venn diagrams of their personalities overlap in some significant ways.  They both have an innocence, a sweetness and purity about them, despite some of the bad thing we know (or suspect) they’ve done.  I can strongly identify with both of them for their shyness, their introversion, their outsider-ness.  But while they both seem to have hearts shining bright with solid gold, we know there’s deep pain within them both, and we’ve witnessed them doing some bad things.  Often, I would venture, for good reasons, or at least what their character believed was a good reason, but they are not fresh, untrampled flowers of purity.  I think that dichotomy is what makes them such fascinating characters.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

There is a religious undercurrent to almost everything in the show, and if you were raised in a Christian house like I was, you’ll pick up on them.  Ray McKinnon deftly uses these subtle metaphors and allusions to underscore various points, sometimes answering your question for you, adding extra layers of meaning, or purposely confusing things even more.  Kerwin’s declaration to Daniel that he knows Daniel is innocent “Because I know you.  Because I know you.  Because I know you,” brings to mind Peter’s thrice-over betrayal of Jesus, and subsequent thrice affirmation of his love and devotion.  Even the fact that the show takes place in exactly six shows, over six days; this brings to mind “on the sixth day, God created man.”  The story is ultimately about Daniel’s new life, his rebirth into society, so the metaphor makes perfect sense.

The clarity over what’s real and what is not is always in question and only gets murkier as the season progresses.  The Goat Man, played by W. Earl Brown, is a perfect example of both those points.  Does he represent God, wrestling with Daniel  in the wilderness, or Satan tempting Jesus in the desert?  There is no ivy on the stature the Goat Man shows to Daniel, but there is the next day when he visits it with his sister Amantha.  Was the Goat Man real or not?  If he isn’t, where did that big wad of cash Daniel has come from?  God, Satan, real, not real… I could believe that the Goat Man is all these things at once.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

The end of the last episode by no means wraps things up tidily, but was incredibly satisfying nonetheless.  I was ecstatic when I heard that Rectify had been picked up for a second season, this time being given an entire 10 episodes to mesmerize us and fuck with our heads.  Will we find out the truth behind the murder Daniel was convicted of next season?  I hope so.  And I have my own strong theories about what will be brought to light.  Rectify, I will be glad to see you back.

Longing For Better Days - a simple self portrait which seemed appropriate for the immense solitude Daniel has endured.

Longing For Better Days – a simple self portrait which seemed appropriate for the immense solitude Daniel has endured.

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