David Simon started out as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun where he worked the crime beat. In 1991, he took a year off to follow the Baltimore Homicide squad around and wrote the excellent Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets about it. A few years later he took another year-long sabbatical with former cop Ed Burns to spend time on an inner-city street corner and wrote about the lives of the junkies, dealers, and helpers who live, work, and play there in the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood.
Homicide was turned into the the excellent Barry Levinson television series Homicide: Life on the Street. By season two, Simon had signed on as a writer and producer taking him from the journalist’s desk to the TV producers. The Corner was later made into a really quite wonderful HBO short series of the same name. His books now exhausted as TV fodder, Simon headed out on his own and created quite possibly the greatest television series ever, The Wire. Seriously, if you haven’t watched The Wire, go do so now. Prepare to rethink what TV can be.
Since then, Simon has made several other series and short projects including Generation Kill about the war in Iraq, Treme about the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina, and Show Me a Hero which tells the real life story of Nick Wasicsko, the young mayor of Yonkers.
If you cannot tell by the all these words I’ve just written I am a David Simon fanboy. I won’t say he can do no wrong, but boy, oh, boy, does the man make some great TV.
His latest show, The Deuce, is about the sex trade in New York's Times Square in the early 1970s. Like The Wire, it takes a journalistic approach to some of the darker corners of American life and makes it shine. It's a gritty, daring show and one well worth watching. Read my review of its first season.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Wonder: Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, and Mandy Patinkin star in this film based upon the best-selling book about a boy with a facial deformity who struggles to fit in at a new school.
Night of the Living Dead (Criterion Collection): George A. Romero’s classic zombie flick has been in the public domain for years, which means it's been released multiple times in less-than-stellar packages. I’m really excited to see Criterion doing their best to clean It up and give it the release it deserves.
The Silence of the Lambs (Criterion Collection): Criterion released this Oscar-winning horror classic several years ago on DVD. They’ve given it a HD upgrade and added in numerous extras while still including all the old ones from the DVD version.
Hellraiser: Judgment: I don’t know that the Hellraiser series needed a tenth film (or an ninth, or an eighth, or a...) but here we have it. If you’ve made it through the first nine I guess there is no reason not to see this.
Roman J. Israel, Esq.: Dan Gilroy’s second film as a director stars Denzel Washington as an idealistic attorney working the dark side of Los Angeles. Reviews have been very mixed.
Animal Kingdom: The Complete Second Season: I keep hearing good things about this TNT series a teenager who goes to live with his freewheeling Southern California neighbors after his mom overdoses.
Van Morrison: In Concert: Features the great Irish singer from a three-night residency in Las Vegas. Van doesn’t quite have the power he once did, but he’s still a fine singer with a great backing band.