INDUSTRY

INDUSTRYSometimes a show is perfectly written, perfectly cast and perfectly executed. And even then, it seems to fly under the radar. That is especially true these days if the show doesn’t involve Jedi, Dragons, Elves or Superheroes. In this case that below the radar show is INDUSTRY.

The HBO drama follows four recent college graduates as they go to work for a financial services company in London. In the first season, all four are fighting alongside other “first years” to hang on and get the permanent jobs they all covet. How each person goes about that varies. There is cheating, lying, back stabbing, sex, drugs and drinking. All are used to wield power and influence the bosses’ decision at the end of that first year. The survivors are Harper (Myha’la Herrold), Yasmin (Marissa Abela) and Robert (Harry Lawtey). They all earn jobs with the fictitious “Pierpoint”.  Gus (David Jonsson) sort of survives but realizes the cutthroat nature of this office may not be for him.

The second season finds Harper still working out of a hotel room she occupied during the pandemic. Yasmin has secured her spot on the FX (foreign exchange trades) team and Robert is foundering on the CPS (cross product sales) desk. Harper returns to the office and starts covering Jesse Bloom (Jay Duplass) with great success at first. It makes her a rock star. Robert become the go to person for Nicole who is one of the biggest clients in the firm but who also has a sexual harassment problem. Yasmin has her sights set on moving up to specialty client services, wining and dining the firm’s wealthiest, most important clients.

And if you are confused about what all that means buckle up, because once you begin watching a lot of this will sound like a foreign language to the average person. I have a pretty decent knowledge of investing and a lot of this language and maneuvering flies right over my head. But that is not important. I know, that sounds counterintuitive. How can you watch a show where you don’t understand about a third of what’s going on. It doesn’t matter. The financial services and investing lingo is just a vehicle to the larger story about greed, manipulation, privilege and backstabbing. You get a sense of what is going on and that one person is driving a bus and another person is laying in the road about to become a victim. Konrad Kay and Mickey Downs created this show and they have conceived it brilliantly. The execution is perfection. They have a complete understanding of what’s going on and who their characters are. Kay and Downs keep everyone in their lanes. No one ever does something that leaves you thinking that character would never make that choice. It’s brilliant.

What also makes this work is the outstanding case of young actors. Herrold, Abela, Lawtey and Jonsson crush it every episode. They may the right choices every time. Ken Leung’s Eric runs the CPS desk and becomes Harper’s mentor. He recognizes she is an absolute killer shark. He nurtures that in her and it sometimes bites him in the ass. But it fits his character.

This is only just the surface of what is a deeply complex and enormously satisfying show. It should be as beloved as SUCCESSION and maybe next year the Emmys will realize it and bestow all the love on this wonderful show.

PREY

preyThere are several movie franchises I have intentionally avoided. Most of them horror since that is really not my jam. I find the jump scares, peril and gore overwhelming. I am trying to escape all that when I sit down to watch a movie. One of those franchises is the Predator movies. The original and the Alien v. Predator sub-franchise. Just had no interest.

So it was with some reluctance I clicked on Hulu to watch PREY. Is this for me? Will my anxiety be ramped up from its normal “constant freak out” level? Trepidation to be sure. But several people suggested it, glowing reviews and an interview with director Dan Trachtenberg told me to put aside those reservations. And boy am I glad I did.

There is some of what makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. A decent amount of gore and jump scares. But this is so much more than what scares you. The story of a young woman struggling for respect resonates across the centuries. The concise storytelling is refreshing in an age when these kind of projects are either more than 2-and-a-half hours or 9 episodes long. I got a clear picture of the main character’s backstory and motivation within the first 10 minutes or so. I understood the threat soon enough and it was all dealt with in just over 90 minutes. There is something to be said for a short, well told story.

It doesn’t hurt that Amber Midthunder is absolutely phenomenal as Naru, the young Comanche woman who wants more for herself than staying home learning the ways of medicine. She wants to hunt with the men. And we quickly learn she is good at it, and smarter than some of the more experienced hunters. Most of the movie leans on Midthunder’s character and she is more than up to it.

The members of her community are also very good, including her brother Taabe played with equal measures of bravery and sensitivy by Dakota Beavers. Dane DiLiegro is the Preadator. I don’t know how much of his character is VFX versus practical effects, but he does a great job giving us just a little bit of feel for what the Preadator’s goal is, what he may be “feeling”. It’s quite a trick to do that when you don’t have any actual lines.

I know Trachtenberg’s work from the first season of The Boys. He directed the pilot, or first episode “The Name of the Game” and set a tone for what might be the best superhero property out there. Trachtenberg knows how to shoot action without making it confusing or hard to follow. You feel you are there but not getting nauseous because the camera is too close. He also has a knack for showing his characters at their best even when the situation is the worst. Also special shout out to the score by Sarah Schachner who builds on Alan Silvestri’s original theme and combines it with Native American themes.

If you are a, well let’s face facts, a scardy cat like me. This movie will not prey on your anxiety and to not watch it is to miss something quite special.