The Night Of...

JORDAN GAGNE, one of my former Berklee Valencia scoring students (and a wicked-good composer himself), steered my attention to HBO's new series, THE NIGHT OF, and its music. Jordan is working as a studio assistant to the show's composer, Jeff Russo. The first episode hooked me; the second episode went to the pit of my stomach with the weight of dread. I don't have a good feeling about where the trajectory of the plot may be taking us, but it's an accident I'm not going to be able to look away from, any more than I can look away from a nightmare.

With the show's creative architects being Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List and Gangs Of New York) and Richard Price (Sea Of Love, The Color Of Money), it would be well worth giving attention simply to see what these brilliant guys came up with. But it's the infrastructure of the show, including the score and the spellbinding, Sidney Lumet-ish cinematography by Igor Martinovic (Man On Wire), who I'm betting will be the next Janusz Kaminski, that takes it completely out of the realm of "TV" and into that new place halfway between the living room and the old 8th Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village (where I first saw films by Roman Polanski, Claude Chabrol, and Sam Fuller)--a place that is now, and will continue to be, the proving ground for new composers.

There's a single shot in the final act that's worthy of Alain Resnais. The protagonist (played by Poorna Jagannathan) is being transferred to Riker's Island to await trial, and as he's being led through the  exterior prisoner door, the camera drops to the event's reflection in a puddle of dirty rainwater. In the hands of lesser artists, it might've felt like a show-off shot, but as with almost everything else about the show, it is embedded in the story.