REVIEW: ‘House of Cards’

Screen shot 2014-02-17 at 11.13.09 AM

Kevin Spacey and Kate Mara in ‘House of Cards’

 

Like any normal person, I spend much of my weekend on a binge. Not alcohol or food, but just as addictive.

On Friday, Netflix released Season 2 of its hit series House of Cards, with all 13 hour-long episodes going live at once. And if you could watch just one hour and not crave the rest, you are a stronger person than I.

Season 1 came out of nowhere 54 weeks ago, leap-frogging the streaming service’s much-anticipated Arrested Development reboot by four months, and went on to win several Emmys. It deserved them; it deserved more. The series — an adaptation of a 1980s-era British show, which itself was taken from several books — is about Democrat House majority whip Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his Machiavellian efforts to seek revenge on the those who snubbed him for the secretary of state slot in a new administration. And, scene by scene, he takes them down until he’s finally tapped to be the new vice president.

But he doesn’t stop there.

Season 2 picks up the moment Season 1 left off. Frank and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) are adjusting to increased scrutiny, but before he’s confirmed as veep, there are a few personal matters he has to take care of. And one of those — a “holy shit!” moment that occurs late in Episode 1 — is among the most shocking developments I’ve ever seen on a TV show. It’s a game changer, and it hooks you, even more than all Season 1 did.

There are several more stunning developments throughout the ensuing chapter, involving hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality, as well as Wikileaks-ish journalism, national security and political expediency, which Frank wields like Richard III. Indeed, its biggest flaw may be that Frank’s underhandedness is so calculated, and yet so risky, it skirts the edge of nighttime soap opera in the unlikelihood he could get away with as much as he does. And he does get away with a lot.

Spacey, with his drawling, reptilian ease, is a thoroughly detestable yet charismatic anti-hero, a villain who still manages to be better than all the other villains around him. Wright’s coolness matches Spacey’s, though she seems more human, while the rest of the cast — all excellent except for the still-weak Kate Mara, whose part is diminished this season — provide able support. If you don’t have Netflix, you need it. Well, it, and a 13-hour stretch of uninterrupted “you” time.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Starvoice • 07.22.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Kevin Spacey turns 52 on Tuesday. The two-time Oscar winner battled gay rumors by blatantly not talking about his personal life. Apparently he had enough when he told both Playboy and Gotham magazines that he is not gay. Currently starring in Horrible Bosses, his latest cause is fighting for freedom for the people of Belarus with fellow celebs Mick Jagger and Jude Law.LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
What’s most important to you? Being fabulous only works when it serves a deeper purpose. That’s what you need to get clearer on. When it’s all over, what do you want to be remembered for?

……………………….

THIS WEEK

Mercury and Neptune are in opposition, creating a struggle between rationality and irrational, artistic passions. Religion and atheism are articles of faith that cannot be explained or proven. Artistic appreciation is subjective. You can explain and describe how you feel about all those things especially well now, but there’s no winning any arguments there.

……………………….

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Self-criticism promotes self-improvement. Taking to heart every negative piece of crap around you is another thing. Filtering is your forte. Consider the intent behind remarks aimed at you.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Let friends distract you from your worries, but let a few help you sort out the real problems from the pointless head trips. Helping others worse off also helps you keep perspective.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
As your artistic vision turns to deeper directions, friends lead you to new possibilities. Let go of logic. Inspirations for your career also defy logic, but think ahead before acting on them.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
To know where you’re going you need to know clearly where you’ve been. Deep affection and new understandings are great, but don’t lose perspective.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Nothing is quite right. Some mad, flashy display like a drag show or surrealist art exhibit should put you in the state of acceptance to make more intuitive connections.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Sometimes you can’t even connect with your most beloved, adoring partner on what’s sexy. Relax and hold on to your self-confidence. It will pass.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
When you lose track of yourself, trust your partner to tell you. Throw yourself into your work. The tasks you take greatest pride in will get you back on track.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Pay attention to details. Don’t obsess. When you find yourself losing perspective, stop and breathe. Take your work seriously, but not morbidly so. A little fun and relaxation is necessary.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Change a few things around the house. If you don’t live alone, your frenetic aesthetics could be disrupting. Talk with your roommates or family members. They help you develop a plan.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Family chats get very dramatic. Is your sibling helpful or a provocateur? You do need to talk, but be more careful about what you actually say. Also, be very careful to listen.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Remember what’s important. Advance ideas to provoke discussion to learn from others. Facts and figures aren’t everything, but when using them, make sure they’re accurate.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas