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Review of 'Kaleidoscope'

Right Up There with Kurosawa and Scorsese

By Paul LevinsonPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read

Hey, I just saw a great movie on Netflix -- actually, not a movie, but nine episodes of a television series, each of which feels like a movie in itself, and they all fit together like, well, a kaleidoscope.

And, this is the best heist story I've ever seen. It has everything, a suitably complex plot, a story in which every character is memorable, all kinds of things that go wrong and sometimes right, a superb soundtrack, and scenes that will move you to tears.

[There's bound to be some spoilers ahead ... ]

Apropos a kaleidoscope, we're told at the beginning that the episodes can be seen in any order. I saw them in the order presented on Netflix and listed on IMDb. I have no idea if this was the best order, or indeed if there is a best order. I will say, for whatever it's worth, that I thought the first and last (ninth) episodes were the weakest. That's because the eighth episode, which takes place at the end of the story, was the best. And even though I thought the first and ninth episodes were the weakest, I still think this was the best heist story I've ever seen on a screen.

I'm not going to reveal how many characters die and in what circumstances. But I will mention two unexplained deaths and my best guesses as to who did the killings.

Let's look at FBI Agent Abassi's death first. An old guy brushes past her on a New York City street, and she soon keels over and dies. The characters with the most motives are the Triplets (whose bonds in Salas's vault were the object of the heist), Leo/Ray's daughter Hannah, and Roger Salas's son Brad. Here's why: the Triplets want to stop the FBI's investigation into their business, Hannah is the one who got away with the money and she also doesn't want the FBI to continue looking into this heist, and although Roger is in prison his son Brad must know there is a lot more crime his father could be kept up the river for. My best guess is: Hannah. And if I had to rank the three, I'd say Hannah, the Triplets, and Brad, in descending order. Hannah has more than one motive. In addition to wanting to keep her money, she also wants to protect her father.

But speaking of her father, and even more important, who killed Leo/Ray? First, we don't see him actually killed. We see him, struggling to walk with Parkinson's, being stalked. And we hear a shot fired. So ... he easily could have fallen right before the shot was fired, with some good samaritan then tackling the gunman. But who then was the shooter? Not Hannah, who clearly continued to deeply love her father, in some of the best scenes in the series, by the way. The Triplets really had no motive, especially given Ray's deteriorating condition. That leaves, by process of elimination, Roger's son Brad. His motive was he blames Ray for ruining his father's life, and doesn't know Ray's true motivation.

By the way, not only was every character memorable, so was the acting. Three that especially stand out: Giancarlo Esposito as Leo/Ray gave the best performance of his career, even exceeding his outstanding work in Homicide and Breaking Bad. Rufus Sewell, as superb and versatile an actor as you'll find, was perfect as the complicated, driven, highly intelligent villain and victim of the heist. And Paz Vega as Ava was just perfect as Leo's indefatigable supporter.

This will be a series for the ages, right up there with the best work of Kurosawa and Scorsese. Hats off to creator Eric Garcia, and the four directors.

my interview with Rufus Sewell about The Man in the High Castle

tv review

About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Best-known short story: The Chronology Protection Case; Prof, Fordham Univ.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Donna Fox (HKB)about a year ago

    This was an interesting read, I like the way you interpreted everything and broke it all down. I like that you included the video of your interview, that was a nice touch!

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