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Posts tagged ‘Aaron Paul’

Better Watch “Better Call Saul”! It’s So Great, It’s Bad! As in “Breaking Bad”!

Saul 1“Better Call Saul” has done the seemingly impossible. It’s just as good as its’ fabled predecessor “Breaking Bad,” and who knows? As it goes along its’ merry way, it could get better, and even better. For those of you out there who have been missing “Breaking Bad” on some kind of level of bereavement ( I know, because I have), “Better Call Saul” as unlikely as it first sounded, really does more than fill the bill.

It’s a prequel, of all things, six years back in time, and the most unlikeliest of central characters, Saul Goodman, the loudly dressed, strip-mall  lawyer, who winds up defending Walter White(Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman(Aaron Paul)played masterfully here by series regular Bob Odenkirk.

Odenkirk, a former stand-up comedian, here proves himself to be ridiculously adept as a three-demensional dramatic actor, giving us an Everyman, who reminded me of Willy Loman of “Death of a Salesman”, of all characters. He has a potato-like face that’s sometimes mashed and sometimes fried.

True, Walter White started out as wildly relatable, too. The meek chemistry professor who was dying of cancer and who kept getting the s__t kicked out of him on a daily basis, with part-time jobs he had to take because his teaching job just didn’t make him enough money to support his family. And he had a disabled teenaged son with cerebral palsy, and a new baby on the way.

So he began to think of other ways of making money…like, well, using his chemistry skills to make Crystal Meth at the behest of his wayward student Jesse Pinkman. And a Myth of Television, one of its’ greatest shows ever, was born.

We, as an audience, know where “Better Call Saul” is going. We are going to follow, this now incredibly sympathetic character of Saul, as he becomes a criminal.

But we have six years to delight in his descent. We know that’s coming. And we know where he ends up. He didn’t die at the end of “Breaking Bad” but ran off into the sunset prophesying that he’d “end up as a manager of a Cinnabon in a mall in Omaha” which is precisely where “Better Call Saul” starts.In Black and White!

So in grainy chirascuro, we see the now nearly unrecognizable Saul with a Deputy Dawg moustache, and ten-to-twenty-pounds heavier, laying on the cinnamon and sugar creme in a soul-less Cinnabon, a repetitive, drab, living hell. Product placement anyone? You’ll never be able to eat or look at a Cinnabon again without thinking of Saul’s fate worse than fat.

He then goes home to his drab, single dwelling to watch a VHS tape that he has hidden on his sink in a shoe-box, as the snow begins to fall on Nebraksa,and the winter wind is howling, and we see him enjoying, or trying to, TV commercial advertisements of his days in colorful, bygone Albuquerque. These commericals are only heard, but not shown, as the reaction on Saul’s mashed potato face says it all.

And yes, boom! We are now back in Saul’s Oz, and everything shifts into color and we see the still-worn down Saul, back when he was even a different person, Jimmy McGill. And oh what a delight it is to be back in Albuquerque, N.M.! I felt like I was coming home! I couldn’t believe how much I missed it!

Never has the plight of a Legal Aid Defense Lawyer, been painted, or even observed (EVAH?) in such heart-wrenching, soul-squashing clarity. Nothing seems to ever go right for Saul, or rather Jimmy. And as fate deals him, blow after humiliating blow, we are with him every step of the way on his road to lawyerly hell.

And also, because Odenkirk, is a superb comic actor, “Better Call Saul” is much funnier than the bleak “Breaking Bad.” So it’s humor quotient, as well, as the dramatic, is sky-high. God is In the Details. Like the fact, that Saul/Jimmy’s pathetic law “Office” is in the back room of a Korean nail parlor.(see above picture ^)

To reveal anymore, would be to spoil, and I don’t do that. I’ve said too much already. “Better Call Saul” is a Must Watch TV event. It’s third episode is coming next week, so DON’T MISS IT!

“Breaking Bad” just won Best Actor & Best Series on Golden Globes!

Well, I’m glad I stayed for this. Bryan Cranston, one of the greatest actors to ever grace a TV screen in American just won Best Actor for his historic Walter White in “Breaking Bad” and then “Breaking Bad” won Best TV series and I stay tuned long enough to hear Aaron Paul, yell at the assembled Golden masses “Yeah, bitch!” THAT was worth it…I thought from now until 10pm it was all going to be just boring TV show awards, until the 10:00 mark when they start giving out all the film awards.

Amy Poehler seemed OK but Tina Fay seemed off her game as the co-hosts. Er…

Steve Coogan, a recent guest on “The Stephen Holt Show,” introduced his film “Philomena” with the REAL Philomena Lee on his arm. Nice. Touching. Classy.

Now All is REALLY Lost, Alex Ebert just won “Best Score” for his unmemorable music for “All Is Lost”…Does this mean Robert Redford is going to win Best Actor Drama??? Hans Zimmer’s score for “12 Years” and T-Bone Burnett’s great work on “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Bono and the Edge just won Best Song….For “Mandela”, “Ordinary Love” I liked the film but don’t remember the song AT ALL.

The Golden Globes stay true to their star-f**ker reputation. Why am I surprised?

“Breaking Bad” Season 5, Ep.9, Really Season 6, Ep.1

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!

Everything that I predicted would happen in my last post happened. Hank figures out Walt is Heisenberg, the evil drug lord he’s been seeking. Hank’s implosion takes up most of the episode and he doesn’t quite know how to handle it, to put it VERY mildly. He punches Walt out in a tremendously impactful finale moment in his garage. The coming down of a closing garage door in the background at this moment is spectacularly simple and spectacularly ominous as it symbolizes that the lights are going to go out on Walt’s world.

Dean Norris as Hank is at his absolute best ever in this episode. He’s verging on a heart attack and absolutely losing his mind over the revelation that Walt is Heisenberg. Hank also senses that Skyler, Walt’s wife(Anna Gunn) is somehow in a this too. And she is. But he has no idea how much.

And Walt tells him that all his “theories” are “ridiculous” and that he can’t prove a thing. Walter tells him that he “will never spend a day in a jail cell” and “if he wants to pursue this”, he’d better “tread lightly”

I love the emphasis multiple Emmy winner Bryan Cranston gave to the words “TRED LIGHTLY.” He was threatened Hank as much as Hank was threatening him. Brilliant scene brilliantly played.

Jesse, (two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul) is losing it, too. He’s incredibly depressed because of the death of the young boy who got shot at the site of the train heist. Nothing Walt can do or say can seem to snap him out of it. The writers are going out of their way, it seems, to make Jesse sympathetic, as his curtain is ringing down, too. He wants to give away all his money to the grand-daughter of the late Mike, who he doesn’t know, but senses, is dead.

And Walt, as we the audience know, killed Mike in the last episode of the last season. But Walt is lying his head off to Jesse that Mike is still alive. And Jesse only half believes him. With good reason.

In a memorable moment, he gives away a huge chunk of cash to a rather reluctant homeless man, who just wants some change, not a gigantic wad of bills.

Jesse then continues on his mid-night ride through poor neighborhoods just throwing neatly wrapped stacks of bills on the front lawns of all the houses, some landing in the bushes, some actually going down a drain.

Skyler meanwhile comes full circle to Lady Macbeth. Period. She has a chilling confrontation scene with Lydia, the Madrigal corporate exec, who comes to their car-wash, she is so desperate to talk to Walt about the decline in quality of the meth she’s getting…

He keeps saying that he’s “out of it. I’m done.”

AND his cancer has come back. And he’s undergoing chemo again. And he tells Hank this is their big final confrontation scene. “My cancer has come back. I’ll be dead in a few months.”

Also we see at the beginning of the show, in a teaser before the opening credits, that the White’s House has been abandoned and boarded up. Walt is there to retrieve the Rycin he hid earlier in a wall socket, and there’s graffiti everywhere saying “Heisenberg” in BIG LETTERS all over the front living room wall. And there’s a gate and barbed wire encircling the property and the local kids are using the drained swimming pool as a skate-boarding rink. And a startled woman neighbor sees Walt and drops all her groceries which consist seemingly of nothing but oranges, as Walt says a cheery “Hello Carol.”

“Hello, Carol” and “Tred lightly” both lines of Walt’s delivered by Bryan Cranston, who is on his way to his fourth, or is it fifth(?) Emmy, I’m soooo sure.

I watched this online at http://www.amctv.com, on Monday night, because I don’t get AMC on my cable. But I’m glad I caught up with it. Thrilled actually. And the series-long confrontation between Walt and Hank in the garage was only about five minutes long, but WHAT AN ENDING for this episode!

What’s going to happen on Breakjng Bad tonight? My Guess.

This is just informed speculation, mind you, but with the beginning of the final season of “Breaking Bad’ only eight of them, the options like Walter White’s himself’s are growing more and more limited.

We left off with Dean Norris, who marvelously plays DEA agent & Walt’s brother-in-law Hank, suddenly having his “A Ha!” moment on the john as he reads a dedication to Walt’s in a paperback copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” that Walt has carelessly left in the guest bathroom.

In that now-famous copy of that probably more -read-than-ever book of Civil War-Era poetry, Hank sees a dedication that looks like it’s in Gael Bedeckker’s handwriting. Gael was the mild-mannered(read Gay) meth lab assistant that Jesse( the super-nova two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul) shot in the face a couple of seasons back.

Gael’s presence has emanated down the series, haunting it as it were, and I have to take a minute to rave about the superb New York actor David Costabile who played it so memorably, whose work I first became aware of at NYU Grad Acting in the Class of 1995.

But I do have to say that David’s work then as now with Gael and also in “Lincoln” this year, was always excellent. He also wrote a three person clown show called “The New Bozeena” Bozeena I think was a favorite Polish waitress at a local café on Second Ave. right next to one of NYU’s main building. It was so good it eventually went off-Broadway. He wrote it with Kevin Isola, a fellow classmate and performer, and another NYU chum, and all three I think made it into some group crowd scenes in Jim Carrey’s movie “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Needless to say, with Gael Bedeckker, David stepped into television history with “Breaking Bad.” As have all the leading actors. There’s no small parts, only small actors. And David Costabile is a HUGE talent.

But it’s the writing that stays so excellent, consistently, season after season that is what makes “Breaking Bad” the phenomenon it has been for the past five years.

So you have to ask yourself, what would these writers do with the end in sight? Well, I think we’re facing a blood-bath of most of the leading characters. So something like it.

We know that Bob Odenkirk’s hilariously low-life lawyer, survives because creator extraordinare Vince Gilligan has said in many forums that he hopes that there is going to be a spin-off series of “Better Call Saul.” In the works, as they say.

I think we pretty much can figure that this news of Walt’s knowing Gael and Hank’s “hunch” will profoundly freak out Hank and send him back to reviewing ALLLLL the information he’s obsessively accumulated about the mysterious “Heisenberg” Walt’s Meth Lord Alter Ego. I would say it launches him into a wild tail-spin of emotions. Does he tell his wife? Blabbermouth Marie? Seeing as how these astute writing team of “Breaking Bad” like to prolong things as long as possible, I would say that “No. He doesn’t tell Marie.” At least not in this first new episode.

Hank excellent DEA agent that he is would proceed cautiously. But proceed he will. Will he confront Walt this first episode? That might be one sharp way of ending it. Then we’re left with “What will Walt do?”

We know from the first episode teaser of Season Five. it’s a year later and Walt has grown all his hair back, changed his name, is living in another state and carrying a sub-machine gun in his trunk. An AK 47.

We also know, since I do listen to all the writers and Gilligan, talking on the Special Features that the new corporate gal from Madrigal, played by Scottish actress, Laura Fraser, is going to have a love interest, but it’s not Walt or Jesse. And we probably see a lot more of her excellent work(you could never tell that her frazzled exec was being played by a Scottish actress!) in Episode One Season Five A as I think they’re calling it.

And Skyler? Who has now gotten the children over to Hank and Marie’s is slowly unraveling. I bet she gets worse. Also the kids being at Hank and Marie’s would be another reason for Hank to keep his mouth shut around Marie…

And RJ Mitte. who is so touching as the cerebral palsied son Walt, Jr. has let it slip that “Hank Jr. faces a decision. He has to choose between his uncle and his father.” So he eventually finds out, too.

So who comes out of this alive? We see Saul, has survived, but everybody else is dubious. It’s a matter of life and death FOR ALL OF THEM!STAY TUNED!

“Breaking Bad” I Love It! Watched EVERY SINGLE episode!

Everybody kept telling me for years to watch “Breaking Bad,” which starts its’ final eight episode run tonight at 9pm on AMC, but I never did. I kept thinking “Drugs? A middle-aged professor-type? Bryan Cranston? Who? Meth? What?”

Then Bryan Cranston kept winning Emmy after Emmy for Best Actor…

Then the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced that it was honoring “Breaking Bad” “TV’s Best Series” by having an unprecedented marathon run of EVERY SINGLE episode for FREE at its’ Elinor Bunim theater at Lincoln Center, and well, I thought if THEY are doing this….there must be something to it.

So I started watching it all about a month ago and just couldn’t stop! Color me surprised! It was as addictive as the Crystal Meth the series revolves around. Not that I’ve ever taken any or know anyone who has, but you certainly get totally immersed in the Crystal Methamphetamine culture of Albuquerque, New Mexico and pretty soon, almost immediately in fact, I was hooked. 

And yes, Bryan Cranston deserved all those Emmys and so does Aaron Paul, his former chemistry student/protégé/partner as Jesse Pinkham, a name that will in television history.

The Paul/Cranston duo, their whole father/son, December/May relationship is what really holds the series together, I feel. Its’ elucidation and intensely involving evolution over five series and hundreds of episodes breaks new ground constantly in this unbelievably well-done-in-every-way television series, and makes the case for “TV being the new Movie.” Very much like the Ripley novels of the late Patricia Highsmith, “Breaking Bad” takes you from identifying wholly with the milquetoast, underpaid Chemistry teacher Walter White and takes him and us in to the dark underground world of drug dealing and meth making that is very much like Alice going down the rabbit hole, as Walter White follows Jesse Pinkman into a bizarre, meth-fueled world that gets more and more frightening as the series progresses.

Being so late to the party in this case, I would hate to spoil any other late-comers delight by giving away plot points, but just let me continue the praise that has been heaped on Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and the show’s creator Vince Gilligan.

This is very much like a low-budget indie thriller that you never want to end, it’s so riveting, and guess what? It doesn’t end! Not for five TV seasons, with yet more to come! Bryan Cranston proves himself a great American actor here. The former forgettable father of “Malcolm in the Middle” totally blows your mind in episode after episode. His range is staggering. The award-winning “Breaking Bad” writers throw everything but the kitchen sink at Cranston, and he meets their daunting challenges at every turn. An unsung and overlooked character actor well into his middle years has found the role of his career beyond a doubt and risen to the ranks of American’s finest and television’s greatest.

Ditto Aaron Paul’s Pinkham. Pathetic, needy, irritating, whiney, never-wracking, infuriating and utterly adorable, Aaron Paul also proves Himself as one of America’s finest YOUNG actors. And he’s won a couple of Emmys, too. And is prized to win, along with Cranston, Gilligan and the writers, more accolades in the every near future.

The starting premise of “Breaking Bad” is so brilliant, a middle-aged, hen-pecked high school chemistry teacher finds his inner Don Corleone, or as Gilligan likes to say “Scarface”, with a wife who doesn’t understand him, and a son with cerebral palsy, and a brother-in-law in the DEA, who gets obsessed with catching this ever-elusive “Heisenberg”.

Dean Norris is the new King of Cops as the ever-vigilant brother-in-law from hell. It’s taken him five television seasons to eventually come to the startling conclusion that the “W.W.” he has been seeking is living right in his own backyard. He’s on the commode poring over evidence when it FINALLY hits him, which is where we have left them all.

The women in “Breaking Bad” are nowhere near as strongly drawn as the male characters. I hate to knock them now, without seeing how this all plays out, but Anna Gunn(no, that’s her REAL name) as Schuyler White and Betsy Brandt as her sister and the wife of the DEA Agent Norris, are thumpingly ordinary and suburban, but I guess they are supposed to be.

And Ms. Gunn has the daunting task of having nearly all her scenes with the uber-brilliant Brian Cranston, as her husband, and she just can’t hold a candle to him.
As her marriage unravels and ravels again, it’s the “marriage” of Walter White & Jesse Pinkman(Emmy winners Cranston & Paul) that compels us. It’s gone through every single permutation a partnership can go through, every thing except exploring that homo-erotic undertones that it just reeks of. THAT hasn’t been gone in to yet. But there’s still eight more episodes coming our way. We can only hope…

I just wish I had AMC on my channel system. But dear readers be careful about what you read about “Breaking Bad” re: the eight new episodes, there are bound to be spoilers everywhere online once it starts unveiling its’ tightly guarded secrets which start unspooling tonight at nine.

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