Sunday, September 29, 2013

Farewell to the Greatest TV Show - Breaking Bad

Hands down, Breaking Bad is my favorite TV show.  Tonight is the series finale... and I'm not sure if I'll be able to contain my emotions after it's over.

If you look at my taste in TV shows (The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter), I'm a huge sucker for Crime Dramas.  But if you really dig deep into the inner workings of Breaking Bad, it does things to set it apart from other shows.  For one thing, the cast is superb (Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Aaron Paul to name a few).  Second, it mixes real science with its plot (feeding my Engineering mind).  And finally, although I'm sure I could list many more reasons, Breaking Bad makes "cinematic homages" to some of my favorite movies.  As I've mentioned in the past (See Here), Breaking Bad is like a Tarantino screenplay mixed with the quirkiness of a Coen Brothers' film.  If it were up to me, Breaking Bad would be a part of Tarantino Comics - and I'm certain creator Vince Gilligan would agree.  For instance, as seen in the penultimate episode of the series, we see Robert Forster as the "extractor."  With the charisma of Jackie Brown's Max Cherry, Breaking Bad commands performances on par with Tarantino.

Also following suit with Tarantino, Vince Gilligan obtains inspiration from Brian DePalma.  Vince compares Walter White's transformation with Scarface.  Giving honor to the correlation, Scarface actors Mark Margolis and Steven Bauer are featured as Cartel members loathed by Gus Fring.  Even if these actors were merely used to make great homage to Hollywood history, their performances were spot on.  Not only will I miss how these little morsels enhance the plot of Breaking Bad, but the characterizations and star power this show lured was fantastic.

Since we're talking about Tarantino, we might as well fit in a comic book connection.  The creators of Breaking Bad wanted to make Walt comparable with Ozymandias.  Ozymandias is the subject of a poem in which a great ruler whose entire empire later fell into forgotten rubble and ruins.  The final season actually has a promo of Walt reading this sonnet.  In a very similar manner, Alan Moore's Watchmen has a character of the same name who pulled all the strings throughout the series.  Although Ozymandias had a fa├žade of philanthropy and goodness, he was the evil mastermind who planned on restarting the world by destroying it first.

Besides all the connections to pop culture, Breaking Bad created a protagonist I truly love.  If you watch the earlier seasons, Bryan Cranston plays a brilliant and likable character.  But because of his pride, Walt eventually "breaks bad" and becomes a pure criminal relying on impulse rather than scientific method.  Like another AMC character (Don Draper of Mad Men), Walt eventually hits rock bottom. Although he cannot right all his wrongs, I hope he builds himself up for one more justifiable action in the series finale.  I know Walt lost his family, but I hope he can redeem himself by saving Jessie even if it means his own demise.  Regardless, I'm rooting for Team Walt!

Over the last two years, I'm glad Breaking Bad has gained a huge cult following.  However, I get to brag since I'm one of the lucky ones who enjoyed the show from the very beginning.  I hear of all these people watching multiple seasons in 1 or 2 sittings...  And I don't blame them, I totally understand why!  However, I loyally sat down in front of my TV and watched Breaking Bad in real time for the last 61 Sundays it has aired.  I experienced the pain of weekly cliffhangers, not 1 minute bathroom breaks.  However, I will never forget the sadness and yearning I felt after Jessie pulled the trigger on Gale at the end of Season 3 - I had to wait months to see the outcome.

So those of us who gave silly "Hal from Malcolm in the Middle"a chance from the very beginning, tonight's finale is for us.  Although "All Bad Things Must Come to an End," Sunday night will be a night to remember.  And most of all, thank you to the cast and crew for making a sensation that has entertained us for the last few years!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Criterion Collection - July 2013 Barnes and Noble Sale Part 4

Here's the last batch of Criterion Collection films I picked up at the Barnes and Noble in Winter Garden (I know, I've waited so long to write that it's going to be the November sale before we know it):
  • The Seventh Seal - I know very little of Ingmar Bergman, however the premise seems very enticing (a knight playing a fateful game of Chess against Death).  Plus, Monty Python mockingly mentions it in their trailer for the Holy Grail.
  • The Battle of Algiers - Filmed in a documentary style, this jammed packed edition tells a story about one of the most bloodiest revolutions in modern history.
  • Purple Noon - Also known as the original "Talented Mr. Ripley," this movie is filled with nail-biting suspense... 
  • The Last Days of Disco - I love when Criterion throws in "modern" films to their collection.  Featuring an awesome soundtrack and a young Kate Beckinsale, I'm excited to sit back and enjoy this movie.
  • Charade - A suspenseful mystery starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, this romantic thriller was not filmed by Hitchcock, but the great Stanley Donen
  • The Devil's Backbone - Part of Guillermo del Toro's Apocalyptic Vampire Trilogy, this eerie movie takes place during the Spanish Civil war.  With some light-hearted child moments sprinkled throughout this film, this movie is truly powerful, yet terrifying.
I love Criterion, but I'm ready to talk about some new things.  Stay tuned as I'm excited to share my new love for Disney Blu-rays and Shout Factory releases!