He can do comedy and he can do action. That’s more than a lot of actors. Dwayne Johnson didn’t sink Baywatch, Zac Efron did. Zac Efron is not reliable in comedies. Dwayne Johnson became a popular wrestler because he excelled with comedy. But Hollywood decided he could only do comedy if he did the standard action-star-fish-out-of-water comedy. But it’s been getting better.
He did years of awful comedies already though. He’s good at action and action-comedies.
Does anyone else have trouble with lips matching up with Amazon Prime video?
Happened to me a couple of times. If I exited the video and then resumed play it usually fixed it.
Yeah, honestly that happens to me on every streaming service.
I’ll eschew my usual short “it’s great” post about Better Call Saul for something a bit longer this week, because I really like what this show is doing with its key relationships, and I think it’s worth talking about.
We’ve always known where Jimmy is headed in terms of becoming Saul Goodman, and this week’s episode continues down that path, building on all the incremental character growth we’ve seen so far (if you can call it ‘growth’ when it’s actually regression) and giving us a final scene that definitely moves him closer to becoming that other person from Breaking Bad.
But it’s the stuff with Kim that’s really working for me this season. She’s always been great in this show, but the latest episodes have taken her character to a new level.
We know from Breaking Bad that it’s pretty unlikely that she’s part of Jimmy’s life in the future (short of some kind of forced reveal that wouldn’t really work given what we know of Saul Goodman). And I think a lot of people assumed that there would be some kind of blow-up, some sort of single catalyst that would lead them to split up due to Jimmy’s slide into criminality.
So it’s a nice surprise to be wrong about that, and to see from this latest episode (maybe more than any other) that their relationship actually seems to be ending in a way that’s unremarkable in real-life but actually quite rare for contrived dramas - with them gradually growing apart from each other as their lives start to take different, and incompatible, directions.
The two moments in this episode where they each tell each other “you’ve got to do what’s best for you” feel like they’re an acknowledgement that they’re letting the relationship go, and the restaurant scene where Kim effectively tells Jimmy that she’s killing his dream of Wexler McGill is utterly heartbreaking, and they both act it so well.
So rather than Jimmy’s moral downfall prompting his split with Kim, it seems like their breakup is actually going to be yet another factor among many that combines to help drive him to become Saul Goodman.
And the thing is - to some degree, you’re actually behind it. You get why she’s doing what she’s doing, and on some level you’re actively rooting for it, regardless of the damage it will do to Jimmy, because it’s what she needs and what she deserves.
And this episode’s cold-open - with the return of Chuck and the insight into what drove Jimmy into the law in the first place ties in so nicely with what we know of the Kim-Jimmy storyline, making explicit something that has only been implied in the past (in that we understand that Kim’s love and admiration for the law and her love for Jimmy are two separate things that co-exist and ultimately compete, leading her to make the decision that she does in this episode - whereas Jimmy’s interest in the law is directly connected to and grows out of his love for Kim, and the two come together as a package), which makes it all the more heartbreaking.
It’s not perfect - some of the Gus and Mike stuff feels a little forced (it seems to be there largely just to fill in the gaps between this show and Breaking Bad, and spins its wheels without much of a connection to the Jimmy storylines), and I miss Chuck’s presence on the show (even if I understand why he probably had to go). And Nacho’s absence from the last couple of episodes has really been felt, as there’s a sense of drama and unpredictability to his storyline that isn’t true for a lot of other characters, because we already know key details of their future.
What I love most about this show, though, is that all the careful groundwork that has been done to get us to this point means that every character’s motivation makes perfect sense from their own perspective - even for minor supporting characters like Howard (who gets a great moment this episode). There’s a rock-solid character basis for everything that’s happening in this show now, and everyone who sat through the comparatively slow early episodes has been rewarded with a drama that really works - with very little sense of artificiality and contrivance - because of that.
It’s a real achievement and I think it’s at the stage now where it’s genuinely challenging Breaking Bad as the better show. BB had more spectacle, more action and was more of a crime drama, so will probably always be more popular.
But BCS is so rewarding for those who have stuck with it, as it has really taken advantage of the long-form nature of a multi-season TV series to tell the epic story of a personal tragedy in slow-motion.
Amazon’s quality is all over the map.
The other night I watched the Rodney Dangerfield/Joe Pesci comedy Easy Money, classic of the 1980s gas station spinner rack, and it was in pristine HD.
I have seen more recent movies in which they look like a beat-up VHS that’s been played 800 times.
Great write up. I’m of a different mindset though, I don’t like the Kim storyline. I found her decision to be out of character, something the writers needed to force in to start splitting her and Jimmy up. I’d much rather watch Mike do anything, Gus quietly contain his rage or Jimmy pull a fast one.
My favorite moment was Jimmy and Howard. “There you go, use that.”
That was a cracking scene all round.
Interesting take on Kim. I feel like it all works given the way they’ve had her start to see glimpses of the ‘real’ Jimmy again after Chuck’s death, which is sowing enough doubt to make her decide to not put all her eggs in his basket. But I can see where you’re coming from on it.
Gus’ big scene didn’t quite work for me this episode, maybe because there was a lack of that containment that you mention.
Also: how the hell did Mike vet his guys so fast? We know he’s thorough, so I assumed we’d get at least a couple of episodes of just that. The secret lab subplot is really racing forwards - interesting that the planned finish date seems to coincide with when Jimmy gets his law licence back too…
Watched Heat last night. But Heat, not Michael Mann’s Heat, but Burt Reynolds one. Good, I swear, this is so trashy good film. The remake with Jason Statham is fairly standard for any Statham’s film. But I just can’t think of these as serious film, even if filmmakers tried doing it so. I mean, look at the scene:
I went to see The Predator tonight and I’m delighted and surprised to say it was utterly fantastic.
It acknowledges what has gone on before and taken the elements that work for this script and just run with it. The plot and drama had my complete attention throughout and a lot of time and effort is made in building up the characters.
The cast are amazing, they’ve amassed a perfect rag tag group who are perfect for the dialogue, which all feels really natural and witty.
You can tell they all had a blast making this movie and some of the lines are a match for the one liners of the original.
It can’t have been easy putting this project together and I have to say Shane Black deserved enourmous credit for the script and the direction. It’s dripping with atmosphere at times and I’ve no idea what the run time was, I never checked before hand and I was enjoying myself so much that I couldn’t even make a guess at it.
This is pretty much to Predator what Stranger Things is to the Amblin era movies, that’s the level of quality here.
I feel like they’ve suddenly remembered how to make good action movies again - I hope the other studios take note. Especially the Terminator reboot when it arrives next year.
That’s what I want from it.
I do also want the other stuff, like the plot and the drama. The headlines on the reviews suggest they are lacking, but clearly mileage varies and I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.
I feel it was a good addition, the only thing I felt was missing was a little bit of horror or suspense - although there were a few moments. I do feel like the concern for the safety of the characters helped bridge that gap a bit though.
Eh… how is everyone feeling about Castle Rock?
I just finished thge 10th ep, and honestly I thought it was severly underwhelming… =/
So at the weekend I got around to watching The Patriot Game, Arthur McCaig’s first documentary about Northern Ireland. As I noted upthread, McCaig was the father of a cousin of mine, who is also a filmmaker and has recently made a documentary about their estranged relationship.
And it’s an interesting watch. Produced in 1979 for French TV, the film begins with a synopsis of Irish history from the start of the 20th century through 1968 or so, and delves into far more detail of the decade between then and the film’s production date. It’s a mix of archive footage, news broadcasts and shots taken by McCaig and a second cameraman. As one might expect for the date and subject matter, it’s clearly low budget, the whole thing is shot in high-contrast black and white, with title cards that look to be assembled with a letraset or negative exposures of typed cards, and diagrams and political cartoons that look to have been held in front of a camera to get onto film. This DIY aesthetic does help to give the film a level of authenticity, though.
It’s worth noting that McCaig is not in any way setting out to make a balanced documentary here. He clearly favours the Republicans - the narration refers to the pre-Troubles Catholic activists as a civil rights movement (which isn’t entirely inaccurate but maybe simplistic when looked at in the greater context), and frames the increasing violence as an outcropping of the need to defend civil rights activists from Unionist paramilitary and police violence.
As the film progresses, it becomes more of a montage, and this is where the film’s true power lies. The footage moves from statements from public figures - British politicians, police officers, TV ads, and so on, though vox pop like segments where people on the street are asked their opinions (generally pro-IRA), and then moments of violence - the police or military breaking up protestors/riots, brutal arrests, a car bombing in one case. These moments are often presaged with the use of Irish music including acts like Horslips, Thin Lizzy and Christy Moore, which drops away as the intensity of the violence increases, leaving only the chaos and noise of the street scene. Even if you disagree with McCaig’s framing of the conflict, these scenes are worth watching as a testimony to what took place.
These sections keep returning to an interview with an IRA member, and his closing moments have him talking about a blueprint for a anarcho-syndicalist/socialist republic. For me, this is the greatest tragedy of the conflict. The core of 20th Century revolutionary Ireland was a worker’s rights and human rights movement, but it was sidelined and then violently purged by more traditionalist elements during the Civil War. Similarly, this fell away from the IRA to the point that it was little more than a criminal gang by the 90s. Meanwhile we’re facing a housing crisis which saw anonymous police escort unidentified men, all in balaclavas to violently break up a protest which occupied a property who’s landlord has left vacant for three years waiting for the value to rise rather than rent it out. We literally fought a war when the British did this to us in the 19th and 20th centuries.
If BCS has a major fault, I’d say that its character arcs too closely mirror those of BB.
Kim reminds me of young Walter, when he bailed on Gray Matter, where there seems to be a fear of success.
And Mike also mirrors Walter’s “break bad” where he’s getting involved in criminal activity to help his family.
So far, my favorite part of the show is the stuff going on in the Hector-Nacho-Gus axis.
Nacho is a really fascinating character, where he’s basically a low-level thug who’s trying to do the right thing for his family, but keeps getting pulled in deeper and deeper. Most people assume he won’t survive the series, but I suspect that he might end up being Ed’s first client.
Likewise, I find Chuck and his dynamic with Jimmy quite fascinating, too. Chuck is disliked for being kind of horrible to his brother, but his assessment of Jimmy is not wrong. Jimmy is the kind of person who brings down everyone around him. But at the same time, Chuck maneuvering against Jimmy also brought out the worst in his brother.
I also think Chuck resented Jimmy on a more personal level. Chuck is respected and held in high esteem, and people seem to fear him, but nobody really likes him, whereas Jimmy just oozes this easy charm and charisma that people are drawn to. Even Chuck’s wife seemed more comfortable around Jimmy than her own husband. It makes me think that this what caused Chuck’s mental problems, where he forced his own isolation in his own home.
Considering Disney will own the franchise in a few more months I’d enjoy this one while you can. You might never see another Predator movie in the cinema.
I still don’t get why Mike is working for Gus. He can’t need much money, he can’t really justify working for a major drug dealer just to pay his granddaughters college fund (echos of Walter) so why lost the last of his morality and work for Gus? Being a partner for Jimmy made sense, this Mike is just a little out there.
I agree about Nacho, best character in the series, but he’s been used so little this season I forgot all about him.
The Castle Rock season finale was the last episode of Castle Rock this season. It was also the latest episode of Castle Rock to date. It was a television episode of a television series.
There really wasn’t much to it, though. The previous episode opened the entire world of the series up and this one literally put it back in a cage in a dark room. In some ways, it felt like a very slow and serious take on JOHN DIES AT THE END. Pretty disappointing considering the two episodes before it really were an improvement.
One thing I remember about Predator films (the latter were true abominations), and certainly original, was that it’s very far from traditional horror film. It had some suspense and that’s all. Kinda scary was when Predator removed his helmet but it was in brief instant.
I plan for some time to go watch it. But won’t bother if there is no Long Tall Sally and “You are one big mother*****r”