The nominations for the 67th annual Primetime Emmys were announced …
It should be no surprise at this point that Better Call Saul is building a pretty impressive following from its AMC audience. The shows quality has been shining like a beacon from the opening moments of its very first episode. What is surprising, though, is how it continues to reveal so many layers to a character who, while always entertaining in his original iteration, never really seemed all that complex.
After a solid opening hour, Better Call Saul continues to up the ante with an even more promising follow-up.The beginning section, one of the episodes strong points, features a decidedly downplayed Tuco Salamanca (at least compared to the Scarface-like caricature that we’re used to from Breaking Bad). Strangely, the quieter, more subdued Tuco is actually far more menacing than the psycho drugged-up version. His intense close-ups and lean-ins add a brutal new dimension to this character, while his rage-fueled response to a trespass against his grandmother is strongly reminiscent of a certain key S3 scene from BB, in which Tuco’s uncle firmly intones that “family is all!”
The new film Need for Speed does not deserve its lead actor, as he proves in a number of the dramatic moments. Even those audience members not familiar with Aaron Paul’s outstanding work on the AMC drama Breaking Bad would likely notice the straining-at-the-seams emotional style he brings to his character here, which is somewhat unexpected in a movie that essentially wants to kickstart its own The Fast and the Furious-esque franchise. Those movies, like Need for Speed, boast plenty of pedal-to-the-metal street racing, outrageous stunts, beautiful women, more racing, more stunts, and so on. Need for Speed, however, tries too hard to be a real, grounded story of revenge and hate, too often tippling over into melodrama.
One of the most shocking moments of the new documentary Narco Cultura comes near the end, as one of the musicians who profits from the most heinous and violent acts committed by Mexican drug cartels deliberately misquotes a memorable line from Brian de Palma’s Scarface: “First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the bitches.”
Revolution begins its second season in far more promising fashion than it ended its first. As the power ticked back on, the show’s central conceit seemed to evaporate. Thankfully, if we can take Aaron’s word for it, the power is now off for good, and the show is all the stronger for it. This was a completely necessary reset for the show: the Monroe Republic is no more, there’s no grand desire among the core group to restore power, and everyone’s getting back to pre-Surge reality without helicopters and armored cars causing carnage. Monroe’s a bare-knuckle boxer, Charlie seems to be finding herself, the Nevilles are searching for Julia, and everyone else is camped up in a remote Texas stronghold. It’s almost as if the first season never happened, other than the relationships forged between the cast. We hear nothing of the late Danny, for instance.
Breaking Bad is not a series generally noted for its lightness of tone, but Vince Gilligan and his collaborators have always managed to wring humor and quirk out of what would seem to be a hopelessly grim set of story beats. That’s what makes “Granite State,” the series’ super-sized penultimate episode, so hard to watch. Save for a few passing moments of sewer-downhill-from-the-gallows “humour,” “Granite State” is a relentlessly bleak hour of TV, wherein even the glimpses of “hope” are really just (in all likelihood) presaging more carnage.