Tag Archives: Aaron Paul

Eye in the Sky

WELCOME TO THE NEW FRONT LINE.

eyeintheskyAs a group of terrorists are clearly preparing for a suicide bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, a multinational group of military officers, politicians and lawyers argue over whether to send a drone-guided missile their way. After breaking through with Tsotsi (2005), director Gavin Hood had trouble finding his place in Hollywood, but this British thriller is a step forward. Its concept raises familiar questions regarding the moral and practical difficulties of waging war from behind a desk, through drones. Almost built like a play, the film is well-acted and moves skilfully between its settings, building terrific tension while we in the audience ponder challenging arguments.

2016-Britain. 102 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Ged Doherty, Colin Firth, David Lancaster. Directed by Gavin Hood. Screenplay: Guy Hibbert. Cast: Helen Mirren (Katherine Powell), Aaron Paul (Steve Watts), Alan Rickman (Frank Benson), Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen.

Trivia: Rickman’s final live-action film. Oliver Hirschbiegel and Tarsem Singh were allegedly considered for directing duties.

Last word: “Alan has the ability to play just absolute emotional truth and yet with real humor and never taking it to the slapstick level. We talked about that. It’s very awkward for me in a sense, that this is his last film, because I wish he were here to talk to you about the film. He was a highly intelligent man, an extremely kind man, and he had a lot to say on this subject.” (Hood, Huffington Post)

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Central Intelligence

SAVING THE WORLD TAKES A LITTLE HART AND A BIG JOHNSON.

centralintelligenceTwenty years after graduating from high school, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is contacted on Facebook by a guy who was spectacularly humiliated by bullies – and he turns out to have changed a lot. An action-comedy that benefits from Dwayne Johnson’s enthusiastic performance as a once-fat kid who’s now become a tower of a man but maintained his goofiness. The film has high spirits, but no star chemistry in the world is powerful enough to carry a story that’s so thin and contrived, has so few laughs and no tension whatsoever. 

2016-U.S. 107 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Cast: Dwayne Johnson (Bob Stone), Kevin Hart (Calvin Joyner), Amy Ryan (Pamela Harris), Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet, Ryan Hansen. Cameos: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy.

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Need for Speed

needforspeedAfter serving time for involuntary manslaughter, former race car driver Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is released on parole and sets out to avenge the death of a close friend. This 3D adaptation of a popular series of video games is a chance for Breaking Bad star Paul to show us that he can carry a movie, and he’s not bad at all. But he and everybody else is struggling with a generally uninteresting story and cardboard characters. May amuse Fast and Furious fans on a shallow level though, because the director (a former stunt driver) brings adrenaline to the car chases.

2014-U.S. 132 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Scott Waugh. Cast: Aaron Paul (Tobey Marshall), Dominic Cooper (Dino Brewster), Imogen Poots (Julia Maddon), Michael Keaton, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Rami Malek.

Trivia: Taylor Kitsch and Liam Hemsworth were allegedly considered for the lead.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings

ONCE BROTHERS, NOW ENEMIES. 

exodusMoses (Christian Bale) is raised by the Pharaoh of Egypt (John Turturro) together with his son Rhamses (Joel Edgerton), but when the truth about Moses’s heritage emerges, everything changes… Ridley Scott returns to epics, a genre he commands well, this time inspired by a biblical story rather than Roman or Medieval adventures. Everybody knows the events of this particular tale well (not least from The Ten Commandments (1956)) and there are few novel touches in the script. However, Scott gives it his bombastic best and knows how to make it compelling, aided by a smorgasbord of visual effects in 3D and muscular lead performances.

2014-U.S.-Britain-Spain. 150 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Ridley Scott. Cast: Christian Bale (Moses), Joel Edgerton (Rhamses), Aaron Paul (Joshua), John Turturro, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver… Ben Mendelsohn.

Trivia: Oscar Isaac and Javier Bardem were allegedly considered for the part of Rhamses.

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My Emmy Predictions 2014

In the clip above, Uzo Aduba faces the press after winning her Outstanding Guest Actress Emmy for Orange is the New Black at the Creative Arts Emmys last night. In those Guest Actor categories, Jimmy Fallon also won the male equivalent for a comedy series for hosting Saturday Night Live. In the drama category, Allison Janney (very deservedly) won Outstanding Guest Actress for Masters of Sex and Joe Morton Guest Actor for Scandal.

The Creative Arts Emmys is an appetizer. Next Sunday is the primetime Emmys, which will be hosted by Seth Meyers, a very promising choice. The clip above is an amusing NBC ad for the show.

OK, time to pick the winners next Monday:

* DRAMA:

Drama Series: Breaking Bad. Yes, in spite of True Detective.

Directing: True Detective.

Writing: Breaking Bad. This show maintained its brilliance throughout, while True Detective delivered a less than satisfactory finale.

Actress: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife. This was a very strong season and voters are going to reward Margulies for that.

Actor: Matthew McConaughey, True Detective. He will face the mighty Bryan Cranston, but last season really was McConaughey’s year.

Supporting Actor: Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad will go up against Josh Charles of The Good Wife. The former is likely to win, even if the latter puts up a good fight considering the shock from last season involving his character.

Supporting Actress: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad.

* COMEDY:

Comedy Series: Orange is the New Black. I don’t think it quite deserves to win, but I do believe in it as an Emmy winner. This could be the year when Modern Family loses its spell.

Directing: Orange is the New Black.

Writing: Louie. I don’t think this show will win the Comedy Series or Directing awards, but it looks like an obvious win here for Louis C.K. The nominated episode, “So Did the Fat Lady”, was one of the most talked about this spring.

Actress: No one can stop the mighty Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep).

Actor: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory. In the world of the Emmys, always go with the safe choice. This is a tough category to predict because Louis C.K. might be a winner. And let’s not forget William H. Macy for Shameful. But I’ve already gone out on a limb by predicting Orange is the New Black as Outstanding Comedy Series so let’s not go crazy.

Supporting Actor: Tony Hale was hilarious on Veep, but it looks like Andre Braugher could win for Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Supporting Actress: Kate Mulgrew is the best thing on Orange is the New Black, but the award looks certain to go to Allison Janney for Mom.

* TV MOVIE/MINISERIES:

Miniseries: Fargo.

TV Movie: The Normal Heart.

Directing: Ryan Murphy, The Normal Heart.

Writing: Fargo deserves to win, but The Normal Heart seems to be the winner.

Actress: Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful.

Actor: Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo. Biggest contender: Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart.

Supporting Actor: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart.

Supporting Actress: Allison Tolman, Fargo.

A final note: There is absolutely no logic as to why Fargo is a miniseries according to the Emmys, but True Detective is not. Both feature stories that had a clear ending and both are returning for a season 2 that will feature a new story and cast. But I guess it mirrors the confusion surrounding this new world of television.

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Winners at Next Sunday’s Golden Globes

In the clip above, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hosts of next Sunday’s Golden Globe awards are having a little fun. “Ten seconds or less why the Golden Globes are the best awards show… hmmm… gimme a minute…” Looks promising. The time has come for some predictions.

FILM:

In the Drama categories, 12 Years a Slave looks like a winner, but Alfonso Cuarón is likely to win an award for his direction of Gravity; so will also Steven Price for his score. Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) are up for a duel, but Cate Blanchett will win her category for Blue Jasmine. Best Supporting Actor looks like a shoo-in for Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club; Supporting Actress might turn into a fight between Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave).

In the Comedy/Musical categories, American Hustle will win Best Motion Picture. Bruce Dern looks set to be rewarded for his work in Nebraska, but will face a challenge from Leonardo DiCaprio who’s simply outstanding in The Wolf of Wall Street. Amy Adams will likely win a Golden Globe for American Hustle. The Screenplay category will probably also go American Hustle’s way.

Best Song might go to Frozen (“Let It Go”, performed by Idina Menzel), and that movie will also win Animated Feature. The Foreign Language Film category belongs to Cannes favorite Blue is the Warmest Color.

TV:

I believe that Breaking Bad will win Best Drama Series; Bryan Cranston will also take Best Actor and Aaron Paul might win Supporting Actor. Kerry Washington looks set to snatch a Golden Globe for Scandal.

In the Comedy category, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brooklyn Nine-Nine pulls off an upset. The acting categories are more predictable, with Michael J. Fox slated to win for The Michael J. Fox Show and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep. The Supporting Actress category is also predicted to go to Sofia Vergara for Modern Family.

As for TV movies and miniseries, Behind the Candelabra will win, along with Michael Douglas in the Best Actor category. Best Actress however looks like a duel between Helena Bonham Carter in Burton and Taylor and Jessica Lange in American Horror Story: Coven.

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Breaking Bad: Journey to Damnation

 

breakingbadOn several occasions, Vince Gilligan pointed out that Breaking Bad could never have existed without The X-Files (1993-2002). The sci-fi show may not be discussed among critics with an equal amount of enthusiasm, but that’s where Gilligan cut his teeth. Not only as a writer, but also as a show runner; it takes one set of skills to put together a functioning script, and quite another to run a whole TV series. Unlike the people who were in charge of Dexter, which ended just a week prior to Breaking Bad, Gilligan made sure to guide the story of Walter White from beginning to end in a way that remained honest to the character.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a high-school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who’s married to Skyler (Anna Gunn). She’s pregnant and they also have a teenaged son, Walter, Jr. (RJ Mitte), who has cerebral palsy. Walter’s mundane but comfortable life changes when he finds out that he has stage-three lung cancer and is unlikely to recover. That’s when he makes the radical decision to use his knowledge in chemistry and start cooking methamphetamine. He also enlists one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), as his connection to the drug market. They make unlikely business partners, but Walter turns out to be really good at cooking meth and teaches Jesse how to do it; the former intends to use his share of the profits to make sure that his family is comfortable when he succumbs to the cancer. But his brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), is bound to hear of this new drug kingpin sooner or later…

Humor, tension and absurdity
“Breaking bad” is Southern slang, meaning to to veer off the straight and narrow path. That’s what Walter does already in the first season, and it’s downhill from there. I have a friend at work who’s trying to catch up but finds the show depressing. I do object against movies and shows that wallow too much in misery and forget to reward their audience, but Breaking Bad never failed. One of its best-written episodes was one of the very last where everything seemed to unravel and it was just heartbreaking to behold… but still utterly compelling. The show always had a sense of humor as well as a high amount of tension – and absurdity. The writers relished every opportunity to shock their audience with memorably icky or violent set-pieces, from the liquefied human remains in the bathtub crashing through a ceiling in the first season to Walter’s ingenious machine-gun attack in the series finale. Still, nothing could beat the awesome bombing that targeted mild-mannered fast-food entrepreneur and drug lord Gus Fring (beautifully played by Giancarlo Esposito) in the season four finale. However, what made Breaking Bad truly memorable was not audacious gross-out gags like that, but the hard-hitting and fully realistic portrayal of a family falling apart – not fast, but slowly, as Walter’s business intriguingly changed the dynamic between him and Skyler. The tense and often hurtful father-son relationship between Walter and Jesse also provided much of the show’s lifeblood.

The actors really emphasized the heartbreak. Cranston got his definitive breakthrough as a man who journeys from obscurity to prominence but loses almost all of his decency in the process. The same goes for Paul as Jesse, whose experiences are similar but much more painful. Some die-hard fans who harbored a weird love for Walter in spite of his crimes hated Skyler, but Gunn made her so much more than simply a supporting wife character. Other standouts included Norris and Bob Odenkirk, very funny as Walter’s ambulance-chasing attorney. 

Breaking Bad 2008-2013:U.S. Made for TV. 62 episodes. Color. Created by Vince Gilligan. Cast: Bryan Cranston (Walter White), Anna Gunn (Skyler White), Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman), Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk (09-13), Jonathan Banks (09-12), Giancarlo Esposito (09-11).

Trivia: Remade as a TV series called Metástasis (2013- ) in Colombia. Followed by a spin-off series, Better Call Saul (2015- ).

Emmys: Outstanding Drama Series 12-13, 13-14; Writing 13-14; Actor (Cranston) 07-08, 08-09, 09-10, 13-14; Supporting Actor (Paul) 09-10, 11-12, 13-14; Supporting Actress (Gunn) 12-13, 13-14. Golden Globes: Best Drama Series 13, Actor (Cranston) 13.

Last word: “We had an episode where Walt is giving a pep talk to Hank after Hank sees a head blow up on a tortoise. He tells Hank that, ‘I used to be scared of everything. My whole first 50 years of life. Everything scared me. I’d lay awake at night wondering what might happen, what could happen. Until I got my cancer diagnosis, and then I slept like a baby.’ I didn’t really realize it until that episode, but that’s really what has drawn me to this character. I’m not Heisenberg [Walter’s drug-lord alias]. I’m more Walter White.” (Gilligan, L.A. Times)

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The Emmy Race Right Now

Behind the Candelabra ruled last night at the Creative Arts Emmys, scoring eight awards. Bob Newhart, Melissa Leo, Carrie Preston and Dan Bucatinsky picked up guest acting Emmys for their appearances on The Big Bang ShowLouieThe Good Wife and Scandal. Neil Patrick Harris, who did such a good job of hosting the Tony Awards, received an Emmy for that. But this is all obviously a warm-up to the primetime Emmys next Sunday. How’s the race looking now?

Most experts seem to predict a win for Breaking Bad in the Drama Series category, but Comedy Series should belong to either Modern Family or Louie. The former is a perennial Emmy favorite, but the time has come for fresh blood. Even though Louis C.K. is far from that, this is still the Emmys and he might be considered safe enough now to qualify for this prestigious win. Drama Actress will go to either Vera Farmiga of Bates Motel or Claire Danes of Homeland; I’m rooting for Farmiga. Comedy Actress seems to belong to Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Veep, once again. Drama Actor has Damian Lewis of Homeland written all over it; Comedy Actor should go to Louis C.K. for Louie, but Jim Parsons may put up a fight for The Big Bang Theory. 

Other likely winners: Jane Krakowski could get a Supporting Comedy Actress nod for 30 Rock, Ty Burrell may win for Modern Family and Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad looks like a lock for Supporting Drama Actress. As for Supporting Drama Actor, the race is down to Mandy Patinkin of Homeland and either Aaron Paul or Jonathan Banks for Breaking Bad. I’m kind of rooting for Banks, a perennial supporting actor on TV that everyone recognizes; he deserves an award for his work on this brilliant show. 

Hell will freeze over if Behind the Candelabra and Michael Douglas fail to win Miniseries or TV Movie and Actor. James Cromwell and Sarah Paulson are also likely to win Supporting Actor/Actress nods for American Horror Story. The race for Miniseries/TV Movie Actress is down to Jessica Lange for American Horror Story and Elisabeth Moss for Top of the Lake

So, the actual show is next Sunday. In the clip above, Harris talks about hosting it and his life-long relationship with television. His secret asset: Lip balm. May he not lose it. It could be his path to another Emmy. 

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Mad Men and Girls Deserve the Top Emmys

 

The Emmy nominations were announced last week, with help from Kerry Washington and Jimmy Kimmel, two ABC personalities as the show will air on that network this year September 23. A few observations:

  • I’m glad to see Girls get recognized as much as it was. Lena Dunham, the show’s creator and star, was very excited and told EW: “I wish I didn’t have so many visions of, like, myself talking to Joan Rivers. Or making someone who didn’t want to hook up with me in college cry.”
  • I’m a huge fan of Modern Family, but last season was not its strongest and perhaps this is a year when Girls should win.
  • Emmy really, really likes Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Her nomination for Veep is her 13th (the others are for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine). I don’t think she’ll win, but she’s a trooper.
  • Emmy’s sycophantic tendencies are a little embarrassing at times. Yes, we know that Margaret Cho can easily turn herself into Kim Jong-Il, not least because she’s Korean-American. But that doesn’t automatically make her brief appearance on 30 Rock Emmy-worthy.
  • Hugh Laurie did not get a final nod for House, which is a shame because at some point he should have won an Emmy.
  • I love Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones. I adore Jared Harris in Mad Men. I admire Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad. But the Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmy this year belongs to Giancarlo Esposito in Breaking Bad who went out with a bang.
  • I’m very pleased to see so many actors (and the show itself) get as many Emmy nominations as the second season of Downton Abbey did. But that doesn’t automatically mean that I think it deserves to win that many Emmys this year.
  • The Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Emmy this year belongs to Claire Danes in Homeland. No question about it.
  • Right now, I believe that Mad Men and Girls will win the top awards.
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K-PAX

CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD.

kpaxThere was at least one critic who spotted the similarities between this film and that of a typical Robin Williams flick at the time of its release. It’s easy to imagine him as the super-intelligent, friendly man who claims to be an extra-terrestrial and whose presence on a psych ward has a positive effect on the other patients. Kevin Spacey handles the part well, the film is pretty to look at, but it’s too protracted and the passion that sometimes is evident onscreen won’t have an effect on many viewers – when it suddenly does stir me it’s just too late.

2001-U.S. 120 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Iain Softley. Cast: Kevin Spacey (Prot), Jeff Bridges (Mark Powell), Mary McCormack (Rachel Powell), Alfre Woodard, David Patrick Kelly, Saul Williams… Aaron Paul.

Trivia: Will Smith allegedly pulled out of playing the part of Prot.

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