Scenes I Love: Robert Forster in El Camino


Today, I’m taking a break from sharing horror movie scenes that I can pay tribute to the great actor, Robert Forster.

Forster passed away on Friday, shortly after his final film — El Camino — dropped on Netflix.  Forster had a small but pivotal role in the film, reprising the Breaking Bad character of Ed.  Ed may look like a vacuum cleaner repairman but he’s actually the guy you want to see if you need to start a new life far away from New Mexico.

Admittedly, Forster doesn’t say a lot in the scene below.  Aaron Paul’s the one who does most of the talking but then again, Forster wasn’t an actor who needed a lot of lines to make an impression.  Forster excelled at playing down-to-Earth men who may not have said much but who still meant every word that they said.  Forster does so much with just his eyes and his taciturn expression here.  And when he does speak, the lines are killer.

Obviously, this scene is going to count as a spoiler if you haven’t seen El Camino yet.

Robert Forster, R.I.P.  He was one of the greats.

 

The Things You Find On Netflix: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (dir by Vince Gilligan)


As one might expect from the sequel film to Breaking Bad, the shadow of Walter White hangs over very minute of El Camino.

Physically, Bryan Cranston doesn’t have a large role in El Camino.  Like many of the characters from Breaking Bad, he appears only in a flashback.  Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) spends a good deal of this movie dwelling on the past, perhaps because the only way that he can have a future is by mentally forgiving himself for all the stuff that went on while he was cooking meth with Walter White and, later, for the Nazi bikers who kept him chained up in a cage like an animal.  So, it makes sense that we would see a lot of flashbacks, the majority featuring characters who are no longer alive.  Cranston’s Walter White only appears towards the end of the film, when Jesse remembers the conversation they had at a diner about what Jesse was going to do with the money that they were making.  It’s a bit jarring to see them, largely because Walter still looks like an earnest and frail science teacher while Jesse is still young, loud, and more than a little obnoxious.  It’s quite a contrast to what we know will eventually happen to both characters.

For obvious reasons, Walter White isn’t in much of El Camino but his ghost seems to following Jesse through the entire movie. For that matter, so does the ghost of Tod Alquist (Jesse Plemons).  It’s not just that a good deal of the movie deals with Jesse trying to figure out where Tod hid all of his money.  (Jesse is planning on using the money to hopefully escape New Mexico and start a new life in Alaska.)  It’s also that Jesse has been scarred, both physically and mentally, by the Hellish time that he spent as Tod’s …. well, Tod’s pet.  Tod treated Jesse like a dog, keeping him on a leash, punishing him for being “bad,” and then offering Jesse pizza as a reward whenever Jesse did something right.  To be honest, the flashbacks with Tod take some getting used to, largely because Plemons has obviously aged quite a bit between the finale of Breaking Bad and the shooting of El Camino.  But, still, Plemons is absolutely terrifying as the unfailingly polite but definitely sociopathic Tod.  At one point, Tod casually brings Jesse over to his apartment so that Jesse can help dispose of the body of his cleaning lady.  Tod murdered her because she came across some money that he was hiding in a hollowed-out book.  Tod shrugs as he tells the story of her murder, as if his actions are as commonplace as waking up and going to bed.

Throughout Breaking Bad, Jesse spent most of the series being manipulated by evil men.  What was ironic, of course, was that Jesse was the only one of those men who must people automatically considered to be a criminal.  Everyone thought that Walter was a tragic family man.  Tod was largely anonymous and those who did notice him usually assumed he was just an eccentric weirdo.  Jesse, on the other hand, was the guy who was continually getting hauled in by the police and harassed by the DEA.  He was the one who was viewed as being a danger to society even though he eventually proved himself to be one of the few characters with anything resembling a conscience.  In El Camino, Jesse finally gets a chance to determine his own fate.  Will he embrace the lucrative but soul-destroying greed of Walter and Tod?  Or will he escape and try to make a new life for himself?

El Camino is a visually stunning tour-de-force, anchored by Aaron Paul’s empathetic performance as Jesse.  Jesse is no longer as loud as he may have been in Breaking Bad.  He’s a man haunted by the past and, watching the film, you know, regardless of whether he makes it to Alaska, the scars will never fully heal.  He has the haunted eyes of a man who is never going to be fully okay, regardless of where he ends up.  In fact, if we’re going to be realistic, he probably doesn’t have much of a future ahead of him.  Those ghosts are always going to follow him and, as Robert Forster’s Ed sagely explains it, much of what has happened is due to Jesse’s own poor decisions.

Still, whatever mistakes he’s made in the past, you can’t help but wish the best for Jesse Pinkman.

He’s earned it.

Scenes I Love: Penny Dreadful


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2014 has been a very good year in the realm of great television. We have the perennial stand-outs like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Justified and The Americans. Some shows that have been brought down a peg or two in seasons past made a resurgence in quality and consistency with The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy.

Yet, it is with the new kid on the block that I pick my latest “Scenes I Love” and probably the most memorable scene on TV all year. The scene I speak of is the “seance” scene of the second episode of Showtime’s gothic horror series Penny Dreadful. This scene wasn’t even the big reveal in the episode but it ultimately set the tone for what’s to come for the rest of the series’ inaugural season.

The scene focuses on Eva Green’s character, Vanessa Ives, as she attends and participates in a seance held by Madame Kali in the home of renowned Egyptologist Ferdinand Lyle. It’s a powerful performance from Eva Green who has become an actor with a penchant for pulling off bravura performances in the small and big screen.

Green’s Ives has several more performances such as these during the rest of the season, but they all didn’t come with that first shock and awe this scene gave the episode and the series. It’s actually a shame that Green’s work on Penny Dreadful hasn’t garnered as much, if any, year end accolades. Her work as Vanessa Ives was that good.

20 Good Things That I Saw On Television in 2013


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Someday, I want to have my own tv network.  I’ll call it Lisa Marie Television (or LMTV for short) and it’ll be like Lifetime but with the Lisa Marie difference.  What’s the Lisa Marie difference?  Sweetheart, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.

Anyway, as I wait for that day to come, I’m going to continue my series of posts on my favorites of 2013 by telling you about some of the best things that I saw on television over the course of the previous year.  Here they are, in random order:

1) The series finale of Breaking Bad

Perfection.

2) The series finale of The Office

After a rough couple of seasons, The Office redeemed itself with a perfect conclusion.  How can you do any better than Jim and Pam moving to Texas?

3) Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim

Without a doubt, the funniest 15 minutes on television.

4) Burning Love on E!

E! broadcast episodes of the hilarious, Bachelor-parodying web series in 2013 and gave everyone a chance to follow Julie as she pined for Blaze and asked lucky bachelors, “Will you hold my box?”

5) SyFy Saturdays

This year, my Saturday night ritual was to gather online with the Snarkalecs and watch an original movie on SyFy.  And while all of the Normals (as we refer to the rest of the world) were going crazy over Sharknado, the Snarkalecs knew that End of the World was a hundred times better.

6) The only likable team won The Amazing Race 23

I can’t remember their names but I can remember that I liked them more than Tim & Marie, Nicole & Travis, and Leo & Jamal.

7) Bonnie and Clyde

Broadcast on three different networks and over two separate nights, Bonnie and Clyde was big, silly, over-the-top, glamorous, and full of style.  It made me want to go out and rob a bank while looking good doing it.

8) Orange is the New Black

We lost a lot of good shows in 2013 but, fortunately, we also gained a few new ones.

9) South Park satirizes Obama and Game of Thrones

I like one of those targets and dislike the other (guess which is which) but the important thing is that both of them have reached a point where they deserve to be satirized.  Not surprisingly, South Park continues to be one of the few show to have the guts to ridicule the topics that other shows are too cowardly to touch.

10) Bates Motel

Bates Motel was frequently uneven but it was always worth watching for Vera Farmiga and Max Thieriot.

11) The Space Kitten

That little space kitten that was singing Wrecking Ball at the American Music Awards?  Adorable!

12) Jimmy Kimmel

Whether he was causing Kanye West to have a meltdown or posting fake videos on YouTube, 2013 was the year of Kimmel.

13) The Talking Dead

Look, we all know that The Walking Dead is great but, for me, The Talking Dead is usually the highlight of AMC on Sunday night.  Chris Hardwick is adorable to begin with but the moment he choked up while discussing the death of Herschel confirmed that he’s not just a host.  He’s a true fan as well.

14) Miley Cyrus at the VMAs

It was tacky, it was shocking, it was disturbing, it got people talking and overreacting, and it was everything that television should be.  (That said, I would like to point out that — despite what some members of the media seem to believe — twerking existed long before Miley Cyrus decided to make it a part of her act.  I was twerking back when Miley was still Hannah Montana.)

15) That episode of Girls with Patrick Wilson

One of the best 25 minutes of television ever, and not just because Patrick Wilson is super hot.

16) The Herstory of Dance and Intro to Felt Surrogacy episodes of Community

Without the guiding vision of Dan Harmon, Community‘s fourth season was undeniably rough.  However, these two episodes reminded us that Community still had something to offer.  (That said, I’m glad Dan Harmon’s back for season 5…)

17) Colton walks off Survivor …. again

Colton Cumbie is one of the most loathsome people to ever show up on a reality TV show so it was satisfying to see him utterly fail to win Survivor not once but twice.

18) The Big Brother Blog got a new writer named Lisa Marie

This year, Bill Lage asked me to write episode recaps for the Big Brother Blog.  Of course, I said yes and, for three months, I had a lot of fun keeping people updated with what all of the loathsome people in the Big Brother house were up to.  I made a lot of new friends and I even made a persistent enemy named Maggie Long, a poor little internet troll who just couldn’t handle the fact that I encouraged my readers to “Stay supple!”  It was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it all over again in 2014.

19) Winter Storm Cleon caused the local news people to freak out!

Yes, we did get some snow and ice down here in December.  Unlike you folks up North, those of us in Texas only see snow and ice every other year so, whenever it does show up, you can be sure that all of the local newspeople are going to panic.  That’s exactly what happened this year and it was fun to watch.

20) Degrassi!

My favorite Canadian show came back!

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Tomorrow, we take a look at ten of my favorite books of 2013.

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  2. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  3. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  4. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  5. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

 

12 Random Things That I Am Thankful For In 2013


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Traditionally here in the States, Thanksgiving is the forgotten holiday that sits between Halloween and Christmas.  This is the time of year that those of us in the States are supposed to think about what we are thankful for.  According to the people in Washington, this year we’re also supposed to talk to all of the members of our family about politics.  They’ve even made talking points available, just in case you have a relative who isn’t crazy about your personal ideology.  To me, though, that seems kind of foolish.  Why would you ruin a perfectly good Thanksgiving with politics when you could spend your time thinking, talking, and arguing about movies and television?

After all, Presidents are only around for, at the most, eight years.  Movies are forever.

With that in mind, here are twelve random things that I am thankful for in 2013.

1) I’m thankful that there are still visionaries like Shane Carruth who can make films like Upstream Color.

2) I’m thankful for actors, like Robert Downey, Jr., who are capable of making mainstream films, like Iron Man 3, memorable.

3) I’m thankful that a show like Breaking Bad got a chance to remind us of just how good television can be.

4) I’m thankful for Blue Is The Warmest Color.

5) I’m thankful that at least some people understand that The Counselor is one of the best films of 2013.

6) I’m thankful that this October was this site’s most succesful horror month yet!

7) I’m thankful that, in 2013, we can still watch movies like The Passion of Joan of Arc.

8) I’m thankful that I actually saw Tyler Perry’s Temptation because, otherwise, I would not believe that such an inept and deeply offensive film could have been made.

9) I am thankful for Icona Pop’s I Love It, which is currently my favorite song to play while I’m dancing around the house in my underwear.

10) I am thankful that the series finale of The Office was everything that it should have been.

11) I am thankful that Dexter finally ended because, seriously, the show was getting so bad that it was running the risk of overshadowing how good the first few seasons actually were.

12) Finally, and most importantly, I am thankful for our readers and for our subscribers.  Y’all are the ones who make all of this worthwhile.  Thank you!

Trash TV Guru : “Breaking Bad” Series Finale


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The promotional blurbs on A&E’s cover packaging for the various box set and stand-alone DVD releases of Patrick McGoohan’s classic series The Prisoner refer to it as “television’s first masterpiece,” but let’s be brutally honest here — for a good long time there it probably stood as television’s only “masterpiece.”

Which isn’t to say that there haven’t been some good shows over the years, but start-to-finish, wire-to-wire masterpieces have been pretty tough to come by. I won’t speculate here as to why that’s been with any kind of probing analysis, apart from making the obvious observation that American TV, in particular, has been geared to appeal to the so-called “lowest common denominator” for so long now that frankly most people don’t even expect for there to be anything good on the tube when they turn it on, even with 200-300 channels to choose from. We all just sorta watch it anyway.

I’ll be the first to admit that my two favorite shows of all time — Doctor Who and Twin Peaks — hardly fit the definition of “masterpiece” even though I love ’em dearly. Hell, one of the best things about Who — and I’m referring to old-school Who  here, not the current abomination running around cloaked in its title, which hasn’t held much of any appeal to me since the end of its first return season with Christopher Eccleston in the lead role — is that it’s so damn imaginative and clever and stupid in a fun way and addictively, insanely watchable and re-watchable in spite of its glaring production value weaknesses, often hammy acting, and atrocious dialogue that those so-called “deficiencies” actually become part of its charm. And I’m willing to be that “charm” is one of the things that has engendered such a strong following for various other “fan-driven” series, such as  Joss Whedon’s  Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, both of which have rabid cult followings, to be sure, but neither of which, I think,  even the most zealous Whedon fan (and there’s plenty of competition for that title) would admit, at least in their more honest moments, was anything like a “masterpiece.”

Charm is not something that Breaking Bad ever had much of, though, is it? From the outset, we knew we were being asked to become involved in the life story of a guy who was dying, and furthermore was broke and dying. It’s been a pretty “heavy” show from day one, hasn’t it?

Which isn’t to say that it didn’t have lighter moments interspersed here and there throughout, because of course it did, and in early days it even looked like Dean Norris’ Hank character was never going to amount to much more than bog-standard, albeit well-written, comic relief. But as things progressed, even he became a more multi-dimensional character, and as Bryan Cranston’s Walter White sold out more and more of his soul to purportedly “provide for” his family, a show that started out heavy only became heavier.

And yet — lack of charm and a general “bummer” tone don’t preclude a show from being great, do they? And I would contend that Breaking Bad will be remembered as being more than just great, it will be remembered as — here’s that term again — a masterpiece (the third by my count anyway, in TV history — anyone care to guess what I think the second was? The only hint I’ll give is that it was a relatively recent show).

It was difficult, at times, to be sure. Watching the lives of all these people go to hell in a handbasket even became something of a chore during this final season, particularly the season’s second half following its over-12-month hiatus. Walt was a real bastard, wasn’t he? And that could be downright excruciating to witness. But here’s the thing:

You just never knew what the hell was going to happen next. Series creator Vince Gilligan and his coterie of writers always had another rabbit in their hat, another brightly- colored handkerchief tied to that long string of them coming out of their sleeve. The show never once lost its power to surprise.

Until tonight’s series finale, “Felina,” written and directed by Gilligan himself, which pretty much saw all loose ends tied up more or less exactly as you thought they would be.

I’m sure there might be some hand-wringing among fans that long-suffering characters like Anna Gunn’s Skyler and Aaron Paul’s Jesse weren’t given necessarily “that much to do” in this wrap-up episode — hell, RJ Mitte’s hapless Walter Jr./Flynn didn’t even have a single line of dialogue! Meanwhile, a couple characters we hadn’t seen much of since the second season, Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz, played a pivotal part in Gilligan’s last script.

And yet — everything ended on just the right note for all these people, whether they were given too much to do, too little, or just enough. Events played out more or less in exactly the fashion we expected them, maybe even needed them, to.

And that, finally, may prove to be Breaking Bad’s greatest trick of all : a series that thrived on the element of surprise gave us an entirely predictable conclusion that nonetheless felt exactly right.

Walter White is dead and gone now, and Heisenberg with him. His hat’s off. And so is mine. This series hit it out of the park from the word “go” to the word “stop.” As a slow-burn tale of human tragedy — hell ,of loss of humanity altogether — it stands unequaled. A “happy ending” or “loose, interpretive ending” would have been a huge cop-out. There’s only one way things could have gone here — only one way they were ever going to go.

That’s how they went. And that’s just perfect.

My 2012 Emmy Nominations


So, for the past few days, I’ve been happily hopping around my section of the Shattered Lens Bunker and do you know why? 

Because it’s awards season, that’s why!  With the conclusion of the 2011-2012 TV season, Emmy ballots have been mailed and votes are being cast and, come July, we’ll know which shows and performers have been nominated for the 2012 Emmys. 

Before that happens, however, I would like to play a little game called “What if Lisa Was Solely Responsible For Picking the Nominees.”  Here’s how it works — I looked over and studied the complete list of the shows and performances that have been submitted this year for Emmy consideration.  And then, from that list, I picked my personal nominees.

(A complete list of every show and performer that’s been submitted for Emmy consideration can be found here.)

Below are my personal nominations in the major Emmy categories.  Again, note that these are not necessarily the shows and performers that I believe will be nominated.  Instead, these are the shows and performers that I would nominate if I was solely responsible for picking the nominees.

A complete list of my nominations in every single Emmy category can be found here.  (And yes, there’s a lot of Lifetime on the list.  There’s also a lot of Community.)

Best Comedy Series

Bored to Death (HBO)

Community (NBC)

Girls (HBO)

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Raising Hope (Fox)

Veep (HBO)

Best Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Breaking Bad (AMC)

The Client List (Lifetime)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Homeland (Showtime)

Pan Am (ABC)

Ringer (The CW)

True Blood (HBO)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Cyberbully (ABC Family)

Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Five (Lifetime)

Girl Fight (Lifetime)

Hatfields & McCoys (History Channel)

The Hour (BBC America)

Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Outstanding Variety Series

Conan (TBS)

Fashion Police (E)

Key and Peele (Comedy Central)

The Soup (E)

Tosh .O (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Variety Special

Betty White’s 90th Birthday Party (NBC)

Celtic Women: Believe (PBS)

The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen (Comedy Central)

TV Land Awards (TV Land)

Wendy Liebman: Taller on TV (Showtime)

Outstanding Nonfiction Special

Bobby Fischer Against The World (HBO)

Catholicism: Amazed and Afraid (PBS)

Crime After Crime (OWN)

God Is The Bigger Elvis (HBO)

6 Days To Air: The Making of South Park (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Nonfiction Series

America in Primetime (PBS)

American Masters (PBS)

America’s Most Wanted (Lifetime)

Beyond Scared Straight (A&E)

Inside Story (Biography)

Outstanding Reality Program

Antiques Roadshow (PBS)

Dance Moms (Lifetime)

Kitchen Nightmares (Fox)

Scouted (E)

Storage Wars (A&E)

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)

The Bachelor (ABC)

Big Brother (CBS)

The Celebrity Apprentice (NBC)

Hell’s Kitchen (Fox)

Project Runway (Lifetime)

So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)

Survivor (CBS)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series

Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Johnny Galecki in The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Danny McBride in Eastbound and Down (HBO)

Joel McHale in Community (NBC)

Lucas Neff in Raising Hope (Fox)

Jason Schwartzman in Bored To Death (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama

Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Jeffrey Donavon in Burn Notice (USA)

Damian Lewis in Homeland (Showtime)

Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead (AMC)

Timothy Olyphant in Justified (FX)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries or Movie

Idris Elba in Luther (BBC America)

Rob Lowe in Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Steven Weber in Duke (Hallmark Movie Channel)

Dominic West in The Hour (BBC America)

Ben Whishaw in The Hour (BBC America)

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (Fox)

Lena Dunham in Girls (HBO)

Tina Fey in 30 Rock  (NBC)

Julia Louis Dreyfuss in Veep (HBO)

Mary-Louis Parker in Weeds (Showtime)

Martha Plimpton in Raising Hope (Fox)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

Claire Danes in Homeland (Showtime)

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Ringer (The CW)

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Client List (Lifetime)

Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife (CBS)

Elizabeth McGovern in Downton Abbey (PBS)

Anna Paquin in True Blood (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries or Movie

Kristin Davis in Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Anne Heche in Girl Fight (Lifetime)

Rose McGowan in The Pastor’s Wife (Lifetime)

Emily Osment in Cyberbully (ABC Family)

Sara Paxton in Blue Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Charlie Day in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Danny DeVito in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

Donald Glover in Community (NBC)

Nick Offerman in Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Danny Pudi in Community (NBC)

Matt Walsh in Veep (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama

Bruce Campbell in Burn Notice (USA)

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones (HBO)

Giancarlo Espositto in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Michael Shannon in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Alexander Skarsgard in True Blood (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries or Movie

Powers Boothe in Hatfields and McCoys (History Channel)

Justin Bruening in Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Mark-Paul Gosselaar in Hide (TNT)

Sir Roger Moore in A Princess For Christmas (Hallmark Movie Channel)

Tony Shalhoub in Five (Lifetime)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy

Alison Brie in Community (NBC)

Kristen Chenoweth in GCB (ABC)

Anna Chlumsky in Veep (HBO)

Gillian Jacobs in Community (NBC)

Cloris Leachman in Raising Hope (Fox)

Aubrey Plaza in Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in Drama

Christine Baranski in The Good Wife (CBS)

Kristen Bauer Von Straten in True Blood (HBO)

Kelly MacDonald in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Christina Ricci in Pan Am (ABC)

Sophia Turner in Game of Thrones (HBO)

Deborah Ann Woll in True Blood (HBO)

Supporting Actress In A Miniseries or Movie

Tammy Blanchard in Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Kaley Cuoco in Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Lisa Edelstein in Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Jessica Lange in American Horror Story (FX)

Jena Malone in Hatfields and McCoy (History Channel)