CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – In interviews to promote the movie, Aaron Paul has said that he was chosen by Steven Spielberg himself to be the lead in this high-speed action thriller, while the executive producer was binge-watching “Breaking Bad”. Those are certainly some undeniable cool points that I can’t blame him for mentioning, regardless of how the movie is received.
The instant-response nature of our media has forced a bizarre question on nearly every minute of the Sundance Film Festival — “Is it a GOOD year?” Journalists and festival goers talk in hushed tones about the first time they saw beloved Sundance films like “Clerks,” “Bottle Rocket,” “Winter’s Bone,” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and wonder if there’s anything this year to compare. Personally, I had a spectacular year.
Sundance has always been an interesting blend of new and old; domestic and international; star power and new faces. In the last 24 hours, the two movies that struck the loudest chord with me come from young filmmakers, and that couldn’t make me happier.
CHICAGO – Walter White is back. Those four words mean more to loyal fans of “Breaking Bad” than any other this Summer.
CHICAGO – Sony knows that AMC’s “Breaking Bad” has one of the most loyal fan bases in television and so have released increasingly impressive Blu-ray and DVD season sets of the Emmy Award-winning program. The latest, the first half of the fifth season that aired in Summer 2012, comes with EIGHT HOURS of special features, including an exclusive scene, deleted scenes, and star-filled commentaries on every single episode. It’s one of the most impressive TV releases of the season for arguably the best show on TV.
CHICAGO – I’m upset I didn’t see “Smashed” in time to produce my year-end lists for 2012 (Sony Pictures Classics inexplicably never sent a screener and I missed it in theaters). Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s stellar lead performance and Aaron Paul’s pitch-perfect support would have been included in both of my performance pieces. They’re so good here, balancing the truth of youthful addiction in ways that we rarely see in film.
CHICAGO – “Young Drunks in Love” could be the subtitle of the new film “Smashed,’ or maybe “Recovery Can’t Recover All.” Regardless, Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a career-defining performance as a young adult facing up to that adulthood, and leaving behind everything she has known for a life that’s healthier, but less familiar.
CHICAGO – One of my favorite things about “Breaking Bad,” the best drama on television by quite a critical distance, is the way writers play with time. One episode can take place over a few days while another very important week on the calendar may take up half a season just to get through its intense action.
CHICAGO – In a great year for television, one that saw the premieres of “Game of Thrones” & “Homeland” and amazing seasons for “Louie,” “Community,” “Parks & Recreation,” and much more, one might think that it would be tough for a TV critic to choose the best show of 2011. It was incredibly easy. Nothing topped the fourth season of “Breaking Bad,” one of the best single seasons of television in the last twenty years and now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
CHICAGO – AMC just announced that they have come to terms with creator Vince Gilligan to bring his smash hit and Emmy winner “Breaking Bad” back to the network for a 16-episode fifth season, which will also, as has been widely rumored, be the program’s last.