Sunday, October 6, 2013
"The most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously."-T.S. Eliot
Monday, September 30, 2013
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” -Sigmund Freud
"Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise." -Sigmund Freud
Sunday, September 29, 2013
"Good artists borrow; great artists steal."-Pablo Picasso
Originality is just a refined version of plagiarism. The best steal from the best, and do so craftily, in a manner that is both subtle and restrained. With this in mind, I've compiled a list of great movie endings whose content and form may have helped inform whatever twisted ending Vince Gilligan has come up with for the finale. At minimum, they represent the type of quality ending that we should all be expecting from such a great series. Here they are:
Saturday, September 28, 2013
"I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things."-Tom Waits
The Soul of Breaking Bad
Music is part of the the fundamental architecture of film making. In serialized television, it becomes interwoven with the identity of the show, developing into its own type of character that evolves over time. Composer Dave Porter and music supervisor Thomas Gobulic have produced one of the more distinctive soundtracks in television history, its quirky darkness an essential part of the show's unique tone. I've compiled a list of my 21 favorite musical moments in the series, iconic scenes in which the music perfectly compliments the storyline and cinematography. Without further ado, here are my (highly subjective, very loose) rankings of Breaking Bad's best music:
Friday, September 27, 2013
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul on Conan O'Brien
“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.”
-Viktor E. Frankl,
Man's Search for Meaning
"Me with nothing left to lose, plotting my big revenge in the spotlight. Give me violent revenge fantasies as a coping mechanism."-Chuck Palahniuk
“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
Less Than Zero
"I'm going to kill Jack Welker and his entire crew, and take back what is mine, and give it to my children. Then and only then is this over."
Thursday, September 26, 2013
"How do you stop people who see a murder rap as a badge of honor? How do you stop people who have already been stopped by the law and sentenced to life imprisonment?"-Gregory Jessner, Assistant US States Attorney
"There's a code in every segment of society...Well, we have a different kind of moral and ethical code. It's a lot more primordial."-T.D. Bingham, Aryan Brotherhood commissione
This is what comes from blood for blood, Walter.
Criminal culture is, at its essential core, characterized by vulgarity. Despite how it has been romanticized in popular culture, criminality is ugly, brutal, savage, and petty, its violence driven by rapaciousness and exploitation. To understand it fully, one need look no further than inside the walls of the American penitentiary, where a daily struggle for survival divides predators and prey. The Aryan Brotherhood represents the apogee of the prison hierarchy, super predators that have become dominant in the zero sum game of jailhouse politics. Representing less than .01% of the US prison population, its members are believed to be responsible for 20% of the homicides that occur within the penal system annually. They are, in the words of one of its founding members, willing to maim and kill "anyone, any time, anywhere, any place," including prison staff, prosecutors, judges, and the civilian families of its enemies. According to US States Attorney Gregory Jessner, who believes the organization may kill with more frequency than the mafia, "they may be the most murderous criminal organization in the United States."
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."-Mike Tyson
"The writer of originality, unless dead, is always shocking, scandalous; novelty disturbs and repels."
-Simone de Beauvoir
The Elements of StyleThe cold opening sequences in Breaking Bad have been the show's most innovative and successful stylistic embellishment. A huge part of the series' identity is derived from its willingness to do things differently, to subvert the traditional format of television programming and indulge in a wholly different kind of storytelling. To this end, the cold openers have been integral to the show's uniqueness, providing it with a boldness previously unseen in television. With just one more episode left, I've compiled a list of my favorite openings from the series, scenes that I feel represent some of the best writing and stylization in the history of TV:
Monday, September 23, 2013
"Morality ends where a gun begins."
"One man with a gun can control 100 without one."
GETSOMEBABAYYYY!!!!You know you've done it. We all have. Don't feel guilty about the vicarious thrill you get from watching Anton Chighur coolly kill five people with that amazingly cool looking suppressed shotgun. If film and television represent a form of wish fulfillment, an effectively used gun prop might as well be an 18 inch dick with wings. Heat, No Country for Old Men, Scarface, the James Bond series-the firearms used in these films are so iconic and memorable that they represent a kind of character in themselves. And now, with Walter's M60, we can add Breaking Bad to the list. The show has done an excellent job showcasing some of the more lethal firearms on the planet, exhibiting an expertise in weaponry that makes me believe that Vince Gilligan may be one of those survivalist weirdos who illicitly stockpile arms. Here are some details on some of the cooler weapons used in the show, just in case you happen to run into trouble with a bunch of heavily armed Nazis:
"Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."-Cormac McCarthy, The Road
"Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."-T.S. Eliot, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"
"What about the soul?"-Gretchen Schwartz
On Death and Dying
In her 1969 book "On Death and Dying", Elizabeth Kubler-Ross proposed a psychological model that outlined five discreet phases in the emotional processing of death: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, Walter White's emotional arc corresponds neatly to Kubler's model, however he is not a dying man attempting to cope with his impending mortality. Instead, we see a ghost coming to terms with the fact that he's already dead. Memory is the sole recourse of the departed, however Walter is a dead man walking, one that is determined to rage against the dying light with an M60 machine gun, and absolutely nothing to lose.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
“Apocalypse is a frame of mind. A belief. A
surrender to inevitability. It is a despair for the future. It is the
death of hope.”
― Jim Butcher, Death Masks
“So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.”
Early Retirement: New Hampshire or Belize?
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
“Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that , contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments.”-U.S. Department of Defense, 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review
"Unless we understand the extent to which we've already damaged the planet, the extent to which climate change is already irreversible, than whatever we do to cope with environmental issues will have no real long term effect."-John Grey, The Possibility of Hope
The current civil war in Syria represents a sea change in global conflict, one that provides a prescient glimpse toward the future of warfare. Detailed analysis of the genesis of Syria's civil unrest has been conspicuously absent from coverage in the mainstream press, signalling a failure to perceive the conflict's ultimate significance and greater warning: namely, that the civil war there is fundamentally an ecological, not political, disaster, and that there will be many more like it to come. It signals the prelude of a new era of global strife that will become ubiquitous throughout the remainder of the century, one driven by catastrophic environmental change and a corresponding decline in resource availability. Ideology may have provided the pretext for wars in the 20th century, however conflict in the 21st century is likely be driven by something far less abstract: water.
Monday, September 16, 2013
TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
-The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats
The Centre Cannot Hold
Yo, so what's next?
We don't have like eight more anal things we gotta do first?
The reaction has begun.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
-Percy Shelley, "Ozymandias
“What is he thinking? Is this a performance? Is he acting? Does he believe in what he is saying? I would say it’s the central mystery of this movie: Who is Donald Rumsfeld?”-Errol Morris
"At least Rummy is tough enough. He's a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that."-Richard Nixon
"The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others."-Friedrich Nietzsche
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sunday, September 8, 2013
"I can't hardly recognize myself sometimes when I'm greased. I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong. I've been becoming a problem to myself." -Jesse James, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
"Any man who could discover his own fate and elect therefore some opposite course could only come at last to that selfsame reckoning at the same appointed time, for each man's destiny is as large as the world he inhabits and contains within it all opposites as well. The desert upon which so many have been broken is vast and calls for largeness of heart but it is also ultimately empty. It is hard, it is barren. Its very nature is stone." -Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridien, or the Evening Redness in the West
The Assassination of Walter White by the Coward Jesse Pinkman
Amidst chaos, there comes a point at which entropy sets in for us all. Even outlaws inevitably grow tired of running, perhaps most of all from themselves. The internal machinations of Walter White's universe have been trending toward disorder since the pilot episode, a process of accelerated decay that has been marked by volatility and explosiveness. And yet we find in "Tohajiilee" that even in the most unpredictable systems, matter and energy ultimately move toward a state of inertia. Necessity has always been the mother of Walt's criminal ingenuity; existential threats have tapped into the most primal and amoral aspects of his being, eliciting a uniquely ruthless form of genius that has allowed him to survive and conquer seemingly insurmountable dangers. But even Heisenberg is susceptible to entropy. At his moment of greatest vulnerability, he exhibits none of his prior resolve, and his savage commitment to survival has waned. Instead, we see a man resigned to defeat, a tired outlaw who has lost the determination to fight. As he asked Hank back in "Blood Money": 'What's the point?' Fragmented, conflicted, and driven completely outside of himself, Walter White no longer seems to have an answer to his own question.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
“Whatever you think's supposed to happen, I’m telling you the exact reverse opposite of that is going to happen."-Jesse Pinkman
Just a few things that I'll be looking for in tomorrow night's episode...
Vince Gilligan has confirmed a well circulated theory about Walter taking on certain attributes of people he's murdered. This should come as little surprise considering the obsessive attention to detail in both the writing and production of the show, but it does offer us some insight into who might be next on the Heisenberg kill list. Here's the quote from Gilligan in his interview with Digital Spy: