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Breaking Bad

There is an abundance of TV shows on Netflix. Those with high reputation like How I Met Your Mother, Arrested Development and Glee. And others that no one cares to ever watch like Supernatural, Blue Mountain State or Trailer Park Boys. Other TV shows serve as a continual narrative which captivates fans to watch every single episode, follow each characters arc and understand the ins and outs of the show’s universe. Shows that re like this are Lost, Mad Men and Heroes. But the one of these types of shows I am an avid fan of and can’t wait for its 5th and final season is Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad is a story of Walter White, chemistry genius and high school chemistry teacher who is working another job at a car wash just to provide for his pregnant wife and handicapped son. Season One sets up his situation: after Walter goes on a ride-along meth bust with his brother-in-law and after realizing how much money is made in the production and distribution of those drugs an idea occurs to him that will solve all his financial woes. At that drug bust he sees a former student who he supposes is in the underground industry already. Jesse Pinkman is that student. Eventually they meet up and Walter convinces Jesse to partner with him. Walter does the manufacturing and Jesse does the business end. Sounds like a good plan, right?

The 4 season arc follows these two in their cover ups, exploitations all while dodging the law. Each episode is 48 minutes long giving enough time and attention to each character and their developments.

Bryan Cranston plays the lead protagonist. He gives a believable and captivating performance each and every performance. He’s an anti-hero; a hero you root for while they’re doing the wrong things. Jesse Pinkman is played by Aaron Paul. He has this presence on the screen where you just can’t help but love his “don’t give a crap” attitude and sharp lines. By the way, these two have each won Golden Globes on the same year. So, I’m not the only viewer that appreciates their performance.

Okay, so one concern I had when I was starting to watch this was the content. Yes, it’s about manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine. It’s a sketchy and ugly subject to have a whole show based on. But the protagonist has a moral code to not use it himself, his purpose is to provide for his family. It’s the characterization of “would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your family?” It’s about how far a family will go to protect and provide. A noble mission but just done the wrong way. Every one of his actions affects those around him negatively. He gets so far deep that it becomes impossible to get out. That’s the appeal of this show.

Fair warning: if you get into this show you’ll be addicted. Netflix only has season 1-3 for stream. I had to find season 4 online and season 5 is coming later this year.

So stream! Now on Netflix. Let me know what you think.

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Rabbit Hole

This is definitely a departure from mainstream movies that are out today. For the most part the public is wrapped up in CGI, fast action cuts, and unlikely heroes and villains. People want to be taken out of their own world and be placed in a reality where anything is possible. We no longer live in the era of Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor where acting is the primary ingredient in effective movie making.  Rabbit Hole is a drama of drama’s. There’s nothing fantastic about it. It’s about people and their life.

Rabbit Hole is a story of a husband and wife who lost their 4 year old in an accident. Becca, played by Nicole Kidman, is the wife who has different coping mechanisms than her husband Howie, played by Aaron Eckhart. Trying to understand why her son was taken is what motivates Becca for understanding, she meets up with the boy that caused the accident and tries to rid the memories of her son. She becomes jealous of her recently pregnant sister and lashes out on her mother for comparing her son’s death to Becca’s. Howie, on the other hand, embraces the memory of his son by watching old videos on his phone, returns to group therapy and holds onto his memories. Coming to peace over an unexpected death isn’t easy, I’m sure, and Rabbit Hole illustrates it perfectly.

Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are remarkable in their chemistry and acting abilities during the 90 minutes of screen time. Every word and action they make isn’t forced but organic in their frame of space. Their emotions are glued onto the screen without anything there to hide them.

If you’re into dramas and actually feeling something with the characters then Rabbit Hole is right for perfect for you.

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Best Worst Movie

My last post was about a found-footage film/faux documentary. This week is about the real thing but the content is extraordinary.

Best Worst Movie is a 90 minute documentary about a 1999 independent film Troll 2 (which happens also to be on Netflix Instastream). Troll 2 is described as the worst movie in all of history of cinema. It ranks a whooping #82 on IMDb’s bottom 100, has 0% on RottenTomatoes.com and has the worst reputation of any movie. From the looks of the movie it has nothing going for it. From what I gather, Troll 2, is about a family that goes on a trip and encounters weird goblins whose goal is to turn them into trees for them to be eaten. Pretty ridiculous, right?  The acting is horrible, unrealistic special effects, and a silly plot that hasn’t won over any mainstream audience.

This documentary follows the star of Troll 2, George Hardy and his perspective of the disaster of a movie. After watching it after the initial release he thought of it as a throw away movie, something to be discarded and not to be talked about ever again. We get insight about how the other cast members look at it and it just so happens to be the same way. Then we find out something amazing about it; Troll 2 has a massive cult following.

Hardy finds this out by the documentary makers and takes him on a tour of sorts to screenings and Q&As all over the country. From LA to Montreal to Salt Lake City there are pockets of loyal fans that have their own Troll 2 parties, throw their own screenings and sell self-made merchandise. They are die hard to the max. Their defense of loving this movie has to do with the heart of it; they see it as the most honest movie. Their love is like a middle finger to the critics and to anyone that believes Troll 2 is trash. They love it for what it is.

Our journey through the movie finds different perspectives from all who are involved in the movie; from fans, to every single actor, to the director, writer and editor. Each has their own personal take and devotion. Director of Troll 2, Claudio Fragasso, has a very personal take on his movie, meaning that he takes even the slightest criticisms like the audience laughing at a part where it’s not supposed to be funny as an insult. As we visit from actor to actor with George Hardy they reenact the favorite parts of the movie which is an awesome thing to see them have fun with.

I would advise this movie for anyone that is just curious, as I was. Best Worst Movie, really fuzzes the line for any movie to determine what is a “good movie” and what is a “bad movie.” It shows that good movies just have to entertain and move the audience and that big budgets, six-figure actors and the best script writing is second to the heart of a narrative.

Best Worst Movie is now on Netflix’s Instant Stream for you to enjoy.

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The Last Exorcism

Warning: do not even consider this movie if you’re not the kind that can take true horror films. If you can, continue to read.

My wife and I had the opportunity to see The Last Exorcism in theaters when it came out. We have always been into scary movies but found good fun and real terror in PG-13 scary movies. PG-13 rating gives the movie a boundary to work within, they have to find a way to grip the audience with terror themes without the blood and gore. Anything above a PG-13 rating relies too much on the slasher element; it aims to gross out the audience and not give them a real story to enfold them in. Keep that in mind when you think a Rated R horror flick is really scary. Why was it scary? Because you cringe at the sight of blood or were the characters in great danger of unworldly threats?

Now let’s dive in to The Last Exorcism. There are so many elements of this movie that can hold your attention. Yes, it is a faux documentary; or a “found footage” film as they’re being called. Other examples would include Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity. The wonderful thing about these is that they are strictly plot focused, they aren’t any minor characters or subplots that distract from the action. Every one of the characters is involved in what is happening in some way or the other.

The movie starts out with some set-up of a charismatic southern reverend in Louisiana, Cotton Marcus. He has been preaching ever since he was able to and can inspire any congregation. He even goes on to bet the interviewer that he can put his mother’s banana bread pudding and still get an uprising out of them. His rational is that you have to believe in the devil to believe in God. Cotton has performed “exorcisms” in the past but note the quotation marks. He sets up fake exorcisms for those that think that they are possessed by demons. He does this because he doesn’t believe in demons or the devil. After reading a newspaper article about another preacher killing someone he was exorcising Cotton decides not to take part of it anymore. We find out that he requested a documentary crew to follow him show how it’s all a hoax. And he’s setting himself up for a wild awakening.

The element that keeps this movie grounded has to be the acting. I find the minorist of characters have the best organic acting, like those they interview on the side of the road. The documentary crew and Cotton follow a fate-filled letter to the backwoods of Louisiana to find a family whose mother died 2 years prior, a son, a father and the demon ridden daughter, Nell. Nell, played by unknown Ashley Bell, is a sweet girl, shy, pretty and sweet. When Cotton’s fake exorcism goes without a hitch their crew packs up and heads to a motel with a good load of earned cash on hand. Only when later that night Nell shows up in Cotton’s room the craziness hits the fan.

I’m not here to give you all the details, you can do that yourself. I just set up the movie so you know what to expect when you first sit down to watch. Being an engaging horror movie it’s your job to stay with the characters, be fooled by the unexpected and draw your own conclusions at the end. That’s another thing, you’ll know a good movie by if you have questions at the end or not. If you have to talk to someone about it. Make sure you have someone to hold onto when the fright gets to terrible to handle.

Get it on Netflix stream now and tell me what you think!

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Star Trek

Did you know that Star Trek was on Netflix? No, not the original series with the younger William Shatner, or Deep Space Nine or Voyager or the Next Generation or the animated series no one has ever heard of. J.J. Abrams re-imagination of the classic series is on Netflix. It can be rightly compared to Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman as it takes a familiar face and recognizable characters and adds another dimension entirely. Truthfully, Star Trek as a franchise has never intrigued me, it never caught my attention. I’m more of a Star Wars nerd than anything else. But this version had the excitement and story to grip not only me but millions of other viewers.

There aren’t any other movies that I can think of that has an opening scene that stands above the rest. Star Trek begins with most intense scene of space attack I’ve ever scene. It’s coupled with foreshadowing of center of the plot involving Spock and the birth of the main character legendary James T. Kirk while his father George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) saved an entire ship got destroyed. Near the end of the scene the music serves to bring out the emotion of the Kirk father and mother share the joy of having a new-born and despair of the disaster. This scene alone makes the movie worthwhile.

The rest of the narrative follows two different individuals: aforementioned James Kirk and the Vulcan Spock. Kirk (played by Chris Pine) has a lot to live up to by having a famous father who saved countless lives in under 12 minutes in his captain position of the fatal Romulan attack. He’s an overly confident ladies-man who is naturally gifted in star fleet leadership. He does everything he can to live up to his father’s reputation even if it means tarnishing his own.

Our other main character, Spock, is played by Zachary Quinto from Heroes fame. His crazy resemblance to Leonard Nimoy isn’t the only selling part of his performance; it’s his poise and determination to do good that makes the character so enticing to watch. Spock has a Vulcan father and human mother making him an automatic handicap and prejudice according to his Vulcan peers. He’s expected to not act on the human emotion and to maintain the essential Vulcan logistical process. As hard as that can be it’s a constant factor of his decision, especially when his planet gets swallowed up with his mother still on board making him an endangered species. With these two very diverse working characters ramming heads makes the tension more desirable to watch.

Although they’re not the only workable cast members. Each actor is cast just right to pay loyal homage to the original characters and the actors that played them. The screenwriters gave every character their respected amount of time and importance in their own sphere. The plot ensues time travel which gives enough reason to cameo Leonard Nimoy to reprise his original role as Spock which is a treat for older fans, I’m sure.

J.J. Abrams does an amazing job with his directing having a clean image on each frame. One of his trademark that can also be noticed on Super 8 enhance the look is the glare of each light. Something that is little but very effective to the overall look. The set pieces are uniform in design and well thought out to take any viewer into a livable space. Each action scene is well constructed to provide tension and entertainment.

I really don’t need to tell you all this. You’ve probably watch Star Trek just as much as I have and found the same enjoyment as I have.

So, in case you didn’t know it’s able to stream on Netflix. Check it out and enjoy!

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Limitless

If you’ve seen this movie you’d agree that this is a must see. Limitless, based on the book The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, follows a down-and-out author Eddie Morra before and after his encounter with his ex-brother-in-law who deals him an unknown pill for free. This drug is the key factor of the plot, something that causes tension, contention, murders, chases and success. Once taken the pill opens closed parts of the takers brain, giving access to already learned knowledge, better learning capabilities and a remarkably higher IQ. He uses these new found abilities to learn the ins and outs of the stock market making thousands of dollars on a daily basis.

Bradley Cooper plays the protagonist brilliantly; spouting out intelligence seamlessly and illustrating his motives through his actions helping the viewer not to think as much as they have to. Ironic. The thrilling part of this movie is that the antagonist is three-fold: one unknown, one always known and another that comes in the end. Robert DeNiro was cast as one of these; Carl Van Loon, a stock trader whose poise could intimidate the most confident.

My favorite part of this movie was the visuals. At the beginning to maybe the end of the second act the visuals were enveloping me. As Eddie was narrating his story the visuals were there to support every thought and action. The drug affecting the narrator was also affecting the viewer giving the same euphoric sensation without the possibility of relapse and enhanced brain power. Especially at the beginning you can tell that the camera angles and motions were more interesting to look at. It’s too bad that they didn’t carry this convention further.

Limitless’ main idea drove the plot home, it was the engine of why it was both a successful storytelling and enjoyable movie.

Have you seen it? If so, what do you think?

What should I watch and recommend next week? Leave your comments and questions!

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Titan AE

Being a box office flop, losing 50% of the production value, Titan AE, turns out to still be an amazing movie.

In the distant future, aliens attack earth destroying it and leaving the surviving humans as space renegade, the minority of the galaxy. Cale, a boy is saved last minute by his father who leaves him a ring which ends up being a genetically accessed map to another space ship that holds the properties of creating and maintaining another earth for the abandoned humans. The narrative hops to an older Cale who finds out his destiny through a Han Solo-like space ruffian Captain Joseph Korso who makes him aware of his father’s intentions for his son’s journey. Along with the rough captain, another alien sidekick, a nerdy mastermind and a strong-willed female human who, of course, becomes the eye-candy and love interest of the hero. And so it goes. Typical fantasy protagonist destined for something bigger than him.

The look of this movie is what so appealing to any viewer. The integration of traditional animation with CGI give it the wow factor. It’s polished with memorable space landscapes, action and smooth camera movements. The voices are manned by notable actors: Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, Nathan Lane and John Leguizamo. You would never know this though if you hadn’t looked on IMDb first. The studio should have went with less-knowns as to save them from the deficit at the end of exhibition because the pull of this movie isn’t the the voice acting, it’s the thrill of epic journey of giving human race a new home.

Another aspect that can’t be easily forgotten or ignored was the soundtrack. Every track enhanced the experience of being in a space epic without pulling you out of it. The music gave the smooth camera movements more fluidity so it almost became a mini music videos.,

Over, this has to be a family favorite. Great for all who enjoy the stereotypical sci-fi space thrill. It’s just a shame that the public didn’t realize its brilliance when it was at the box office.

Instant Stream, again if you’ve seen it already. What do you think of it? Is it worth the credit I give it?