There are tons of cooking shows on television, because it’s inevitable that reality TV schadenfreude would flourish in a hot, tense, high-pressure environment. It seems like cooking competitions are getting more grueling, dramatic and difficult, so we've rated popular cooking shows on the ruthlessness shown by the producers, challenges or competitors.
Chefs must cook a cohesive meal using four mystery ingredients. They are judged on their creativity, plating and incorporation of the ingredients.
Ruthless Rating: Medium Contestants may have to cook in a rush but there aren’t any added challenges or sabotages. The mystery basket can be a little shady at times. Chefs have had to use obscure fruits like durian (an Asian fruit that has an aroma similar to a dozen used diapers left in the back seat of a 1978 Pinto), processed ingredients like gummi worms, or unappetizing items like chicken-in-a-can or organ meat.
Chefs must live together and compete in challenges judged by some of the best chefs in the world. Each episode, they must compete in a quick-fire challenge and then a full-day challenge.
Ruthless Rating: Medium Living together is an instant source of tension and stress. Recently, some competitions have required contestants to stay up all night. The producers have also upped the ante and began having elimination mini-challenges and double eliminations.
Contestants are given $25,000 at the start of each episode. Each round, contestants must make a simple dish. However, they only get a minute to shop and they can use their money to bid on sabotages for their competitors.
Ruthless Rating: Hard Sabotages range from having no hand tools to using no salt. They have even had contestants sub out fresh ingredients with processed ones and use tools from a toolbox.
Food Network Star
Cooks compete to win their own show on The Food Network. Challenges include on-camera demos, competing in challenges based on Food Network shows like Iron Chef and developing their own show.
Ruthless Rating: Easy Food Network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson may be a little catty in their critiques but the show really is about developing a camera presence and a marketable cooking show. They don't want to see these players' ugly sides. Which is why this is the show that gave us Guy Fieri, and look how that's turned out.
Next Iron Chef
Celebrity chefs compete for the title Iron Chef. Chefs must compete in challenges that test their culinary ability, improvisation, and time management skills.
Ruthless Rating: Hard One season allowed contestants to judge each other and nominate eliminated contestants. After a long elimination challenge, the two losing contestants must cook head-to-head to decide who goes home. Plus, judge Simon Majumdar can be very persnickety.
Gordon Ramsay trains two teams of chefs on cooking for his restaurant, Hell’s Kitchen. (Which isn't even a real restaurant, but a studio on the Fox TV lot.) They face challenges, lessons and catfighting.
Ruthless Rating: Extreme Forcing contestants to listen to Ramsey’s shrill yelling voice for days on end borders on abuse. The contestants are not trained chefs, yet often get held to a chef’s standard.
Documentary, satire, social commentary — call it what you will, this new "uncategorizable" film, Seduced and Abandoned, from screenwriter and director James Toback and Alec Baldwin says more about the state of moviemaking than any other film.
Toback and Baldwin head to the place where movies are revered, glorified and bankrolled: the Cannes Film Festival. In the process to find financing for their new film, they end up exposing the nature of filmmaking — a tug of war between creative control and hitting the bottom line, while the audience gets a courtside seat during every step of the process. From New York City to the Cote D'Azur, these partners in crime use their film project as a vehicle to capture the cinematic history of Cannes and the current movie marketplace. Whether their film (a loose retelling of Last Tango in Paris set in Iraq) is real or not is inconsequential, but it serves as the driving force for the narrative as they meet with billionaires and foreign sales agents on their quest for cash.
The French Riviera makes for a more romanticized setting than the backlots of Hollywood, as the duo sit down with some of the forefathers of the industry, including Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, as they reflect on their career trajectories and the shifting state of the industry. Coppola discusses his disillusion with Cannes as it went from being a "festival" to a marketplace, or "bullfight" as he puts it. Scorsese remains slightly more optimistic but talks about operating within an increasingly small margin and fighting for his films. As countless studio heads and sales agents profess, movies are made with either huge budgets or on a shoestring, with hardly any wiggle room in between.
As Toback and Baldwin court billionaires and make their rounds to the foreign sales agents, we realize that Russia and Saudi Arabia are bankrolling most of Hollywood and that you're only as big as your bankability. As they wander through the halls, Toback compares it to the diamond district in New York, with everyone trying to sell their flashy wares. The goods are glamorous, while the business is not. With the two hobnobbing on yachts, glitzy parties and private estates, we can see why it's so hard to get these suits to cough up the cash. No longer do we live in an era of yes men and disposable funds to throw around. Businessmen are willing to sink their fortunes into all kinds of risky investments, just not the film industry. When "traveling to space and curing cancer" are at the top of one socialite's aspirations, financing a movie takes the backseat.
Throughout the film, there is an easy rapport between Toback and Baldwin, two longtime friends. It is their contrasting personalities — Toback's flexible optimism countered by Baldwin's "fondness for reality" — and their affection for each other which carries the film. Along with the directing greats, the two also grill some of the more desirable stars on the scene, like Ryan Gosling, who can charm the pants off any investor, and Jessica Chastain, currently upmarket Hollywood's go-to leading lady.
From the opening ceremony to the closing red carpet, we constantly see the whirling carousel on the Cannes waterfront, a metaphor for the cyclical nature and futility of the business. Despite the frustrations, the film is at heart a love letter to filmmaking and the people who make it magical. It's also about the immortality of film, as Toback (ever the savvy businessman) reminds his potential investors: their money is no good to them when they're dead, but their name on the credits will live on forever.
Police in the U.K. are investigating allegations British singer Rebecca Ferguson was the victim of a $150,000 (£100,000) fraud. The pop star claims she was tricked by conmen in March (13), leaving her out of pocket after a business deal turned out to be a set-up.
Officers in Merseyside, England have arrested two suspects in connection with the investigation but are yet to bring charges.
A statement from the force reads, "The investigation is ongoing and no one has been charged at the moment. Two people, a male and a female, have been arrested for fraud for false representation. They are due to answer police bail the week commencing December 9."
Ferguson admits her naivety upon shooting to fame on the 2010 series of U.K. talent show The X Factor made her easy prey for conmen.
She tells Britain's Daily Record, "I put too much trust in people and for that reason they took advantage of me. I had money, well over £100,000, stolen from me from people I trusted who sought to gain from me. It's really disgusting. It's the betrayal.
"I think I was so naive to the world but I feel I have become a woman now and am more aware of what goes on in the world. Not everyone is good."
Copyright: 2013 Showtime
Where we left off: Dana ran off with Leo, her more-than-slightly-off-kilter boyfriend, and made us even more annoyed with her, Saul was boring in CIA world and did a horrible job explaining why we should care about the missing money, and it was revealed that Carrie is a double agent (yup, things finally started getting interesting).
"The Yoga Play"In this episode, Dana finally gets a clue about life, Saul is basically hoisted out of the CIA, and after almost blowing her double agent cover, Carrie is kidnapped. Unfortunately, while the mini-recap makes it seem as if super exciting things happened, it was a pretty basic and blasé episode overall.
Coming into this episode, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered. Most importantly, how far back does the double agent plotline go? Right away Saul loops Quinn into the mission and tells him that it goes as far back as the senate hearing where Carrie was interrogated and Saul threw her under the bus... so, pretty far back. While it would be easy to explain the whole mission by just saying that Carrie is a great actress and put herself through hell for over a month for the CIA (you know, the department that hates her), it makes the first four episodes seem like a complete wash. Did we really just watch four episodes that don’t mean much to the future plot because it was all a rouse to get Carrie to the real plot? It's just a little annoying that Carrie pretended to be a pariah for a good portion of the season, and slightly unrealistic that she went to such depths to achieve the goal.
For the majority of the episode, Carrie enacts a decoy mission called "The Yoga Play" that she uses to get away from her surveillance so that she can help Jessica find Dana. She calls Max (Virgil's brother) and confirms that they’re meeting up for "yoga." Then she goes to the yoga studio, exits through the back, and Max and Virgil pick her up and take her to talk with the FBI agent that is in charge of watching over Dana. The problem: why is over half of the episode focused on Carrie helping the Brody family? It just doesn't make logical sense. Why would she risk her cover as a double agent just to make sure that Dana is safe? For all the talk about Carrie being a great spy, moves like this one make you wonder how good she actually is. It seems like her spy technique is 90 percent rashness and 10 percent whatever they teach you at the CIA.
But because Homeland is not entirely fantastical, there are repercussions to Carrie potentially blowing her cover. At the end of the episode, Carrie is kidnapped by two men who take her to meet with Majid Javadi (the man who the whole double agent act was for). However, the plan was for Javadi to come out of the woodwork to speak with Carrie, not for Javadi to realize that he was in a trap. The last line of the episode is Javadi saying to Carrie: "You're in good shape. Must be all that yoga." Was Carrie’s cover blown during her "yoga plan" to help find Dana? Because if it was, she is royally screwed.
As for Saul and Dana, Saul is told during a hunting trip that he's not going to officially became the director of the CIA (the senator that interrogated Carrie is getting the nomination), and Dana finally realizes what a creep Leo is (he killed his brother) and ends their "romantic" getaway. (Dana's storyline is one step away from being the most annoying thing ever.)
Highlight of the episode: The awesome Romeo and Juliet reference: "You know how Romeo and Juliet ends, don’t you?" – Carrie (a.k.a Claire Danes, who played Juliet in the 1996 adaptation of the play).
The second highlight: Chris was in the episode for an entire five seconds.
Upset of the episode: Still no Brody.
Canadian crooner Michael Buble stunned guests at a community fundraising concert when he sent in a $3,000 (£2,000) donation. The Gloucester Irish Community Centre in Wotton, England, played host to a show featuring a performance from Buble lookalike William May to raise money for Dementia UK.
Organiser Amanda Wall wrote to the singer to ask if he would lend the event his support, but she was shocked when the Beautiful Day singer responded with a sizeable donation, boosting the campaign's total to $3,900 (£2,600).
County councillor Pam Tracey tells local newspaper The Gloucester Citizen, "It is easy to think very little of some of these stars but what a wonderful thing to do. It was very kind of him. He must get quite a lot of requests for support so it is lovely."
Warner Bros Pictures
Gravity has had an incredible weekend. In addition to being fact-checked on Twitter by Neil deGrasse Tyson himself, the film made an estimated $55.6 million domestically, which set a record for both October and autumn releases, as well as making it the biggest opening weekend ever for stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. It's also the second biggest opening for director and screenwriter Alfonso Cuarón, behind Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. While the film being a success is not particularly surprising, given the film's star power and overwhelmingly positive reviews, the record-setting debut has caused some critics to remark that Gravity marks a turning point in American cinema.
But even if that's too strong of a statement to get behind, the film's success is undeniably a big deal, and so it's not much of a stretch to assume that it could a have a major impact on the film industry. So, what exactly does Gravity's record-breaking opening weekend mean? After all, films have big opening weekends all the time, especially films starring actors like Clooney and Bullock. However, Gravity is an original property with palpable Oscar buzz, which is what gives the achievement such signifigance. Currently, the list of highest-grossing films of all-time is dominated by franchises — all eight Harry Potter films, all three Lord of The Rings, a plethora of superhero movies. However, the summer of 2013 was notable for lacking a definitive "movie of the summer," instead showcasing a series of minor successes or outright bombs. The exceptions, though, were The Heat and We're The Millers, both of which were original films (the former earning its share of critical favor).
Studios see franchises and sequels as a safe bet. After all, there's already a built-in audience dying to spend their money on tickets, and it's easy to attract new audience members with all of the publicity. The better these films do at the box office, the more likely studios are to green light them over original or independent films, which are a much bigger risk, financially. But, if the disappointing summer grosses are any indication, maybe Americans are becoming bored with the overwhelming influx of familiar movies and are craving something different.
Perhaps Gravity's being unlike anything audiences have seen or experienced before is actually the film's biggest strength. With the recent influx of reboots and superheroes, audience may be starting to feel some franchise fatigue, and Gravity's originality allows it to stand out from both the action and sci-fi blockbusters that dominated the summer and the emotional awards contenders that come out every winter. That both critics and audiences have been drawn to the film says something not only about the quality of Gravity, but also speaks to the fact that audiences are excited to see a movie that isn't the same thing they've experienced over and over again. Hopefully, seeing movie-goers flock to such an original film will encourage studios to finance more diverse, interesting films, even if only to balance out the huge summer franchises.
However, Gravity doesn't just manage to stand out in a sea of similar films; it also has enough varied elements that could appeal to a wide range of movie-goers. Setting aside that fact that everyone loves outer space, Gravity is a thriller that promises enough action and suspense to entice an audience who prefers those kind of films over heavier, awards-baiting material. On the other hand, Gravity also contains intense, emotional performances that have been receiving Oscar buzz, and will help draw in audiences who prefer drama over special effects. And for those who wish for movies to have some sense of familiarity, both Clooney and Bullock are reliable box office draws who are well-liked by audiences, and they provide a sense of comfort to both new audiences and concerned studio heads. Add to all of that the immersive IMAX experience that critics have been raving about, and Gravity was practically designed for success.
It's not the first time that a film with major awards buzz has done incredibly well at the box office — Avatar, the current highest-grossing film of all time, was nominated for nine Academy Awards in 2010 — but early autumn is considered to be the quiet time between blockbuster summers and Oscar season that studios use to release horror films and the animated features that got bumped out of the holiday release schedule. As such, it's those kinds of films that set seasonal records. Gravity's October success only reinforces the idea that audiences are looking for movies that aren't telling the same stories over and over again. If the massive success does change things for American cinema, it will be a rise in interesting, original properties that appeal to the same kind of massive audience that action-packed blockbuster and heavy, dramatic films manage to draw in.
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Throughout Breaking Bad's five compelling seasons, Vince Gilligan and the show's writers have been sneaking in hidden references to past episodes as winks to the audience. These so-called Easter eggs are easy to miss upon first view, but since Breaking Bad is a cultural phenomenon and fan forums abound, many of these references have been unearthed and heavily analyzed. It really makes you wonder how the show can be so consistently good and provide these little gems to fuel fans' theories. How do you fit so much awesome into one show? Vince Gilligan and crew, we bow down to you. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead if you're not caught up.)
One popular theory is that Walt likes to pick up the traits of his victims (crustless sandwiches via Krazy 8, Volvos and towels via Gus Fring, and rocks via Mike). However, by the second half of the fifth season, Walt starts to pick up the traits of characters who are still alive, most notably Skyler (when he spells out "52" with his bacon) and Jesse (whose army jacket he wears in the flash forward scenes that end up playing out in the series finale). One could argue that they are also Walt's victims, victims of the consequences of Walt's decisions, but now Walt is taking on the traits of the people he wants to save. Walt is shedding the last remnants of Heisenberg. Further evidence of this is when Walt goes back to ordering his drinks neat, without rocks, as he did at the bar in New Hampshire where he watched Gretchen and Elliott on Charlie Rose. And by the end of the series finale, Walt may have had to put on his Heisenberg thinking cap (although not the actual pork pie hat), but his mission of righting all of his wrongs is all Walter. The cops who find him laying in a pool of his own blood will say that they finally got the elusive Heisenberg, but viewers know that it's Walter White that they find.
Here are five more of our favorite Breaking Bad Easter eggs.
In "Ozymandias," Walt is seen rolling his barrel of money across the desert. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot, there's something familiar in the foreground. Could those be the Dockers that Walt left in the desert in the pilot episode? If we know Vince Gilligan, then the answer is yes. What a brilliant and sneaky nod to the first episode.
Faces are another big recurring theme on Breaking Bad. As you can see in the following shots, images often echo each other, signifying how each character and incident is tied to one another in the larger context.
Gus watches his partner, Max, get executed by cartel leader Don Eladio right in front of his eyes:
Walt watches his brother-in-law, Hank, get executed right in front of his eyes:
Half of Gus's face gets blown off in a bomb explosion:
Half of a pink teddy bear's face gets blown off in an airplane crash, an eerie image that pervades season two and signifies Walt's decline into his moral void.
Another hidden gem from "Ozymandias" is this shot of the white king chess piece, which looks to be very poorly guarded and vulnerable. This shot of the fire station precedes Walt leaving Holly with the firemen. That "White king" was also now out in the open, unprotected and vulnerable.
One of my favorite references actually refers to the future. Not exactly an Easter egg, it's more a significant bit of foreshadowing, written when much of the show hadn't even been planned yet. In season one, during one of Walt's chemistry classes, back when Walt was still best known as a chemistry teacher, he tells his class: "Chemistry is the study of . . . transformation." And as the show proves, the transformation can be astounding.
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In the moments between that one last Executive Producer: Vince Gilligan and a frenetic phone call from my college roommate, I struggled with the uncertainty that hits some of us after experiencing anything as grand as the Breaking Bad series finale: Was that — could it possibly have been — as perfect as I thought it was? Would everybody else in the world feel the same way, or would this be the Lost finale debacle all over again? (Hey, Walt did leave us in a pose quite reminiscent of Jack Shephard's final bow.) But then I got the call. I logged onto Twitter. I caught a few moments of glee emanated by the Talking Bad panel. I knew that this wasn't all stemming from my will to leave this program on a high note. This was real. The Breaking Bad finale was, unequivocally, perfect.
Perfect in its pacing. We got the big blow-out episode two weeks back, when Hank and Gomey bit the dust, Walt kidnapped baby Holly, and a border collie scampered across the New Mexican highway. While the world anticipated a Walt Vs. The Nazis showdown in this final chapter, that was really just the capper: the meat of the episode was the deliberate, somber cobblestone pathway leading up to that explosive end. The drama that booms inside of Breaking Bad, not the thriller that coats its outer shell.
At first, "Felina" made some of us hesitant to believe that it would accomplish everything it needed to. After a menacing stop at the Schwartz household and a quick visit with Lydia and Todd, we might have wondered if the show was delivering its final episode in a form that felt too much like a staccato bucket list. But we were validated in our hopes that the ep would soften its edges. Once Walt hit Skyler's depressing new pad, paying a visit with the secondary intentions of leaving her with the tangible evidence capable of freeing her from the law's grasp once and for all and the primary intentions of bidding one last goodbye to his wife and infant daughter (and, through a tear-stained window, his son — so shattered by his father's villainies that he has abandoned one of their most symbolic kinships: driving), the episode evened out to a steady flow that not only proved unconditionally captivating, but also retroactively acknowledged all that came before it to have been so mechanically necessary.
From that point on, we came to realize that the first half of the episode (jeez, we're already more than halfway done!) was spotted with perfection. We were sold on the grimacing opener — Walt shivering in the snowed-in car he steals up in New Hampshire, praying to a God who has no business paying him any mind and ultimately receiving the bounty for which he asks: the keys to the ride takes across country, stopping first at the Schwartz's place to put the fear of death into them in return for Elliott's boneless agreement to transfer Walt's nine million smackers to Walt Jr. upon his 18th birthday. The whole scene — a break-in that Danny Ocean would treat to an impressed nod — plays with the cinematic poise and aggressive suspension of disbelief you might find in a Hollywood heist flick. Walt, reproducing some amalgamation of Heisenberg, Mike Ehrmantraut, and the dapper leading antiheroes in whatever movies he asked Robert Forster to pick up for him during his time in the mountains, recognizes just what sort of folk he's dealing with this time around: his sort of folk. Not the hardened Salemancas or sociopathic neo-Nazis that see straight through his falsified bravado, but the kind of people he can so faintly remember being. So, he can take this one final opportunity to tout the character he has built... sans hat, but close enough.
And to concede that this scene isn't at all a deviation from the Breaking Bad universe but very much just a machination of Walt's toxic drives paying off in the only sort of community they ever really might, we find out that the two "expert hit men" he hired to shine sniper rifels into the chests of his Prague-going victims are none other than Badger and Skinny Pete. Here is a sign of the depths to which present day Walt, with millions in tow, has sunk. And just as importantly, it is a sign of series creator/episode writer and director Vince Gilligan's appreciation for his fan base. There might have been plenty of ways to convey that Walt had no intention, or means, of actually harming Elliott and Gretchen. And a dozen and a half, easy, of Walt solidifying the realization that Jesse was still at large. But none would have been more crowd pleasing. More fun for the long-time viewers. Here's one for the fans, Vince Gilligan must have smiled while writing these scene. Proof that even in its darkest, bleakest attire, Breaking Bad is not intrinsically joyless.
On, past quick shots of Walt parading through diners, his broken down old home on Negra Arroyo, and glaring ominously into his trunk, to his next victim: Lydia. A predictable sort (and predictably one, at that), Walt is able to determine the time and place of Lydia's next meeting with Todd as well as exactly what she'll be drinking at the time. The sort of beverage into which a cigarette's worth of ricin might find itself dumped during a frantic ad hoc meeting (a meeting that also gives Walt the opportunity to get a leg in to a reunion with Todd's dirtbag brethren. All in one stone. And although this scene isn't likely to stay with us the way that Walt's tyrannical traipse through the Schwartz home, his miserably poetic sit-down with Skyler, or any of what comes thereafter will, it is a point we needed to visit, and of which to watch the undertaking with a cautious and hungry eye. Walt is lucky, yes (very), but he's also quite good at much of what he does.
In a quick break from Walt, we see the Lambert sisters taking to their pre-series dynamic: high on the leverage her noble tragedy gives her over the decrepit narrative worn by her sister, Marie phones Skyler to play a condescending (never vindictive, just inherently competitive) guardian, letting her know that Walt has been spotted back inthe neighborhood, and that she best be on the lookout — because we're lucky enough to be watching Breaking Bad, it is immediately after this phone call that we realize Walt is already in the picture. When he does finally say his goodbyes to Skyler, to baby Holly, and (tacitly) to Flynn, Walt allows us something we haven't experienced in full seasons: he impresses us. Walt comes clean to himself, using Skyler as the push, that he didn't do any of this for anybody but himself. Cooking meth, ascending to the top of the kingdom, it was all to be something he never got a chance to be. To grab at the missed opportunities that have haunted him through every car cleaning and every ungrateful high school student. He needed to feel like the man he never was. And all the decay he has come to discover, and to endure, has finally made Walt open his eyes to that.
It is the first time of several in this final episode that Walt shows us something in him that we can reflect upon as sympathetic. We'll never root for him again. We'll never give him the benefit of the doubt. But we can grow wistful over shines of the man he once was. In Walt's exchange with Skyler, we see that old Walt in him again... we hold onto memories of a Walt we can remember loving. In Flynn's defeated, physically weakened trodding from bus to front door, we see an abandonment of the Walt we might ever have rooted for. And in Walt's stroking of the hairless head of a sleeping baby Holly, we see the hero, and father, he never got the chance to be. Worse even than the crumbling Skyler and altogether abdicated Flynn, we see a daughter who won't remember him at all. But he'd hang onto her, and this moment, even if he lasted another five seasons.
And then comes the boom. Walt's endeavor toward justice. We're not certain where he stands on objective, at this point. Is he just trying to reclaim his throne? Is he vying for the rest of his money, with which to shower a resentful Walt Jr.? Revenge for Hank? Freedom for Jesse? Some kind of principled takedown of the White Power movement? Or maybe, in the simplest and possibly most gratifying terms, a scientist driven to carry out a calculated plan?
Walt is ushered through the team's gates, salivating with anticipation over his opportunity to let loose his machine gun-rigged automobile. The simplest and most foreseeable of problems takes hold immediately: they snag his car keys (the weapon is operated by the unlock plooper thing — for the life of me, I have no idea what else you'd call those gadgets, and my father always used the word "plooper"). And then, a larger problem: Uncle Jack wants Walt dead. Why, exactly? Eh, who knows? He's a menace. He's a threat. He's a jackass. Take your pick. But Uncle Jack, that same Uncle Jack who so graciously gave Walt a barrel of his own dough, will not be called a liar when Walt accuses him of partnering up with Jesse Pinkman to create the blue meth that is selling hot throughout Europe these days. So, Uncle Jack parades the shackled Jesse out into the open for Walt to gaze upon. Not a partner, but a slave.
We can assume that Walt's agitation of Jack was only to bide time while he squirms for his key plooper on the fleetingly guarded pool table, and that Walt had no real intention of seeing Jesse again — at least at this particular juncture — or using him as a pawn in his plan to take down the nazi troupe. But a monkey wrench in thrown into the gears when Todd drags Jesse into the line of Mr. White's sights, and the man who just gave the wife he destroyed one last look at the good that lurks someplace inside of him surprises us yet again: he looks at Aaron Paul, but doesn't see Jesse. He doesn't see the loud-mouthed, bright-eyed, beaming idiot with a heart of gold that came under his tutilege back in the days of the desert. He sees what is left of that scrappy young pup, and feels something — call it guilt or responsibility, maybe just pity, or (if you are an idealist, like I am) a flicker of love. Corroded love. But in taking one look at the boy whose name he cried out during his painkiller soliloquy, Walt sees someone else he cares to rescue. A tackle to the ground, a quick press of the plooper (sorry if that's robbing the summary of its gravity) button, and the guns howl with fury, taking out — in a twist of fate so romantically gratifying that you're not going to call it out for being "too convenient" — every one of the low-down bastards but Todd and Uncle Jack.
Todd is left to Jesse, who strangles the monster with the very shackles in which he placed him. That's elementary poetic justice. But then Walt enacts perhaps the most surprising move we get ever in the show: he cuts Jack off, with a bullet to the head, right in the midst of a threat that he'll never know how to find the rest of his millions. That unapologetic decision tells us that this whole endeavor was not for the money, nor even for the pride. It was for freedom. It was his goodbye to this world, on the part of his trembling family and — a priority that came into being as soon as he laid sad eyes onto him — Jesse.
To articulate the currents that erupt between Walt and Jesse in their final moments together would be a task I'm not equipped to take. Walt allows Jesse the opportunity to kill him; hell, Walt allows himself the opportunity to be killed, to be put out of his demonic misery, by his proverbial son. But Jesse — wanting so badly for Walt to be out of the picture, refusing so resentfully to do him any last favors, and so painfully unable despite everything and anything else to take the life of someone who has (for better or much, much, MUCH worse) been so very important to him — can't. Won't. Doesn't. "Do it yourself," Jesse tells Walt.
In discussing the scene to follow with a few friends post-viewing, I recognize it as that which will be called out as the finale's only weak link: Walt's phone conversation with Lydia. On the one hand, we don't need to hear him tell her that she's dying, as we already know. And she, soon enough, will know. But this call isn't for us, for Walt, or for Lydia. It's for Jesse, for whose benefit Walt speaks in hearty exposition just before the tattered young man can make his way out of the incarcerating gate. Jesse needs to know that he's free. That this world to which he has been bound so mercilessly since pre-Day 1 is under the ground. Walt has plucked every major player from the meth game, topping off the list with Lydia, thusly ending Jesse's ties to this cold, chemical, blue hell. And with Jesse taking note of Walt's abolition of him, he might even set Walt free, too: of the hate. Whether or not he still holds onto the very real anger he must feel for the latest father figure to abandon him, Jesse offers Walt one final glance of sincerity. A "thanks for the memories," or a "it's been real"? Maybe. Probably, if only just a bit. It might be asking too much to think that the find, wordless stare shared by the men is anything close to the love or fraternity we always sort of wanted to believe they shared. But it's certainly civility. And, if that's not enough to make you tear up a little, it's shared history. And then, it's a goodbye.
The most wonderful goodbye we'll say to any Breaking Bad character, as Jesse speeds dynamically through the gate he tried to scale one episode and so many months before, laughing like the child he never got to be not only at his freedom from his underground cage, but from the pen in which Walter White has kept him for the past two years. Killing Walt, or seeing Walt put in jail, might never have given Jesse the ease he feels in this beautiful instance. A true understanding and trust, despite everything, that the man who has controlled his life has decided once and for all to let him go. And then once he flips on that engine, Jesse's life is, for the first time in the series, his. He belongs to himself alone. And he's off to do whatever he might wish — build boxes, draw cartoons, flee to Alaska, take care of Brock. Tying everything up so neatly, the show lets our imaginations run wild. Breaking Bad says, "Give Jesse the ending you've always wanted for him." And that's not only okay, it's perfect. Jesse, now, can have any ending he wants. And we love him. So let's all give him the one we love best.
Note: And yes, in the cold light of morning, I understand the frivolity in deeming Jesse's ending a "happy" one. Sure, he is free now in a tangible sense, and ostensibly able to escape hold of the trade for his days to come, but this is the same young man of pulverized heart and spirit that we saw lifelessly opt to flee to Alaska not so long ago. Actually, it's a man worse for wear, now that Andrea has been killed right before his eyes. Jesse will never be free, not from all that has been tattooed onto his soul thanks to the legacy of Walter White. Holly might not remember him, but Jesse won't go a moment without Walt's claws piercing him so viciously. It's a given that Jesse's life won't be perfect, and might never be "good." But I do think we can latch onto that unadulterated relief we see in him in that final second. That momentary glee. The ability to feel something in the neighborhood of hope again. I think that's a happy enough ending, and that we can have fun determining for ourselves in what way it will manifest.
And as for Walt... his ending is quite clear. As he steps with the chemist's awe into the nazis' meth lab, glowing over the machinery that gave him the torrential past two years, Walt is happy to hold fast to every twinge and twitter that he has know in this tour. He has come to a point to realize that his reasons for getting into the game were all sour, that his actions were all missteps, that everything he has done to his family and friends has been nothing short of satanic. But he has not forgotten any of the other side of it: having known all that, to some degree, this entire time, there was a reason he kept going. Everything he explained to Skyler — the feeling that he was finally what he wanted to be. A king, a hero, a man, a winner. At the expense of his wife and children, his in-laws, friends, coworkers, and of Jesse, Walt gave himself life.
It's a sad, terrible, monstrous, tragic story. But it's a human one. And as the cops flood in and we Walt fall bloody to a Jack Shephardian death, weakened by a nick from one of his own bullets and long torn down by the disease brewing inside of him, finally ready to let go after settling everything on the outside and inside alike, we recognize the human inside of Walt. We don't forgive it. We don't entirely sympathize with it. We can't say we love or root for it whatsoever. But we see it — him. We see a man. And for all he's done to everyone around him — and to us as well — we'll sure miss his story.
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Kanye West is amazing and we know this because he reminds us. All. The. Time. West fancies himself to be a legitimate artist, and if one thing is true, he’s definitely made an art out of pretension. In his 2-part BBC interview with Zane Lowe, West did not fail to deliver his oh-so-humble views of himself to us peons. Here are some of his latest, greatest Narcissi – er, Kanyeisms.
Kanye has surpassed Michael Jackson and is basically Rosa Parks “I’ve got to a point that Michael Jackson did not break down. I have reached the glass ceiling, as a creative person, as a celebrity…and I’ve been at it for 10 years. I look around and I say, ‘Wait a minute. There’s no one around here in that looks like me. And if they are, they’re quiet as f**k.’ So that means, wait a second — now we’re seriously like, in a civil rights movement.”
He ain’t saying she’s a gold digger..."[Kim Kardashian] was in a powerful enough situation where she could love me without asking for money. Which is really hard for me to find."
Kanye is the new Elvis"When I see Hedi Slimane and it's all like, okay, this is my take on the world. Yeah, he's got some nice $5,000 jeans in there. It's some nice ones here and there, some good shit here and there. But we culture. Rap the new rock and roll. We culture. Rap is the new rock and roll. We the rock stars. It's been like that now for a minute, Hedi Slimane! It's been like that now for a minute. We the rock stars, and I'm the biggest of all of them."
No one appreciates Kanye’s genius“I shouldn’t be limited to only one place of creativity. You guys don’t understand — I did the Air Yeezys and they eBay’d for $90,000…but I didn’t get a call from Nike the next day.”
Lady Gaga doesn’t know s**t about cameras"Look at Gaga. She's the creative director of Polaroid. I like some of the Gaga songs. What the f**k does she know about cameras?"
Kanye is a god and if you don’t like that, blame the government"We got this new thing called classism. It's racism's cousin. This is what we do to hold people back. This is what we do. And we got this other thing that's also been working for a long time when you don't have to be racist anymore. It's called self-hate. It works on itself. It's like real estate of racism. Where just like that, when someone comes up and says something like, 'I am a god,' everybody says 'Who does he think he is?'
“I just told you who I thought I was. A god. I just told you. That's who I think I am. Would it have been better if I had a song that said 'I am a gangster' or if I had a song that said 'I am a pimp.' All those colors and patinas fit better on a person like me, right?”
Professor Kanye explains the degrees of dopeness"For me, first of all, dopeness is what I like the most. Dopeness. People who want to make things as dope as possible. And, by default, make money from it. The thing that I like the least are people who only want to make money from things whether they're dope or not. And especially make money at making things as least dope as possible."
We’re all just jealous of Prophet Kanye's teeth, duh"People are going to look at this interview and say, 'I don't like Kanye. Look, he looks mad. I don't like his teeth.' They're gonna say, 'Why doesn't he just focus on music? I liked him as music.' They're gonna say 'Hey, I want the old Kanye, blah blah blah.' But one thing they will do? They will play this interview in five years. They will play this interview in ten years, and say, 'He called that, he called that, he called that...' "
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Who's the one person who connects such different Hollywood artists as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Ron Howard, and Jack Nicholson? The man, the legend, Roger Corman. In his new book Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses, Chris Nashawaty presents on oral history of Corman's career told by the B-movie maestro himself and also by the many marquee names who got their start in the business working on his fast-pace, low-budget productions. But it's also something more. It includes in-depth aesthetic appreciations of ten of Corman's movies, which, taken together, make a compelling case for Corman as an artist. Nashawaty's book, available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, started as an article in 2009 for Entertainment Weekly, where he's a film critic. (Full Disclosure: Nashawaty was a colleague of mine when I worked at EW.) That article was pegged to Corman receiving a lifetime achievement Academy Award. "I'd interviewed him various times over the years, and he's always been a good interview," Nashawaty says. "He knows how to tell a story, and he's always got a quote handy. But with this book project I got to sit down with him in person and spend some real time with him and ask him about the whole course of his career." Nashawaty tells us how Corman helped create modern Hollywood.
Hollywood.com: How did you first discover Roger Corman and become a fan? Chris Nashawaty: Well, look, when you tell people that you’re a film critic they expect for you to say you grew up on classy movies and Oscar-winning movies, and the fact is I grew up watching monster movies and Piranha and all sorts of other movies that your parents don’t want you to watch. Roger Corman was a name I just kept recognizing in the credits and it wasn’t until I started working at Entertainment Weekly that I started to dig a little deeper and realized that there are 400 of these movies that he’s attached to. When you discover a great director like Stanley Kubrick and you say “I’m going to watch every Stanley Kubrick movie!” that’s only going to take you 10 movies and then you’re done, but Corman is the gift that keeps on giving.
HW: You really dive in deep to give an aesthetic appreciation of his movies, which is unique because often the artistic value of his movies is ignored. He’s thought of more as a mogul or a producer. Do you think he’s generally neglected as an artist? CN:He’s very much overlooked as a director. I think people focus too much on his drive-in movies or exploitation movies — or only focus on the people he mentored — and don’t think about him as a film stylist. And he made some really good movies. Sure, he started off making some disposable, quickie, cheap drive-in movies about atomic monsters, and those are fine. Some of them are even very good. But it wasn’t until the ‘60s that he began to find his voice and develop a style, particularly in his Edgar Allen Poe adaptations. He directed most of them beginning with House of Usher in 1960 and they’re very atmospheric, much like the films Hammer was making in England at the time. They’re Gothic horror movies, they’re moody and colorful, in large part because he assembled an incredible crew. Nicolas Roeg is the DP on The Tomb of Ligeia. So to break up the oral history of his life with all the racy stories, I picked two of his movies per decade and wrote an essay about each. They’re movies that speak to me personally, like Masque of the Red Death, Attack of the Crab Monsters, and Boxcar Bertha.
He also made this movie in 1962 called The Intruder starring William Shatner that was way ahead of its time. It was about segregation in the South. It was a very personal film for Corman and really well made too. Shatner plays a rabble-rousing racist who goes to a Southern town and whips the locals into a frenzy about integration in the schools. It’s a very progressive film about a hot topic that the Hollywood studios wouldn’t even have touched until another five years with In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and even then not very forcefully. But this is a movie that’s very explosive. Ironically, it’s his most personal film and the only one he lost money on in his career.
HW: Do you have a particular favorite of his movies? CN: It's probably a tie. There's Masque of the Red Death, which is my favorite of his Poe movies. It’s just so twisted and gorgeous, it’s like a Bergman film made into an exploitation horror movie. It’s great. And the other one is probably the first Corman movie I ever saw, which is Piranha. I remember seeing that in the theater when I was really young, I don’t know how or why my parents thought it was a good idea to take me to see a movie called Piranha. But they did, God bless them, and that movie has just always stuck with me. It was Joe Dante’s first movie, and it had a script by John Sayles. It’s a great Jaws ripoff about killer fish turning people into mincemeat.
HW: That seems to be a very sore point for him, that he lost money on The Intruder in particular. CN: Yeah, he mortgaged his house to make that movie. It was that personal to him. And the fact that it wasn’t a success really stung him, deeply. If it had been a success, it’s interesting to think what kind of films he might have made afterward. But it taught him a lesson that maybe this whole personal filmmaking thing wasn’t necessarily something that was going to work for him. Which isn’t to say that his subsequent movies aren’t personal — they are — but he never tried to say something in the same way that he did in that movie again.
HW: You make the argument that he was always ahead of the curve — certainly on race relations as in The Intruder — but also when it came to recognizing the burgeoning youth market. CN: You know the teenager is a very ‘50s concept. The whole idea of young kids being able to spend money and go to the drive-ins, that was something that didn’t exist until the ‘50s and I don’t think Hollywood really recognized them as a real lucrative market. But Corman did. Some of the safer movies that were being aimed at teens at the time, the Beach Party/Beach Blanket Bingo movies, they were fun and campy but they weren’t movies that teenagers necessarily wanted to see…they weren’t about rebellion really. But Corman recognized there was a whole demographic that was being ignored. He saw that, pounced on it, and made biker movies like The Wild Angels and just movies that were showing what was going on in society before anyone else was.
HW: Now, fifty years later, so much of Hollywood filmmaking as a whole is geared toward teenagers. People often credit Jaws and Star Wars for creating youth-oriented blockbuster culture, but do you think Corman deserves his share of recognition for helping create modern Hollywood? CN: I do, yeah, in a lot of ways. And not just that one. There are several different moments where he recognized what was going on faster than the slower-on-the-uptake studios did. One of them was noticing there was an underserved teen market for movies. Another was much later in the ‘80s, when the country was being overrun by videostores, the VHS market was not one the studios exploited right away. It was Corman, who’d been sort of squeezed out of making movies who rejuvenated his business by recognizing there was this VHS market. He made these straight-to-video movies because he knew mom-and-pop video shops were hungry for product. So he’d make straight-to-video movies and put the most lurid, garish, sexy cover he could put on them, with the movie being almost an afterthought, and they’d sell like hotcakes.
HW: Looking at all the great Corman posters from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s featured in your book, it hits home how much the art of movie posters seems to have been lost. CN: I agree. He didn’t have budgets and he didn’t have stars so all he really had to sell a movie was a great poster. In a way it was the purest form of advertising you can imagine: you make a great poster and you slap an incredible tagline on it. My favorite is for Angels Hard As They Come, from 1971, and it’s a biker movie starring Scott Glenn and Gary Busey. The tagline is “Big men with throbbing machines and the girls who take them on.” I mean, that’s a great come on. It’s total Barnum & Bailey “Sell! Sell! Sell!” He was just a master at making posters and trailers that were in a way better than the movies themselves.
HW: Sometimes the alumni of Corman University speak about him with some snark, but generally there seems to be real affection there. Why do you think that is? CN: Once these people went on to have legitimate careers they looked back on their films for Corman as their salad days. It was a great time — they were young, they weren’t getting paid a lot of money, but they got to make a movie. I think we forget how hard, and how rare, that is. You had to work your way up the ladder and studios were closed shops to a lot of people. Corman took the best and brightest out of the film schools and said, “Hey, I’m going to exploit you, I’m going to pay you nothing, I’m going to work you to the bone, but I’m going to give you the shot to make a movie.” And I think a lot of those people who went on to work for big studios realized that they didn’t know how good they had it when they were making movies for Roger Corman because he didn’t give them endless notes or micromanage what they were doing.
HW: You also argue that Corman is the single greatest connecting thread between Old Hollywood and New Hollywood. CN: I can’t think of anyone else who has had the same sort of longevity and is as much of a throughline of the past 60 years of Hollywood. Corman may not be a household name, but he is probably the least known, most influential figure in the last half century of Hollywood. And he’s still making movies today for Syfy. Nobody else has had the reach or impact that he’s had. Just look at the famous people who got their starts in his films, everyone from Jack Nicholson to Scorsese to James Cameron to Coppola, if you take all of those people out of the history of Hollywood, if Corman had not given them their break, the movie industry as we know it today would not exist.
HW: And he created an independent model of film production that anticipated the independent film revolution by decades. CN: Corman was really the only one I can think of, maybe more recently Miramax, who gave the major studios a run for their money. Because there had been poverty row independent studios since the start of Hollywood, but they could come and go. Between the first company he worked for, American International Pictures, and then his own company New World Pictures, he streamlined and refined what independent filmmaking could be. And I don’t think he gets enough credit for that.
HW: Do you think it would be possible for there to be a Roger Corman today? CN: I don’t think it’s possible for there to be a Roger Corman today because, in a way, anybody can make a movie now. And a lot of people who shouldn’t be making movies are now, because it’s so easy. You can make a movie with your iPhone. But Corman is a singular example of someone who had the genius to make movies that looked like real movies and have them make money. I don’t think you can make the quantity and the quality of movies that he made today.
HW: Do you think Corman will like your book? CN: I think so, because all of the people I interviewed offer up their love letters to him in a way, even though he comes in for some gentle ribbing about how cheap he was. I think he’s treated fairly, though, and his career is celebrated. My favorite quote in the whole book is in the introduction, and it’s from Ron Howard when he was making his first movie as a director, for Corman, called Grand Theft Auto. Corman was very tight on the budget with him, and Ron Howard needed some more extras for which Corman wouldn’t pony up any more money. So Ron Howard was despondent, but Corman walked up to him and said, “Ron, know this. If you do a good job for me on this picture, you’ll never have to work for me again.” Sure, Howard’s recollection of that pokes fun at him a bit, but the underlying message was “I’m giving you a shot and if you do a good job you’ll be able to graduate beyond me.” It was up to you to make something of yourself, to show what you’ve got.
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