Tag Archive | "MOVIE"

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Oct. 11 was El Camino day!

Posted on 16 October 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

As late as Monday morning, Oct. 7, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was supposed to open exclusively in Miami. Perhaps some studio executive read this column a few weeks ago because last Friday night, the film also opened locally, as close as the IPIC Boca Raton theater in Mizner Park. The first screening was packed and the ticket buyers were intimately aware of every nuance of this Breaking Bad history, while embracing some of the characters from Better Call Saul, a spin off.  This is noteworthy because El Camino also debuted on Netflix the same day — Friday, Oct. 11.

Like Rob Zombie’s 3 from Hell, Vince Gilligan’s El Camino is redefining the business model for a motion picture release. Neither film rivals the box office revenue of a Joker or The Addams Family, but both 3 from Hell and El Camino are relatively low budget productions, so the return of investment can be substantially larger, whereas a successful big budgeted studio production with many movie stars may never see a profit for many years after release.  Kudos to the independent streaks of Rob Zombie and Vince Gilligan for lighting the way for the creative part of the motion picture industry.

Despite being part of the Breaking Bad universe, El Camino is a standalone movie. One does not need to see the previous 62 episodes of the television series, but one will likely want to watch them now. The El Camino Jessie Pinkman (Aaron Paul) character is the gestalt of television version of Breaking Bad. Jessie, the boy, has become a man and is the whole of the sum of his 62 parts.    

El Camino opens  moments after the grand “Felina” of Breaking Bad. Jessie has escaped his captivity and is on the run from the police and sadistic criminal scumbags. After reuniting with his old buddies Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt Jones), Jessie seeks the services of Ed (the late Robert Forster), a man who runs his own private industry witness protection program.  

Given writer/director Vince Gilligan’s love of words, El Camino is a double entendre. While there is a Chevrolet car in the movie and the locations are set in New Mexico, El Camino is a Spanish word for “a path, a road or a journey.”

How Jessie goes from “Point A” to “Point B” is an entertaining story, yet this is a meditative story about potential redemption.  Throughout the film, various Breaking Bad characters appear in flashbacks. Each provide kernels of wisdom for Jessie’s journey to enlightenment.  

Sadly, the Oct. 11 release also marks the passing of Robert Forster. An actor with 50 years of motion picture experience, Forster provides a fine swan song performance as “Ed the Disappearer.” Suffering from Brain Cancer at the time of filming, Forster’s performance rings sincere and true. 

There are some great violent visuals to El Camino, but the quiet moments with Aaron Paul and Robert Forster will be the cinematic moments to savor. 

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FLICKS: Love & Mercy

Posted on 09 July 2015 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Over the last holiday weekend, I’ve been seeking music that has been simple and truthful, thinking back to my early years on Long Island.

In my preschool years, California Girls by the Beach Boys was the 33 & 1/3 single I constantly played on the family record player before the days of Hi Fi. The Beatles dominated the 1960s, but the Beach Boys, though beat up, are still a dominant force 50 years later. The most creative Beach Boy, Brian Wilson, received a Kennedy Center Honor during the Bush Administration.

Unlike successful linear bio pics like Coal Miner’s Daughter and Walk the Line, Love & Mercy focuses on Brian Wilson and the focus is split between two actors. Detailing the musician’s fall and rise, Paul Dano portrays “Young Brian” and John Cusack portrays “Middle Aged Wilson.” The result is a fascinating motion picture about madness, acceptance and creativity.

After years of successful concert touring, Young Brian suffers a panic attack on a jet airplane. Upon returning home, Brian informs his brothers and Mike Love (Jake Abel) that he will work on the music for their next album. The result is Pet Sounds. Released in 1966 in reaction to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul LP, Pet Sounds is a critical favorite, but a financial disappointment. As the brothers seek to return to the old surfing sound, Wilson seeks to go off the deep end.

We later see Middle Aged Wilson impulsively purchase a blue Cadillac from Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks). There is an instant attraction between the two people, but she is put off by Brian’s bodyguards – in particular Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). Dr. Landy eventually tells her that Wilson is a paranoid schizophrenic. Melinda suspects that Dr. Landy is abusing him.

By splitting the focus between young and middleaged Wilson, the theme of redemption becomes obvious. The closing credits featuring documentary footage of the real Brian Wilson singing his current curtain call song, Love & Mercy, makes this film a life affirming movie.

This film takes one into the mind of a genius musician, and how the fine line between genius and madness is often crossed for a man like Brian Wilson.

We also listen to the simple beauty of Wilson’s world.

With all the chaos in the world today, take the time to listen to some Beach Boys songs this summer. If you do, your world will be filled with “Love & Mercy.”

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