One of the good things about this June-uary weather is catching up on DVD-released TV series. Breaking Bad is about a down-and-out high school Chemistry teacher who decides to start cooking meth for money. Combining killer dark comedy with some pretty good drama, Breaking Bad, much like the subject matter, is addictive as hell. It's also the DVD of the Week.
TV in general has been enjoying a golden age lately. Starting with The Sopranos and/or shows like 24, The Wire, Lost, Entourage and Sex and The City, it's no surprise that in Entertainment Weekly's recent list of the "100 Greatest Characters of the Past 20 Years" eight of the top 15 were TV characters. Granted it is easier to flesh out a good character over a 20-plus episode arc rather than just an hour and half, but regardless Hollywood is hurting these days.
And to help them out U.S. authorities have authorized an online stock-exchange program where, starting in August, traders can gamble on the potential box office profits of unreleased films. The idea being that people will be able to make money off films even if they suck, by trading/betting on just how much they will suck.
Box office receipts as a commodity like oil or timber? Sounds ridiculous and most major film studios are opposed from the start, but I guess even Wall Street is running out of ideas. I don't see how any of this will make for better movies as Tinsletown remains bogged in sequel/remake/franchise territory.
First up at the Village 8 this week, Jonah Hex, an adaptation of the popular occult-western comic book. Director Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who) has assembled an all-star cast of Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Will Arnet and Michael Fassbender to bring life to the story of a bounty hunter with a grudge (and horse-mounted gatling guns) out to save the world or something. There were no pre-screenings for this one and the kids on the internet are claiming "boring" and "meanders" but I'm going to check it out anyhow because Jonah Hex has a dynamite-stick crossbow and heavy metal band Mastodon did the score. Also Megan Fox, recently fired from Transformers 3, stars as a gun-toting prostitute (the best kind really). Go with low expectations.
Speaking of low, Marmaduke, a film based on that bottom-of-the-barrel old comic strip you used to skip over in the funny papers, is now a feature film. Owen Wilson stars as a talking Great Dane with a penchant for farting and Emma Stone (Zombieland) voices his love interest. Even the great William H. Macy (Boogie Nights, Fargo) somehow found his way into the mix. Despite all the talent, Marmaduke stinks worse than the garbage bin at the dog park, the one crammed with little bags of festering dog shit from a hundred different sources. I don't care if it's Father's Day and you absolutely have to take junior to the pictures, avoid this at all costs.
A much better Father's Day experience can be had at Toy Story 3 (playing in 3D, but not in Whistler) a flick that literally fights the idea that kids grow out of their toys. While not as epic as last year's Up or classics like Monsters Inc, Toy Story 3 is still a Pixar film and they always deliver, this time with a slightly underwhelming adventure tale about life changes, transitions and the value of loyalty.
Incidentally, Toy Story's "Woody" is number 25 on the 100 Greatest Characters list, four spots ahead of Vincent Vega and Jules Winfield from Pulp Fiction. TV's Homer Simpson took top honours.