MAGNETS!

Investing time and passion into any media can be all at once fulfilling, exciting and utterly draining.

This certainly holds true when we’re at an endpoint. Fandom has a way of inflating what they love and quite often that tends to utterly ruin an overall experience.

Seriously, talk to any fan of Lost, The Sopranos, Angel or Battlestar Galactica and they’ll stare into the distance as they remember that soul crushing disappointment that was the series finale.

Now, we can argue that any ending will have its supporters and detractors, which makes sense since we’re all different and have our own opinions on what makes any work interesting and engaging, but what happens when the folks in charge of our favorite shows suddenly realize that as well?

Well, you get the double finale of Breaking Bad.

What’s that? What do I mean by double finale?

Let me explain:

Granite State, as I see it, was the true finale to Breaking Bad. Walter White received his comeuppance, alone and dying in a cabin far away from everything he has ever loved. His actions have brought him to hell by ferryman and now he’s meant to waste away with only two copies of a terrible Dustin Hoffman movie  and a winter wasteland as his companions. The money he so fervently wanted as his legacy sits in a barrel, not too dissimilar from the ones we watched him melt away the evidence of his crimes. At the end, it’s too much for him – the paying for an extra hour of disassociated companionship, sitting in a single room wondering whether his family hates him.

Earlier in the series, Walt tells his son about his experience as a child when his father passed away from a degenerative disease. The audience is told that Walt’s deepest fear is to be remembered negatively by the ones he loves. There’s this compulsive need in his mind to be this giant in the eyes of the people he interacts with, and it’s not an uncommon personality trait for a man who seemingly never had a father and based on the shred we hear regarding his maternal relationship, a fairly overprotective mother that he works overtime to avoid even the hope of interaction with. That’s already amazingly ironic, but a lot of Walt’s actions lead to very ironic moments.

So Walt breaks down and travels to a no horse town 8 miles away from his prison with a goal of changing the paradigm. He still clings to a hope that he can provide a little something to his family and still be the hero of his story. What he gets is his worst nightmare as his son – the only character you can see he has ever actually respected throughout the series (in his own twisted way) asks why he hasn’t died yet. It’s worth noting Walt Jr. has asked this question before, but his initial motivation was to inspire his father to be the man he already saw him as. Now he truly means what he’s saying and Walt now finds himself leaving a final memory to his son – the memory of a weak, egotistical fool who chose pride over everything else. He doesn’t even get to say goodbye to his wife and daughter.

Powerful shit.

So Walt calls the cops, orders one last drink and gives himself up to fate.

But then that Charlie Rose interview happens.

Now, here’s where I get a little weird. At this point, Walter White has died. As he watches Gretchen speak of him as a corpse – a memory – that’s exactly what he becomes and in what I see as one of the most meta-textual moments since the triple path ending for Clue, Heisenberg wakes up and decides for us that this is not the ending. He decides we’ll need to tune in one more time because he deserves a payoff as well.

That’s what I consider the genius of Breaking Bad’s finale. We got a high concept, somber goodbye to a man who deserved what he walked into. Still, the creators of the show realized that many fans had expectations.

Felina fed those expectations completely. With the room to actually just go balls to wall with the fan theories that have been on the internet since that first flash forward to Denny’s and an M60 in the trunk of a stolen car, Vince Gilligan and his team provided a suitable ending for a legend like Heisenberg.

Now, were there flaws? Yes. Lydia and the nazis weren’t very fleshed out villains and I was a little disappointed that Marie was left a single scene to act like her old self and disappear. Perhaps something this wild could have been more suited as an endgame against Gus and Mike, but we have to make do with what we get and on many levels, the key piece to the finale is more than just violence and shrewd final manipulations, it’s in resolving the relationship between Heisenberg and Jesse.

I say that with purpose as I never believed the relationship between the two was ever Walt and Jesse. Even when they interacted in a high school, it was Mr. White – the authority figure – and Jesse Pinkman – the student unable to apply himself. This relationship continued with Heisenberg standing in as the new educator and father figure. Felina provides us with an alternate ending for the alternate son in Walt’s life.

That’s what it really boils down to, isn’t it? A man with two faces and his sons.

There’s still something very tragic at play here. Jesse rides off into the night, free from it all – Heisenberg, the meth, the nazis, but to what end? Is he going to drive up to Alaska or Oregon? Will he drop by Badger and Skinny Pete’s just to OD that very night?

It doesn’t matter. His father has set him free and that future is meant to be uncertain. Heisenberg has allowed Jesse to finally go live on his own terms. It may end terribly, it may end well. That’s the way life works out.

As for Walt Jr., well, Heisenberg shits the bed for Walt Sr. on this one. Not only will Walt Jr. remember his father in the worst possible way, but his future is sort of sealed isn’t it? He’s now confined to live a life that’s been utterly shaped by Heisenberg and Walt Sr.’s actions. The legacy that’s been left to him is stained. Even the money meant for him, while never known to be the drug money, will still be associated to his father’s other greatest failure. Who’s to say that Jr. will even agree to take that money when the time comes?

It’s also heartbreaking that Heisenberg was the one who got to say goodbye to Skylar and Holly, not Walt. Walt would never have admitted the drugs and the killings were all for him. Heisenberg never hid that fact, you saw that in his face – he fucking relished what he had done.

Let me not ramble further, though.

So, yes, I’m content with BOTH endings we received.

Also: we got our fucking robot, just like Jesse always wanted.

I’d Buy That for a Dollar

So I had the utter misfortune of watching the new Robocop trailer.

No, I will not post the clip because fuck that movie.

I won’t get into a rant about what’s wrong with the idea of a Robocop remake. If you know me, or if you know the movie, you can make that list up in five minutes easy.

What I WILL rant about is Hollywood’s need to reconfigure things that accomplished their mission to begin with. It seems that there’s always this desire to fix what isn’t broken while there are real opportunities to sort out the stuff that WAS broken in the first place.

You know what? Fuck it, no ranting. How about we list out a few decent, but flawed flicks that could actually do with a remake. Sure, the result may be the same soulless bullshit Hollywood squeezes out every year, but at least they’d be trying to mine a few diamonds in the rough.

Here are my five flicks that could actually use a remake/reboot/requel.

5) Monster Squad

I’m a massive fan of this movie and I know quite a few people who are as well. When they finally announced the 20th anniversary release of this flick, I literally ran out on new DVD day to pick it up.

I never, ever fucking do that. That’s how much I enjoy Monster Squad.

But is it a perfect movie?

Oh, hell no. The acting is awful, the plot is completely nonsensical and the music is fucking trash. It was also a complete box office bomb, but that’s normally the case with most cult classics.

Still, it’s a charming movie with some decent makeup and practical effects that wasn’t afraid to get a little messed up, even if the target audience were kids that were obsessed with The Goonies.

Why remake it?

This is basically the Avengers for Universal Monsters. How can this not be on some dipshit’s list of movies to remake right now? You’re telling me that if they put a competent director and writer in the same room to put together a modernized, more family friendly version of this it wouldn’t be at least ‘popcorn fun?’

Hell, you can even keep the whole Wolfman has nards bit and it would still hold up.

4) The Last Starfighter

Yep, the best Star Wars ripoff ever deserves a remake.

This might be sacrilege to some, but still, I think The Last Starfighter was the kind of flick that was a little ahead of its time. It’s a shame this was never franchised, especially when you consider that it was actually a hit that made almost double it’s budget!

There have been rumors of a sequel and remakes for years, and I think it would be a smart thing to start from scratch and really shed off that Star Wars ripoff stigma. A good team can really update this concept and do some interesting things with it.

3) Darkman

A cult film that was actually a pretty big hit when it was released, Darkman was unfortunately exiled to the straight to video bin after nobody involved with the original really wanted to come back.

Since we have so many DC and Marvel properties out there, wouldn’t it be nice to have something a little original but with that kind of money behind it?

They tried it with Hancock and aside from some casting issues and a shitty third act, they almost succeeded. The character himself, a scientist driven to revenge on those that deformed him by using his own invention to go incognito and destroy them all one by one, is probably old hat by now, but modern special effects would go a long way in making this fun to watch.

Hell, Sam Raimi isn’t making anything worthwhile. Get him to come direct it.

2) Innerspace 

I actually hate this movie thanks to Martin Short’s ability to try too hard at trying too hard.

That aside, it’s a damn shame that concepts like an adventure in the human body with miniature submarines and people fighting antibodies and other whacked out shit hasn’t been explored since this flick.

Is it too high concept?

I say make a straight up adventure flick like Fantastic Voyage, but with some of the more humorous ideas from Innerspace (minus Short) and you’d have a pretty entertaining summer flick that would probably pull in obscene amounts of money.

In the meantime, we get Transformers 4.

1) They Live

Right now there’s two possible reactions to this:

1) Really?
2) Really?

Hear me out before you decide whether you agree with me or not.

Now, what is it about They Live that makes it so enjoyable? Is it the terrible performances? Maybe the lame makeup and special effects. Oh! I figured it out, the music, right?

No? Well, shit, what was it?

The premise? Really, you’re telling me that this movie lives and dies by its premise only?

Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Now you look at where we are as a society and tell me that They Live isn’t beyond relevant these days. Can you imagine a solid version of this movie that casts the NSA and our government as mind-controlling aliens hellbent on exploiting us for dubious reasons?

You don’t even have to change much about the movie itself beyond getting a decent cast and putting a little more money into the effects.

Especially don’t touch the ending. It’s pitch perfect.

Otherwise, yes, They Live is a flick that deserves a remake for all of the right reasons.

It’s a movie that was considered a comedy at the time and I would rather see a version take its subject matter a little more serious, hell, even be considered a sincere indictment on the modern world and where we’re headed.

You know, something like another movie that did the same thing perfectly 26 years ago…

What was that movie again?

Cover This

Today I stumbled onto an article listing the best covers of the past decade and I stumbled onto this.

Holy shit this kicked my ears in the testicles.

That got me thinking about other covers that are arguably better than the original version. How often does an artist take another’s vision and molds it in such a way that it becomes its own creation? Sure, we can cite Hendrix’s cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’, but that’s sort of lame and obvious.

I’d rather tout my own opinion and infuriate people while doing so.

Here are my five favorite covers that (in my opinion) are absolutely better than the original versions.

5) Dead Souls – Nine Inch Nails (Original by Joy Division)

I am a HUGE fan of Joy Division. In fact, I believe a good amount of 80’s and 90’s music would have been utterly impossible if it weren’t for their influence, but when it comes to Dead Souls – Trent, um, nails it.

Seriously, the sound is more ominous, the length of the song is just right and the vocals work (which is rare for a Joy Division cover). Compare yourself:

It’s a great song, and Ian Curtis’ voice is fucking haunting, but there’s something that feels “right” about the NIN version.

It could be nostalgia talking as well; since my first exposure to this track was the NIN version. Still, I’ve found even in those cases to usually be more impressed by the original track when I have heard it.

4) 99 Red Balloons – Goldfinger ( Original by Nena)

I know the original track is a big crowd pleaser, but tell the energy Goldfinger brings to their version isn’t so much more satisfying.

Also; I hate the original singer’s voice. There – I said it.

Hell, Goldfinger even gives you a final verse in German to keep it real. In my mind that makes it the definitive version. It’s fun, energetic and crazy fun to sing along to.

Besides, it’s okay to admit things from the eighties kind of sucked and sometimes needed improvement.

3) Take on Me – AC Newman (Original version by A-ha)

Now here’s something that completely redefined a song for me. Actually being able to listen to the lyrics instead of the dancey synthesizer of the original version opened my eyes to a somber, beautiful little song that’s actually quite touching.

Compared to this:

Sure, it’s a classic but how often do you sing and dance along without even thinking? The most you’ll do is make fun of the falsetto note at the end of the chorus.

In the meantime this song was about some heavy shit.

I’ve been a little stuck on the eighties so far, so let’s switch that up.

Also – let’s get a little blasphemous.

2) Smells Like Teen Spirit – Tori Amos (Original by Nirvana)

Again, an artist completely shatters your preconceptions about a piece and does so convincingly as hell.

Tori fucking owns this track and I will fight you in the street if you disagree.

Is the original a classic? Sure.

But this was also something MTV told you was important. You look back on Nirvana’s breakout single and take a listen to their other tracks and all you see and hear is the most marketable item on the list.

I think it takes brass balls to shift what was a grunge rock anthem and make it into a slow, sad piano ballad.

Kudos to Tori Amos.

1) Rusty Cage – Johnny Cash (Original by Soundgarden)

Sorry, Cash’s ‘Hurt’ is the standby for pretentious douche bags who think an dying old man singing about a young man’s heroin addiction is deep or something.

Unfortunately, I prefer the bad-ass, murder you on the side of the road and sit on your body while he writes a song about it Cash.

I do enjoy Soundgarden’s version, though.

The only problem is I only ever hear Cash’s version when the song comes to mind. For some reason, his voice and the simple guitar work won me over.

So what are your thoughts?

Do you agree/disagree or have any other song covers you think outdo the original?

Also, just a quick shout out to Siouxsie and The Banshees version of Dear Prudence.

Just shy of beating the original, but then again; you can’t fuck with Lennon.

Be Easy,

-A

A Yoko That Deserves Some Love

I’m not even going to go to that place and toss out a few easy Yoko Ono questions.

I can seriously think of about 9 off the top of my head too.

Anyway, this is actually about a true musical genius by the name of Yoko Kanno.

Seriously, click here, she’s a fucking genius.

Her works have been heavily featured in Japanese animation and video games, but she also works with various acts. She doesn’t sing, only composes and arranges – but her ear and method are distinct while paying homage to her influences.

Since I feel not many people have been exposed to this lady’s awesomeness, I’ve decided to toss out few of my favorite pieces.

1. TANK! – Cowboy Bebop

Forget the unbelievable beauty of the animation, this might be the best damn theme song to ANYTHING. It captures the mood and energy of the show and sets a tone that keeps you engaged long after you’ve heard it.

Utterly unforgettable.

2) Inner Universe – Ghost in The Shell: Standalone Complex

I can’t identify many electronic tracks that I would call haunting, but the arrangement and Origa’s vocals are phenomenal.

3) Piano Black – Cowboy Bebop

Perfection. No other words. Well, maybe a few. I’m an utter sucker for great piano work and while this piece is repetitive, it’s a great earworm and great for a run.

4) Face On – Wolf’s Rain

Epic as all hell and I DESPISED this show. The strings are fucking beautiful, hell, everything about this piece is beautiful.

Google Yokoa Kanno and check out some of her other pieces if you get the chance. It’s an opportunity to hear something different and give some love to a female musician that doesn’t need to stick her tongue out like a stroke victim and act like an 11 year-old pretending to be a big girl for attention.

Be Easy.

-A