Tag Archives: The Shawshank Redemption

Better Call Saul 2.1 – “Switch”

Jimmy McGill is at any given time more than Jimmy McGill. He’s Slippin’ Jimmy, the scam artist specializing in falling on black ice and selling fake Rolexes. He’s “Charlie Hustle”, according to Howard Hamlin, the scrappy upstart lawyer with an unparalleled relentlessness. Eventually he’s Saul Goodman, the best possible lawyer to have provided you’re guilty. And eventually, in a post-Breaking Bad world, he’s Gene, the manager of the Cinnabon in that mall in Omaha. All of these personalities share what would appear to be major character traits, primarily a highly-charged relationship to the local criminal underworld and a serious gift of gab.

It’s what they don’t share, the traits that Jimmy sheds like dead skin as he moves from label to label, that find purchase in “Switch”. The first season of Better Call Saul surprised pretty much everyone by having a real emotional core to support the wicked humor, something that brought it fully into the deserving company of Breaking Bad. “Switch” strengthened that connective tissue in an important way, in a sort of add-by-subtracting way, drew nearer to it by moving further away. It’s vital that Saul measure up to Bad, but it’s far more vital that Saul stand as a strong series unto itself.

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Meet Joe Black (1998)

I don’t exactly have strong feelings one way or the other about Meet Joe Black. Some despise it for being overly long and uneventful, some enjoy it as a meditation on death and love and living a fulfilling life. I’m neutral. Consistently so, in fact: pretty much every single facet of Black lands in a sort of middle ground. The premise? Interesting enough. The writing? Passable. The great Anthony Hopkins? Yes, he’s certainly Anthony Hopkins. The direction is fine, too, from the reliably careful Martin Brest, though this is him turning in his final film before the reliably careless Gigli; shame that every time you think hey, that’s a nice shot the little homunculus in your head whispers don’t forget Gigli. Anyway, I’m aggressively neutral on Meet Joe Black.

Do you want to talk about something else? Have you seen the commercial with the little baby and the car and the thing? Did you know that Rogaine is fatal to cats? Oh, you really came for Meet Joe Black? On purpose? And you haven’t even seen it? Abridged version: everything is starting to die (Anthony Hopkins) or starting to live (Claire Forlani) or Brad Pitt’s hair (Brad Pitt’s hair).

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