Tag Archives: Bob Odenkirk

TV Review- Better Call Saul: Season 1 (2015)

 

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Rating: A/ I was skeptical about watching Better Call Saul¬†as soon as I did because I never actually finished Breaking Bad (I know, I’m probably the one person in the entire world that didn’t watch the series from beginning to end ages ago.) Breaking Bad is an excellent show, but I kept getting distracted by something or the other and never got past a certain point, although I’ve intended for months to watch the rest. Fortunately for me, you don’t need to have extensive knowledge of the Breaking Bad universe to dive headfirst into Better Call Saul, and everybody’s favorite hilariously crooked lawyer is more than capable of carrying a television show on his shoulders. Continue reading TV Review- Better Call Saul: Season 1 (2015)

Fargo: Season 1 (2014)

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What is up with the people inhabiting “Fargo”‘s universe? Are they as obtuse as they seem? Why do they sporadically speak in riddles? And why is their police force utter bollocks? These questions, and more, befuddled me as I watched the terrific spin-off of the Coen Brothers’ also brilliant 1996 crime thriller.

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Psychotic hitman and sometimes-drifter Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton, who seems born for this role) is bad news- and as he enters the eponymous Midwestern town of “Fargo,” he invades the life of wimpy salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman, who’s never been better,) and disrupts the location’s quiet proceedings. Shortly after Lorne’s arrival, Lester commits a shocking crime but is initially let off by lax police work on the part of freshly appointed Sheriff Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk.)

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Like the Marge Gunderson of her time, Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is on the case. Meanwhile, Malvo casts a sinister shadow over the lives of ‘Supermarket King’ Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) and his slow-witted son Dmitri (Gordon S. Miller,) assassins Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers (Russell Harvard and Adam Goldberg) swoop in on Lester and Molly romances a widower (Colin Hanks) with a spirited adolescent daughter (Joey King.)

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Despite initial qualms about basing a TV series off the film, I soon found “Fargo” to be a captivating show with a terrific cast. Love him or hate him, Lester’s got to be one of the most interesting characters on TV. As for me, I felt bad for him, and even when I came to the realization what a sorry sack of shit he was, there was something fascinating about him- the depths of his cowardice and the refusal to own up to his actions was kind of hypnotic, I guess.

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Molly is a strong female character that shows that women don’t have to be a size zero or wear tight leather outfits to be modern-day television heroines. To my utter shock, I think I like this show a teeny bit better than it’s movie counterpart. There’s mordant humor (Thornton’s Godly alter ego, for one,) tragedy (the fate of Milos’ son comes to mind,) and downright weirdness and wordplay that seems faithful to the Coens.

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Also, Lorne Malvo seems to be a improvement upon the film’s villain Gear Grimsrud. Whereas Gear was loutish, coarse, and stupid, Malvo is smart, expertly cruel, and so fond of fucking with people that it’s a pleasure to see him work. Although I admit most killers are dim bulbs more often than not in real-life crime scenarios, Malvo was too great to pass up.

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The 1st Season of “Fargo” was a fantastic watch and I recommend it to just about anyone. I love the parallels between the film and the show (i.e. the money in the snow,) but you do not need to watch the movie to enjoy the TV series, and vice versa. I think between this, “The Bridge” and “American Horror Story,” FX is becoming my favorite TV channel.

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Nebraska (2013)

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While some might find “Nebraska” to be an unmitigated bore, I was touched, surprised, and entertained by this black-and-white, refreshingly naturalistic gem. The people look like real human beings (fat, thin, attractive, ugly) and the situations seem to have come out of an actual person’s life. What could have played off as a timeworn punchline to a familiar sitcom instead proves to be in turn genuinely funny and profoundly affecting.

Well-meaning son David (Will Forte) has problems- namely, his dad’s rapidly approaching senility and consistent fondness for alcohol. Now, director Alexander Payne could have made the old man a wisecracking, skirt-chasing stereotype- a ‘high-on-life’ old lush. But that doesn’t happen. David’s Dad, Woody (Bruce Dern,) remains a satisfyingly grounded character.

Woody keeps on wondering off to collect his one million dollar ‘winnings’ he supposedly earned according to a piece of junk mail. Despite Woody’s heckling wife Kate (June Squibb)’s and disapproving older son Ross (Bob Odenkirk)’s objections, David takes Woody on a drive to Nebraska to prove, once and for all, that Woody has not won anything. Unsurprisingly, the two bond as they embark on a road trip, as they drink at bars (not a good idea for the alcoholic father or the recovering son,) reminisce, argue, and visit family.

One word to describe this film would be ‘bittersweet.’ I was pleased to see that the mom and David’s ex both were significantly overweight. Details like that gave the film a very real vibe. The acting is excellent. I understand Will Forte is mostly in really bad comedies, but he really sold it here. Bruce Dern was really, really good. Really, really, really good.

June Squbb was convincing although I wanted to slap the old biddy silly the entire movie (if she mentions one more man from her past who wanted to ‘get into her bloomers,’ I swear I’ll… aargghh.) Bob Odenkirk, who played in “Breaking Bad” and might be getting his own career-defining spin-off, “Better Call Saul,” made the most of a smallish role. His ‘fight scene’ with one of his thuggish cousins had me in hysterics.

The conclusion of “Nebraska” is unexpected but very moving. You end up treasuring David more as a character than you would have had it ended differently. I think this was an improvement upon his last film, “The Descendents.” The former was a good movie too but I think this dares to be a little more different. Maybe¬† people will look past the black and white and the slow pace and see what I saw in it. That is my hope for this movie.

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