Monday, 2 March 2015

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul has regained my lost faith in the film industry.

So what if it's a television show.  It's sure as hell not shot like a television show and certainly beats out most of the 2014 films that i've seen.

However don't let the dismal showing of films in Hollywood diminish in anyway Better Call Sauls expertly crafted art piece.  And it truly is the personification of what art house theater ought to be attempting.  Its mesmerizing, enthralling, and picturesque on a grande scale.  If the first episode was extended into a two hour film it would have easily bested all others for best picture at the Oscars this year.

Am I coming off a bit strong?  Possibly.  But I really want to get across how much I've enjoyed the first couple of episodes of this television series.  It truly needs to get its due recognition as it takes what Breaking Bad did and has thus far made it even better.

Let me explain by getting into the nitty gritty of why I think this is the best show out there.

First a super basic synopsis is in order.  Better Call Saul is a spinoff series based on Walter Whites lawyer (Saul) from Breaking Bad.  The series follows Saul as he is starting out his struggling Lawyer career well before the events of Breaking bad.

Just based on the first two episodes it appears as though the overall story is about a man who is struggling with being a moral person (through guidance of his older brother) while the world is tempting him at every turn to turn bad.

This is actually a very similar theme to Walter Whites character in Breaking Bad however whereas I believe Walter White was always deep down an evil person (a debate that deserves its own blog) I think this series is attempting to frame Saul as ambivalent with leanings towards goodness.

Unlike breaking bad however this series appears to only have one true main character (Saul) with little to no side characters competing for attention.

I believe this is what makes this series great.  Breaking Bad not only followed Walter White but also examined the impact of his decisions on his family and all others around him (most notably Jesse Pinkman and Saul himself).

Better Call Saul is attempting to show us the life of only one person.  Saul. And in doing so is making a series that is more like reality TV then any real reality TV program ever made.

Now this is an interesting assertion that deserves dissection.  First I should say that reality TV has an obvious negative connotation.  Thats because the reality TV shows that are actually available are as fake as any fiction based program.  The closest thing we got to true reality TV is Jim Carrey in the Truman Show...and now Saul in Better Call Saul.

I know I know still doesn't make sense so i'll do some more explaining by examining another aspect of this show that sets it apart.  The way it is filmed (yep sticking with movie lingo).

Much of the first episode was actually devoid of dialogue.  This is because we are being invited into every facet of Saul's life, not just the exciting sections.  So we get to see Saul working a menial job at Cinnamon Bun in a glimpse of his life hiding out after the events of Breaking Bad.  We also get to see him retire from said menial job to his residence where he watches old tapes of his advertisements for his previous career.  We get to see him in the men's washroom practicing before each court case.  We get to see him struggle with payment with a parking attendant in his beat up car.  We get to see him retire after a long day to his pathetic residence inside a nail salon.

Through all of these glimpses into Saul's life we begin to piece together just who Saul is.  This isn't done with any lazy script writing where a secondary character explains to you everything you need to know.

For example you get to see Saul interact with a very strange character.  It takes a while to figure out what is going on.  Not because the show is attempting to keep you guessing but because these two characters have a long formed relationship and it would actually be strange for them to outright explain what is going on.

No instead you are given the pleasure of just observing and getting to know just who Saul is.  And this connection between the viewer and Saul is what makes this true reality television.  You get a feeling of really getting to understand Saul on a deep personal level and it truly is great.

And this discovery is done with tons of long takes (which appears to be a theme of advanced filming after True Detective and Birdman) whereby the camera follows Saul uninterrupted (that is without cuts) thereby not breaking the spell to the viewer so you really do feel like you are following him.

And seriously this series, as well as Breaking Bad, deserves awards for best cinematography.  These shows manage to take what could just be a bleak desert into a captivating and breathtaking landscape.

I believe i've made it clear that its a series worth watching and its current 100% rating on rotten tomatoes and 9.3 on IMDB is certainly deserved.  Metacritic is definitely getting it wrong at 78% even if that is a fairly high rating.


Alright review is done but I do have one more thing to discuss.  There is one character on Better Call Saul that I guarantee will have repeat viewings.  It's a criminal named Nacho Varga.  Thus far he has had minimal screen time but i'm aware of the actor Michael Mando and the pure talent that he possesses.

Please do not let the following sentence dissuade you from trusting my judgement....

Michael Mando was the voice actor for character in the popular video game Far Cry 3.

Seriously I hope you havn't stopped reading and have lost faith in me completely.  Stay with me here.

He didn't just use his voice for the character.  When Ubisoft Montreal (the video game maker) went on a casting call for its game Michael Mando showed up in character.  Not in character for anybody that was within the game.  He made up his own character and nailed it so well that they used his exact character for the game.  And his character is what made the game.

Alright if you don't believe me just watch these videos:
Cartoon version:

Real life person.

No comments:

Post a Comment