Early Breaking Bad Influences

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Breaking Bad: See it if you can handle the violence

Years before Breaking Bad came on the air, there were two shows that were influential in its formation: the Homicide: Life on the Street Subway episode, and the X-Files Drive episode. All three shows are interconnected. Vince Gilligan wrote the X-Files episode of Drive as well as Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan borrowed heavily from Subway to make the X-Files episode Drive, and that in turn was a huge influence on Breaking Bad.

Drive and Subway:

  • The majority of the episode focuses on intense dialogue between one man trying to save another.
  • Lange/Crump are trapped in dire, near-death circumstance.
  • Changing their circumstances puts them in worse danger.
  • Lange/Crump are angry, distrustful and out of control at first.
  • Lange/Crump seem doomed.
  • There is a grotesque element to the plot: exploding head, man pinned under subway.
  • There is a flare of hope right before the tragic end.
  • This is not Lange/Crump’s fault.
  • Police initially aren’t sure who was responsible for the crime.
  • Mulder/Pembleton walk away deeply saddened.

Drive and Breaking Bad:

  • Same intense writing by Vince Gilligan.
  • Crump/White are dying (at least initially, in White’s case).
  • Crump/White are in a race against time.
  • Crump/White are in dire circumstances to save themselves or their families.
  • Crump/White make morally questionable judgments.
  • Crump/White will kill in desperation.
  • Crump/White have an unstoppable energy.

Steal This Movie Review

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See it if you like docudramas

Steal This Movie is a pretty good informative look at the life of 60’s radical Abbie Hoffman. The character (played by D’Onofrio) becomes more interesting as the movie progresses; it starts out with a bit too-much-information. Janeane Garofalo is great as Anita Hoffman. Sadly, I have been deprived of the last fifteen minutes through an evil conspiracy of VCR and DVD players.

[EDIT] When did I have a VCR? Not in many moons.

Nunzio’s Second Cousin Movie Review

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See Nunzio’s Second Cousin if you can handle a downer.

In Boys Life II, Nunzio’s Second Cousin (short), Vincent D’Onofrio plays a gay cop who terrorizes some would-be gay bashers, forcing one to have dinner with him and his wacky mom. Harsh, interesting, unpredictable, and very well-acted. I found it hard to watch, a little gut-wrenching, but worthwhile.

Happy Accidents Movie Review

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See it, for the love of all that’s good in movies!

Happy Accidents is an extremely quirky romantic comedy with Morisa Tomei and D’Onofrio as the leads. D’Onofrio plays a sweet-hearted guy trying to win his girl’s heart, but her doubts grow as he tries to convince her that he’s a time-traveler from the future. His excuses and stories get more complex over time, causing her to become more frustrated despite her attraction.

I usually hate romantic comedies, but this one has a sci-fi bent to it that takes it completely 180 degrees. The chemistry between them is palpable. Everyone is completely believable, including D’Onofrio’s crazy. There is also a cameo that I won’t spoilerize for you, but it’s a good one. This is on my top ten list of movies. This movie’s a real sleeper, I’m not sure why it’s not more famous. Very well written and unpredictable.

Imaginary Crimes Movie Review

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Imaginary Crimes: Tango! D’Onofrio as a sexy assasin!

Imaginary Crimes is a sexy schlocky flick with Mathilda May playing a woman who tries to escape her boring marriage but ends up enslaved in a brothel. D’Onofrio, is a dashing young assassin who likes to tango. Beautifully filmed, moody, and over-the-top melodramatic. It’s not a serious intellectual film but it’s good eye candy. Especially if you are a big fan of Vincent D’Onofrio. Not that I obsess over his movies, or anything. This one’s pretty good. I have reviewed many movies featuring D’Onofrio.

See it for the eye candy!

Imposter Movie Review

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See it if you enjoy silly science fiction!

A sci-fi action flick. Aliens are attacking, and the world is a mess. Gary Sinise’s character runs around sweating and looking his paranoid best as he tries to escape the clutches of the guy in charge of security, played by Vincent D’Onofrio. D’Onofrio’s character is convinced that Sinise’s character is really just a vessel for an alien bomb. Tony Shalhoub has a small part and is excellent as always. Fun and silly. You will enjoy it if you don’t take it seriously. Don’t fall asleep in the middle third, it gets better.

The Whole Wide World Movie Review

See it if you like critically acclaimed period films.

The Whole Wide World features D’Onofrio playing the writer who’s responsible for the Conan the Barbarian stories. He’s moody, socially inept, and too attached to his mother. His girlfriend-wannabee is demanding and sometimes whiny. Given this, you’d be surprised at how interesting they are together. Extremely well done; very easy to forget that it’s a period piece. D’Onofrio received critical acclaim for his role.

Full Metal Jacket Movie Review

Full Metal Jacket is serious watching.

It’s the acting that makes this movie a classic. D’Onofrio is heartbreaking as Gomer Pyle, an overweight Vietnam War recruit who unravels under the pressure of marine boot camp. Matthew Modine plays a successful recruit looking to get into war journalism. R. Lee Ermey was convincing and nuanced as the cruel drill sargeant, Gny. Sgt. Hartman. R. Lee Ermey’s character represented the conflict that is always present in war. He needs to prepare his men for war for the sake of keeping them alive, but does he go too far? Is “Hartman” a pun on “heart”? Modine is also good as the fast-talking ambitious one, although I found his joker schtick a little irritating after a while. That may have been intentional.

D’Onofrio is the shining, crunchy, fire-ball center that holds many chaotic points together

He has a brilliant spell toward the middle in which he demonstrates that he can be as frightening as Jack Nicholson with sheer application of eyebrow expression.

There are no happy endings in Full Metal Jacket. It gets harder and harder to watch as it also gets harder to turn away from. However, this film should be seen for the believability, the lack of stereotypes, its historical relevance, and the unveering straight eye on painful gray areas.

SEE IT. Possibly D’Onofrio’s best role.

The Player Movie Review

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Tim Robbins plays a slimy movie exec who mistakenly kills the wrong writer. Terrifically entertaining, funny, and dark. There are about ten million cameos, too. D’Onofrio plays the writer who is mistakenly killed. As far as D’Onofrio parts go, it’s not a very big one, but his story arc is crucial to the movie.

See it! It’s very funny.

The Spanish Judges Movie Review

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See it if you like bizarre con-artist flicks.

D’Onofrio is a dissatisfied small-time crook, Valeria Golino is his fed-up girlfriend, and Matthew Lillard is the con-artist who comes between them, offering to make them rich but ultimately playing them against each other. The plot was pretty good. I enjoy con films. I deduct points for Matthew Lillard’s ridiculously mannered face; your mileage may vary. D’Onofrio is over the top, too. “Mars girl”, the strange idiot-girl character, is fabulously weird.

Men in Black Movie Review

The over-arching plot isn’t much to speak of.

The beauty of this movie is in the cute and funny details. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the cockroach guy, with tons of hilariously gross makeup. D’Onofrio does a great homage to the titular character of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Watch his arm movements as he drives the truck.

See it! It’s hilarious all the way through.

The Cell Movie Review

D’Onofrio plays a creepy serial killer in a coma.

Jennifer Lopez plays the child psychologist who’s sent into the reality-space of his mind in order to find out where he’s trapped his most recent (still living) victim. Visually stunning, over-the-top with the shock effects, and occasionally well-acted. Not for the easily disturbed. The director (Tarsem Singh) is better known for his music video direction, and that is obvious.

See it if you don’t mind creepy gore.

The Thirteenth Floor Movie Review

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Sci-fi “what’s real and what’s virtual” schlock. This movie is entertaining enough, and beautifully filmed, but somewhat generic, and slow-moving in parts. The major issue is that the protagonist (Craig Bierko) and his pouty girlfriend-type (Gretchen Mol) are horrendously boring. The side characters are much more interesting. Vincent D’Onofrio plays one of the main side characters. He plays the virtual reality operator in the modern reality, and a dangerous bartender in the 1930’s reality. Armin Mueller-Stahl is excellent as the father of the system.

See it if there’s nothing better on Netflix.

Homicide: Life on the Street Subway TV Review

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Homicide: Life on the Street was a gritty police procedural that ran from 1993-1999. If you only ever watch one episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, make it “Subway“. The Subway episode well deserved its Peabody award and two Emmy nominations.

The episode, which aired in 1997 and was written by James Yoshimura, features Vincent D’Onofrio of Law and Order: Criminal Intent fame as John Lange, a man trapped between the subway and the platform either by accident or wrongdoing. Andre Braugher, a regular on the show, plays Detective Pembleton, who simultaneously comforts the victim while investigating the case. Their dialogue is moody and tense. The conclusion is all but foregone. We can’t imagine that Lange will survive. Nevertheless, everyone is still feverishly working to save him. Other detectives are looking for his girlfriend, jogging in the neighborhood.

See it. Flawless.

D’Onofrio is mesmerizing. He is at turns unlikable, empathetic, angry, calm, and manic. His character flips between demanding a burger to begging that they not remove his legs. The flare of hope he exhibits at the end is heartbreaking. The effect it has on Braugher’s character is also extremely convincing. They force and turbulance of D’Onofrio’s character is perfectly balanced with the calm of Andre Braugher’s character. Despite this episode being largely based on dialogue, it is extremely intense. An entire hour of just talking, a constrained, almost claustrophobic space, where the conclusion is all but foregone — sounds grim doesn’t it? Just watch it.