Better Call Saul Screen 6 articles

Better Call Saul

2015

Better Call Saul Poster
  • The opening of the new series Better Call Saul — an intriguing spin-off fromBreaking Bad, from the same 'show runner', Vince Gilligan, working with Peter Gould — recalls the ending of a true modern classic of television: David Chase's The Sopranos (1999-2007).

  • The eldest character in Better Call Saul isn’t Mike Ehrmantraut, Tuco’s unsuspecting abuelita, or any of the nursing-home residents shakily spooning gelatin from attorney-branded dessert cups. It’s the show’s sixteenth-century lighting scheme, which has better lines than even Bob Odenkirk himself—they’re just in the form of shadows rather than wry legalese... Much of its symbolism draws from the black brushstrokes of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

  • The show features a female character quite unlike any we may have seen in film or on TV; an unusually persuasive portrayal of how an easy romantic friendship can turn into a more difficult love affair; and a vision of fraternal conflict that is morally complex, highly nuanced, and dramatic, at once understandable and extremely peculiar. The new season has proven to be even stronger, funnier, and more focused than the first.

  • [DP Arthur] Albert, working with the 11 different directors who’ve signed episodes so far, has (even if totally unconsciously) infused Better Call Saul with some of [Pedro Costa's] magisterial master-shot atmosphere. Albert’s array of outrageously canted, locked-off angles, shifting focal depth, and—especially—recurring motif of isolating characters at a distance against and within negative space establish what Kent Jones has often called “the greater drama of light and shadow.”

  • It thrives on a contrast of formal polish and emotional neuroticism, the latter gradually taking hold of the series to increasingly greater returns. The creators forge an oxymoronic poetry of efficiency throughout: Establishing shots, often of the strip malls dotting the punishing landscape, tell the audience precisely what they need to know and nothing else, while dialogue scenes are often structured as duets, with an occasional triangular confrontation that's reserved for emotional crescendos.

  • If the worst comes to pass and the network doesn’t greenlight a fourth season, this would count as one of the great unintended closers in recent history. It gives us crucial information about how key characters turned into the hardboiled eccentrics we met on Breaking Bad, so we can fill in the remaining blanks ourselves if we have to. More important, though, the finale expresses the corrosive bleakness of Gilligan and Gould’s Albuquerque underworld.

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