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The Don't-Miss List: 'Breaking Bad,' 'Your Sister's Sister,' 'Kings of Cool' and More

See it! Hear it! Read it! Do it! The best of movies, TV, music, books and more

By Pamela Miller | July 18, 2012
cast of breaking bad on amc
The fifth season of "Breaking Bad" on AMC will premiere on Sunday, July 15.
Frank Ockenfels/AMC

TELEVISION
Breaking Bad

Walt won! Then … what, WHAT, WHAT?!? What could be more fitting than fans’ glassy-eyed, frothy-mouthed fervor for the next hit of this TV wonder drug? The show is an intoxicating mix of spectacular acting, richly hewn characters, brilliant plot twists and surreally sublime moments — all unfolding at a breakneck pace that leaves us … gasping … for … more.

Now, a year after the impossible/inevitable fourth-season finale, the chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-chef Walter White (Bryan Cranston), his cohorts and family come back this Sunday for the first half of the acclaimed series’ fifth and final season (eight episodes will air this summer followed by eight episodes next summer). Don’t bother trying to predict the next moves of series creator Vince Gilligan, who has described his main character as Mr. Chips turning into Scarface. Maybe Tony Montana was speaking for Walt when he said: “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you.”

MOVIES
Your Sister’s Sister

Some call it "mumblecore." Others, "bedhead cinema." Whatever the preferred term, you know it when you hear it. The genre named for its natural, often improvised dialogue took hold among a certain set of low-budget indie filmmakers throughout the aughts. While Your Sister's Sister screenwriter/director Lynn Shelton bristles at the mention of mumblecore, she did encourage her actors to dispense with the skeleton script. The charming rom-com takes place in a remote cabin on an island getaway where Iris (Emily Blunt) has invited her friend Jack (Mark Duplass) to stay after his brother’s death. Not much happens, but everything — from vegan pancakes and skinny jean boyfriends to love and loss — is intimately and honestly discussed.

MUSIC
Late Night Tales Presents Music for Pleasure, Selected and mixed by Tom Findlay
 
Before the Rushes and Becks usurped AM radio, it was the bastion of lovesick hunks like Michael McDonald and Hall and Oates. This album time-travels back to those days with a syrupy blend of beloved, blue-eyed soul, selected and mixed by Groove Armada’s Tom Findlay. These were the last songs at the roller rink, when the lights dimmed for the “couples skate”: "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)"
(McDonald); "I’m Just a Kid, Don’t Make Me Feel Like a Man" (Hall and Oates), "You’re the Only Woman" (Ambrosia) and "Baby Come Back" (Player). These are  “the tunes I used to blast on the tour bus," Findlay says. "I love that music in a very wrong way — it's music to hug to!”   
 
BOOKS
Kings of Cool, Don Winslow
 
“The difference between a surfer and a hippie? A board.” Don Winslow’s latest is the prequel to his novel Savages, which was turned into a movie by Oliver Stone. The story emerged out of the author’s fascination with the real-life moment in time when those two subcultures converged in a lawless little canyon known as Dodge City. The hippies had drifted down the coast from Haight Ashbury in search of cheaper rents and ultimately hatched a scheme for smuggling hash in hollowed-out surfboards. Winslow’s writing style is often likened to Elmore Leonard’s, and all the adjectives apply: hard-boiled, gritty, raw, real. It’s clear why the material would catch Stone’s eye, but the difference between the novelist and the director can be summed up in a single word: Restraint.

WORTH THE TRIP
Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany
 
It's no surprise if you're daunted by the vastness (200 artists) and far-flung locale of Documenta, aka “the world’s most important art exhibition.” “The visitor's experience," art critic Jerry Saltz writes, "turns into a combination truffle hunt, forced march and wild goose chase.” Fortunately, Saltz and other art experts have sifted through the sprawl (which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany) to point out the highlights, including Lee Miller's 1945 photo of herself in Hitler's Munich bathtub, published in British Vogue. "Miller's dirty boots are up against the outside of the tub," Saltz says. "You feel her coming into this space of phobia, psychosis and banality.” But perhaps the most lauded work will be a jungle gym-type structure that stands alongside a gleaming lake in picturesque Karlsaue Park. Visitors relax on the platform and buy ice-cream long before realizing the work is a death-penalty piece by Sam Durant built from replicas of gallows. This process of discovery heightens the experience — much like Documenta on the whole. “Somehow," critic Blake Gopnik says, "it’s the act of seeking itself that matters in this show, and the way we’re given such a vastness to do our seeking in.”

Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.