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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Thumbnails 9/30/2013

1.

"Breaking Bad" ended its five-season run with "Felina," an episode title that was characteristically clever (an anagram for "finale") and playfully referential (Marty Robbins' "El Paso," a Western ballad that plays in the prologue and echoes Walt's gunfighter-like mission, has a heroine named Felina). Laura Bennett of The New Republic praised writer-director and series creator Vince Gilligan's work as "perfect" and completely satisfying. The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum wonders if it wasn't a bit too neat, to the point where it played like an impotent hero's deathbed fantasy. Similarly, Rolling Stone's recapper Sean T. Collins wonders if it wasn't a little too perfect. Ditto Linda Holmes of NPR. And HitFix's Alan Sepinwall. Maybe it was too neat, suggests The A.V. Club's Donna Bowman, but appropriately so. She writes, "The theme of 'Felina' seems to be this: People and machines are usually predictable." Jaime Weinman of Macleans has "some thoughts on ambiguity." Time's James Poniewozik praises the ending for staying true to Walt's character and the show's themes. At The Playlist, Kevin Jagernauth dares to suggest the finale was less than utterly awesome and incurs the wrath of Team Walt. At BuzzFeed, Kate Aurthur says the closing chapter "set the bar for all series endings to come." Also at Rolling Stone, Scott Neumeyer writes about "5 Lessons of the 'Breaking Bad' finale. And at Vulture, RogerEbert.com editor-in-chief Matt Zoller Seitz teases out some parallels with "A Christmas Carol" and writes about Walter as a ghost, or a vengeful spirit, stalking his own life


2.

"'Muscle Shoals' and the GOP's Quest for Purity." Salon's Andrew O'Hehir believes the musical saga of one Alabama town reflects the cultural ferment that is America's greatest source of strength and vitality.

"It’s almost impossible to say anything clear-headed about the hyper-patriotic zeal of Tea Party people who put those giant screaming-eagle stickers and 'Terrorist Hunting Permits' on the back windows of their F-150 pickups, about the desperate ahistorical yearning to recapture some libertarian white-people wonderland that never existed in the first place. But let’s try this: That’s an American tradition, but it’s not the American tradition. I firmly believe that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, and that flag-waving does little more than reveal the weakness of one’s argument. But it is a matter of fact, and not political opinion, that the dominant current of American culture has always been a heterodox and dynamic flow, full of surprises and unexpected combinations and cultural and racial miscegenation of all sorts. That is the lesson of Muscle Shoals, and of Greg Camalier’s film 'Muscle Shoals.'"

3.

"Eddie Izzard: I Was Beaten Up in Both London and New York." The cross-dressing British star tells The Mirror's Katie Hind that he was the victim of hate crimes in both Times Square and Leicester Square in the past year.

"Eddie, 51, said: 'It was bad. I was walking along, being myself and minding my own business. I wasn’t doing anything wrong but because I was dressed in women’s clothes they set upon me. I was badly injured. It was horrible, I was very upset and frightened.' The assaults led Eddie to decide to try to become a Labour Mayor of London. The lifelong party supporter – who had also been battered by thugs while he was wearing a frock in Cambridge in 1996 – said: 'I think people should be able to live their lives freely.' He will not be available to fight an election till 2020 – with Labour and the Tories yet to decide who will fight to fill the void if Boris Johnson honours his pledge to quit in 2016. Eddie, who is backed by Labour leader Ed Miliband , told the party conference in Brighton last week : “I want people to realise they can be different. 'I want to raise awareness, to help people accept it’s OK to do what you want – and me getting into a position like that will help.'"

4.

"Jennifer Tilly Has Another Date with Chucky." The baby-voiced star defends her return to the "Chucky" franchise to The Los Angeles Times' Irene Lacher. 

"Ba dum dum. But I'd been dating a German artist who used to take me to Hong Kong films. And when they said that Ronny Yu was directing Bride of Chucky, I was really intrigued. But I think the capper was, there's an actress I'm really competitive with and she had said to my makeup artist, 'I would love to do Chucky.' Because she wanted to do it, that was the clincher."

5.

"An Astronaut Made Her Son a Dinosaur Toy In Space, All Other Toys Can Just Stop."  NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg has been killing time on the ISS as a flight engineer by keeping up with her love of crafting--and Geekosystem's Sam Maggs can't resist a few bad jokes in telling the story. (To wit: "Her Etsy Store Is Amazing But the Shipping Is out of the World.")

"Posting her completed dino-toy to her Pintrest with the caption 'Made in space!' on September 26th, Nyberg’s T-Rex is probably the most adorable (only?) space-made toy we’ve ever seen. Made from the velcro-y fabric that lines the Russian food containers on-board the ISS, and stuffed with scraps from a used t-shirt, Nyberg sewed the toy together with thread and needles that she packed herself for her trip to space."

IMAGE OF THE DAY

There are few sights bleaker than abandoned amusement parks. From the blog of Francesco Mugnai. 

VIDEO OF THE DAY

"Pictures."

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