Film Features

7 Iconic Filming Locations You Can Rent for Your Next Vacation

Because we all need an escape from reality now and then.

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Since lockdowns and social distancing have taken over the world since spring, we've had to become more creative about vacations.

For some people that means going on a camping trip or renting a cabin in the middle of nowhere to escape the city and pretend the world doesn't exist for a while. But for those of us who aren't up for roughing it, there are some options for a different kind of escape.

If you would rather relax in luxury, pretending to be a celebrity, or a character in your favorite movie or TV show, these vacation rentals may be right for you...

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Tasting Room Presents: Exclusive Wines Inspired by Westworld

Celebrate the show’s return with these delicious new wines

In honor of the highly anticipated premiere of Westworld's third season, Warner Bros and Tasting Room have crafted a limited edition collection of wines to celebrate the series' return.

Directly inspired by the show's thrilling third season, the three eye-catching bottles are each uniquely curated and inspired by characters in the show, each offering a vastly different tasting experience. Check out the wines below, and be sure to get yourself a bottle before they sell out!

2017 Maeve Millay Limestone Coast Shiraz

Westworld wines maeve

Think you know Australian Shiraz? Think again. This tantalizing red will leave you longing for sip after sip — if it doesn't knock you off your feet completely. Like Maeve, it's intriguing and complex, with concentrated flavors of blackberry, vanilla, and cedar culminating in a lingering finish that you won't soon forget. While enjoying this alluring wine wouldn't qualify as a violent delight, it will certainly bring you pleasure that you don't find every day.

Tasting Notes:

Rich, concentrated, blackberry, boysenberry, vanilla, spicy cedar finish, warm lingering finish.

2016 Dolores Abernathy California White Blend

westworld wines

There's a path for everyone — consider yourself lucky to be on the path that's brought you to this enchanting and layered blend of Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. Inspired by Dolores, this white may seem mild and pleasant at first, but one sip reveals that it packs a punch of vibrant green apple and pear flavors, deftly woven with notes of baking spices. Choose to see the beauty in the world through this captivating wine.

Tasting Notes

Packed with vibrant green apple and pear flavors, deftly woven with notes of baking spices.

2016 Man in Black Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

westworld wines man in black

Like a maze you desperately want to solve, this compelling Cabernet Sauvignon will take you on some twists and turns. It's a red worth discovering, with its rich, layered flavors of black cherry, coffee bean and dried herbs — just as the Man in Black enjoys a game worth playing. Each taste reveals something new, until you find yourself completely immersed in the wine's brooding, dark profile. Go ahead: Take a sip and unleash your true self.

Tasting Notes

Dark, chewy, savory; Flavors of black cherry, currant, plum, coffee bean, dried herbs; will be adding a portion of barrel aged Cabernet to soften the green notes. Medium-Firm tannins on the finish.

The Westworld Wine sale is live now: Order a case before the next episode today!

TV Features

HBO Says "Westworld" Is Too Complex for Casual Fans, But It Might Just Be Bad

What makes a show "not for casual viewers," anyway?

HBO

HBO wants to be clear: Westworld Season 3 won't be your daddy's Westworld.

It won't be the Westworld you know, either. HBO's official trailer for the show's newest season, subtitled "The New World," promises a vastly different show than the one viewers originally tuned into during 2016.

Gone are the days of exploring the show's titular Wild West-themed amusement park with young and old William (Jimmi Simpson/Ed Harris), and watching android hosts Dolores, Maeve, and Bernard learn the truth of their existence. Season 3 will finally bring those characters outside the futuristic amusement park company Delos' control after the violent host uprising that dominated the show's first 20 episodes. At last, we'll enter the show's futuristic "real" world, but unless executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have changed their tune, viewers are in for another confusing season of a series that HBO has branded as "not for casual viewers."

Westworld HBO

That identifier stems from criticism of Westworld's majorly complicated timeline, which unofficially spans nearly 40 years and is told far out of chronological order throughout its first two seasons. In April 2018, Variety wrote that the production "seems to have too much faith viewers will be willing to absorb storylines that can border on the incomprehensible," and doubted whether the show could ever reach Game of Thrones-levels of popularity. When company president Casey Bloys was pressed on this issue in July of that year, he disagreed that criticism of the show was "widespread" and declared that the series "requires your attention."

It's one thing to create a niche piece of media; it's another entirely for HBO to deflect criticism of a show that reportedly cost $100 million to produce and mark it as something a "casual viewer" may not want to engage with.

What makes a show or film "not for casual viewers," anyway? Is it non-linear storytelling? A large ensemble cast? Or is it defined by the culture that its fans create? These days, we have a whole genre of YouTube videos that "explain" entire seasons of shows just so audiences can remember what they already watched in the first place before diving back in. Spotify lists over a dozen Westworld-dedicated podcasts on its streaming platform. The show's fan community on Reddit boasts 675k subscribers ahead of the new season.

Westworld is not the first prestige television show to delve into multiple timelines or utilize a large ensemble cast, though. It's not even unique among recent HBO programming. Fans didn't balk at Thrones' initially deep barrier to entry. They indulged in Westeros' detailed fictional history, allowing HBO to create a cultural and ratings juggernaut out of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series. The network didn't simply wave off a show with over 50 main characters as too hard for "casual viewers" to understand—and those "casual viewers" attended watch parties and trivia nights across the country to celebrate the show's final season last spring.

Years before Thrones, ABC's Lost mired itself in multiple timelines and held perplexing mysteries over viewers' heads during its six-season run on basic cable to massive critical and popular success. It juggled more than two dozen characters and garnered an insatiable audience that precluded both Westworld and Thrones—all without any pre-existing source material. Lost raked in 16 million viewers on average in its first season and reached 14 million for its series finale six years later. For all the divisive opinions on its conclusion, nobody could claim the show was only for a "hardcore" television audience.

Perhaps better examples of media made "not for casual viewers" lies in film, wherein certain movies have made a strong case for adding extra homework on top of a simple viewing.

Poe Dameron Disney

2006's Southland Tales, written and directed by Richard Kelly (of Donnie Darko fame), was preceded by a three-part series of graphic novels that told the first half of the film's story. Yes, viewers needed to read three graphic novels just to begin the movie on even footing. It sounds like a crazy marketing strategy at first, but then just over a decade later, Disney and Lucasfilm started employing similar tactics concerning Star Wars. Novels, comic books, and television shows now create backstories for Disney-era characters like Poe Dameron and fill in major gaps between the sequel trilogy films.

Still, this kind of franchise expansion doesn't always necessitate that you consume all Star Wars-related media. You don't need to plow through Rebels just to understand the original trilogy, but doing so provides plot details that might be helpful to know before watching The Rise of Skywalker. Nobody at Lucasfilm would claim Star Wars "isn't for casual viewers," though, and Episode IX's 86 percent audience score on RottenTomatoes seems to indicate casual fans found no problem with it even without the extra information available in ancillary spin-offs.

It's easy to understand why HBO might say a show like Westworld demands the viewer's full attention and interest. However, it's not the only franchise out there with a lengthy cast list, endless moving parts, and shocking twists and turns—and if Game of Thrones and Star Wars don't identify as too difficult for a "casual" audience to understand, what makes Westworld special? Is there really room for media dedicated specifically to audiences willing to pay that much attention, or is it okay to admit that a show or film might just not make enough sense to work as intended? Maybe it just depends on how many podcasts and episode breakdowns viewers are willing to wade through. Or perhaps Westworld just didn't make sense in the first place.
TV

BoJack Horseman, Joe from "You," And Sympathy for Damaged Men

The trailer for the final season of "BoJack Horseman" just dropped. Will BoJack finally receive redemption, and does he deserve it?

This article contains spoilers for Netflix's "You" Season 2 and BoJack Horseman seasons 1-6.

BoJack Horseman has mastered the art of the meta-commentary.

From start to finish, it has revolved around a horse-man who seems to embody everything wicked about celebrity culture. He constantly abuses his position of power, falls prey to countless addictions, and perpetually fails and harms the people around him.

Though the show criticizes and satirizes all the forgiveness that BoJack receives, its writers constantly humanize and sympathize with him, delving into his abusive upbringing and exploring all the reasons why he's unable to love himself and others. BoJack is constantly hitting rock bottom and then is given another chance, and though he inevitably disappoints those who forgive him, he is always the star of the show in the end. It's a loop, but is there a way out?

In the trailer for the show's final season, it appears that BoJack is making yet another effort to redeem himself. This time, it's not through rehab or through traveling to New Mexico—he's tried those before—it's through accepting a teaching position at Wesleyan. He's changed, he insists, sporting newly greyed hair, and he's seeking something real. It's hard not to believe him, even though at this point, we should know better.

BoJack Horseman | Season 6 Final Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com

Perhaps part of what makes us want to forgive BoJack is because of the way he speaks. His voice is extremely persuasive, and he sounds level-headed. He speaks like a powerful white dude, which is the demographic that has objectively occupied the majority of positions of power and influence in America, so perhaps that has something to do with why we keep believing what he has to say. When he attempts to persuade people (most frequently women) to forgive him, he is articulate, self-deprecating, and full of vast, limitless, beautiful promises. In other words, he is an expert at the "reconciliation" step on the cycle of abuse.

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BoJack's narration style is reminiscent of another show that relies on the unreliable narrative of another dangerous yet unnervingly persuasive man: Joe Goldberg from You. Though BoJack Horseman is far superior in almost every way to You on a technical level, their central characters bear certain similarities, and not only in terms of the slow, methodical, and almost hypnotic way in which they speak.

Lovable Demons: Parallels Between BoJack Horseman and Joe Goldberg

Just as BoJack moves to Wesleyan in order to escape his life in Los Angeles, the second season of You begins with Joe moving away from New York to LA in order to escape the trail of bloodshed he left behind. Joe from You is far more delusional than BoJack, and far more invested in his idealized self-perception. While BoJack tends to rely on self-awareness and self-deprecation to continue making his repetitive, cyclical mistakes, Joe, on the other hand, is obsessed with the idea that he is "good"—and has a level-headed way of explaining his own violent crimes (and persuading himself that they won't happen again) so effectively that sometimes it's easy to find yourself rooting for him, wishing his relationships will work out, that he'll succeed and heal and grow.

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Joe is also much more violent and psychotic than BoJack, as he actively traps and murders people. However, BoJack technically does have Sarah Lynn's death on his hands (as he was the one who persuaded her to abandon her sobriety). At one point he implied that what happened in New Mexico with 16-year-old Penny was not an isolated incident. In the last season, he nearly killed his girlfriend during a movie scene.

In short, both BoJack and Joe are completely out of control, but they remain convinced that they in some way deserve—and can achieve—absolution from their sins.

Why can't we look away? Perhaps both characters give viewers some sort of subconscious release. BoJack Horseman undoubtedly humanizes BoJack to help the audience feel better about their own bad behavior (as the show's satirical Philbert storyline clearly remarked), while Joe provides a vehicle for a largely female audience to entertain suppressed fantasies.

These two shows are far from the only media to do this; the list of examples goes on and on. Part of what makes these terrible-yet-sympathetic protagonist archetypes so fascinating is that though we should absolutely reject each of these three characters, it's hard to tear our eyes away from them. Instead, it's easy to become invested, especially as the shows delve into the reasons why each of them commit so much evil and treat others so badly.

Curiosity about the sources of evil is only natural, but the reason could be more deeply rooted in our own psychology. According to V. Reneé, "essentially, giving a villain a reason for being evil does two things: It allows the villain to be as evil as it wants without "villain decay," and it gives the villain enough depth to inspire empathy." This trope is also referred to as the "Freudian Excuse," an apt term as so many of these characters have issues that relate to their mothers.

Mother Wounds: The Roles of Women in BoJack Horseman and You

Each character's crimes undoubtedly stem from some form of deep-rooted inadequacy. For Walter White, his homicidal behavior is about his failure to live up to an ideal of masculine success. For BoJack and Joe from You, it has everything to do with their absent mothers.

BoJack Horseman's mother is a ghoulish, looming presence throughout the show's later seasons. She was cruel and cold to BoJack as a child, constantly criticizing him and leading him to find solace in performance because she (and then he) could not tolerate his real self. Joe's mother also left him with a gaping wound—though in her case, she continued to return to abusive relationships and eventually sent Joe to foster care.

In their adult lives, these characters seek solace and healing in their idealized visions of the female characters around them, constantly looking to remedy the damage that their mothers did. Fortunately, the writers of each of these shows slowly shatter their protagonists' visions of these women, creating strong, complex, damaged female characters that act as mirrors for the main characters' flaws. In BoJack Horseman, Diane—arguably one of the best-written characters on TV today—is initially viewed by BoJack as a smart and empathetic potential solution to his problems. Soon enough, it's revealed that Diane, like BoJack, is burdened by wounds of her own; she is unsatisfied, rejects love, and is burdened by nihilism and fears of her own hypocrisy.

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On You, Joe meets his match in Love Quinn. He initially sees her as the embodiment of care, kindness, and empathy, but soon enough it is revealed that she is far more damaged—and more similar to him—than he ever could have dreamed.

Though they are aware of the sins of their respective male counterparts, Diane and Love never come close to cutting off BoJack and Joe. Diane occasionally lashes out at BoJack, but the two remain joined at the hip. Her own low self-esteem and guilt allow her to sympathize with him, and the same goes for Love (though the circumstances are different, and Love winds up being just as insane as Joe, which is a whole other conversation in itself).

But for the most part, these women, like the show's viewers, provide theaters into which the men can broadcast their bullsh*t. That's not to say these women (or we) are inherently wrong, or significantly better than these men. In fact, we might be more similar to them than we think. Many people act wickedly, and most of the time it is because of some reason rooted in childhood or experiences out of their control. But the problem is that not all people are given equal opportunities to achieve redemption.

Bittersweet Sympathy: Race, Violence, and the Empathy Illusion

Even if it is understandable, the type of sympathy that BoJack and Joe receive is rarely, if ever, offered to marginalized people like black men and immigrants, who are often portrayed as monoliths and statistics rather than symptoms of their past and backgrounds. On the other hand, in portrayals of terrorists, young white males are frequently given the same kind of explanations that Joe and BoJack receive. While no neat line can be drawn, it's impossible to address these characters without referring to all the forces that allow them to continue making mistakes while coming out unscathed.

The problem here is not necessarily that we empathize with BoJack and Joe. It's that we empathize with them at the expense of others' lives, and our empathy can distract from other stories that deserve to be told.

Perhaps the point is not that we should suppress every ounce of empathy for BoJack and Joe. Humans need to believe that healing is possible and that forgiveness can be provided if someone actively changes their ways and works to rectify the problems they've created. But too often, some people are allowed to be endlessly forgiven, while others are demonized and written off for slight mishaps due to events outside of their control.

Knowing BoJack, the final season will remark on this in its typically self-aware fashion. It probably won't even offer its titular horse any form of redemption. Instead, it will probably end in shambles, leaving us with more questions than answers.

We'll miss BoJack, but maybe it's time to let him go.

FILM

"El Camino" Forces Jesse Pinkman into His Own Cowboy Fantasy

Jesse Pinkman's story begins again in this coda to "Breaking Bad."

At the end of Breaking Bad, Jesse Pinkman was so deep in a pit of trauma and pain that it was difficult to imagine how he could go on.

In the series' final episodes, as Walter White spiraled through the final fallout from his megalomanic rise, Jesse found himself tortured, trapped, forced to watch a girl he loved get shot in front of her child, among other unendurable traumas.

So to re-enter Jesse's world, as we now do in El Camino, is to re-enter a space of fragmentation, a world made literally intolerable by memory. For better or for worse, El Camino never really dives into Jesse's inner thoughts in an explicit manner, and we never see him really break down. Instead, we're given a multitude of flashbacks, and we're left to surmise how Jesse is feeling on the inside, to read it from his weary eyes and from the way he processes things and others.

Like Walter in Breaking Bad, El Camino follows its protagonist on a quest that essentially has one end goal: to amass as much money as possible. In this film, Jesse is seeking out the funds to pay a man to invent him a new life—and without too many spoilers, many calamities and many deaths ensue as he tries to secure the cash.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie | Date Announcement | Netflix www.youtube.com

Aaron Paul does a formidable job with this fractured version of Jesse, a subdued character in comparison to the one he played on the series. In Breaking Bad's early days he was charismatic and full of life (if usually high), his boyish callousness a sharp contrast to Walter's teacherly seriousness, which of course later morphed into the icy ruthlessness of Heisenberg. Here, Jesse is mostly silent, burdened by the weight of his past and the heavy legacy of the destructive empire he helped build.

Like its parent series, El Camino is a movie about what capitalism and greed can do to people. It's about the lengths a person will go to secure money, in a world wherein money is equated with masculinity and masculinity is equal to power. On the subject of gender, the women in El Camino are footnotes at best, corpses at worst. Whereas Breaking Bad had Skyler and Marie as powerful leading characters, El Camino's only women are a horde of strippers and a cleaning lady, whom a neo-Nazi named Todd strangled and then forced Jesse to dispose of (as we discover in a flashback). Sitting in the desert, Jesse and Todd look down over the grave. Todd asks if Jesse wants to say a few final words; when Jesse declines, he says, "Nice, nice lady. Excellent housekeeper."

Maybe the scene wasn't meant to be political, but it is indicative of the ways that male violence—led by the drug trade or not—so frequently puts women's bodies on the line, relegating them to positions as strippers and housekeepers, invisible laborers who exist only in the background. Countless women flee brutal violence every day in countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and many of them wind up languishing in American border camps, often sent back to the abusive homes from which they came. If they're lucky enough to wind up in America, maybe they can get a housekeeper job, and even then they may wind up underground.

That's the runoff from this kind of violence, which so often stems from within America. It's the fallout from power-hungry kingpins like Walter White who feel the need to compensate for their own unfulfilled entitlement by lashing out at the world around them, becoming the cowboys, kingpins, or brutal Jokers or ruthless leaders they feel they have the right to be.

But this is not Walter White's story anymore. Unlike Walter, Jesse has always had a semblance of ethics, a desire for redemption. In the film, he's given a few moments in between the chases and gunfights to rise up from dark bathwater, or to gently balance a beetle on his fingertip. Jesse has always been drawn to small creatures, to invisible and innocent things. In this film, his main objective is to become one of them.

Still, Vince Gilligan can't seem to resist writing Jesse his own cowboy narrative. At the start of El Camino, Jesse was unable to actually fire a kill shot—but near the end, he ruthlessly kills two men, an action that is painted as something like a triumph. The mythology of the American cowboy never quite leaves him or the core of the Breaking Bad franchise, though it's always been clear that these narratives only end in violence, and there is no cleaning off the blood.

El Camino will probably only appeal to hardcore fans of Breaking Bad, as it's is too laced with reverberations from the series to stand alone and too much of a slow-burn to make for a self-sufficient thriller. Still, it has enough gorgeous images of the desolate American Southwest to please fans of the show's famed cinematography, and it's packed with the same kind of complex moral questions that always made Breaking Bad so difficult to look away from. Though it may provide few answers, it's a look into the questions that burn holes into the foundations of the American Dream.

FILM

The "El Camino" Trailer Is a Trauma-Fueled Nightmare

"El Camino" picks up where "Breaking Bad" left off—which is very bad for Jesse Pinkman.

[This article contains Breaking Bad spoilers.]

Sequels are always crapshoots, especially when they come years after the conclusion of a widely lauded and definitively concluded franchise.

The sequel to Breaking Bad comes six years after Walter White bled out to the tune of Badfinger's "Baby Blue," cementing his place as one of television's best antiheroes. But Walter White's story could never have happened without his foil and second-in-command: the erratic, impulsive Jesse Pinkman.

We last saw Jesse, blood-soaked and shattered, driving away from the neo-Nazi meth lab where White died. He'd suffered through an unimaginable amount of trauma and violence, and it was hard to imagine how he'd continue on.

Now, we'll get our answer. El Camino picks up where the series left off, diving straight back into Jesse's storyline. The trailer, at least, looks promising. Through a series of dark, dimly lit vignettes, it provides a window into Jesse's distorted state of mind and his scarified body, seemingly choosing to reflect his internal world rather than providing hints at any form of the movie's plot. The song "Black Water" by Reuben and the Dark makes the whole thing feel surreal and dreamlike.

Though it mostly remains abstract, the trailer offers glimpses of the violent fallout Jesse certainly faces from his connections with Heisenberg. Jesse's identity was largely shaped around and controlled by Walter White, who also controlled and manipulated the show's entire narrative, so it'll be interesting to see how Jesse and the story fare on their own.

While it's hard to imagine that El Camino could actually provide a satisfying follow-up to Breaking Bad, in some ways it seems fitting that Jesse has been reborn from the ashes. He frequently draws comparisons to Jesus Christ, as he always seemed to suffer for Walter White's sins and maintained a shadow of morality as he spiraled deeper into drug-fueled chaos (which is more than most characters on the show can say). Judging by this trailer and by the nature of Vince Gilligan's writing, Jesse won't catch a break anytime soon.

El Camino debuts in some theaters and on Netflix on October 11.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie | Official Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com