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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Culture Feature

14 Celebrities Who Shared Their COVID-19 Stories

The coronavirus clearly cares little for fame.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Coronavirus

When the coronavirus first began to sweep the world in early 2020, few could imagine that in November we'd still be fully immersed in it, living in a world ravaged by fire, disease, and chronic governmental ineptitude.

Today the United States has reported more than 250,000 COVID-19 deaths, and that number shows no sign of decreasing. The virus has spared no one and nothing, and Hollywood and the entertainment industries were hard-hit, with even some of the world's largest and wealthiest stars relegated to their beds, forced to turn to Instagram for sympathy and updates.

Here are some of the most famous people to confess that they received a positive COVID-19 test. It's likely that many other famous people had the virus and either were never diagnosed or chose not to share their stories. The list also doesn't begin to cover the tragedy of all those who died from the virus, or the agony felt by those whose lives were torn apart by the pandemic and other crises in 2020.

But even these few stories are testimonials to a virus that proved itself to be far more powerful than mankind's most renowned figures. And, if the fact that Tom Hanks is still isolating is any proof, it's not over yet.

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Can you distinguish the truth from the lies? No Googling!

1. Woody Harrelson's dad was a contract killer.

woody harrelson ABC via Getty Images

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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.

CULTURE

Worst Celebrity Kisses, Ranked

You've seen the Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello video, but have you seen these other terrible kisses?

If you thought that Lily-Rose Depp and Timothee Chalamet took the cake for worst kiss of the week, you're wrong.

Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello shared a rather grotesque full-on video of themselves kissing last night, and the Internet is generally feeling a bit traumatized.

The video was apparently intended to troll their critics, though it's unclear exactly how. "We saw on Twitter and stuff you guys saying stuff about the way we were kissing, that it looks like weird and that we kiss like fish," Shawn says in the beginning of the clip.

"It really hurt our feelings," Cabello says. Then Mendes says, "So we're going to show you how we really kiss." What follows: choking, LOTS of tongue, Shawn possibly trying to eat Camila.

Even for a joke, this kiss is disturbing. Maybe that's because the kiss looks half serious; the body language makes it look real, but the kiss itself is nightmarish. While all this could just be an elaborate PR stunt, there are a fair number of liquor bottles behind them and honestly, they could (let's hope) simply be incredibly drunk.

To be fair, kissing is a pretty strange action when you think about the logistics of it, and sometimes it's painfully obvious just how bizarre the act of smashing your mouth against someone else's can look from the outside. On the other hand, a little technique goes a long way, and these celebrities seem to be severely lacking in either experience or sobriety. Anyway, in honor of Shawn and Camila, here are some of the greatest celebrity kiss trainwrecks of all time.

9. Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian

No wonder this marriage didn't work: Kris Humphries didn't have the decency to lean down far enough to reach his short wife's mouth. Still, this kiss is relatively innocuous in comparison to what's coming next.

TV

The Best Moments from the 2019 Tonys

James Corden celebrated the Tony Awards winners of 2019, from newcomers like "Hadestown" to revived classics like "Oklahoma!"

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

A female director finally won.

New York City (the superior city) beat out Hollywood last night—proving theater is superior entertainment. Rachel Chavkin, the only female director on Broadway right now, won Best Direction for Hadestown and made sure no one will forget it. She proclaimed that the lack of diversity in the industry is "not a pipeline issue. It is a failure of imagination by a field whose job is to imagine the way the world could be. So let's do it." Brava.

Rachel Chavkin Wins Best Direction Of A Musical At The 2019 Tony Awards www.youtube.com

Hadestown Awareness

Speaking of Hadestown, the show's 14 nominations resulted in 5 wins and exposure for those who had yet to hear about the phenomenal show. The performance of "Wait for Me" piqued the interest of many who had never seen something like it before. Let's just say ticket sales are now booming.

The Cast Of Hadestown Performs "Wait For Me" At The 2019 Tony Awards www.youtube.com

A Taylor Mac Appearance

His outfit alone was delightful enough to be a marvelous moment, but Mac outdid himself. Mac introduced his play, Gary, A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, lighting up the room with a smile while explaining the horrifying premise.

Playwright Taylor Mac Shines As He Describes Gary: A Sequel To Titus Andronicus At The 2019 Tony … www.youtube.com

Billy Porter Owns Every Red Carpet

best moments tonys 2019 billy porter

Enough said.

Elaine May is Marvelous

The six decade career-actress spoke humbly, noting, "I've never won a nomination for acting before." The 87-year-old not only gave away her character's ending in The Waverly Gallery, but cracked a few jokes along the way. The short and sweet speech was a perfect moment for the icon. Bless her.

Elaine May Wins Best Leading Actress In A Play At The 2019 Tony Awards www.youtube.com

Being Reminded Oklahoma! Is a Great Musical

Oklahoma! is definitely benefitting from the comeback of yeehaw culture. Between Ali Stoker's heartfelt speech and the fun, catchy performance, the cast proved Oklahoma! earned its Best Revival Tony.

Ali Stroker Wins Best Featured Actress In A Musical At The 2019 Tony Awards www.youtube.com


The Cast Of Oklahoma! Performs "I Cain't Say No/ Oklahoma" At The 2019 Tony Awards www.youtube.com