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Daily Reads: When Paul Walker Almost Quit ‘Fast & Furious,’ ‘Better Call Saul’ Without ‘Breaking Bad,’ and More

Daily Reads: When Paul Walker Almost Quit 'Fast & Furious,' 'Better Call Saul' Without 'Breaking Bad,' and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential news
stories and critical pieces to you.

1. “Mad Men’s” Best Literary References. “Mad Men” is frequently referred to as being a literary show, but what are the series’ best literary references? Vulture’s Brooke Marine talks to Billy Parrott, managing librarian of the art and picture collections at the Mid-Manhattan Library:

“I like the ones where instead of just showing them reading, the actual books make their way into the show. They did that with Frank O’Hara’s “Meditations in an Emergency” [in season two]. Some of those poems were the dialogue, voice-overs, or closing credits of some of the scenes. “They also did it for the beginning of season six, where Don is reading Dante’s “Inferno.” There’s a voice-over, the first opening sentences of the book, which really relate to the show. When they incorporate the text into the show, it’s so spot-on.” Read more.

2. Inventing Cinema. Rachel Donadio of The New York Times covers a French exhibition on the Lumiere Brothers:

The show captures a time of optimism when viewers first had access to footage from around the world, before the carnage of World War I descended on Europe. It also seeks to put the Lumière brothers in context. Many innovators, including Thomas Edison in the United States, were experimenting with recording images, but it was Louis Lumière who in 1894 invented the cinematograph, a compact device that united all the existing technology to capture 17-minute films on 35-millimeter strips and to project them. He patented the machine in 1895. “He’s the last of the inventors but he’s the first of the filmmakers,” said Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival and of the Institut Lumière, who is a curator of the exhibition with Jacques Gerber. “Lumière was a great filmmaker,” Mr. Frémaux added. “There’s something extremely cinematographic in the films that Louis Lumière and his cameramen made.” Read more.

3. “Better Call Saul” Is a Great Standalone Show. “Better Call Saul” may be a “Breaking Bad” spinoff, but you don’t have to have seen its original in order to tune in to this show. Grantland’s Kevin Lincoln writes:

Considering and respecting this investment and dedication, let’s say most of the many folks who have tuned in to “Better Call Saul” are legacy viewers. What of the rest of us? It’s a serious question. When you premiere a show like “Better Call Saul,” the appeal of which lies so strongly in the substance of another narrative, are you punting on the uninitiated? Based on the advertising that led up to “Saul’s” premiere, I’d say yes. After watching the show itself, though, I’d say that, if this was the approach, it was misguided. Even if you thought crystal meth was a type of jewelry, “Better Call Saul” would still be excellent. Read more.

4. Paul Walker Nearly Quit “Fast & Furious.” Paul Walker makes his final film appearance in “Furious Seven,” but he nearly quit the franchise for good many times. The Los Angeles Times’ Amy Kaufman reports:

So when they were asked to rejoin the franchise for its fourth installment? “I thought it was stale,” Walker said. “They were talking about my involvement with the fourth one and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Really?’ Obviously, we made the first one that catered to pop culture and a youth-driven audience. But trends shift overnight with that audience. Nine years later, I really questioned if there was even an audience anymore.” Moritz couldn’t convince him to come back, he said, so Diesel gave him a call. This would be the first true sequel, Diesel assured his friend. They’d come in, knock this out and be done with the franchise. “So I thought: ‘Why not?'” Walker said. Read more.

5. ’90s TV Stars on “Mad Men.” Last night’s “Mad Men” featured Devon Gummersall, aka Brian Krakow of “My So-Called Life.” Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich looked into other times ’90s TV stars showed up on the show.

[Linda] Cardellini played a huge role in season six as the beguiling Draper neighbor Sylvia Rosen. You’ll remember that Sally caught Don and Sylvia in flagrante delicto. Cardellini spent years on NBC’s “ER,” but she’ll always be Lindsay Weir from “Freaks and Geeks” to me. Read more.

6. Edward Snowden on “John Oliver” What made Edward Snowden appear on “Last Week Tonight” last night? CNN’s Brian Stelter reports that Snowden was impressed by John Oliver’s journalism:

Snowden watched “Last Week Tonight’s” widely-acclaimed segment about net neutrality policy last summer and came away impressed by Oliver. When the two men met in Moscow, Snowden spoke frankly about his fears that the initial reports by The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news outlets would not get sustained attention. “I was initially terrified that this was going to be a three-day story. Everybody was going to forget about it,” he told Oliver. “But when I saw that everybody in the world said, ‘Whoa, this is a problem, we have to do something about this,’ it felt like vindication.” Read more.

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