‘Breaking Bad’ Directors on Film: A User’s Guide
The Director: Bronwen Hughes
Breaking Bad Episode(s) Directed: “Crazy Handful of Nothing,” the sixth episode of the first season, wherein we (and Walt and Jesse) meet the ill-fated Tuco.
Most Notable Films: Hughes directed young Michelle Trachtenberg opposite Rosie O’Donnell in the film version of Harriet the Spy. Then, in 1999, she directed Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock in a tropical-storm-inflected tale of planes, trains, and automobiles (and also falling in reckless love) called Forces of Nature.
Highest Recommendation: The twists and turns of Affleck and Bullock’s careers make Forces of Nature at the very least a prime curiosity.
The Director: Peter Medak
Breaking Bad Episode(s) Directed: “Peekaboo,” the second-season episode where Jesse has to deal with a meth-head couple (uncluding the divine Dale Dickey) who ripped him off..
Most Notable Films: Two films stand out in Medak's filmography. One is The Changeling, with George C. Scott starring in a spooky ghost story with brilliant atmosphere. The second, Romeo Is Bleeding, a Pulp Fiction-era crime spree featuring a pair of brilliant, insane performances from Gary Oldman and Lena Olin.
Highest Recommendation: God strike us down, The Changeling can be a bit too slow, while Romeo Is Bleeding is just pure eyeball-sorching action.
The Director: Tim Hunter
Breaking Bad Episode(s) Directed: “A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal,” the first-season episode where things with Tuco escalate ... and Marie gets caught shoplifting. Oh, Marie.
Most Notable Films: There was Tex, an adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel that reunited Matt Dillon with the Outsiders author. But Hunter's most notable work is 1986's River's Edge, a dark crime drama featuring a host of big '80s names like Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, Crispin Glover, as well as Dennis Hopper.
Highest Recommendation: Did you know River's Edge won the Independent Spirit Award that year for Best Feature? And Best Screenplay? And that Hunter only lost Best Director to a living legend in John Huston? Not too bad.
The Director: David Slade
Breaking Bad Episode(s) Directed: "Hard Sell,” the third episode of Season 4, where Skyler strong-armed her way into the car wash business and we see that Marie has relapsed into the kleptomania.
Most Notable Films: Slade has worked quite a bit in feature films in the last ten years, and has managed to deliver a varied filmography within the general category of horror/thrillers. There was the straight-up vampire horror of 30 Days of Night. The vampire romance of Twilight: Eclipse. And the forcible-imprisonment morality tale Hard Candy.
Highest Recommendation: Eclipse was an improvement on the first two Twilights, and 30 Days of Night is a solid scare flick. But Hard Candy feels genuinely dangerous and a true talking point.
The Director: Johan Renck
Breaking Bad Episode(s) Directed: Three pretty great episodes: "Breakage," wherein Walt brings on Jesse's dumb pals to help sell for him; "Más," wherein Gus tries to convince Walt to re-join his business; and best of all, "Hermanos," where we flashback to Gus Fring's origin story.
Most Notable Film: Renck's lone feature film to mention was the controversial Downloading Nancy, which raised a ruckus of consternation at Sundance in 2008 and later won Maria Bello an Indie Spirit nomination.
The Director: John Dahl
Breaking Bad Episode(s) Directed: "Down,” the second-season episode that sees Jesse get kicked out of his parents' house.
Most Notable Films: It's not a short list, but it's an incredibly good one, including films like Red Rock West, The Last Seduction, and Rounders.
Highest Recommendation: There are many reasons to recommend the Linda Fiorentino performance in The Last Seduction, but the crown jewel here really is Red Rock West, which manages to be neo-noir and quasi-Western and features a great Nicolas Cage performance.
The Director: Rian Johnson
Breaking Bad Episode(s) Directed: Two of best-regarded episodes of the entire Breaking Bad run, "Fly" (where Walt goes slowly crazy trying to flush out a winged contaminant from his lab) and "Fifty-One" (where Skyler gets so freaked out by being trapped by Walt that she walks into the bottom of the pool). He's also credited as directing the upcoming 14th episode of Season 5 (that'd be the third-to-last one), titled "Ozymandias."
Most Notable Films:He did high-school noir in Brick, screwball con-artistry in The Brothers Bloom, and rigorous time-travel action in Looper.
Highest Recommendation: There were a lot of critics last year who called Looper the best film of Johnson's young and incredibly promising career, but for my money, he's yet to top Brick. Which isn't exactly an insult, as Brick is one of the finest films of the past 15 years.