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| Thursday, April 24, 2014



Take 5: 'Breaking' down entertainment





From “Breaking Bad” to blockbuster

Until this past weekend, director Rian Johnson was best known for directing critically acclaimed indie films like “Brick” and several stunning episodes of AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” The 38-year-old director will likely see his star rise with the buzzy sci-fi thriller “Looper,” starring recently established movie star Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an assassin assigned to kill a future version of himself (Bruce Willis).

Gordon-Levitt underwent a complex makeup procedure to resemble a young Willis, and early reviews from the likes of “Rolling Stone” and critic Roger Ebert have praised the film’s visual innovations and energetic plot. This film is certainly the weekend’s must-see.

Argument for argument’s sake

President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have reached a crucial moment in their 2012 election campaigns: the heavily scrutinized presidential debates, broadcast on all of the major networks simultaneously. From a pop culture perspective, the first presidential debate should provide ample fodder for sketch-based hilarity on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which thrives on mockery of political figures and election mania.

The first debate aired last night, and SNL’s next regular episode will air this Saturday, featuring host Daniel Craig (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), musical guest Muse and likely political satire from cast members Jay Pharoah as Obama and Jason Sudeikis as Romney.

Fall into new music

Major pop stars are preparing to release new music in time for the holiday rush. In a much anticipated return, Ke$ha debuted her new single “Die Young,” co-written by Nate Ruess of fun., continuing her party aesthetic with a bit of a 2012 dance-pop spin. Her album “Warriors” will be released on Dec. 4.

Meanwhile, the prolific Rihanna churned out the first single “Diamonds” from her as-yet-untitled December release, and Bruno Mars announced that his sophomore album “Unorthodox Jukebox” is set for a Dec. 11 release, with new single “Locked Out of Heaven” out this week.

Mumford magic

Music lovers and critics alike were drooling over Mumford & Sons following the band’s Grammy-nominated debut album “Sigh No More.” With the release of the band’s second album “Babel,” the acclaim and popularity has only intensified. First single “I Will Wait” is already a smash hit, and the album is set to sell more than 500,000 copies in its first week, easily exceeding Justin Bieber’s “Believe,” the year’s biggest debut yet. With a folk blend of lightning-fast banjos and yearning, wistful lyrics, this band is quickly approaching superstar status after only a few years in the game.

Life imitating art

Hollywood is mourning the loss of actor Johnny Lewis, found dead from an apparent fall outside his home after being released from jail two weeks ago. The embattled actor was implicated in the murder of his 81-year-old landlady.

Lewis played Kip Epps on Kurt Sutter’s hit biker drama “Sons of Anarchy” and is also well-known for roles in “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem,” “The Runaways” and FOX’s TV show, “The O.C.” In the tabloid world, he is best known for briefly dating Katy Perry in 2005.

mlieberman@theeagleonline.com