Tag Archives: Mad Men

The Roundup: April 9th

Featured Links

Remaking Metropolis by David Kalat at Movie Morlocks

Once again, David Kalat blows me away with one of his wide-ranging and highly informative posts. This time, he approaches the Complete Metropolis with some trepidation – not because the restored version of the film isn’t amazing (it is, and he agrees), but because the push to market it as the full version of what we’d only known in part before downgrades the earlier cuts unfairly. After all, that shorter cut is what most people have known and fallen in love with for the past 75 years. On his way to this argument, though, he also details the production and troubled distribution of the film, discussing in detail how the cuts got made in the first place and why, and the seemingly subtle but actually quite significant changes to the story that resulted from them. Probably the best post I read all week.

A Meditation on Mad Men by The Lady Eve at The Lady Eve’s Reel Life

The Lady Eve has been hosting a whole series of excellent posts about Mad Men on her blog (most of which seem to be relatively spoiler-free, discussing the overall aesthetics and appeal of the show rather than specific plot details – which is good for me, since I’m still back in S3 somewhere), and this collection of thoughts from the Lady Eve herself captures a lot of the major themes of the show – the sense of nostalgia that calls us to a show about the ’60s even as Don Draper uses it to hearken to an even earlier time in his ad campaigns, the search for identity that haunts Don and his family and to some degree the ’60s as a whole, and of course, the exquisite detail of the production design and scripts that seem to bring not just the look of the ’60s, but the hopes and fears of that era into startling reality.

The Psychology of Betty Draper Francis by Terry Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts

Yes, another Mad Men-related post. What are you gonna do about it? Just please don’t take this opportunity to spoil me on what was apparently a brilliant episode last night, because I am a season and a half behind. This post pulls some stuff from season 4, I think, but not enough to bother me. Betty is pretty much a shoo-in for least-liked character on the show, and Canote certainly doesn’t whitewash any of her frankly horrible behavior throughout the show, but he does take the opportunity to psychoanalyze her a little bit, in terms of her family background, life with Don, and the social atmosphere of the ’60s. I don’t always agree with psychoanalytical approaches, but this one manages to discuss an awful lot about the show in general, and the way the writers have set Betty up to be the person she is.

Memories of Midnight Movies by Will McKinley at The Cinementals

A simply delightful post, relating Will’s experience with midnight movies on Long Island in the ’70s and ’80s. He discusses the midnight movie phenomenon in general, even though he was too young at the time to really be a part of it, and the first time his dad took him to a midnight movie – not Rocky Horror Picture Show or Eraserhead, though those were two of the films to popularize the concept in the late ’70s – but a midnight screening of classic Three Stooges movies. I guess we know why Will’s a Cinemental!

Pioneers of the Corman Film School by Alex Withrow at And So It Begins

Alex reminds us that without Roger Corman, we’d be unlikely to have the many of the most talented directors of the past few decades, and New Hollywood itself probably would’ve been a very different time. Known for his low budget, quickly shot B movies, Corman used his studio AIP to give young directors a shot at making films the same way he did – quick and dirty. But by giving them the freedom they needed, he ended up launching careers for people like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, and more. Alex runs through a bunch of these directors, talking a bit about the films they made for AIP and what they went on to do later. Thank you, Mr. Corman, for your contribution to American cinema.

Playing by Different Rules: Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray by Marilyn Ferdinand at Ferdy on Films

Classic Hollywood loved to pair the same actors together over and over again, with many costarring teams becoming almost inextricably linked – Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, William Powell and Myrna Loy, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Marilyn Ferdinand points out that Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray costarred no fewer than three times together (not quite as often as those other teams, granted, but still a decent amount), and yet all their films are so decidedly different that it’s tough to consider them a “team” in the same way as some of the others. She takes a look at these three films and at Stanwyck and MacMurray’s performances in them.

More Links!

Cool Trailers, Videos, and More

Noteworthy News

  • Nicole Kidman will play Grace Kelly in an upcoming film from Olivier Dahan (La vie en rose) – if you don’t believe that’s great casting, just watch her in The Others and get back to me
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt won’t be in Django Unchained after all; he has a scheduling conflict due to his directorial debut. That’s a good reason, I think, but still.
  • Apparently Greta Gerwig is a director now, with a surprise film headed for festivals this fall
  • David Michôd’s debut Animal Kingdom turned a lot of heads, including in Hollywood, but he’s following it up with another small Australian film – good for him, and I’ll be there to watch it
  • Vincenzo Natali is set to follow the underrated Splice with backwards ghost story Haunters, with Abigail Breslin in the lead

The Roundup: April 2

Featured Links

The Golden Age of Inappropriate Behavior in Movie Theatres by Glenn Kenny at Some Came Running

With a recent study coming out suggesting that over 50% of young theater goers would like to be able to text in movie theatres, a bunch of film blogs have offered their opinions on the subject, mostly aghast at the idea. Glenn Kenny doesn’t directly disagree, but offers a very entertaining account of attending rowdy second run theatres in the ’70s as background for why he can’t get very worked up over the whole texting thing. He does bring up an interesting point, insomuch as our tendency to complain about current audiences implicitly suggests that audiences used to be much more polite and respectful, which my research doesn’t bear out any more than Glenn’s experience, but I still think there’s a difference. The audiences he’s describing (besides being at second run theatres) are at least still engaged either with the movie or with each other – it maintains a communal experience that clearly generates memorable stories. Texting on the one hand isolates the texter from the audience around them and imposes the texter’s non-movie, non-communal activity on those around them, and generates nothing memorable in return. Still, Glenn’s point that there is no mythical “golden age” of perfect cinema audiences is well-taken.

The Films of Billy Wilder: A Retrospective by The Playlist

Billy Wilder is one of my favorite filmmakers, and I’m far from alone; as The Playlist mentions in the opening paragraph, The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius thanked only one former filmmaker in his Oscar speech, and that was Billy Wilder. The man made a few mediocre films, but he has an extraordinarily consistent output of great films, and The Playlist goes through them all chronologically, with a well-written and informative paragraph about each one.

The Cinementals Episode 3: Scott McGee by Carley & Will at The Cinementals

I’ve known Carley before thanks to her blog The Kitty Packard Pictorial, and Will on Twitter, and now they’ve joined forces with some other classic movie fans to create The Cinementals, what looks to be an invaluable classic film site. They’re already off to a strong start with one of the best classic film podcasts I’ve heard, and this episode is particularly solid thanks to special guest Scott McGee, a producer at TCM (he produces a lot of the promotional and tribute videos that play between films on the network). With the TCM Classic Film Festival looming, they talk a bunch about that, but also about Scott’s experience seeing the Napoleon restoration in San Francisco, the fight to save Pickfair Studios, and more.

Perils, Pitfalls, and Predicaments Galore: The Silent Serial Queens by Brandie at True Classics

A major stereotype of silent film serials is the damsel in distress threatened by a mustachioed villain – as parodied in Dudley Do-Right, for example. But actually, an awful lot of early serials had female heroines, who were often quite capable of taking care of themselves. Brandie runs down a few of the most prominent (the only one I’d heard of before was The Perils of Pauline) ones. Of course, there were also plenty of male-centric serials in the teens (Les Vampires, etc.) and even more into the 1930s, when comic strip-type adventure heroes took over. But that’s a topic for another time.

Veneration and Its Discontents by Doug Dibbern at MUBI

It’s old news at this point that film studios are planning to go all-digital in the near future, but many cinephiles are still conflicted about the inevitable shift from film to digital. I’m conflicted myself, and Doug Dibbern does a great job of articulating the myriad of feelings we have about this. Taking the occasion of a demo of a DCP film shown side-by-side with its 35mm counterpart, Dibbern points out that part of our concern is an irrational veneration for physical, as if “the film” (in a Platonic sense) exists there more purely than anywhere else, as if different prints and different screenings weren’t already unique due to many different factors. As he says, DCP projection is often excellent, and it’s hard to find rational reasons to complain…but as he finishes in a more elegiac tone: “I know it’s not rational to revere film as a manifestation of a Platonic ideal, but that misplaced reverence, irrational as it is, may be why we were all drawn to art in the first place.”

The New Cinematic Dystopia of The Hunger Games by Landon Palmer at Film School Rejects

Holding Out for a Hero: Katniss and the New (Female) Role Model by Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg at Twitch

I’m putting these two together, both very worthwhile articles about the newest box office blockbuster, The Hunger Games. I finally saw it this weekend, so I got to read all the articles about it. These do both contain spoilers. Palmer points out that while many dystopian stories go from ignorance to knowledge to action, while The Hunger Games eschews the ignorance portion – even with the prevalent and misleading media, Katniss knows that the system is bad, she just needs a call to action and an opportunity to take it. Meanwhile, Rowan-Legg talks about Katniss the character as a hero, specifically in the tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, suggesting that it both does and doesn’t matter than she’s female. It’s a good, strong reading of a well-written and well-played character.

More Links!

  • Dan at Public Transportation Snob catches up with In the Mood for Love, and gives it an extremely solid review
  • Ed Howard at Only the Cinema highlights Castaways from Turtle Rock from overlooked New Wave director Jacques Rozier – I admit that I’ve not heard of Rozier, but I’m intrigued now
  • Bilge Ibiri at They Live by Night reprints an article about Jacques Rivette’s notoriously difficult to find 13-hour film Out 1 – and makes me want to seek it out myself
  • Steve at 1001 Plus gets to Magnolia, which is easily my favorite PT Anderson film – Steve liked it too, though his commenters are mixed. :)
  • Roderick Heath at Ferdy on Films liked John Carter quite a lot, and writes it up in his usual extremely compelling way – I was already curious, but now I actually really want to see it
  • Tyler at Southern Vision writes up INLAND EMPIRE as one of his all-time favorite films, an estimation I agree with whole-heartedely
  • Emil at A Swede Talks Movies picks 9 Director-Actor Teamups he wants to see – great choices all across the spectrum; who would you want to work together?
  • The Playlist picks out both actors and actresses they think are on the rise in 2012 – lots of these people I haven’t even heard of, but I’ll be looking out for them now!
  • Martin Scorsese recommends these 39 foreign films to an aspiring filmmaker. I’ve seen 23 of them; how about you?
  • Stevee Taylor of Cinematic Paradox bemoans the state of current DVD shops, from an insider’s persective
  • Over at Comic Alliance, Lauren Davis wonders if Batman has a moral obligation to kill the Joker (in the comics) and brings in noted philosophical positions to argue it out

Cool Trailers and Videos And Other Stuff

Noteworthy News

Fall TV is Upon Us Again

And my DVR begins its protests against abuse and overwork. I’m trying to cut down this year, really I am, but I think what’s going to happen (again) is I start off watching way too much and then shows will fall off as the season goes on. At least this year I already have a color-coded list of which shows are first on the chopping block. YES, color-coded. What? I’m a nerd.

So what’s on everyone else’s schedules? Let me know! I’m going to try to post more about TV this year – if only because I need to get into the habit of posting more, and TV is an easy topic to do.

Definitely Watching

Dollhouse
Dollhouse
I was shocked and pleased when Fox renewed Dollhouse last year; I can’t wait to see where it goes this year. Hopefully far enough that I’ll soon forget the disappointment of the simultaneous (and probably related) demise of The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

30 Rock
30 rock
Doesn’t come back until the middle of October! Wah. But then it’s always late, isn’t it? Ah well, Liz Lemon and her crew are worth waiting for, always.

Mad Men
MadMenSeason3
This one started several weeks ago, actually. And I’m already four or five episodes behind. Way to start the season, there. In my defence, I was finishing up Season 2 on disc. But I really need to marathon it and catch up, because it’s one of the best shows on TV right now.

Fringe
Fringe
I spent all last year deciding whether to keep watching Fringe, because I didn’t feel any connection with Olivia, and had some issues with the narrative. But then the finale had like six WTF moments, and it turned out to be one of my most-anticipated returning shows. That could be because it’s sci-fi and I’m hungry for any sci-fi right now. Or it could be because alternate realities are the BEST EVER. We’ll see if the season bears out the promise of last year’s finale.

V
v_promo-1024x576
I haven’t seen the original series, I’m not going to. It’s sci-fi. I’m watching it, and I’m excited about it. And upset that it doesn’t start until FRAKKING NOVEMBER.

The Office
The Office
Poo-ball! Yeah, that’s what I took away from the season premiere. And also, Jim and Pam are still adorable. I remember being afraid that after a while their adorableness would wear off and the writers would be forced to break them up to keep interest, but I’m more confident now that they won’t do that.

How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother
Three words: Neil Patrick Harris. A few more words: I was such a huge fan of Ted-Robin that I fought Barney-Robin like crazy. But I give in. They’re good. There are so few sitcoms I can watch, and HIMYM keeps popping back near the top of my list.

So You Think You Can Dance
So You Think You Can Dance
In the fall! I’m so excited! My wittle baby summer show gets a fall slot. I love everything about this show, except when people get eliminated. That part I don’t like. I could go on and on about how it kicks American Idol’s ass, but I did that years ago. Nothing has changed.

Family Guy
familyguy
Usually this is on my “watch when I have time” list, just because the episodes don’t depend on seeing them all or seeing them in order. But Family Guy gets quoted approximately 8,295,372 times every day at work, so I gotta keep up. Plus, it’s hilarious.

Project Runway
Project Runway
I’m not a fashion person, but Project Runway is some damn fine TV. Just seeing what the designers come up with to meet the requirements of the challenge is fascinating (and often the most outlandish challenges get the most remarkable results, go figure). The season is well underway, and thankfully the switch from Bravo to Lifetime doesn’t seem to have hurt it at all.

Survivor: Samoa
survivorsamoa
Yep, I got sucked into Survivor. I resisted for years, but I’m there now. Although so far this year, the one guy who thinks he’s all that is annoying me so much. I hope he gets voted off soonish.

FlashForward
FlashForward
I’m calling this one pseudo-sci-fi until I see more, though most people seem to be considering it a sci-fi show. Personally, I think everyone simultaneously blacking out and seeing a vision of their future is an interesting if somewhat gimmicky premise, but doesn’t guarantee actual sci-fi-ness. But it’s one of the few new shows I’m excited about, and it has Joseph Fiennes. So there you go.

Glee
Glee
I’m a little more skeptical of hyped-up music-infested high school-set shows than some of my friends, but it at least looks to be a good guilty pleasure show. Don’t get me wrong, I love music and musicals, but I’m not really a fan of the music they’ve had on the show so far. Too “High School Musical.” Which is, of course, the obvious comparison.

We’ll See

The Simpsons
Ditto what I said about Family Guy. I haven’t kept up as well with The Simpsons, though, in previous seasons, so I feel less bad if I get behind.

The Amazing Race
Usually TAR is at the top of my reality show list, but I’m starting to get a little bored with its formula. But I’m keeping it on my schedule because a) I like seeing all the places they go and b) honestly, some nights, reality tv is all I have the energy to watch, so I need a few options.

Top Chef
I enjoy Top Chef and always watch in the summer when it starts, but I don’t love it enough to keep it up if I get behind on other stuff. OTOH, the early start means it ends early.

Bones
I actually love Bones a lot, but I got behind on it last year and missed half a season. I watched the season opener last week, and I don’t think picking it back up will be an issue, but we’ll see.

Community
Really only watched this last week because it’s in 30 Rock‘s spot and I figured, why not. We’ll see if it has staying power once the schedule gets crazier and it moves timeslots.

The Cleveland Show
I’m going to start out watching this because a) Family Guy spin-off and b) I know the head animator. But the previews I’ve seen have not been promising. We’ll see.

Will Probably Drop

House
I love House, really, but I missed half of last season, and I was starting to get a little bored with House’s schtick anyway. I’m gonna try a couple of eps once they show up on hulu, but in a time crunch, I’ve got to say goodbye to the good doctor.

The Mentalist
Got behind on this one last year, too, but I enjoyed the episodes I saw. I’m going to try to pick it up again, but procedurals are usually the first to drop when I start running out of time.

Numb3rs
Procedural. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but the last year or so hasn’t kept me as interested.

NCIS
I missed a lot of this one last year, too. I think there’s something going on with Ziva that I know NOTHING about, so I’m not sure I can pick it back up without seeing the episodes I missed. Not sure I want to, either…I have one recorded and I’ll check it out, but I’ll probably drop it soon.

NCIS: Los Angeles
I gotta give any show set in LA a chance, but even the billboards look stupid, so no high hopes.

Criminal Minds
I love the cases on Criminal Minds, some of the more fascinating ones in any of the procedurals, but again, procedural. And I really didn’t watch it at all until last season, so I don’t have a lot invested in it.

Ugly Betty
This one kills me. I *love* Ugly Betty, but I missed so much of it last year. I don’t think I want to start it up again without watching the ones I missed, so I may put this down as a “watch on DVD later.”

Not Watching

Grey’s Anatomy
Big fan for years, even against my will at times, but I lost track last year (wow, last year sucked for me and TV, huh?), and I’d already fallen into a love-hate relationship with the show. I’ll probably be a happier person without it.

Desperate Housewives
My love-hate relationship with DH fell way more into hate last year, so I’m not really even half-way considering trying to pick it back up. Sorry, guys, you lost me somewhere around the time you stopped lampooning soaps and became one.

The Big Bang Theory
I’ve never been a Big Bang Theory watcher, but I’ve told people I would try it. I tried it. It’s not that funny, guys. Not against NBCs sitcoms and HIMYM. And the laugh track kills whatever jokes might’ve been funny.

Heroes
There’s not really any question with Heroes. I gave up middle of last season when it did not improve after the debacle of the previous season, and despite the fact that Bryan Fuller is back, I refuse to be pulled back into it again. This is probably the only show I’ve ever watched that I literally dreaded watching off the DVR every week.

66th Annual Golden Globes – Thoughts

And spoilers, so if for whatever reason you haven’t watched it yet and don’t want to know winners – you’re probably screwed, since it’ll likely pop up in your feedreader, on your TV, in your newspaper, etc. But at least I warned you, so there. Golden Globe spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading