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Entries in Elisabeth Moss (13)

Tuesday
May192015

Mad Men Series Finale "Person to Person"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Abundant intelligent movie references were what first prompted the "Mad Men at the Movies" series. Though this series finale had no movie references, the great series' best episodes, hell even its minor ones, have had the richness of cinema both visually and thematically. That said, I personally enjoyed the unprovoked flashback to Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) a fitting companion film to see this week, for many reasons: its time period, its troubled romances, self-discovery retreats, and especially its gorgeously sly double-sided satiric/genuine "EPIPHANY!" and hippie-love musical finale. Here's new contributor Lynn Lee to wrap up as we raise our glasses (of Coke naturally) to the greatest TV show of all time - Nathaniel

It’s been less than 24 hours since the series finale of “Mad Men” aired and a vigorous debate is already raging over the last few minutes of it.  What, we wonder, was the meaning of the cut from Don’s closed eyes and beatific smile to the classic 1971 Coke commercial that introduced “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”? 

Is this where Don’s inspiration leads – back to McCann and Coca-Cola’s signature advertising hook?  Or is the juxtaposition an ironic commentary on the enlightenment he thinks he’s found?  Or is it a non-ironic contrast between the enlightenment he truly has found and the ersatz version that Coke would peddle as a substitute for the real thing?

more...

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Tuesday
May122015

Q&A: Gene Kelly 1, Character X, and Best Actress 2: The Sequel

It's time to answer a dozen reader questions pulled from the last two "Ask Nathaniel" suggestion-box posts. Please to note that in the podcast this weekend, we answered a few already that were Ex Machina related and last night we teased you with an appetizer about the emotions of Inside Out and actors who best embody them.

Jumping right in...

BVR: Do you think audiences will ever flock to dramas again the way they used to years ago?

I hope so, all things being cyclical. It happens once in a while still. The Blind Side (2009) and American Sniper (2014) were both supersized hits in the way movie star dramas of the past have been when they've hit big. Unfortunately they both felt like anomalies and only that successful because they managed to get people who don't go to the movies into the movie theater. The problem today is obviously at least four-fold: TVs got larger, the amount of content exploded, theatrical windows shrunk, and the theaters, rather than stepping up their game to compete, actually made themselves less hospitable with smaller screens and tons of commercials.

Movie theater chains seem to be trying again but once you've lost a regular moviegoer, it's hard to restore their habit. What is next in terms of technological advances? Will we ever get fully three dimensional hologram-like movies you can walk around inside? And if we do, won't dramas be the favorite, rather than special effects pictures, for the 'choose your own proximity adventure' in terms of closeups of the actors? I imagine they'll be performed very much like straight plays for multiple cameras and since you're the one doing the editing, theater training will be important and superb acting could rise again to "favorite visual effect" dominance. 

Or did our recent sci-fi week warp my brain too much? This wasn't the answer you were looking for.

BROOKESBOY: Who will be the next winner of a second Best Actress prize?

More Questions and Answers -- a lot more -- after the jump

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Wednesday
May062015

Mad Men @ the Movies: "Lost Horizon"

Lynn Lee, back again with Mad Men at the Movies.

With just two episodes left, “Mad Men” still has too much business to wrap up to spend much time on or at the movies.  But it’s surely no accident that the title of this week’s episode was “Lost Horizon” – a reference that’s popped up before on this show, but never with such direct resonance.

Lost Horizon, a bestselling novel written by James Hilton (who also penned Goodbye, Mr. Chips) between the two world wars, was made into a successful 1937 movie starring Ronald Colman and is most famous for introducing Shangri-La, fabled utopia of blissful ease and tranquility.  But while Shangri-La may be a haven, it’s also a prison—and, even within the narrative of Lost Horizon, possibly an illusion.  The entire plot is driven by a plan to deceive and kidnap a small group of random strangers and bring them by force to Shangri-La, where they each react very differently to what it offers them.

The parallels are obvious as our Sterling Cooper survivors gingerly transition to their new roles at McCann Erickson.  More...

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Tuesday
Apr282015

Mad Men 7.11 "Time & Life"

go speed racer, goLynn Lee, reporting for Mad Men at the Movies.

This should be a short report, considering there were no movie references this week – unless you count Lou Avery’s surprise bonanza with storied anime studio Tatsunoko Productions. But that sounds like a TV deal, especially with Lou’s reference to the studio’s best known serial, “Speed Racer.” (Which the Wachowskis did try to make into a movie almost four decades later, starring Emile Hirsch. It flopped spectacularly.) Still, this was the kind of character-rich, office-centered “Mad Men” episode (directed by cast alum Jared Harris, aka the late lamented Lane Pryce) that begs for discussion.

In a sense, there wasn’t time for the movies because there was so much going on, as Sterling Cooper tries yet again to reinvent itself and preserve its independence from the big bads. We’ve seen this particular movie before, and as the players keep reassuring each other and others, it can happen again...

We’ve done this before. You know we can.”

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Tuesday
Apr282015

Tony Nominations. With Context!

Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe & Tony Nominee Kelli O'Hara in THE KING AND I Tony/Emmy/Globe winner Mary Louise Parker and perpetually undervalued Bruce Willis announced the Tony nominations for the 2014/2015 theater season this morning with the musicals Fun Home & An American in Paris (which are both pretty great) leading with 12 nominations each. Broadway's "Best" will be honored live on Sunday June 7th on CBS with (this just in!) Tony winners and gargantuan cross-media talents Alan Cumming & Kristin Chenoweth co-hosting.

You can expect to see several movie star faces at the ceremony and you can also expect to see several closing notices before then for the shows that were shunned. The big question mark for the night of June 7th is whether perennial bridesmaid Kelli O'Hara (this is her fifth nomination for Best Actress in a Musical and her sixth overall) will finally take home the gold or if one of the living legends she's up against will win another; Chita Rivera and Kristin Chenoweth are not playin' around, each earning rave reviews.

When Oscar makes their announcements we rarely think to consult the list of 300ish movies that are eligible for Best Picture but because the Tony Awards are selected from a very distinct and small group of productions, it's useful to know what else was eligible, so we're serving you context with this full list of nominations

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Friday
Dec262014

Entertainers of the Year, An Alternate Take

Year in Review. Two yummy lists each day. Here's Matthew Eng on "Entertainers of the Year"

Let’s face it: Jimmy Fallon is an okay if utterly predictable choice for Entertainment Weekly’s annual “Entertainer of the Year” title, which can occasionally become more of an honor for being widely-known and well-liked than, you know, being consistently entertaining. (Have they made a truly interesting choice since that three-year, Oscar-certified run of Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and Denzel Washington from 2000-02?)

Rather than continue to pat the backs of those like Ben Affleck, Taylor Swift, Robert Downey, Jr., and J.K. Rowling – i.e. prominent pop culture presences and former “Entertainers of the Year” whose dominance over their respective industries is already deep and durable – let’s take a moment to honor some of our favorite hard-working actors and actresses who zig-zagged across mediums this year, making crucial contributions to the entertainment landscape, but who likely won’t be collecting any golden statues for their unique and indispensable achievements in 2014.

 

Alan Cumming, who lent his impish, adventurous energy to two wildly disparate roles this year, reprising his bawdily iconic take as the Emcee in Roundabout’s Cabaretrevival, while continuing to play his most unusual role as the sardonic and perpetually stressed-out campaign manager Eli Gold on The Good Wife, which is still the best thing on television. It’s a testament to Cumming’s versatility that he seems equally at home warbling in an evening gown and defiling chorus boys, as he does striding around an office and barking into a cellphone. In between suiting-up on screen and dressing down on stage, Cumming also penned a moving and well-reviewed memoir about his troubled childhood in Scotland entitled Not My Father’s Son.


Viola Davis, who continues to be better than any of the material she’s given, but still acts the hell out of everything she appears in, all the same. I’ve already written about how gorgeously she improves the standard mother-son arc of Get On Up, but let’s also give Davis her due for surpassing such esteemed company as Jessica Chastain and Isabelle Huppert to present the only credible human being in that weirdly noncommittal triptych The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, in which she plays Chastain’s professor and newfound confidante to weary, seen-it-all perfection. And finally, I still have my fingers crossed that How to Get Away with Murder will work some Scandal-like magic and pick up as it goes, but Davis is unqualifiedly great and effortlessly magnetic even amid mediocrity. We can never stop beating the drum for this gloriously gifted woman.

Lindsay Duncan, who, yes, played an indelible cobra as Birdman’s venomous voice of theatrical critique, but who also single-handedly dispels the lazy claims that 2014 was a weak year for lead actressing. I wish enough “pundits” would take it upon themselves to journey past their Wilds and Gone Girls and take a well-deserved look at Roger Michell’s marital dramedy Le Week-end, in which Duncan and a never-better Jim Broadbent work through the poignantly personal travails of ripened couplehood while celebrating their anniversary in Paris. Proudly reckless, boldly tetchy, and gleefully tongue-in-cheek, Week-end’s Meg is a marvel of deliciously detailed characterization and one of the acting achievements of the year, thanks to Duncan’s slyly sublime sorcery. (I mean, that voice alone!) Duncan’s also currently on the boards as Glenn Close’s acerbic, alcoholic sister in the revival of Albee’s A Delicate Balance and she’s still a staple on British television, having made appearances this year on SherlockBlack Mirror’s jaw-dropper of a first episode “The National Anthem” (only recently made available on Netflix), and The Honorable Woman, providing the latter with a quietly memorable take on the exasperated ex-wife, which leads us to…


Maggie Gyllenhaal, who never really reached the summits of critic-stamped screen stardom that surely seemed attainable during the Secretary and Sherrybaby days, but who has nonetheless continued to offer terrific and thoughtful work across a variety of mediums. New Yorkers have a little more than a week to catch her in the current revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (closing January 4th), in which Gyllenhaal pairs her usual flair for emphatic (if often unstable) eroticism with an intriguingly assured intelligence as an impassioned actress who throws herself heart-first into a relationship with a married playwright. She’s hilariously and cuttingly unhinged as the only reason worth watching Frank, playing the bitter, Bening-ish bandmate/protector of Michael Fassbender’s bobble-headed lead singer. Gyllenhaal’s great in both projects, but she’s downright fantastic in The Honorable Woman, the BBC miniseries that is equal parts timely political thriller and trenchant character study, and which has given Gyllenhaal her juiciest role in years as an unraveling Anglo-Israeli arms heiress urgently trying to bring peace to the Middle East. Gyllenhaal’s elegant and emotionally daring performance is just another compelling reason to keep this weirdly underappreciated actress in play.

Gaby Hoffmann, who is a national treasure. Besides providing such selfless, straight-shooting support to Obvious Child, ensuring that the film remain a warm and witty sketch of a circle of intimates rather than a lopsided vanity project, and giving Girls’ third season a welcome dose of droll derangement as Adam Driver’s loopy sister, Hoffmann is fully deserving of the praise and prizes that Jeffrey Tambor has received for Jill Soloway’s miraculous series Transparent. The entire familial ensemble (to include Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and Judith Light) clicks like crazy, with each performer projecting a whole host of complex and authentically-layered affinities, histories, and antipathies around one another, but it’s Hoffmann’s work as impetuous, indecisive baby sister Ali that has somehow lingered the most in my mind. It’s one thing to take the role of the caustic, cash-strapped family fuck-up and make her funny, charming, and inappropriate. It’s another thing entirely to invest so much extra ruefulness, wistfulness, selfishness, self-righteousness, sexiness, continually shifting sensibleness, and totally committed weirdness into a single character that she becomes someone we not only know, but someone we are unable to remember not knowing.

John Lithgow, who has had quite an enviable hot streak this year, the crowning achievement of which is his beautifully loose and lived-in performance as one half of 2014’s most believable onscreen couple, gay or otherwise, in Ira Sachs’ Love is Strange. In addition to his affecting and attentive leading man work, Lithgow also made his mark in two other noteworthy releases, imbuing bit parts in both The Homesman and Interstellar with muted, offhanded conviction. And that’s just on screen! Lithgow also gave good Lear in the Public’s August Shakespeare in the Park production, nailing the punchy imperiousness while adding an ungainliness to the declining King that in its plaintive way was just as tragic as any of the Bard’s plot turns. He’s also currently co-starring with Duncan in that same production of A Delicate Balance, closing out a banner year with yet another reminder that our most abiding and admired talents have endless shades to show us.

Elisabeth Moss, who, on the basis of her sterling work on the Sundance circuit, proves once again that she will be just fine when Don Draper lights up for the last time. She earned raves this year as Jason Schwartzman’s straying, sympathetic girlfriend in Listen Up Philip and rejuvenated some run-of-the-mill themes about marital devotion inThe One I Love with such a persuasive mix of pep and precision that I hardly noticed their familiarity. I’m excited by the prospect of Moss becoming a full-time film presence, but I hope she gets handed at least half as dynamic a role as Peggy Olson, whose professional rise and personal stalling-out Moss continued to chart with instinctive emotionality and endless empathy on the first half of Mad Men’s final season, which began with Peggy collapsing in tears on her apartment floor and ended with her officially taking the reigns from her former boss-turned-humbled colleague. Even if Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe voters failed to appreciate the magnificence of Moss’ work this year, those of us still watching can take pride in seeing this superbly skillful actress finish off her work as one of TV’s most beloved heroines before heading off into the promising future that awaits her.