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Entries in Mad Men (91)

Friday
Jun142019

Emmy FYC: Christina Hendricks in "The Romanoffs"

Team Experience is sharing FYCs as the Television Academy votes on Emmy nominations over the next two weeks. Here's Mark Brinkerhoff.

The general consensus, if we even can have one in these divisive times, seems to be that Matthew Weiner’s The Romanoffs is an ignoble failure. As his immediate follow-up to Mad Men, the seminal, peak-TV series that gave him pretty much carte blanche to do whatever he wanted to creatively, The Romanoffs arrived last fall on a wave of buzz and eager anticipation. With a star-studded, international cast and intriguing, globe-trotting storyline (made possible by Amazon’s $70 million investment), what would Weiner & Co. ultimately deliver? The answer: Zzzs. (I sort of checked out mid-way through the second to last episode, as a matter of fact.) 

Nevertheless, within this eight-part limited series (which surely was meant to continue?) are elements that succeed better than they ought to quite frankly. Indeed, the parts are greater than their sum, and one in particular stood out to me immediately/in retrospect: Christina Hendricks... 

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Friday
Oct192018

The Romanoffs 1.1 "The Violet Hour" 

By Spencer Coile 

I vividly remember watching Mad Men for the first time during my junior year of college, struck by the way Matthew Weiner crafted a series that was cinematic and rich in detail, dialogue, and characters. Since its finale in 2015, I’ve been searching for a series that struck the same chord with me. Enter: The Romanoffs, the new Amazon Prime series from Matthew Weiner. Its premiere was a long time coming, with news, expansive cast announcements, and speculation circulating for years. Would Weiner capture lightning in a bottle again?

As it turns out, The Romanoffs is an anthology series, where each episode presents a new story about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the slaughtered Romanov family. Based off the first two episodes, it’ll be a globe-trotting series, bouncing across countries, and continents...

In its pilot episode, “The Violet Hour,” we are introduced to Greg (Aaron Eckhart), an American living in Paris who also takes care of his snobby elderly aunt, Anushka (Marthe Keller). Anushka takes great pride in her lineage, announcing herself to be a direct heir to the Romanovs. Her lavish Parisian apartment reflects her wealth and status, to the chagrin of Greg’s girlfriend Sophie, (Louise Bourgoin), who is waiting for the fateful day that Greg will inherit it...

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Thursday
Jul202017

Joan Harris Appreciation 

By Spencer Coile 

Whether she is slinging a cigarette around the office or barking orders at her fellow secretaries, Mad Men's Joan Holloway (later to become Joan Harris) is a character unlike any other portrayed on television in the 21st century. Caught up in issues of gender inequality in the workplace, a dead-end marriage, and an affair with her boss, Christina Hendricks managed to infuse this tough-as-nails supporting character on one of AMC's finest with enough nuance and grit to make her as memorable as its leading players, Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss.

And while each deserves celebration and posts of their very own, there is something so magical, so intriguing about Joan, that further attention must be paid...

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Wednesday
Jul192017

Happy 10th Anniversary to Mad Men

by Nathaniel R

Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the only series I've ever watched twice all the way through. I know I will eventually follow suit with my other favorite series of all time: Matthew Weiner's Mad Men. But the time is not yet. I still miss it terribly, especially on Sunday nights. The very first episode, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" premiered on this day 10 years ago... 

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Wednesday
May182016

Henry & Eleanor, Frank & Bram, and The Breakfast Club

On this day in movie related history... 

1152 King Henry II marries Eleanor of Aquitaine. Their romance is later fictionalized in the ever popular play/movie The Lion in Winter which we've written about several times

1897 Frank Capra is born in Italy. He'll immigrate to the US at five years old and become one of the most famous film directors of all time.  Across the ocean in London a public reading of Bram Stoker's new novel "Dracula, or, The Un-dead" is staged. Frank Capra never makes a movie influenced by Dracula but everyone else does.

Meredith Wilson writing music1902 There's trouble right here in River City Mason City when Meredith Wilson is born. He'll later write The Music Man but not before accruing Oscar nominations for film scoring (The Little Foxes, The Great Dictator)

1912 The first Indian film Shree Pundalik is released in Mumbai. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of movies will follow in its wake from the ever prolific Indian film industry, better known as "Bollywood". Over in the US, Richard Brooks is born and will go on to become a famous screenwriter and director. Four must-sees from his filmography: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960), In Cold Blood (1967), and Looking for Mr Goodbar (1977)

1931 Robert Morse is born, becomes darling cross media actor winning 2 Tonys and 1 Emmy.

...Unfortunately Emmy, given the opportunity to reward him with a career capping statue, robs him blind decades later for his unforgettable farewell on Mad Men

1970 Tina Fey is born so that we might have 30 Rock and Mean Girls.

1985 Simple Minds hits #1 with Don't You Forget About Me" the theme song from teen classic The Breakfast Club. Oscar forgets about it in the Best Original Song category. Do you think it deserved to knock one of these songs out? Let's readjudicate the race in the comments.

Oh come on you know you want to!

Illustration to the right by Johanna The Mad

2003 Musical sensation Les Misérables closes on Broadway after 16 years and 6,680 performances. Becomes super-divisive big-grossing Oscar-winning movie 9 years later. Is nominated for Best Original Song

Friday
Apr222016

Shine On, Beautiful Murder

Team Experience is at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Jason on "A Kind of Murder" and "Always Shine"

I know it's blasphemy in these parts to speak ill of Mad Men (cue 90% of you automatically clicking away in disgust) but I could never really get into it because it felt too slavishly obsessed with 60s posturing - I love Mid-Century Design as much as the next Eero Saarinen disciple but I couldn't ever see the forest for the tulip chairs. That said, the new Patricia Highsmith adaptation A Kind of Murder (from the 1954 book The Blunderer, kind of a suburban copycat criss-cross of Strangers on a Train) makes Mad Men seem positively restrained in its period affectations - how you manage to turn a walking talking charm like Patrick Wilson into a walking talking turtleneck I'll never figure.

The turtlenecks! The martini glasses! The heavy salmon drapes and stone fireplaces! There were moments of such monumental airlessness, as if a plastic sofa cover was wrapped over every scene, where I felt it might be purposeful - where I thought of Todd Haynes' [safe] and the way that movie was built to make the audience hyperventilate while watching it... but A Kind of Murder is no [safe]. What it is is is an occasionally jazzy low-key thriller, with Eddie Marsan skulking about effectively making his case as our modern day Peter Lorre or Raymond Burr. But it ends up more of a put on, a face of perfectly applied make-up cast halfway in noirish shadow, than any sort of artful smear. Grade: C

Part of me wishes I had seen Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald in Sophia Takal's Always Shine before having seen Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston in Alex Ross Perry's Queen of Earth last year, because while I'm more inclined towards Takal's smoky and sinister edged film... that's a whole lot of Persona riffing in the space of twelve months.

Always Shine tells the tale of two actresses in one of those friendships so fraught with complications it would have doctors reaching for the defibrillation paddles - the pendulums of success and resentment, professional jealousy and personal affection, flinging through space so close that something's bound to rub off and muck up everything. 

And inevitably, muck. In this case the the muck under the misty cliff-faces and mossy canyons of Big Sur, California, an L.A. getaway close enough that when the sun sets the shadows from the Hollywood sign are yet still the first harbingers of nightfall. Here these ladies make their escape, a weekend coffee klatsch under the guise of nursing emotional distance, their carry-on's stacked with comedy and tragedy masks, plus sundresses. Inevitably, tragically, the two women end up flashing their SAG cards in each other's faces instead of laying bare their hearts, a battle of wiles not wills.

You know, actresses. And who doesn't love a movie about actresses? I think I'm preaching to the choir here. The performative commingling of these two still fresh talents is a blast - Davis I've already fallen head over for on Halt and Catch Fire (please tell me you're all watching that show) and FitzGerald is always fine despite a frustratingly written role on Masters of Sex; here these two fold into and under each other in smart - and, in this movie's true blessing, in unexpectedly funny - ways. Grade: B+