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Entries in Mad Men (74)

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

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May122015

Mad Men @ the Movies: "The Milk and Honey Route"

Lynn Lee on the penultimate episode of Mad Men...

As we get closer to the end of “Mad Men,” I’m growing increasingly confident it will stick the final landing.  There’s been a new energy and sense of direction offsetting the sadness of saying goodbye, and the penultimate episode, while packed with even more emotional bombshells, continued to bring what felt like natural closures to several major character arcs.  As with Joan from last week, even if we see Betty and Pete again, it seems unlikely the finale will contain any further major plot turns for them.

The biggest remaining question mark, not surprisingly, is still Don, the wandering soul of the show.  But let me start with the other two, because they are two of my favorites, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that they’ve spent most of the series’ run competing for the title of most-reviled major character on “Mad Men.”  

Click to read more ...

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...

Click to read more ...

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.”

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr212015

Mad Men @ the Movies: "Forecast"

Lynn Lee, here again to discuss this week’s Mad Men

Glen is off to Vietnam but wants a proper goodbye from Betty

Maybe Don Draper should have been a movie director.  His best ads have a film-like narrative and emotional pull, and going to the movies (something we, perhaps tellingly, haven’t seen him do in a while) seems to recharge his creative batteries.  Even now, as he appears increasingly disaffected with the business of selling either his work or his home, he yearns for the kind of high concept that sounds better suited to the big screen, whether it involves the World’s Fair or a fantasy about the inventor of the Frisbee making a million and moving to France.  After all, he’s managed to rewrite his own life story – the public version, at least – like the brashest of screenwriters: from poverty to the penthouse.

[Jane Fonda, Vietnam and more after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr132015

Mad Men @ the Movies: Ali + Brigitte = Megan?

Julia Ormond returns to her Emmy-nominated role as Megan's motherLynn Lee, back again to discuss Mad Men at the Movies.  

The title of this week’s episode was “New Business,” which may or may not be meant ironically. The episode felt contrived to strike certain thematic chords at the expense of developing the characters believably.  Diana the waitress feels more like a construct than a person, designed to appeal to Don’s hang-ups (the lover to be saved, the mother who abandoned her child); even their awkward elevator encounter with Sylvia Rosen just reminded me of how bored I was with that affair.  Megan does a 180 from the regretful wife bidding Don a tearful goodbye to the bitter ex-wife who accuses him of stealing her youth.  And her bickering French Canadian family shows up for no discernible purpose other than to bring back Julia Ormond and leave Don with a literally empty home.

That said, it’s Megan who brings Mad Men as close to the movies as it can get in an episode without any specific movie mentions. Megan’s film career has stalled, to the point that she’s subsisting on handouts from Don while their lawyers fight about divorce terms. She’s apparently desperate enough to seek help from Harry Crane, of all people - Harry, the noob who's been lusting after her since her show-stopping performance of “Zou Bisou Bisou.”

After seeking permission (sort of) from Don, Harry meets Megan for lunch and loses no time buttering her up.  He can’t believe she hasn’t gotten bigger parts!  He compares her to movie stars, both foreign and domestic...

Click to read more ...