Mad Men s4e3: The Good News

“I could tell the minute she saw who I really was, she never wanted to look at me again. Which is why I never told her.”

Woof, lots to chew on in this episode. Anna Draper is dying (unbeknownst to her), Don’s last living positive link to Dick Whitman. In his vulnerable state, Don lets Lane see a glimpse of who he really is, even though it’s Sad Sack Drunk Don.

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YES, CALIFORNIA DON || image courtesy of Tumblr

Visiting with Anna is the only time we see Don truly relaxed. He actually enjoys human connection with her in a way we don’t really see otherwise. And hearing the awful news from her niece Stephanie (and then seeing him revert to Don Draper mode by taking charge with Anna’s sister), it’s just fucking devastating.

It’s enormously hard to see him struggling over whether to tell Anna the truth, given that he knows just how much a truth bomb can blow it all to hell. Maybe Don was afraid it would snuff out the most dear relationship he has  at this point, as his truth-telling ended his life with Betty.. or that maybe he believed that not knowing the truth would be a gift to her somehow, letting her enjoy her short time left in blissful ignorance. Anna is the only person in his life to love him unconditionally.

“Well, I saw something once, and I’m telling you.. it knocked me sideways. I started thinking of everything I was sure was true, and how flimsy it all might be.”

“You don’t need to see a UFO to know that.. that’s not a great way to think about things.”

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image courtesy of Tumblr

On the other side of the coin, I don’t know if Anna would have loved the ‘real’ New York Don Draper. She also didn’t have to deal with the consequences of Dick Whitman’s lies for a decade, the way Betty had to. Anna has never seen that side of him.

Looks like Don is still trying to convince himself that the reason Betty cast him aside was his destitute upbringing, which ain’t the real root of the issue. Instead, he chooses to block out the reality that his lies had an emotional impact upon Betty for such a long time that at the end of it, she was legit yelling about how she had tried so hard to understand him and couldn’t, due to the way he entirely shut himself off from her. Oof. Don can’t take responsibility because he’s looking at things all wrong.

At the office, things are thankfully a little more normal. Allison appears a touch woeful about her New Years plans (going out with big group of girls) in contrast to Joan asking Peggy’s plans, seeming envious of the potential freedom of going out with ladies and having a blast.

And hey, how much longer before Joan dumps that absolute dickbag of a husband? It’s such shit to see the incredibly capable Joan in a relationship with a self-involved manbaby who treats her like an infant. She wouldn’t put up with that at work– look how she put Lane in his place re:flower fuckup. Watching her weep as Greg stitches her up, knowing it’s all a disaster and this dude doesn’t know a damn thing about her.. rough.

Coming into the office on New Year’s Day, Don is surprised to see Lane; they were both supposed to be on vacation, after all. These guys bond in the best way possible; getting loaded and heading to the movies to see some explosions with Gamera. That scene is a real treat with Lane shouting at some uptight lady in pidgin Japanese, surrounded by handjobs galore.. aces.

Lane and Don’s friendship is born in rather dire sad sack circumstances. They’re pretty different guys. Don is this confident suave guy who’s (supposedly) got it all figured out, and Lane is trying to find his place in the world, trying to stand out and not just be complacent and do what’s expected of him all the damn time.

“You remind me of a chap I knew in school. We followed him around in a pack, and he didn’t notice we were there.. He died in a motorcycle crash.”

Lane admires Don and wants to be liked by him, or even to be more like him. And Don is so lonely at this point in his life that he wants to be liked by literally anyone in that same dark headspace to understand him.

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image courtesy of MadMenWiki

At drunk man steakhouse dinner, Lane opens up that his marriage is on the rocks; shit sounds dire, and that bouquet of roses cockup didn’t help. Having learned from the nuclear disaster of giving Roger advice, Don holds back — Lane feels he should make some grand sweeping gesture, seeking Don’s approval. Instead, he paraphrases something Faye said to him during the SCDP Christmas party that clearly resonated.

“Is that what you want? Or is that what people expect of you?”

Pausing and staring at Don levelly, this is a thought that has never occurred to Lane. And this ain’t the first time we’ve seen Don internalise advice or an observation and pass it off as his own; in Season 1’s Nixon vs. Kennedy, Don responds to Pete’s hilarious blackmail attempt with “You haven’t thought this through”.. which is exactly what Rachel Menken countered with when he suggested that they run off and start a new life together. Like all of us, certain shit sticks with him and rattles around in his brain.

Aaaand, enter the high class hookers.

I think a crucial point in Don’s success as a married hot guy and his failure as a divorced guy is pretty plain; a married man offers nothing but a dick-go-round because he’s attached, while a single (even divorced) man could be a potential future husband and — as Freddie Rumsen reminded us — it’s not always wise to bang it out with a man if you intend to marry him. Women treat the no-future man a lot differently than they treat the maybe-future man. So, it’s not wholly shocking that Don keeps striking out; his status implies a different set of possibilities than it used to. He’s got an asterisk. When Stephanie asks him if he’s married or divorced, he wonders why he can’t just say he’s single and be done with it.

But generally, Don is struggling. It’s borderline uncomfortable seeing him make moves on women that appear uninterested. While he may have been on top of his banging around game the past 3 seasons, his perf family helped establish that part of him. He seems uncomfortable with being divorced, almost as if he’d rather be married and fucking around than single and searching.

“But nobody knows what’s wrong with themselves.. and everyone else can see it right away.”

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Gentlemen, shall we begin 1965? || image courtesy of MadMenWikia

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Mad Men s4e2: Christmas Comes but Once a Year

“In a nutshell, it all comes down to what I want versus what’s expected of me.”

Just about sums up life, eh? Let’s see how much of a piping hot mess Don is in this episode..

Sally runs into creeper Glen at the Christmas tree lot. Hating living in the house on Bullet Park Road without her dad there, she expresses how strange everything is; Glen can relate. He takes it into his own hands when the Francises are all out one night, trashing the house with food and junk.. save for Sally’s room, where he leaves a friendship keychain similar to the one she complimented him on at the lot. He tries to make the house as uncomfortable for everyone as it is for Sally.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

At the office, enter Dr. Faye Miller, one of the psychologists SCDP is using for market research. In an intro with a personality test for the senior staff, Don dodges another opportunity to divulge any sort of information about himself.

A man allergic to intimacy, it’s clear that Don’s in a darker place than his usual existential loneliness.. and this is his first real Christmas sans family to boot. He ain’t handling it well; he’s hitting everything too hard. Women whom he would otherwise effortlessly charm are rebuffing his sloppy advances with ease and a touch of pity. Score one for Faye and neighbour Phoebe, I guess.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

Allison reads out Sally’s letter to Santa (c/o Don Draper), and it’s a heartbreaking reminder of the damage the divorce has caused. She tears up at Sally’s wish to have Don there on Christmas morning, knowing that it’s not a possibility.

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image courtesy of Huffpo

The vile Lee Garner Jr is in town, and is miffed he wasn’t invited to the SCDP Christmas party.. which now has to become an actual party much to Lane’s dismay. Faye and Don spar about how someone’s past can influence them today, a point with which Don disagrees. She aptly brings up that his celebrated Glo-Coat commercial is heavily steeped in nostalgia, a certain longing for someone’s childhood.. but not Don’s. He tries to change the conversation by asking her to dinner, and gets shot down.

Natch, he forgets his keys at the office, and Allison does him a favour by running down to the Village to let him in. It’s noteworthy that younger employees have always gossiped about Don, but it was always in the admiring from afar sense, with some sense of wonder; mimbo Joey calling him ‘pathetic’ sheds light on how trash Don is at this point in time. And I guess in an effort to feel something (or anything at all), Don comes on to Allison; she reciprocates and they have a bang on his couch. Awkward.

The next morning is nothing short of a disaster with how Don handles (and not handles) things. He goes to his rhetoric of “this never happened”, so much so that he doesn’t acknowledge anything in the least, and gives Allison her Christmas bonus of a hundy in cash. You can tell he doesn’t feel great about it as she walks out of his office, but not guilty enough to not be a prick. And plus.. you shouldn’t shit where you eat.

So Freddy Rumsen is back, and he’s dry as a bone– but Peggy is thrilled to see him and to work on Pond’s. Freddy has some comically oldschool ideas for the cold cream, whereas formerly oldschool Pegs has moved forward quite a bit. He’s focusing on the marriage aspect of Pond’s, but Peggy wants something more, something deeper that speaks to women.. women like her whose be-all end-all isn’t getting fucking married. She wants to make an ad that speaks to everyone!

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image courtesy of AV Club

BUT, even though her life in the office is super forward thinking and progressive she’s being weirdly old fashioned with her boyfriend Mark. Apparently they aren’t banging because she’s playing virgin.. yikes. Last I checked, she ain’t been no virgin since 1960.. maybe she’s just not so sure about the guy?

Why is Peggy dating this dolt anyway? Freddy peppers her with some absurdly old fashioned advice, firmly saying that she shouldn’t bang the guy if she wants to marry him, since he’ll never respect her.. Y I K E S.

I guess that cemented her opinion of Mark, cause she throws him a bone that night.

Maybe Allison is that gal looking to get hitched, and thought there was something deeper to her tryst with her boss.. as she stares off into space while typing, it’s hard not to feel her pain and humiliation. So uncomfortable. Don may have fucked it up with his best and most competent secretary yet.

“I don’t hate Christmas.. I hate this Christmas.”

Mad Men s4e1: Public Relations

“I can use my expense account if I say they’re whores!”

Welcome back, and welcome to 1964! It’s nearly a calendar year from where the Season 3 finale left us, and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has an actual office that isn’t a hotel suite; they’ve got some cool new digs in the cushy Time Life building. Maaaaagic.

“Who is Don Draper?”

Bombing out in an interview with Advertising Age, Don supplies glib bullshit answers to the reporter’s pointed questions about his work and who he is, pretty much saying fuckall. Shocker. The problem with this approach is that he’s no longer just that stupid talented mysterious guy in the corner office, he has to be the fucking face of SCDP; a creative figurehead, the man behind the curtain. And we all know how much Don loves talking about himself.

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image courtesy of Imgur

But hey, Don is in a great place professionally; he’s legit blowing up. He’s calling the shots and running things his way, making a lot of money, and he’s got acclaim for the Glo-Coat commercial.. all the while his personal life is a raging tire fire, burning into the eternal night. Seems like Don is at his best in the office when shit at home is a mess.

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no time for your shit. || image courtesy of Tumblr

His attitude in meetings is more aloof than ever, while being incredibly sharp; the way he shuts down those Jantzen prudes is outta control, he’s got precisely no time for garbage at this new agency. This guy is forward thinking and takes risks, and he’s lost everything he ever (thought) he wanted in his personal life.

Our characters are exploring new terrain all over this episode, slowly adjusting to the new normal. Betty now has a mother-in-law (a hard-ass woman at that) and an extended family; she’s also got a more attentive husband and is learning how to be a person sans Don. She’s overly harsh on Sally during Thanksgiving dinner, still not quite sure how to navigate that relationship.

Understandable growing pains and lots of negative shit are to be expected, but Hank Frank takes it all in logical stride; he really loves that difficult woman. They even have a bang in the car, harkening back to their first kiss in Betty’s car. YEAHHHHHH

Going on a date with the poor man’s Betty, Don is vaguely bemused with Bethany. Brass tacks, homegirl is an idiot, but she’s young so I guess she gets a pass? Maybe? Ah well. Roger and (mostly) Jane seem determined to set him up with someone, just because.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

Dating doesn’t seem to suit Don at all. Skipping out on Thanksgiving at Roger and Jane’s and no plans with the family, Don’s plans include being mounted and slapped in the face by a hooker. Looks like he bones this lady on the reg, indulging his own self-loathing with a healthy dash of mommy issues.

His personal life really seems a lonely mess, and he’s boozin’ a lot, even for him. When Peggy needs bail cash for the ladies she and Pete paid off to fight over a ham, Don takes it all out on her unsuspecting bland boyfriend Mark, whom she brought to lessen the inevitable blow.

Joan has her own office, and is still the consistent go-to for everything. Glad she’s getting some recognition as the person who steers the ship, though she shouldn’t be getting sunburned tit Harry Crane a coffee. And it’s nice to see Peggy argue right back with Don when the Sugarberry Hams stunt goes south, her confidence is awesome to see. Roger is back in the saddle and full of beans, Pete is more secure in his footing.. everyone seems to be moving forward at a pretty brisk clip working together, conference table or no. Even Allison is back!

However, Don’s shite interview in Advertising Age has real consequences for the firm; being in such a small space equals his actions have actual meaning, something that is clearly not a thing to Don. Ya fucked it up. He takes it out on the straightlaced Jantzen guys by blowing up their meeting, and immediately rings Cooper’s guy at the Wall Street Journal to have a redo of that interview. Taking that feeling by the balls, he is cocksure and rewrites history ever so slightly to sound fucking awesome to this guy. Way better.

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image courtesy of Mad Men Wikia

So, what’s it going to be? Comfortable and dead, or risky and possibly rich? Sounds like a mantra to me, looking at how Don has evolved. SCDP sure seems intensely personal to him, especially for a man who won’t reveal a damn thing about himself. Let’s see what happens!

“You know something? We are all here because of you. All we want to do is please you.”

The Movies of 2016: Some Sort of List

Hello hello! I am back in LA after a cold jaunt to New Jersey for my annual xxxmas pilgrimage. Believe it or not, another year has gone by, and I saw a ton of fucking movies. Here’s my favourites, the ones I thought were sort of “eh”, and the absolute piping hot messes of 2016.

Spoilers ahoy, so no bitching.

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In no particular order..

THE GOOD;

  • Nocturnal Animals. This movie is absolutely HAUNTING, my god. Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon deliver incredible performances in Tom Ford’s second foray into film, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I saw it a couple of months back. There’s this uneasy tension throughout that winds tighter and tighter and tighter.. it’s a movie I won’t ever forget, it’s so intense and bonkers. Just, wow. See it. And if you haven’t seen A Single Man, see that too.
  • La La Land. Oh my god, this movie is so fucking charming. It filled a void and a yearning I didn’t even know I had, it was just the right movie to close out the shit year of 2016. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are wonderful together, the music is super fun, and that montage at the end is nothing short of imaginative and wonderful. The perils of ambition and dizzying love colliding with the truths of reality, it’s all good good great. This movie is lovely.
  • Captain America: Civil War. I dig most of the Marvel movies, and I never tire of Chris Evans’ Cap. I dig the way this movie is structured, and Tony Stark with a bonus Spider-Man and Ant Man are never bad.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I was feeling lukewarm about this movie until I saw it; I actually saw it the day Carrie Fisher died, and the theatre was absolutely rammed and filled with this understandably sad energy. That first act is a damned disaster, but the rest of the movie is solid.. though I really want to see the original cut pre-reshoots. Not sure what the point of Forest Whitaker’s character was.. and CGI Tarkin was pretty unsettling. Should’ve just gone with actors and makeup/a little enhancement rather than full on creepy BFG CGI.
  • Moonlight. This movie is fantastically written, well acted, and a complete triumph of storytelling. See this movie.
  • Arrival. Emotional science fiction? Yes please. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are great, the story is mesmerising, and the ‘twist’ is really fucking well done.
  • Dr. Strange. Enjoyable! Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent needs some work, but I really dug this movie a lot more than I thought I would. I mainly like that this is a character Stan Lee invented to shut the hippies up. He’s got a dope cape, and uses the power of being an infuriating dick paired with a time loop to save the day. Prettay, prettay.. prettay good.
  • Everybody Wants Some! I love Linklater (except for Boyhood..), Dazed and Confused is one of my faves. This flick is just the right dose of nontoxic masculinity and fun rowdy dude shit set over the course of the first weekend at a Texas college. Linklater excels at capturing the feeling and energy of a particular time in your life, it’s totally magic.
  • Sing Street. This soundtrack hasn’t left my regular rotation since this movie came out, oh my god. It’s an absolutely delightful movie! Positive and hopeful amidst the backdrop of early 1980s Ireland which was anything but. Sing Street is the type of movie you didn’t know you needed until you see it. Watch it right the fuck now, it’s on Netflix.
  • High Rise. I’ve never been so intensely attracted to Tom Hiddleston until I saw this movie. High Rise is a surreal, expertly stylised, darkly funny, dystopian jaunt that I’m still thinking about. It’s intense.
  • Complete Unknown. Michael Shannon again! This movie is slow and subtle, a woman shapeshifting and running from her life and coming back to the man she once loved. Equal parts fascinating and gripping, but very true to life. They have a lost night together in New York City, as he tries to change his life while she wants to stop changing hers.
  • The Nice Guys. Shane Black can do no wrong in my book, I’m a huge fan of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are great together as washed up PIs in 1970s Los Angeles.. this movie is a whole lot of fun, a cool take on noir like his other flicks. So well written.
  • Cafe Society. I never thought I’d see Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart fall in love in a movie (ah fuck, forgot about Adventureland), but here we are. I love the world this movie creates; it’s vintage gorgeous and feels real, along with their ~romance~. And hey, Steve Carell is a complete delight. Well worth watching.
  • Star Trek Beyond. This movie is such a fucking joy to watch! It feels like Trek, the action and story are on point, and you really align with the characters. I watched this again the other night and was completely charmed.
  • Midnight Special. Man, remember when we all thought that Tomorrowland was going to be the second coming of Christ? And it turned out to be a wet fart? Whole lotta big ideas that turned into nothing. Well, Midnight Special is the right kind of sci-fi for me; it’s serious, striking, and grips you with wonder. Michael Shannon gives a stellar performance amidst a sea of fanatical cultists dressed in the earth’s dumpiest dresses made of couch fabric.
  • OJ: Made in America. Holy shit, you guys.. this nearly 8-hour long documentary was on ESPN over the summer and it’s INCREDIBLE. I was 10 when the OJ Simpson trial was going on, and besides being both a literal child and someone who knows fuckall about sports, it was fascinating and horrifying to see what a beloved figure OJ once was, and the darkness.. the cultural background for the fever pitch of race relations in 1990s Los Angeles, all these pieces coming into play.. truly fascinating and shattering, heartbreakingly sad. Check this one out.
  • Elvis & Nixon. I never knew I needed Michael Shannon as 1970s Elvis before, and once I saw this flick, frankly I don’t know how I survived without it. Spacey plays a great Nixon, too. Well worth a spin.

THE BLAND;

  • War Dogs. This movie was incorrectly billed as a comedy. Overall it was pretty fucking dark and enjoyable, but also sort of unpleasant. Todd Phillips has a knack for writing these man friend BRAH characters with a whole lotta mean streak coursing through their veins. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller have real chemistry as bros, even if the latter distractingly resembles a boiled potato. *[editor’s note; my dear husband thinks that comparing Teller’s face to a potato is “harsh”, but I implore you to locate the lie.]
  • Hail, Caesar! I adore the Coen Bros, but this movie felt like it was missing something. The cast is fantastic, the look and feel of everything is incredible, Brolin’s Mannix is fucking magical, we got Alden Ehrenreich’s delightful Aw Shucks character, but the story was .. not great? It seems like it’s going to take a bizarre, surreal left turn when Clooney’s Whitlock is kidnapped by a group claiming to be ~The Future~.. but it’s just a group of Commies. I’ll have to give it another whirl.
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane. John Goodman is fucking incredible in this movie, but it didn’t really hit the mark for me overall. I don’t know. Maybe it’s good?
  • Keanu. Man, there’s a really tiny kitten in this movie. Most of it is pretty funny, but a lot of the humour fell flat for me. Eh.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence. This shit heap of a “movie” is only on the Bland list because of the presence of Jeff Goldblum. There’s SO MUCH fucking wrong with this flick.. AND THEY HAD 20 GODDAMNED YEARS TO GET IT RIGHT. Now. I adore the original ID4, it’s one of my favourite movies in life. This trash sequel from hell has an overabundance of dull undeveloped characters, a blatant franchise setup, Judd Hirsch riding out the apocalypse in a goddamned tugboat.. and they did Vivica Fox real dirty by killing her almost immediately. No. It does, however, have Bill Pullman as a complete crazy person which was sorta cool, and he Randy Quaids it to save humanity all over again. It’s the worst kind of bad movie; there’s so much going on that it actually manages to be fucking boring.
  • Central Intelligence. I love The Rock and Kevin Hart together, but this movie didn’t really land. It was close! Got some laughs.
  • Ghostbusters (Ladybusters). I waffled on this flick. Hated the trailer, liked it when I saw it, and have not thought of it once since. Meh.
  • Why Him? About 80% of this movie works, I’ll be honest; it’s just not entirely all there. Bryan Cranston is fantastic against James Franco, but there was a toilet gag that went on for too long, shit like that.. some of it was a little on the dumb side. I saw this movie at a test screening on the Fox Lot months back, so I’m sure some things were tweaked for the final release.
  • Snowden. Well, that was a movie.. I think I don’t like Oliver Stone.

THE CONFUSINGLY HORRENDOUS;

  • Girl On The Train. Man, this book sucked. It was so predictable and boring. I was hoping the movie would be better and a little Gone Girl-esque, but it was ultimately forgettable and tedious. It did make me crave a dirty martini or 10 from the Grand Central Oyster Bar, though.
  • Sausage Party. This movie tried so fucking hard to be ~edgy~ and Rated R. Granted I’m not the biggest fan of Seth Rogen’s brand of stoner humour, but I’d heard a ton of positive stuff about this flick so I checked it out. Though the beginning is promising and creative, and there are flickers of actual funny gags, this movie was bogged down with SO MUCH SHIT that seemed to exist purely for shock value alone. It was mind-boggling. And that massive food orgy at the end? WHY did that even need to exist? What the fuck?? Maybe I’m an old person, but what the FUCK??
  • Anomalisa. I found this movie so fucking repellant I dedicated a whole blog post to yelling about it. Apparently this is such an uncommon opinion for this flick that it’s one of my most read and Googled posts.. so I’ve got that going for me, I guess. Seriously! I get a couple of hits on that post per week for the past YEAR. Goddamn.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse. What a fucking dumpster fire this thing was, my god. I absolutely loved Days of Future Past, so I had high hopes for this flick.. NOPE. It was at least 7 kinds of dumb, the worst kind of camp, and Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse character touching a television and crooning “LEAAAAARRRNINGGG” was so fucking hokey I laughed out loud for about a minute. What a complete disaster.. not even James McAvoy and flawfree Fassbender could save this mess.
  • Jason Bourne. I adore the Bourne movies (not that Jeremy Renner garbage  filler flick), and this movie was super disappointing. It was not good. Lots of noise, killing off Julia Stiles WAY too soon, and it’s overall super forgettable. Honest to god I don’t even fucking know what happened in this movie.
  • Now You See Me 2. What the fuck? Why is this a movie? The first Now You See Me was one of those extraordinary movies where it all just clicked; it’s an outrageous fun romp that bends reality and is all over the map, and though everything about it conspires to make it a fucking mess, it just works. This sequel absolutely and completely sucks, save for Mark Ruffalo fighting some rando using actual magic.. which was awesome.
  • The Lobster. Everyone has such a huge monster dong boner for this movie, and I absolutely loathed it. The concept is enchanting for the first half of the movie, and made me want to know more of why this world of Relationships Only existed; the hell is that about? Why is this happening? What’s the machine that turns people into animals? Is the rest of the world like this, or only Ireland? The second half of the movie is sad, drab, dull and overall.. no. The tone is so flighty, I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be taking itself seriously as a movie, or if it was a dark comedy, or what.. ugh. I also can’t see Colin Farrell without thinking of him cockslapping that lady in his sex tape and talking dirty WAY too much. So, at least that’s sort of depraved and delightful.

And there you have it! 2016 had some really great flicks for sure. I’ve still got a few movies to see.. but nobody can pay me enough cash to give an iota of a shit about Casey Affleck.

Here’s to 2017!