Mad Men s6e6: For Immediate Release

“You’re just Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine!”

Time to blow up some relationships. Peggy and Abe (by way of Ted), Don and Joan with Jaguar, Pete and Trudy/Tom with a big olllll prostitute, and SCDP with The Merger. Hey Lieutenant, want to get into some trouble??

image courtesy of Youtube

Dr. Rosen is disillusioned that he didn’t perform the first heart transplant in the USA, and Don offers the faux advice of ‘you make your own opportunities’. That’s a real lofty point of view– natch, the rich handsome guy can afford to take absurd chances and do all that shit, but when it comes to someone like Dr. Rosen or Pete Campbell, it’s not that simple. Don is indeed a guy who can swing from vine to vine, get on with it, and fail mostly upwards– but everyone else won’t be so lucky.

Like Sterling Cooper dumping Mohawk to chase American Airlines, CGC had to dump Alfa Romeo to chase Chevy. Turns out Don just happened to fire Jaguar at the right time, even though it means the secret IPO the other partners have been working on is shelved.

Brass tacks, Don is a guy who’s always looking for the fucking escape hatch in literally any situation. Musing with Ted over latenight booze in Detroit, he figures the solution to the current crisis at hand is to combine with CGC; it somewhat mitigates the Jaguar disaster and gives them both a real shot at Chevy. If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. Shake it up.

Remember, Don only likes the beginning of things. The guy’s got a hardon for GM’s futuristic Computer-Designed car, which is certainly the Mustang killer. There’s no photos, it’s a totally new design; all of this is what he likes best, that buzzing feeling of Pure Promise, without any pesky reality to bring it back down to earth. Too bad the Vega turns out to be a big old hooptie. And natch, Don assumes he’s made the right decisions here because, of course, he’s the one who thought of them.

Hoo-ray.

image courtesy of Tumblr

When the Jaguar news hits SCDP, Joan deploys a big old Truth H-bomb and puts Don on notice. As much of a scumbag Herb is, Don hasn’t experienced nearly as .. much of him as Joan. And she ain’t wrong; if she could deal with him, anybody could. Dissolving the relationship with Jaguar so hurriedly, coupled with Don assuming it’s The Right Decision for everyone leaves Joan cold, thinking she did all that for nothing. It’s self-serving and fuckin rude as hell to boot.

As a matter of fact, nobody seems particularly chuffed to see Don in this episode, which is funny because he’s supposedly Our Hero, Our Flawed Protagonist. Pete bristles at him declining dinner together (and later yells at him while falling down the stairs), a stunned Peggy winces at the news of the merger (and then Don has her write a goddamn press release about it), and I’ve already mentioned Joan.

iconic TBH || image courtesy of Giphy

Here’s Pegs, she’s made a new life for herself– new apartment in a changing neighbourhood, working for new agency with a renewed sense of pride in her job. Her handsome-ass boss even kissed her, ooh la la. And bam, Don is back at it trying to forcibly merge all the above with her old life.

Both Peggy and Joan have had Some Bullshit heaped on them due to Don, and here he is attempting to smooth things over.. but in a way where he’s neither welcome nor asking what they want or need; vine to vine. Akin to his marriage(s), he uses the people around him to build a life that makes him feel good about himself, without really knowing or giving a shit about what in the hell these people want or need. Natch, it’s all destined to be a big old mess out of the gate.

image courtesy of AMC

Holy fucking shit, how about Pete Campbell running into his father in law at that whorehouse?  What Pete continually fails to account for is that he’s not Don Draper. He’s married to Trudy, a lady who is generally indifferent to how her disinterest in him has only made him long for her more. He doesn’t have that Draper Charm(TM) nor the charisma.

Pete can’t reinvent himself at every turn; though he doesn’t show it too much, slights and little jabs affect him too much. Back on that LA business trip, Don wanders off to Palm Springs with the Hot Idiots while Pete stayed at the hotel working his ass off. Pete’s a guy who tries incredibly hard to win your favour, while Don naurally assumes you’ll hand it over without batting an eye.

Assuming mutually assured destruction, Pete goes to Kenny for advice on the father in law spotted with a prostitute question. It blows up in his face; Tom has a shitfit and pulls Vick chemical’s business. And when Pete goes to tell Trudy about all of this as some bizarre trump card, he tells her that her father has left him no choice.

But, as Trudy astutely points out, Pete has always had a choice. He just keeps fucking it up and making bad choices. Pete’s overt audacity lacks the critical pairing of Don’s Teflon façade with an otherworldly ability to bounce back from sobering defeats with a plan that sounds juuuust crazy enough to work.. followed up with never bothering to ask anybody if it’s what they might want. Works for Don, but not for everyone else.

“What was your fake name again? Curious George?? You’re a riot.”

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The Movies of 2017: Some Sort of List

Hello hello! I have returned intact from the ~Bomb Cyclone~ that is the northern NJ/NYC area, and I’m here to yap about some damn movies from 2017. Spoilers ahoy, so don’t bunch your undies. AND NOW, in no particular order..

THE GOOD;

  • The Shape of Water. WOW. Wow. This movie is the epitome of gorgeous, and it rattled me to my core. Real chuffed that Del Toro went out of his way to ensure the creature was both beautiful and mysterious, and specifically had a great ass to boot. Michael Shannon is the ultimate creeper, Sally Hawkins is incredible, Octavia Spencer is wonderful, the Dan Clowes character neighbour and his cats, the colours and the music and the vibe.. it’s all gangbusters. Intensely romantic, this movie elevates all of those warm feelings of falling for someone and feeling close. I had an existential crisis all day after seeing it. Am I really close with anyone? Fuck, movie. Doctor fucking shitbird. Did I stutter?
  • Atomic Blonde. The marketing for this flick did it real dirty, it’s a fun stylish romp and Charlize Theron and James McAvoy rule. Killer music, great action scenes, and just enough depth to be gripping. Aces.
  • Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. YUP, I fucking loved this movie. It’s polarising, but I love that Rian Johnson took the story and turned it on its head. Star Wars is such a vast universe, it’s time to branch out, and there’s nothing I love more than subverting fanboy expectations. Kylo Ren is the most intriguing character in this franchise, and Adam Driver knocks it outta the park (that hysterical legoman shirtless scene.. some drunk bro next to me said WHY HE NUDE out loud in the theatre and I lost all of my shit). Force Skyping, Luke all outta fucks to give, Yoda burning it all down.. that said, the movie is far from perfect, and that Monte Carlo planet scene could’ve been axed in half easily, but the character moments are on point; I was legit weeping into my soda cup of booze during that scene with Luke and Leia. Hope the next installment is a little cleaner plot-wise, with no vaguely goofy Mary Poppins shit. Fuck lump-ass Snoke. And hey, there’s some weird-ass titties in this movie. And 19 seconds of Justin Theroux..
  • Blade Runner 2049. Hardboiled noir retro future. Visually incredible, with so much more feeling than the original. Real chuffed there wasn’t a shred of fanservicey garbage, and how wonderfully it turns that Chosen One trope on its head. Wowie. Fantastic performances, great music, excellent worldbuilding. Tick them boxes.
  • Logan Lucky. Oh now THIS is a delight. Daniel Craig steals the show. Fun heist flick with just enough backstory to make the characters believable and genuine. Snappy and fun.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes. Good lord, this is a great movie. An incredible capstone to a solid trilogy, heartbreaking and enthralling all at once. The ape characters are so relatable and sympathetic, I cried a whoooole lot. I did laugh out loud when Woody Harrelson actually says “THIS WILL TRULY BE A PLANET.. OF APES” because it’s just so damned awkward.
  • Lemon. This movie is an intensely bizarre, awkward, mystical journey. It’s very enjoyable, though sad and darkly hilarious. Watching a grown-ass human man drink milk from a glass will never not be upsetting.. and why so many matzoh balls? That song alone was worth the price of admission.
  • Wonder Woman. FUUUUUUUCK YEAH.
  • American Made. Too much money problems.
  • Ingrid Goes West. Absolutely fucking frightening. This movie highlights everything I find to be both insidious and exhausting about Social Media Influencer Culture(TM), and Aubrey Plaza just knocks it outta the park. Fantastic caricature of everything that’s fucking ridiculous about LA.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming. MY WIG HAS BEEN SNATCHED. What a delight! Queens actually looks like Queens! Kids who look and act like high schoolers! A Birdman that wasn’t a pretentious intolerable nightmare! Consequences for past actions! Spidey outside of a city! Aces all around. Tom Holland can get it.
  • Girlfriend’s Day. Bob Odenkirk is just the best. This movie escalates quickly, gets real weird. I dig it.
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I love that the core mystery is left ambiguous, and the characters are left swimming in its wake. Excellent performances. Sam Rockwell does not dance, but he enthusiastically listens to headphones. That final scene with McDormand and Rockwell is so nuanced and unexpected, it’s just perfect; I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Loved this movie.
  • Get Out. Genuinely creepy, darkly funny, a ton of depth, exceedingly well written. Easily one of the best of the year.
  • Lady Bird. I liked this movie a whole lot, though I don’t necessarily feel as strongly about it as everyone else. It’s a solid flick about the fraught relationship between a mother and daughter, super tricky senior year of high school shit, first time ~having sex~, etc etc. I never knew I needed a period piece set in 2002/2003, but here we are. Very nostalgic for my own recent history.
  • Split. Oh man, now that M Night is just having fun with his ideas (i.e. The Visit) his movies are a WHOLE lot of fun. McAvoy is so damned great in this role, it’s a wild fucking ride.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2. Ballistic and ridiculous, this movie is a whole lot of fucking fun. Great followup to the first, engaging and crazy. Keanu Reeves is just the bee’s knees.
  • The Fate of the Furious. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. these fucking movies are America’s Bollywood. #FAMILY
  • Baby Driver. That lead kid has the charisma of a potato, but this movie works otherwise. Might be the movie that made me finally dig Edgar Wright. Fantastic thoughtful editing, killer soundtrack, great cast. Rugged dickbag neck tattoo Jon Hamm is a plus.

THE BLAND;

  • Thor: Ragnarok. Man, this humour just does not work for me. Want a really effective way to hose any real character moments that could lend some much needed levity to a story? Tack weird flighty mumbled jokes on the end of every fucking sentence. It’s enough already. But hey, Goldblum is fantastic and entertaining, and the soundtrack is a total banger.. and at least they finally made a Thor movie that isn’t a snooze. Mad points for Mark Ruffalo Hulk too.
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Look, this movie is entertaining as shit; everyone knows what movie they’re in which is what makes it work; Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds are great together. It’ll be fun to watch on cable down the line I think. Plot’s a damn mess, there’s some fucking awful CGI, yet it remains charming.
  • Fist Fight. Pretty funny, not great. Charlie Day is wonderful to watch as always, jokes didn’t always land but it was entertaining at the very least. Eh! Good to catch on cable. Ice Cube plays Ice Cube and Charlie Day plays Charlie Day, shit goes down. End movie.
  • Suburbicon. Yikes on bikes, was THIS mismarketed. I was actually very #blessed to attend the LA premiere of this flick in my neighbourhood, and .. it was Not Great. I love the Coens, I like the style of the movie and the cast was wonderful, but the story is very flat and not at all in tune with how it was advertised. Needed way more Oscar Isaac than we were granted.
  • Logan. You know, generally I really dug this movie. It’s devastating and gritty. The third act sort of shits the bed, but overall it’s pretty solid. More road trip adventures with Logan and Xavier, please. And the Soul Glo guy is in it!
  • Kong: Skull Island. Speaking of third act issues, this movie finally gets its shit together around the third act. Kong himself looks boss, but the movie is a mess that takes itself too seriously. Brie Larson’s hair kept fucking changing colours, Hiddleston has a dope-ass swordfighting scene but is otherwise kind of a non-character, and John C Reilly is the only guy who knows what movie he’s in. Eh.
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Mm, just sort of a mess. No terrible buttsex joke at the end but there’s some pretty awful fingerblasting. It’s still a fun movie and I was entertained, but Channing Tatum really needed more to do– I feel like he was wasted. There’s a whole lot of Elton John in there too for god knows what reason. I went to a dope event at San Diego Comic Con over the summer with a pile of free booze and burgers, so it gets some points for good marketing there.. and speaking of which, this movie really made me want some bourbon.
  • The Mummy. This is a Very Bad Movie, yet it hits that sweet spot of being equal parts bafflingly atrocious and incredibly entertaining. Universal is really trying to make their monster movies happen. You ever want to see Russell Crowe play drunk Bob Hoskins dialled up to 11? This is your movie. Worth streaming after a couple of cocktails. It’s some real dumb shit.
  • Life. Love me some Jake Gyllenhaal, but killing Ryan Reynolds so soon into the flick was a terrible choice. This movie is like a dollar store version of Alien.
  • Battle of the Sexes. Meh, sort of very Movie(TM). Great performances from Emma Stone and Steve Carrell, but the movie itself is pretty bland. Shut up, men.
  • The Founder. Not great. Keaton is wonderful, but the lady characters are all essentially decor. Weirdly paced, though it did make me want to eat a Quarter Pounder pretty much immediately.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Fun, though the first half of the movie isn’t great. I feel like it would’ve really benefitted from an R rating, the script badly needed a kick in the pants. I’m tired of the whole ‘humour undercutting actual serious moments’ thing that’s trendy, though the first of this series literally invented that shit. Again, the only franchise in which I don’t find Chris Pratt intolerable. Good music!
  • Alien: Covenant. Aside from a real great 80s-esque horror shower scene, this movie is just sorta .. eh. It’s pretty classically creepy, and at least an improvement on the forgettable Prometheus. Daddy issues on steroids.. Fassbender is hot as hell, though. Genuinely OK overall.
  • Molly’s Game. Sorkin seemed a little off his usual in this one, and you can tell it’s a directorial debut; it’s pretty heavy handed and clunky at times. Good flick, not great, kind of a by-the-numbers story that was missing that something deeper to make me give more of a fuck.
  • The House. This is.. fine? Pretty OK, decent amount of laughs. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler have great comedic chemistry which helps the movie significantly, and Jason Mantzoukas is completely bizarre and very funny. Best watched with a couple of drinks, or on an airplane which is where I watched it.

THE CONFUSINGLY HORRENDOUS;

  • Collateral Beauty. Now, I know this technically came out Christmastime 2016, but i watched it at the start of 2017. JESUS CHRIST THIS IS A BAD FUCKING MOVIE. It’s mean, it’s manipulative warmly lit Manhattan trash marketed as a Feelgood Christmas Movie, AND it’s complete fucking nonsense. Why the fuck are so many great actors in this shitswamp? Some of the dialogue is so badly written I felt like I had brain damage. BAD, MOVIE. BAD.
  • The Circle. This movie could’ve been something more poignant, but the book ain’t great either so I guess it was always destined for mediocrity. Sorry this is the last movie you were in, Bill Paxton. And that kid from Boyhood sure is a shit actor, huh? Needed way more of Boyega’s light. At least it didn’t pull from the intensely uncomfortable sex scenes in the book where the word PENIS was used in an actual sexual context. N O P E.
  • The Dark Tower. Fuck me, this is an awful movie. Not even Matthew McConaughey nor Idris Elba can save this steaming pile. McConaughey was covered in some sort of film, dewy and super moist; he also needed to be dialled up to 11 in order to give this movie even a slight touch of intrigue, but he’s weirdly subdued with a bad dyejob. What the fuck is his deal, anyway? He wants to further his aesthetic? Idris, why? What? MAGICKS
  • Gifted. I watched this on an airplane and barely made it an hour in before falling asleep. In a nutshell, it’s a Generic Chris Evans with Precocious Child and Tragic Backstory vehicle. But hey, there’s a one-eyed cat! Besides Evans’ jawline, that cat is the best part of this bland-ass movie.
  • Wilson. JESUS, come on. It could have been so good! Ticks the boxes– based on one of my favourite Dan Clowes graphic novels, Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern are great together, and yet it’s just SO SO SO AWFUL and borderline unwatchable, such a missed opportunity. Almost a feat with how bad it is, this flick is uncomfortable and tryhard AND just a fucking dumb mess. This movie is a quietly roaring dumpster fire sprinkled with a few funny, human moments that really work.. and the rest of it just burns out of control, long into the winter night. Fuck. They did you dirty, Wilson.

And that’s that. Thanks for reading! Here’s to more good shit in 2018.

Mad Men s3e3: My Old Kentucky Home

Ah yes, the episode where Roger Sterling (very uncomfortably) slaps on blackface for his Derby Day garden party to serenade Jane with a racist song. Awkward and shocking as fuck.

I like that Don and Pete are the two horrified people bearing witness to this mess, while everyone else seems bemused. Don pops off, as he does, to seek out more booze and a moment of silence away from all the tryhard noise surrounding him. He meets an older gentleman in a white tux jacket behind the bar, mistaking him for the barman.

don_connie_bar

image courtesy of Tumblr

They have an exchange about feeling out of place at fancy events, an ingrained understanding; way more than we’ve ever seen Don share in the series thus far with just about anyone, perhaps save for Rachel Menken. Fitting that it’s shared with a complete stranger.

Connie: Who are you hiding from?

Don: I am at work .. disguised as a party.

Connie: I’m at work disguised as a wedding. I hate other people’s weddings.

Don: Why’s that?

Connie: Make me nervous, All those expectations. And these poor kids in here– whew! That is a match made in the boardroom. When I was a boy, There was a mansion on the river I used to paddle by in my johnboat. The twinkling lights, violins, girls giggling about something... it’s different inside.

Don: Where are you from?

Connie: San Antonio, New Mexico, before it was a state. Don’t ask me that– old.

Don: You look fit.

Connie: You ever see “A Midsummer Dream” with Mickey Rooney?

Don: “A Midsummer Night’s dream”?

Connie: By golly, you’re prickly! I’m republican, like everyone else in there, but somehow, no matter how expensive my cufflinks, I feel like I’ve got the head of a jackass.

Don: Where I grew up, there was a roadhouse. It boasted live music– that meant a drum, a bass, and a player piano with nobody at it. I parked cars. Fancy people would go there. They’d get loud, they’d get drunk, But they wouldn’t let me use the toilet. So when nature called, I’d open up a trunk and relieve myself.

Connie: You didn’t.

Don: I was 15. There’s probably some kid out there doing it to us right now.

Don and Connie have this experience in common. And like Don, Connie is a climber of the social ladder rather than being born with a silver spoon. But that exclusionary feeling pervades; this feeling of being out of place despite the fact that they wear the proper costume, say all the right things, swing in the swanky circles, but it still just ain’t right. Rachel Menken nailed it in Season 1, and Connie is nailing it here and it resonates. Out of place.

peggy_mj

image courtesy of Tumblr

Meanwhile, Peggy is at the office working on Bacardi. She smokes marijuana (for the first time!) with Paul Kinsey, Smitty, and Kinsey’s cartoonishly handsome Patrick Bateman-esque Princeton drug hookup. Kinsey is unwillingly revealed to be a vaguely uneducated Jersey boy by nature, headed to Princeton on scholarship and putting on airs ever since. He’s insecure about who he really is and is consistently sort of a dick as a reflex.

Enjoying her experience and realising it’s helping her work, Peggy stands up to her judgemental secretary Olive, and gets on with it. She’s being open to new experiences, and doesn’t want to end up like the aforementioned secretary; wringing her hands over her college-aged son, and coming to the office on a Saturday because her husband is taking a trip to the dump.

There are some great scenes with Sally and Grandpa Gene peppered into this episode. Their relationship is sweet, it’s nice that she has an adult figure in her life who treats her (relatively) as an equal; it’s probably the most individual and encouraging attention she’s ever gotten in that house. Sally’s bonding with her grandfather, reading passages aloud from Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire before bed each night. Metaphorically speaking, Gene is pretty prophetic when he tells Sally “just wait.. all hell’s gonna break loose”. The Sixties are about to get pretty real.

sally_and_gene_reading

image courtesy of Mad Men Wikia

Sally swipes a $5 bill from his billfold, as kids tend to do when they want to push boundaries. There is panic and a search of the whole house, turning up nada; eventually Sally can’t take it anymore and “Finds It” in the dining room. She’s expecting the worst from Grandpa Gene, but he goes easy on her. I think he’s secretly relieved that it was actually taken and he’s not losing his entire damned mind just yet. As Don and Betty were on their way out to the aforementioned soirée, they were dismissive of his dismay at having his cash pilfered; they, along with Carla, treated his concern as if it wasn’t real. So having some validation must feel good for him at the very least.

Joan and Greg have a dinner party, hosting some of his hospital bros to earn brownie points. Turns out being married to a dignified and worldly woman like Joan is the best thing going for him, as it turns out (shocking nobody) he’s a pretty shit surgeon. This vile idiot wants to keep her in a very specific Wife(TM) box where he’s the alpha, the boss. Greg hates being reminded of the fact that she’s smarter than he is, that she has this whole other life aside from him and great experiences; he admonishes her to entertaining their guests by playing the accordion and singing a French song, which she nails completely.

joan_accordion

image courtesy of AMC

Back at the Derby Day garden party, Pete and Trudy show off their admittedly awesome dance moves. Everyone’s yapping about their kids or soon to be kids, and Trudy definitely feels a little left out; so they make up for it in dance form. It’s nice to see Pete enjoying himself too!

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image courtesy of ONTD and my own idiocy

Towards the end of the party, Roger walks over at precisely the wrong time as Jane drunkenly grabs at Don wondering if he doesn’t like her. She also blabs that she’s so happy he and Betty got back together, and Betty is naturally mortified. This little scene is a nice role swap of when Don walked in on Roger coming onto Betty in their kitchen in Season 1; here, Roger is pissed. He believes it’s due to the fact that he’s conspicuously happy, Don retorts that everyone just thinks he’s a fool. Later, he sees Roger and Jane slow dancing, as if they’re the only two people in the room, totally content. Maybe Roger’s not a fool.

The episode ends with Ben Webster’s “Memories of You” wafting through the air as Don and Betty share a private moment out in the garden, probably one of the more intimate moments we’ve seen on the series between them as of yet. But hey, that guy Henry might be on her mind..

And oh fuck, is ‘Connie’ actually hotel magnifico Conrad Hilton????? Insert faux-perplexed face here.