For whatever reason I watched the Mad Men 5 opener twice tonight. Clearly I found it absorbing, but everyone — everyone! — always seem so tense and calculating and pissed off. Don Draper celebrates his 40th birthday in the episode, which means it’s 1966. But the climate feels more like ’64. And I cringe at every nearly moment spent with Vincent Kartheiser‘s character — his big forehead and that snippy expression and those twelve-year-old shoulders and his unrelenting pettiness. My hands-down favorite scene with when Jessica Pare, Don’s French wife, began to clean the apartment in her black underwear.
New York and NPR critic David Edelstein has delivered one of the better rip jobs on…I was going to say The Hunger Games but his criticism is really all about director Gary Ross and his expedient white-beardo ways. Here’s the audio.
Ross “has a penchant for showbiz satire,” Edelstein says, “pleasant in Pleasantville but ruinous in Seabiscuit — a great book about the torturous underbelly of horse racing turned into a lame, movie-ish period piece . He approaches The Hunger Games like a hack. The film is all shaky close-ups, so you rarely have a chance to take in the space, and the editing is so fast you can’t focus.
“The film gets some things right, like the shots of Katniss running through the woods, the canopy of trees above her streaking by. And it has an astoundingly good Katniss in Jennifer Lawrence. She’s not a chiseled Hollywood ing√©nue or a trained action star — she looks real. And without words, she makes it clear that Katniss’ task is not merely to stay alive but somehow to hold onto her humanity.
“A few other actors register in spite of the speed-freak editing. Josh Hutcherson has a strong, sorrowful countenance as Katniss’ fellow District 12 contestant, Peeta. Stanley Tucci in a blue bouffant as a talk-show host, Wes Bentley in a manicured black-fungus beard as the games’ high-tech coordinator, and Donald Sutherland in a white mane as the demonic lion of a president are all you could hope for.
“There’s a terrific score by James Newton Howard that captures moods — wistful, mysterious — that the director fails to evoke. The Hunger Games leaves you content — but not, as with the novel, devastated by the senseless carnage. It is, I’m sorry to say, the work of moral cowards.”
An amazing spot. I’m so hip it took me a whole month to catch up with it. I don’t even like Las Vegas, but I’ll be thinking about the Cosmopolitan if I go there again. (Which isn’t likely.) Hats off to Fallon, Minneapolis, director Steven Alsyon, chief creative officer Darren Spiller and…who else?
Here’s the first Cosmopolitan spot I could find, which appeared in the fall of 2010.
I would vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 (nothing wrong with being 69), but on some level I’d feel more emotionally satisfied if Elizabeth Warren runs. Either way I’d love to see a tough, shrewd, battle-axe woman in the White House. I’m tired of guys and their guy games.
Mary Harron‘s The Moth Diaries is based on Rachel Klein’s 2002 novel about teenage fears of same-sex sexuality mixed in with intimations of vampire eroticism and the unbuttoning of white blouses. I was invited to a Manhattan screening or two, but none in LA. Wells to IFC Films: May I see this please?
Summit is allowing a select few to see Juan Antonio Bayona‘s keenly anticipated tsunami-drama, The Impossible, sometime early next month, even though it’s not slated for release until October 11th — i.e., over six months hence. I’ve always assumed this allegedly high-calibre, European-styled disaster drama would debut at Telluride-Venice-Toronto, but wouldn’t it be cool if it had an early peek-out in Cannes?
The death of three racehorses led to the cancellation of HBO’s Luck, but also, it would seem, to a blistering 3.24 N.Y. Times story, written by Walt Bogdanovich, Joe Drape, Dara L. Miles and Griffin Palmer, about how horses are dropping like flies on the nation’s racetracks, largely due to heartless owners and an over-reliance on drugs.
“A state-by-state survey by The Times shows that about 3,600 horses died racing or training at state-regulated tracks over the last three years. Since 2009, the incident rate has not only failed to go down, it has risen slightly.
“The greatest number of incidents on a single day — 23 — occurred last year on the most celebrated day of racing in America, the running of the Kentucky Derby. One Derby horse fractured a leg, as did a horse in the previous race at Churchill Downs. All told, seven jockeys at other tracks were thrown to the ground after their horses broke down.
“The new economics of horse racing are making an always-dangerous game even more so, as lax oversight puts animal and rider at risk.”
With the new Bluray of The Grapes of Wrath obtainable on 4.3 via pre-order, it’s worth considering this three-year-old Re-Think review by the highly intelligent Jonathan Kim. I was particularly charmed by his casual mention of Teabaggers as “idiots.” Too few film reviewers are willing to step outside the movies-only realm and call a spade a spade.
I still have problems with the diner scene, which, as I mentioned five years ago and then again in ’09, is a perfect thing until the very end when Ford’s Irish sentimentality kills it. This has always been Ford’s problem, and why his films are best appreciated in limited doses. Not to mention his tendency to prod his supporting actors into over-acting and doing the “tedious eccentricity” thing — Ford’s ultimate Achilles heel. The overacting of that waitress is especially painful.
Enlivened by this candid, “I hate myself,” “I’m gonna get fired!,” no-holds-barred interview with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, David Letterman says he can’t wait to see the film because “I want more of this.” Which the film doesn’t provide. It’s about Lawrence in the Katniss box. Lawrence quickly informs Letterman of this.