I’m sorry but Roger Sterling‘s flamboyant new moustache, inescapably present in “Severance,” the first episode of the final Mad Men season (airing tonight), is a huge mistake. The appearance of a character should never overwhelm what he/she is about within. One look at Sterling’s perverse, snow-white dandy stache and you can’t hear a word he says. All you can hear is your own startled voice saying over and over again, “Why the fuck did he grow that thing?” (In a 4.5.15 conversation with Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan, Weiner said Roger “doesn’t look good with a white, trimmed mustache…this soup-strainer thing that’s going on is much more appropriate for him.”) On top of which it makes him look like he’s 75, and why would Roger want to look like an eccentric Civil War grandfather if he’s trying to nail the latest interesting youngish woman, which he always is? “Oh no!”-wise, Roger’s moustache is, no exaggeration, almost on the level of that Afro wig that Phil Spector wore to his murder trial. I was going to ask John Slattery about this at the Mad Men after-party but I wimped out, lazy coward that I sometimes am.
As I mentioned the other day, almost all biopics about musical legends end with an early death, mostly due to drug or alcohol abuse but sometimes due to simple bad fortune, like the plane-crash death of Patsy Cline. Blues legend Bessie Smith, portrayed by Queen Latifah in Bessie (HBO, 5.16), bought it in a car crash in 1937, when she was 43. The most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and ’30s, one of the all-time greatest (right up there with Billie Holiday), a live performer, never made any films to speak of…and bisexual. Which is alluded to in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clip in the trailer. Bessie also heralds the return, after a five-year absence, of Mo’Nique.
This may be the first time in my life that I’ve more or less agreed with and even felt a degree of kinship with Glenn Beck. “More or less” because a Clinton win, as offensive as that notion sounds from a political dynasty perspective, would of course ensure a somewhat more progressive administration, certainly regarding environmental policies and a general belief in government acting as a corrective counter-weight to, say, the priorities of the Koch Brothers. Jeb Bush (whose alleged inevitabilty as the 2016 Republican Presidential candidate is far from assured, according to a N.Y. Times story out today) and Hillary Clinton are backed by many of the same financial donors, as Glenn Greenwald points out, which would indicate similar priorities, but you can’t tell me their policies would be identical or even similar. (Thanks to Mr. Sunset Terra Cotta for the link.)
If you’ve seen Alex Gibney‘s Scientology takedown doc Going Clear, you know there’s very little about this SNL piece that uses exaggeration for comic effect. It’s spot-on and amusingly done but it’s not what most of us would call “funny” because the joke histories aren’t that different from what’s actually happened to certain Scientology members, etc.
My heart goes out to any guy married to a woman who’s into nightly applications of Vicks Vaporub before retiring at 7:30 pm, but my mind furiously recoils from images of Mike O’Brien and Michael Keaton doing each other in the back seat of a car. I’m sorry but I don’t want that image in my head on a Sunday morning. But it’s there anyway. Thanks.
A week and a half ago a Variety piece indicated that next month’s Cannes Film Festival might turn out to be “mildly deflating” — i.e., lacking in triples and homers. The idea of flying all the way to France for an experience that will partly include Matthew McConaughey contemplating ritual suicide fills me with levels of dread that I’d rather not describe.
Then an idea hit me this morning. What if Guillermo del Toro‘s Crimson Peak (Universal, 10.16), which Stephen King and Joe Hill saw and praised three weeks ago, shows out of competition in Cannes? Del Toro’s “blood-soaked Age of Innocence, a gloriously sick waltz through Daphne Du Maurier territory” (as Hill called it) sounds to me like a triple and just what the doctor ordered to counter-balance those images of McConaughey trying to work up the guts to disembowel himself over a bowl of ramen.