Friday, October 31, 2008

"The Sex Talk" with Margaret White

"I should have killed myself when he put it in me. After the first time, before we were married, Ralph promised never again. He promised, and I believed him. But sin never dies. Sin never dies.

At first it was alright. We lived sinlessly. We slept in the same bed, but we never did it. And then, that night... I saw him lookin' down at me that way. We got down on our knees to pray for strength. I smelled the whiskey on his breath... Then he took me. He took me, with the stink of filthy roadhouse whiskey on his breath, and I liked it. I liked it! With all that dirty touchin' and his hands all over me. I should've given you to God when you were born, but I was weak and backslidin'... And now, the devil has come home.

We'll pray. We'll pray. For the last time we'll pray."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Momentary Mad Man

I'm having a bit of a Mad Men fever recently. Maybe it's that I just watched The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, or maybe it's that certain television shows are just bred better than others. Mad Men is high class, top shelf television. Not that models forced to live in a model house in aim of censored nudity isn't making someone's life richer.

Either route it's perfect advertising.

Yet there's something missing from television all too often, just about as much as exposed nudity. That something is writing, and Mad Men has more than its share. Not just story editors either, but living, breathing writers! The episodes have plots, themes, arc, and there has been nary an autopsy or a hit-and-run. Only on AMC... the network that has whittled the namesake American Movie Classics down to include to include Pet Sematary Two. When did they get all respectable like? The executives at AMC must keep the office bar stocked. That's how they do it at Sterling Cooper.

The ladies look padded and perfect, the men talk big and fall far; the politics, well... they're a little outdated. Were the sixties really a better time? Don Draper says no, I assure you. He's fighting on and off the job, stealing namesakes... And his wife Betty certainly wouldn't contest. Lately she'd rather take out the neighborhood birds with a gun.

Points in the first season had Mad Men feeling a touch heavy in its footing, but lately the characters have settled and their depths have been reached with a subtlety I so greatly value. Beautiful production, an ace and eclectic cast, and more than enough subtext for a course on Women's Issues or Business Management. And I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jon Hamm can sell anything.

These are some of my favorite moments of recent Mad Men... Miss Holloway, hold my calls.

The Gold Violin
ep. 7

All along it was the Draper Family responsible for Global Warming. Their after-picnic littering would cause audible gasps nowadays. The family outing's postcard perfection is quickly crumpled and tossed over discussions of kids tinkling outside and sticky hands inside the car. Hysterical, sad, telling and topical; one of the best uses of the show's period-piece element.

A Night to Remember

ep. 8

What is it about Joan Holloway? Played by Christina Hendricks she practically glows as she floats about the office; a seductive sizzle of red so easily capable of masking her torments. This episode featured a lovely and revealing moment when Joan removes her bra strap and caresses the indent beneath. There's so many layers under those so many layers. It sums up her character perfectly in a single image and it's shot like the heavens of Douglas Sirk.

Although it's called Mad Men it's actually the female roles stealing most of my attention. Set in the era of emerging women's rights, we follow Joan, Betty and Peggy's richly detailed struggle with matters of choice and power. Peggy's moving up the ladder of male dominance while Betty's moving out into the world, away from the home life that suffers.

On Janice Dickinson? Apparently the Russian girl hoards carrot cake.

The Jet Set
ep. 11

When TV shows hit their stride you get great episodes like The Jet Set. Oddly enough it's an episode where the lead character leaves his element and his usual setting, but in a way Don is forever outside his element, always selling and seeking something intangible. L.A. was fertile ground for Don's developing identity and I was surprised to approach the return flight with some hesitation...

No more poolside Don! But then I guess he isn't much different from the regular Don...

The episode also featured the show's third gay character, Kurt, whose office proclamation, "I'm homosexual. I make love with the men not the women," is so charming to me even still. Seriously classy.

It gives even more promise for future material, hopefully for Kurt as well as the closeted sadsack, Sal. Kurt just gave Peggy her Bravo-style gay makeover, meaning next season he could very well move into an L.A. model house. Even for a show set in the sixties, Mad Men is ahead of its time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Horror Movies Watch You

This game just seems so perfectly crafted for the Halloween season. I'm like the Martha Stewart of blogs. Outside of the actual Martha Stewart who blogs. At least I assume she does, and if not she probably should. Although Martha would have written this post better, whilst doing something with wicker. I'm once again humbled.

"I spy with my little eye a whole bunch of... eyes!"

Guess the classic horror movie that has it's eye on YOU...

Have a safe Halloween. Really safe. Watch out for anything with a point. Knives, pins, splinters, blogs...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cinema for a Rainy Day

Over a warm and sad cup of coffee, enjoy this cinematic rainy day.

I love a rainy day. You head inside and ask Patrick Wilson if he wants a dry towel...

And he responds thusly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Politics of Horror

I don't usually like the thought of turning a blog about cinema into anything overtly political, but with Halloween and the election both so near, who can resist? Fair and balanced, that's me.

Masks of Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin are already this season's bestsellers, so why not take it one step further... maybe two. If you're anything like me you'll definitely want to line up a movie marathon for the holiday, and why not keep it topical? Of course for you "mavericks" out there you may want to watch Top Gun or, well, Maverick, then follow it up with some Fargo and Sling Blade, for the die-hard Palin fans. Nevertheless, I recommend you stick to the Halloween tradition of horror movies. They have a way of summing things up as nothing else could...

John McCain = Grandpa Sawyer
(The Texas Chain Saw

He's a rural believer and war vet who's all about family and "country first." Alas, his glory days are behind him, as are his best years. Unlike John, Grandpa Sawyer can't blink, but true to form he can still suck blood with the best of 'em. In fact he's positively giddy about it!

And look over there, it's Cindy McCain!

Sarah and Todd Palin = Mom and Dad
(The People Under the Stairs)

They keep their daughter prisoner, their private lives guarded and home loaded like an arsenal. They also joyously lie, especially about stealing from the poor. Considering the secrecy shrouding them, we shouldn't be surprised if they collect Democrats in their basement.

(And you don't get five kids without a little kink...)

Please vote on November 4th.

Let's leave the scares for Halloween.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

To Return

Nowadays I post more blogs explaining my absence from blogging than any blogs of substance. Substance is relative of course when I'm more or less finding ways to post photos of Paul Rudd's ass.

Substance enough, clearly. And yet I promise I'll be returning to my routine of cinematic obsession soon enough. I can't find time to write on my own blog, but I might as well guest blog this upcoming week at Film Experience. Check in there, or here. Wherever. See if I care.

And in honor of my half-assed return (or half-assed volver, if you will -- although I recommend you don't since I just used a verb improperly), I'm tossing the mic to Penélope Cruz. She can't stop singing about it! Although the way she's crying you'd think I came back from the dead or something...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Obscure Beauty: Dario Argento (Vol. 2)

"Horror is like a serpent; always shedding it's skin, always changing. And it will always come back. It can't be hidden away like the guilty secrets we try to keep in our unconscious."
-Dario Argento

Vol. 1 available here. (Click them to enlarge... obviously.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Abominable Retro Posters!

Anyone who says "less is more" clearly
didn't graduate Japanese design school.

Here's to all the men who actually brought
their wives to this.
And here's to their second wives.

If you thought that
ping-pong ball trick was amazing...

More posters here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Slave Labor with Björk

I've been busy working additional part-time at a nearby factory to supplement my income. Seriously. Thanks, college. Ugh... don't you hate it when things like money, work and people interfere with watching movies?

My only comfort has been the thought of screaming out "UNION!" at random, or pretending I'm saving up all this money for my son's eye operation while I progressively go blind myself. Work is all about motivation.