January Jones

Sweetwater Movie

As we all know, whenever someone wants to get revenge in a Western, they have to first strip naked and stand poignantly beside a campfire on an otherwise pitch black night. Sweetwater continues that tradition when Sarah Ramirez (January Jones) starts killing a bunch of people that did her wrong. The Sundance movie also features Jason Isaacs as a murderous preacher and Ed Harris as a tap-dancing sheriff, and it currently doesn’t have a US release date (straight to DVD?). The trailer is a faulty kind of mash-up attempting to make it simultaneously seem like 3:10 to Yuma and Django Unchained. So, not great. You’ll also notice that they don’t showcase a ton of speaking from Jones (a bad sign), but with the possibility of Harris and Isaacs going over the top, there might be some gold in them hills.

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mad men header

In the wise words of the J. Geils Band, “love stinks.” Love is different to different people. Some hold onto another person out of a matter of convenience. Some for lust. Some for nostalgia. Some probably don’t even know what “love” is really supposed to be – well, that’s probably most of us. And those at SCDP/CGC are no better off. This week’s exceptional Mad Men, ‘The Better Half,” written by Erin Levy and Matthew Weiner and directed by Phil Abraham, examines the relationships of some of the characters, past and present. Between Don, Betty, Peggy, Ted, Roger, and Joan, feelings for old flames are stirred up and idealized or new options come into the mix, but are any of these feelings well-founded? Probably not. “The Better Half” provides a great balance of characters’ stories, some excellent writing (as usual), and such a striking examination of the interpersonal relationships on the show. This hour-long episode covers an impressive amount of ground and was one of the best of the season so far.

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Mad Men Season 6

Now in its sixth season, Mad Men is probably one of the only shows on television that never jumped the shark – it remains as thoughtful and sophisticated a show since its first season. Sure, there have been some mistakes made along the way. But if I’m to judge from this two-hour premiere episode alone (sorry, this will likely therefore be on the long side), entitled “The Doorway,” I don’t think that there’s much to worry about in terms of the show not living up to expectations. In the premiere, a lot of recurring themes from seasons past are revisited – impending death, times that are a-changin’, infidelity, identity – though are these themes should be ever-present, as the show wouldn’t exist without them. Especially now since Vietnam looms even more heavily over the show’s landscape and harbingers of death become even more  pertinent. And, yes, the premiere was pretty damn good. Written by showrunner Matthew Weiner and directed by veteran Mad Men director Scott Hornbacher, it featured elegant, filmic non-linear structure, as well as the intelligent writing that we have all grown accustomed to in the many years of drinking in this show.

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It turns out there’s a Nicolas Cage movie out there that is ready to be watched, but has been sitting on the shelf waiting for distribution. Why there haven’t been alarm bells sounding, protests happening in the streets, and 24/7 coverage from media outlets the entire time this atrocity was occurring is beyond me, but apparently we can all stop (not) panicking. Deadline Lomita is reporting that Cage’s next film, Seeking Justice (once known as The Hungry Rabbit Jumps), has been acquired by Anchor Bay and is set for a U.S. release on March 16th of next year. Let’s all take a moment to silently thank Anchor Bay. (Thanks, Anchor Bay.) News of a new Nic Cage movie is usually reason for celebration enough, no matter what the particulars of the project are, but this time there’s another big reason why I’ve now got Seeking Justice’s release date circled on my calendar with a big red heart. In this Roger Donaldson-directed thriller, Cage plays a mild-mannered teacher whose life changes when his wife is brutally assaulted. While that sounds awfully bleak, the good news here is that January Jones is playing the wife. That’s right, the man who’s never met a chance to overact he didn’t like and the stone-faced creep who’s never experienced a human emotion will be playing a married couple on the big screen. The results should be like a car crash being interrupted by a train wreck all while a woman breast feeds in public: I […]

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Drinking Games

Yeah, we realize that technically X-Men: First Class came out last Friday, but what’s the point of giving you a drinking game if you can’t actually play it. So this week, we’ve got enough drinking rules to bring out the mutant in you. Watch one of the better movies of this past summer and enjoy your favorite beverage. May we suggest a nice, cold German beer. Just be careful that pre-Magneto doesn’t show up and stab you in the hand while you’re drinking it.

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Gwen is on a bit of a vacation this week, so I’m taking over writing duties for the one column on the site that forces us to ogle and think deeply at the same time. Hopefully I do it justice. Hopping into a cinematic time machine to set a film in a different decade is always a precarious occupation, but for X-Men: First Class (a movie that doesn’t seem exactly topical despite coming out two months ago), the danger of portraying the men and women of 1962 was even more difficult. Sure, Mad Men had come along and made the sleek chauvinism of the 60s chic again, but Matthew Vaughn and company had to juggle the suspension of disbelief inherent in spotlighting mutants alongside the possible cartoon that forms whenever a guy in a tight cummerbund slaps a woman on the ass and goes back to enjoying being white and male in America. So is X-Men: First Class anti-feminist or a sexy love note to the powerful women of our world? That’s a tough call. And since it’s a tough call, here’s an attempt at giving both arguments equal weight.

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Culture Warrior

Themes of identity, difference, stigma, and othering are explicitly or implicitly present in much of the X-Men mythology, whether expressed through comics, television shows, or films. While I was never a devotee to the comics, as a fan of the 90s animated television series and (some of) the recent slate of Hollywood films (that have, as of this past weekend, effectively framed the continually dominant superhero blockbuster genre), I’ve always been fascinated by the series’ ability to take part in the language of social identity issues. Fantastic genres like horror and sci-fi have often provided an allegorical means of addressing social crises (vampire films as AIDS metaphor, zombie movie as conformist critique, or Dystopian sci-fi as technocratic critique, for example). The superhero genre has possessed a similar history in this capacity, even though it has thus far been mostly unrealized in the medium of film. As big entertainment, superhero films ranging from the first Spider-Man to the Iron Man films have bestowed narratives of exceptionalism and wish-fulfillment rather than shown any aspiration towards critique or insight. Perhaps The Dark Knight is most involved example of social critique thus far – a film that explores themes surrounding the personal toll on fighting terror and the overreaches of power that can result in the name of pursuing safety. What X-Men: First Class (almost) accomplishes is mining fully the allegorical territory made available by its fantastic premise in a way that few previous comic book films have.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr brushes up on his world history by studying the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He learns how multiple mutants were involved in not only escalating it but also trying to solve it. Surely an education by Hollywood will help him out when he takes his GED next month. After spending hours reflecting on January Jones’s boobs, he took the rest of the day trying to move things with his mind, which led to an emergency room visit after bursting a blood vessel from concentrating too hard. Thank god there was only one movie opening wide this weekend.

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The initial announcement that Fox would forgo a third X-Men sequel in favor of a Muppet Babies-like reboot wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. A rushed production schedule, a director coming off the divisive Kick-Ass, and some highly suspect early marketing images didn’t help matters any, but now that the movie is actually here it can be judged on the only thing that matters… the movie itself. And goddamn is it great. Maybe even the best of the series…

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It’s tricky tackling a comic book film. For starters, one is generally adapting fairly fantastical ideas. Secondly, if a comic book film gets too serious, it can easily lose a sense of fun and self-awareness. Director Matthew Vaughn seems to have found a good middle ground for his superhero epic, X-Men: First Class. The genre favorite director could not have made more of a 180° turn from Kick-Ass to X-Men: First Class, both in terms of scope and his approach to the genre. Kick-Ass was the first – or most notable – modern comic book film to turn the genre on its bloody ear. Now, Vaughn is working in the genre he just previously deconstructed, which, as Vaughn says, makes him even better suited for it. Here’s what the candid and always confident Matthew Vaughn had to say about not taking comic book properties too seriously, making a film for his broadest audience ever, and reading fanboys on the internet.

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It’s been a good week for Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. In fact, everything appears to be running smooth on Fox’s mutant reboot (are we still calling it that?) ever since a leaked photo and a pair of awful posters set the internet ablaze with anger. Everything from the excellent trailer to movie sites like this one running fan-created poster contests. Never has a movie been marketed so poorly, yet ultimately received so much positive attention. Perhaps that was the plan all along. If so, it’s working. Tonight we’ve got only the good stuff. A fan made title sequence that will drop your jaw and a trio of stylish covers for Total Film magazine, decked out with the likes of Erik Lensherr, Charles Xavier and Emma Frost. It’s all very Mad Men, so I think you’ll dig it.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hit his head and spent the better part of his time wandering around Berlin looking for January Jones. Soon he unlocked the key to his past and realized he was an alien who is hiding among the people of Earth, hunted by big dudes with tattoos and trench coats. Fortunately, he woke up from this terrifying dream to realize the true nightmare… there’s another Big Momma movie with Martin Lawrence and on-screen son Brandon T. Jackson in fat suits. To quote many a movie: “Noooooooooooo!”

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Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his daughter wife Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for a conference, but as they enter their hotel he realizes he’s forgotten his briefcase back at the airport. He hops in a cab to retrieve it and instead crashes into a river, dies for a couple minutes, and winds up in a coma. He awakens a few days later and discovers another man (Aidan Quinn) has stepped into his shoes and stolen his identity. And his wife is going along with it. No one believes he is who he says he is, all of the evidence points to the contrary, and not even a very particular set of skills may be enough to prove otherwise. It’s Taken meets Frantic (by way of a handful of titles that would surely ruin the film’s main reveal were they to be named) as Harris is forced to scour his way through Berlin in search of the truth with only a troubled woman (Diane Kruger) and an ex-East German Stasi agent (Bruno Ganz) on his side. Has the world gone mad? Has he? Or is there something far more sinister at play here? The film builds and maintains a fairly suspenseful mystery complete with a handful of solidly staged action sequences before eventually revealing the secret… at which point the entire thing gets lost in a stink cloud of ridiculous and convoluted storytelling.

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Combing through movie news and trivium all day is enough to make someone jaded. Thus, it’s important to remember when a piece of fluff marketing like this comes out, to keep a level head about what it really means. Does it say anything about the movie itself? Not really. Does it say something about the photoshop skills of whoever made it. Certainly. With that in mind, here’s the first official cast picture from X-Men: First Class, showing off a little midriff on January Jones, a little stone cold stare from everyone else, and a whole lot of cheese.

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Hey, you. Yes, you. No, not that person behind you who seems curiously intent on strangling you with a stand of fishing line. You. I’m guessing you are here because you want to know what’s going on in the world of movies? And chances are you’ve had about enough of the “Film School Rejects attitude” seen in other, more wordy editorials. I’m here to rescue you and give you only the news that you crave as we both stare up at the moon together. And just as you realize that the guy behind you was, in fact, killing you this whole time, you are also going to realize something else: I’m delivering the news with attitude, as well. What can I say, it’s late…

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If someone made a movie that combined The Fugitive, The Game, and Taken, would that pique your interest? Of course it would. And, of course it will. The new trailer for Unknown (which apparently isn’t called Unknown White Male anymore) shows a very confused, very pissed off, very revenge-fueled Liam Neeson as a man whose identity seems to have been stolen. The world that opens up is one of deception and conspiracy, and the coma he was in probably doesn’t add much to his credibility. The bottom line: this trailer is intense and promises a complex film with plenty of asses being kicked.

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It had previously been reported that She’s Out of My League object of affection Alice Eve was due to play Emma Frost in Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming (and quickly casting) X-Men: First Class. But that has changed today, as its been announced that Mad Men star January Jones will shed her Betty Draper garb and get down with some early onset mutations. She is joined by Zoe Kravitz, who will play Angel (this according to Deadline Knoxville). Speculation is rampant as to whether this is misinformation (Kravitz feels more like a young Storm to me), or just a misprint that Nikki Finke will never cop to. Either way, Kravitz is in alongside Mrs. Draper, Morgan Lily (who will play a 10-year old Mystique) and Bill Milner, who will play the younger version of Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. All of this is new in the last 24 hours. We look forward to more rampant casting to continue as the film speeds toward its upcoming start date. For those who missed it earlier in the week, Winter’s Bone breakout star Jennifer Lawrence also signed on to star as Mystique (the older, but not that much older version). That’s good stuff. I feel a breakdown article coming… [Deadline]

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Mad Men season 4

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) comes off as a bit of a prick when he does an interview and upsets his partners at the recently founded Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce ad firm, while also trying to convince a family-owned bikini shop that it’s ok to sell something sexy. At the homefront, Betty (January Jones) and Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) are living in Don’s house temporarily. I’ve sort of stayed away from hearing about season 4 of Mad Men this year. Last year I did a bunch more to prepare for writing for the season on FSR, and in some ways it ruined what just watching and experiencing Mad Men does for me. That being said, the reviews for this new season will be just as in-depth and I’ll try to touch on more aspects of the show than I have in years past, like the costuming and music, for example, in the week’s coming.

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blackcat-header

If you read a lot of movie blogs, chances are that you’ve seen plenty of suggestions about this week’s top rumor, the question of who should play The Black Cat in Spider-Man 4. You can throw all of those suggestions out the window, because we’ve got our own list of ladies who should be wearing tight outfits and sneaking into NYC banks.

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januaryjones-gq

When she’s not playing the always hot, but ever-so-cold wife of Don Draper on AMC’s superb series Mad Men, actress January Jones is making movies.

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