John Slattery

John Slattery as Howard Stark

For months, the mystery of who would take the reigns from Edgar Wright and direct Ant-Man dominated all coverage of the Marvel flick. But ever since the baton was passed to Peyton Reed, focus has been able to switch back to the good ol’ casting frenzy. Today, Marvel sent out a press release announcing that production has officially started in San Francisco on the much-anticipated film. That in itself is exciting enough news, with Reed also tweeting “LET’S. GET. small.” early this morning. He’s a man with a plan, and it’s on a teensy tiny scale. Good things come in small packages, haven’t you heard? But the press release contained something even more amazing: a barrage of cast members to round out the film’s core ensemble. The new additions are Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire), Judy Greer (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Michael Pena (End of Watch), Abby Ryder Fortson (Togetherness), David Dastmalchian (Prisoners), Gregg Turkington (The Comedy), Wood Harris (The Wire), rapper T.I. (Identity Thief) and John Slattery (Mad Men).

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IFC Films

In one sense, it hurts to consider God’s Pocket in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death. The movie offers another sobering reminder of the enormous talent we lost in February, starkly portraying Hoffman’s unparalleled gift for empathizing with everyman characters and their problems. At the same time, this can be a cathartic experience, a chance to continue reclaiming Hoffman’s story from the sordid headlines that accompanied his death while appreciating a master at work for one of the final times. That’s a welcome opportunity, and it makes the picture worth watching despite some significant flaws and the fact that it’s hardly Hoffman’s best.

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Mad Men Season 7 Monolith

Prior to 1935, if you wanted to drink something, you had your choice of bottle or cup. But post-1935, consumers had a third option: the canned beverage. Carbonated drinks like beer and soda were poured into tin cans, sealed to preserve freshness, and shipped to stores across the country, providing relief for consumers sick of the bottle industry’s monopoly on drinks you buy from a store. Except that most people were fine with the bottle monopoly, because early canned drinks tasted a lot like tin — an unpleasant side-effect of, you know, being stored for so long in tin cans. There was also much confusion in how to open a can of, say, Coca-Cola. Some models required bottle openers, while others had screw-on lids. Confusion ran rampant among the masses, and for a few decades canned drinks were not the popular item they are today. Then, in 1959, a man named Ermal Fraze invented the pop top, a handy metal tab yanked from the top of a can, leaving a convenient mouth-sized opening. Canned imbibement finally took the world by force, blanketing the world with discarded shards of razor-sharp aluminum, but also providing a level of thirst-quenching not possible from a bottle. And Coke, which had existed in cans since 1955, began revamping the look of the Coke can every couple of years, to keep this new trend feeling fresh. It’s the 1966 redesign that becomes a vessel for vodka (and trouble) in last night’s Mad Men, entitled “The Monolith.” […]

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Mad Men Season 7 Episode 3 Field Trip

French filmmaker Jacques Demy hit it big with his 1964 musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, garnering a Palme’ d’Or, a handful of Oscar noms, and even a name-drop on Mad Men a few years back. And because Hollywood was poaching foreign talent even back in the ’60s, Demy was brought stateside to make his first (and only) American film: Model Shop. It did not do well. Demy’s mainstream success came from French people breaking out into sudden song and dance, and Model Shop contained precisely none of those things. Instead, it was about a young man named George (Gary Lockwood) on the brink of physical and existential disaster. He soon loses his car to a couple of repo men, and he loses his freedom to a Vietnam draft notice that’s just arrived in the mail. And so George floats around LA when he stumbles upon Lola (Anouk Aimée), a French model and the protagonist of an earlier Demy film — the aptly titled Lola. The two share a brief, passionate night; they talk of their deep affection for Los Angeles; they part ways, both a little more learned in the deep and meaningful way that can only come from a 1960s French art film. And in “Field Trip,” this week’s episode of Mad Men, we find Don Draper wiling away his unemployed hours at the theater, thoroughly engrossed in Model Shop. As far as entertainment choices go, it’s kind of an awful choice (a depressed and aimless guy looking for […]

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Mad Men PR

With just one episode left in this year’s remarkable Mad Men season, AMC has cheerily released an “official” press release announcing the latest merger for the ad men, including a look at the new firm’s new logo and adorable comments from all of its partners. The memo was shared on Mad Men’s Facebook page after last night’s show (and subsequently shared by every person you know on social media), and while it’s certainly fun to gaze at, it’s even more fun to use as the jumping off point for some Mad Men activities (and, we’ll admit it now, to delve ever-deeper into the finely-tuned historical elements of the ever-accurate show). Let’s have some fun.

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Our boys at SCDP and CGC are allegedly operating as one entity, they even came up with an “equally offensive” new name of Sterling Cooper & Partners, though it’s hard to believe that either of the halves will ever function as a whole, as proved by this week’s episode, aptly titled “A Tale of Two Cities,” written by Janet Leahy and Matthew Weiner and directed by John Slattery. Separate forces divide and try to concur as they make meetings to reel in new accounts. But every man is for himself, naturally, and their motivations aren’t necessarily for the good of the firm as a whole. Maintaining the momentum of last week’s brilliant episode, this one perhaps equals it in overall quality and explores office politics versus more personal relationships. And parallelled with the office unrest are the riots at the Democratic National Convention. Don and Roger head to Los Angeles with Harry with the hopes to seal the deal with Carnation. While Don is uncharacteristically prepping on the plane, Roger tells him to stop, saying, “Our biggest challenge? Not getting syphilis.” So we know Roger’s main motivation for the trip. Don, however, is making an effort to be good where Megan is concerned, though that doesn’t stop him from making out with some actress at a hash party later.

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roger sterling

Seeing as he’s one of the senior partners at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency, John Slattery’s Mad Men character, Roger Sterling, is very used to being in charge of a crew of people. And now that Slattery himself has directed four episodes of the acclaimed show on which he acts, he too is starting to get a feel for being in charge. It makes sense, then, that he would eventually want to put his leadership skills to the test and make the step up to directing a feature film, and Deadline is reporting that he’s all set to do just that. The film is called God’s Pocket, and it’s an adaptation of a Pete Dexter novel about a blue collar neighborhood that Slattery co-adapted alongside Alex Metcalf. More than even its director or the content of its story though, God’s Pocket is notable because of the outstanding cast that it’s already assembled.

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Don Draper’s devolution into being completely unlikable is nearing completion. He’s been the perpetrator of selfish office politics, continued his adulterous streak, and now he veered into some really cringe-worthy sadomasochistic stuff with Sylvia. This week’s Mad Men, “Man With A Plan,” written by Matthew Weiner and Semi Chellas and directed by Roger Sterling himself, John Slattery, did indeed serve as a heavy critique on Don’s morals, putting him up against his CGC equivalent, Ted Chaough, and how they compare as creative leaders. We also got a healthy dose of Joan, which is always encouraged, as Joan had to discern whether or not a certain kindness was the product of someone trying to get ahead. And some comic moments with Pete and his ailing mother, though this storyline is a tarnished retread of one from the past. Oh yes, and the RFK assassination officially happened.

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This week, SDCP and CGC assemble to nab that Chevy account that both are vying for. Separate, their agencies are too small and Don fears that Chevy will rip off their creative output and go with a larger agency instead. So, Don and Ted decide last minute (over drinks, of course) to present to Chevy together and worry about all the merger stuff later – our creative leaders swap out Old Fashioneds for shwarma, no doubt. This is all pretty exciting, but perhaps feels a bit contrived. Nevertheless, this week’s Mad Men, entitled “For Immediate Release” (written by Matthew Weiner and directed by Jennifer Getzinger) successfully deals with the blurring together of personal feelings with business politics and how that gray area comes with mostly negative results. The merger, as we learn by the end of the episode, pretty much destroys a lucrative opportunity headed up by Bert, Pete, and Joan – they brought in a banker to evaluate the company for an IPO, and he deemed the company to be worth $11 per share, meaning that the partners stand to be filthy rich (Joan’s portion alone would be worth over $1 million). Don, however, was never alerted about the IPO possibility, so he’s indignant about not being in the loop, while Pete is indignant that Don is so blasé about firing the worst guy ever (Herb from Jaguar, clearly) in an explosive dinner. Don’s move obviously lowers the price of their potential stock and poses the question: what exactly did Joan sacrifice so […]

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In Our Nature

Writer/director Brian Savelson‘s In Our Nature features a ton of pithy bits of wisdom. Along with John Slattery, Gabrielle Union, Jena Malone and Zach Gilford, these poetic nuggets are on display in the film’s trailer which also promises family tension and vegan-bashing. In the film, an estranged father and son accidentally bring their girlfriends to the family cabin on the same weekend, causing friction and confrontation for a group with a lot of issues to work through (and more than a few clever turns of phrase). Get ready to bite-sized chunks of insight and check out the trailer for yourself:

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Culture Warrior

Television’s manufacturing of nostalgia often reduces the past to its most obvious series of events. Whether in revisiting popular culture on VH1’s I Love the ‘70s or in TV movies ranging from The ‘60s to The Kennedys, “the past” rarely adds up to anything more than what we already know about it. The past, then, becomes reduced to a series of iconic historical events that are imbued with the hindsight-benefit of the present rather than portrayed in a way that provides any sense of convincing every-dayness. AMC’s Mad Men has largely avoided this trap. Where NBC’s The ‘60s framed the entire decide as a monolithic event whose every singular moment one nuclear family was improbably involved in, Mad Men integrates personal storylines into major events in a way that gives them a believable microscopic intimacy which make them feel like artifacts of the present: the Kennedy/Nixon election occurs in the background during a raucous and promiscuous office party in Season 1, Don Draper’s (John Hamm) marriage dissolves as the Cuban missile crisis escalates in Season 2, and Roger Sterling’s (John Slattery) daughter’s wedding is forebodingly scheduled on November 22, 1963 in Season 3. But these are the events we have come to expect and anticipate Mad Men to touch upon as its timeline moves forward. What the show is particularly adept at doing – and what separates its from traditional and redundant encapsulations of our culture’s most-revisited decade – is its use of smaller moments. Examine the news landscape each […]

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The premise of Return lends itself quite easily over to the plot synopsis of a Lifetime movie. Conveying the unsteady returning home of a soldier isn’t exactly breaking new ground, and it’s not the easiest type of story to tell. Night terrors, big breakdowns, and digging holes in the backyard, all tonally difficult and usually trite scenes. None of those scenes are in Return. In fact, writer/director Liza Johnson‘s film relies a good deal on silence, not so much on “loud” drama. For the film’s star, Linda Cardellini, that’s what she seemed the most taken with. As Kelli, Cardellini plays messy, flawed, and extremely difficult without ever giving a “big” scene to explain it all. Here’s what actor Linda Cardellini had to say about how to pronounce Cannes, how little details can inform a performance, and relying on silence:

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I heard good things about Liza Johnson‘s Return after its Cannes premiere, and since then I’ve been watching out for it. Why? Well, for the most ultimate of starters, it starts Linda Cardellini, an actress I wish we saw more of. The last time I saw Cardellini appear in a film was in James Gunn‘s (awesome) SUPER, and that was only a cameo. She could make your heart wrench or fly on Freaks and Geeks, and it’s a real shame Cardellini hasn’t yet had any feature films to work with that give her that type of strong material to work with. But apparently Return does. Even the reviews that didn’t praise Return as a whole made special mention of Cardellini’s performance. The trailer for the film has an impressive low-key and claustrophobic buildup, and you can definitely see where the praise for Cerdellini is coming from. And, hey, Michael Shannon. Check it out after the break.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets an added dose of tiger’s blood and Adonis DNA to make it through all the movie-watching he endures. He bats about .500 in his screenings, really liking some but struggling through others. After a visit to the wild west of Rango, he finds his fate adjusted by a mysterious fleet of men with stylish hats. Then, he realizes how ugly Number Four really is before staying out all night, drinking with Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer… who looks a lot like Number Six.

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The Adjustment Bureau, loosely adapted from a Philip K. Dick story, takes on one of science fiction’s stock themes. Fans of Lost, for example, or Minority Report or The Matrix will recognize the classic struggle between fate and free will at the heart of the picture, the clash between the universe’s plan for us and our desire to carve out our own destiny. It’s familiar, quasi-religious territory rendered with stylish flair by writer-director George Nolfi and cinematographer John Toll. Set in a Manhattan rife with dapper henchmen in fedoras and swanky buildings with long marble foyers, captured in sweeping camera movements and symmetrical compositions, the film has the look of a production of weighty, spiritual import. Yet that stylistic edge services a love story that starts flat and never gets going. It’s a forced and altogether empty conjoining of two moderately likable, exceedingly bland individuals that inspires none of the deep, transcendent passion required of a narrative so immersed in spirituality.

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Culture Warrior

I really love Mad Men. I talk about it a lot. Since The Wire ended in 2008, and I haven’t seen any episodes of Boardwalk Empire yet, then as far as my knowledge takes me it’s the best damn show currently on television. Nothing I’m saying here is necessarily new, but Mad Men effectively does a great many things I’ve never seen television do before in that it 1) delivers is an incredibly entertaining and engaging media object while it uses its protagonists to criticize and reveal the potentially manipulative processes of media itself, 2) interrogates any continuous notion of the ever-interpretationally-oscillating “good old days” by showing how they were neither that good nor that long ago, thereby criticizing our culture’s all-too-convenient rotating manufacture of nostalgia, 3) utilizes the past to criticize white male heteronormative hegemony and reveal a systematic culture of sexism, racism, and homophobia, and all the while 4) creates compelling drama as manifested by ambiguous, layered characters with the combination of beautiful cinematography and impeccable production design. Mad Men, in short, is an engrossing, enjoyable, and thought-provoking series in unprecedented ways. But for a show to engage in such a rare criticism of a cultural moment, a bit of negotiation is required. And it is in this respect that some major problems with the show have arisen recently.

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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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After being featured as part of the solution to all of Tony Stark’s problems in Iron Man 2, the character of Howard Stark (his father) is moving on to another Marvel property: Captain America.

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Here comes another dour, science fiction infused love story. Alright, so those aren’t exactly running amok these days, are they. Which is perhaps the reason why George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau seems so interesting.

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mad-men-finale

The season finale begins with Don ending his business partnership with Conrad Hilton and ends with him starting a new job somewhere else; Betty wants to go forward with divorce proceedings.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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