the 60s

Paul Thomas Anderson

Speculation surrounding what Paul Thomas Anderson’s next project is going to be like is usually intense enough in the film geek community, but when the guy starts making claims in interviews that his next film is going to be like a Cheech and Chong movie, well then people really start scratching their heads. The project in question is called Inherent Vice, and it’s an adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel that the director has been said to have been working on for about as long as we’ve known he was going to make The Master. Pynchon’s book is set in ’60s-era Los Angeles and features a drug-soaked private investigator named Larry “Doc” Sportello as its protagonist. It’s a story that’s awash with music and cultural references from the era, and in a profile that The New York Times did on Anderson, he gave the publication a little bit of insight into what the process of adapting this rich tapestry of experience from the page to the screen has been like. What’s most notable is that, unlike how we heard There Will Be Blood was an adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s book “Oil!” and then the two proved to only have loose connections, this time around Anderson is looking to do a fairly faithful adaptation of Pynchon’s work, so much so that he seems to have been working with the author, who is famously reclusive and not prone to accepting visitors. When asked to elaborate on the cooperation that’s gone on between […]

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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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