The centerpiece of last night's episode of Mad Men is an idea that Megan came up with for a commercial for Heinz Baked Beans (seriously, how much did they have to shell out for their product to get so much damn attention this season?). In the commercial we see a mother with her child, feeding him baked beans throughout the ages. As Megan says, things change but a mother feeding her child is something that is permanent, something that is passed on through the generations. That's what this episode was about, passing on the beans from one woman for the other. Yes, the episode was almost entirely concerned with the lives of the women and how they are raised to believe what they believe and how they pass on those beliefs to both their peers and their daughters. No, these weren't beans they were passing on, it's a heaping, steaming spoonful of dysfunction.
There was really only one scene of unadulterated man-on-man action last night when Leland Palmer told Don that he murdered his daughter when inhabited by the spirit of evil named Bob and that society would never recognize Don for his achievements. Well, the American Cancer Society would, for the ad he placed about tobacco being evil, but the fancy blue blood types in the ballroom would never accept him, and they would never do business with him. They like his politics, but they don't like that he bit that had that fed him, to use Leland's idiom. They wouldn't have accepted him regardless, with his studied manners and vague back story. Don may get invited to the ballroom, but he'll never know the steps to the dance.
Other than that, this is women all the way.
Mothers and Daughters: The episode is marked by the arrival of Megan's parents from Canada. Holy shit, Megan's mom is Julia Ormond! Holy crap! (I'm sorry, but I need to get this out of the way: Julia Ormond looks really Frenching good for a woman of her age. I mean, she's beautiful. Even more beautiful than Megan. And unlike the other Hollywood actresses of her age, it doesn't look like she has done a thing to her face. Sure, she's been genetically gifted her whole life, but good for her for either aging gracefully and still looking like a million francs or having the best damn plastic surgeon in the whole damn world. Julia, will you marry me, or at least be my mom and take me to brunches where we sip mimosas until the early evening?) Megan and her mother have a very strained relationship and Megan explains that her mother was always jealous of her because her father loved her more than he loved her mother.
Megan's mother is a careless woman who will fall asleep in bed smoking and expect Megan to come in and put the cigarette out for her. She seems more concerned with her own feelings than anyone else around her. From what we see of Megan and her mother, it's obvious that they are the same person. They're both gorgeous, married to older philandering men, and both in marriages that make them wildly unhappy.
However Megan's mother still seems to be a large part of her life, unlike Sally whose mother was physically absent as opposed to her usual emotionally absence. Instead Sally is left in the care of Mrs. Frances, her step father's bumbling mother, who Sally unknowingly sabotages when she drags the phone into her room, creating a tripwire booby trap for "Bluto" (as Sally calls her) and breaking her ankle. So we see Sally given other surrogate mothers, Megan (who once comforted her after running away) and Megan's mother, Julia Ormond. But Megan is more of a friend to Sally, like a peer, and takes her shopping, buys her an inappropriately mature outfit, and teaches her how to put on makeup. Don is more attracted to Megan when she's acting a mother than anything else, but still he disagrees with her parenting decisions. Thus Sally is set adrift without any real mother figure of her own, left to figure out the mysteries of her life through absence rather than presence.
While Megan is destined to become her beautiful but bitter mother and future lesbian Sally Draper is left to forever be searching for a mother figure, it is Peggy who is rebelling most against her mother. From the moment Abe asked Peggy to move in with him, I knew that Peggy's very Catholic mother was not going to be a big fan of this idea. When her mother arrives at her apartment (with a very delicate cake that we never get to see) Peggy breaks the news and it does not go over well. Duh, Peggy. Her mother says, "Don't put it in my face. You think you're the first person to ever do this?" It's not that Peggy's mother cares about her living with Abe, it's that she cares that Peggy has to make a big deal about it. Peggy's mother seems fine with her rebelling, she just doesn't want her daughter to rub her face in the fact that she chooses not to believe in the morals and values that she instilled in Peggy. It's like her life decisions are saying that her mother is somehow inadequate. This is what Peggy always struggles with, doing things that are different and modern have their price, and the price for Peggy is that it is going to create a strained relationship with her mother.
The funny thing about Peggy is that when Abe calls her and says they need to talk at dinner, she thinks that a proposal is coming and goes out and buys a dress and prepares her answer. It's almost as if she wants that traditional life and is prepared for it. But when he offers a more modern arrangement, she agrees to it in what we assume is second best, but it's something she sees fits her. Peggy is at once drawn in by her mother's traditional sensibilities about relationships and repelled by them. She was raised on the expectation to meet a nice boy and get married and always envisioned her life that way. She has no alternative until one is present to her. But that staunch Catholic upbringing is hard to rewire and that is why Peggy needs her mother's approval. She needs her mother to change her world view so that hers can be comforted. She needs her mother to tell her that it's alright, but that's not something that's going to happen.
The best part of their fight in the hallway is that Peggy calls up the spirit of her dead father and says that he would want her to be happy, even if it's living in sin with a Jew. Peggy's mother says that her father would think that she is stupid. It is women arguing over a man, competing for his love, even he's dead and gone. Speaking of which, what worries Peggy's mom the most is that Abe will leave her. She's concerned that, without the bond of marriage, he'll get sick of Peggy at some point and leave her old, alone, and worthless to other men. Then she advises Peggy to become a crazy old cat lady rather than living with some man who she's not married to. Oh, this is how a million Cathy cartoons are made. Thanks, Momma.
More than 10 000 people are smuggled into the United States for sexual exploitation per the nonprofit organization Free the Slaves. Inspired by a New York Times Magazine article Trade focuses on the attempts of traffickers to smuggle a group of women and children across the U.S.-Mexican border. Director Marco Kreuzpaintner wastes no time introducing us to the two victims he intends to follow from their kidnapping in Mexico to their auctioning off in the United States. Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) is snatched from the street as she rides the bicycle she just received from her brother Jorge (Cesar Ramos) for her 13th birthday. Single mother Veronica (Alicja Bachleda) arrives in Mexico City from Poland believing she’s there to meet with the people she’s paid to arrange her with safe and legal passage to the United States. Only she’s been duped by the traffickers. Adriana Veronica and a handful of other abductees then begin their terrifying journey to the United States under the watchful eye of trafficker Manuelo (Marco Perez). On their trail is Jorge who feels responsible for Adriana’s kidnapping. He risks life and limb to follow the abductees across the border. Once on U.S. soil Jorge crosses paths with Ray (Kevin Kline) a Texas cop who’s trying to break up the trafficking ring for personal reasons. Ray reluctantly pairs up with Jorge to track down Adriana before she and Veronica are sold off to the highest bidder via the Internet. More gentleman than action hero Kevin Kline’s not the obvious choice to portray a police officer hailing from the Lone Star State. Ray’s the kind of law-enforcement bloodhound Tommy Lee Jones can play in his sleep. Heck Kline only halfheartedly attempts a Texas drawl and even then he drops it minutes after his late entrance. This could be overlooked if Kline lent Ray some intensity. For someone on a crusade Kline strolls through Trade without a care in the world. As Trade reaches its inevitable showdown between the traffickers and their pursuers Ray’s faced with a life-or-death choice that would compromise all he stands for. Kline though looks about as conflicted as someone trying to decide what he wants for lunch. Luckily Kline’s presence doesn’t negate the fine work done by Ramos Gaitan and Bachleda. Ramos perfectly captures the guilt of a troubled young man—one embarking on a life of crime—whose ill-gotten gains has cost him dearly. If Ramos offers a study in redemption Bachleda goes to great pains to show the ease with which someone with so much grit and determination can bend and break under the most extreme of circumstances. Gaitan doesn’t endure as much abuse but she’s still one tough cookie. Perez refuses to allow Manuelo to be a mere profit-minded monster—he provides Manuelo with a conscience or what passes for one in his business. Trade is a tale of two countries. While in Mexico director Marco Kreuzpaintner examines the sex-slave trade in an incisive and uncompromising manner. He sheds light on how these trafficking rings acquire their slaves and smuggle them across the border. He puts us on edge the moment Adriana and Veronica fall in their captors’ hands. We’re never sure as to what will happen to them. We know they need to be kept alive. But in what condition? Many of the abductees are drugged beaten and raped. The violence isn’t exploitative—Kreuzpaintner just needs to show the cruelty inflicted upon these victims of the modern-day slave trade. And it only makes us fear more for Adrian and Veronica’s safety. Once Trade reaches the United States Kreuzpaintner and screenwriter Jose Rivera start pulling their punches. Yes there are some moments that make you sick to your stomach. But the moment Kline arrives on the scene Trade gets weak at the knees. There are too many coincidences for Trade’s own good. The sudden death of one character is forced and absurd. And Kreuzpaintner doesn’t know how to extricate Kline from the untenable situation he’s placed in during Trade’s climax. This all leads up to a pat ending one that even the Lifetime TV crowd would find unbelievably spineless.
On the surface Stay seems to be a straightforward psychological drama about a psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) who is trying to keep a mysterious patient Henry (Ryan Gosling) from killing himself. But the deeper we get into it the decidedly weirder it gets. And not necessarily in a good way. Sam and Henry seemed to be inexplicably connected. While his girlfriend and former patient Lila (Naomi Watts) looks haplessly on Sam’s lightly held grip on the rational world begins to melt away. He can no longer figure out what is true and what is happening only in his head--all climaxing in a titular confrontation between life and death. Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling would have loved this one. Although he was surprisingly good as the romantic lead in The Notebook the usually somber Gosling is best known for playing quiet psychotics in such films as The United States of Leland and Murder By Numbers. In Stay he’s back to his old tricks as the suicidal Henry. Pale with mournful eyes and a perpetual cigarette in his mouth Henry is certainly a tortured soul looking for some relief. On the flip side Watts brightens the otherwise dismal surroundings as Lila but there’s also a tinge of sadness about her. The only weak link is McGregor. He can’t quite pull off playing the dedicated psychiatrist slowly losing his mind--but the Scottish actor sure has mastered the American accent (ditto for the Australian Watts). Director Marc Forster (Monsters Ball Finding Neverland) seems a bit out of his league with this jumbled-up hard-to-understand psychological fare. Granted the visuals are arresting. Forster strives to create a world which at first seems real but then little by little turns into a wildly shifting dreamscape in which scenes blend into one another seamlessly. The real problem here is the script by David Benioff (25th Hour). It tries to say “Look how clever!” by throwing you for loop after loop--except the loops don’t make much sense. You eventually stop saying “What the hell?” and start to get a pretty good idea how Stay is going to end up. And when the final twist is handed down it’s surprisingly not all that disappointing.
September 13, 2002 12:22pm EST
61-year-old Nick Nolte, who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of drunk
driving in Malibu, Calif., may now also be facing drug charges. "We have
strong reason to believe there were drugs involved," California Highway
Patrol spokesman Leland Tang told Reuters. Nolte, 61, was described by highway police as "drooling" and "completely out of it" when he was pulled over in Malibu for driving erratically in his black Mercedes. The Oscar-nominated actor was arrested after failing a field sobriety test. He is currently out on $2,500 bail.
Brad Pitt, whom we reported yesterday had pulled out of director Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain seven weeks before shooting was set to start in Australia, said he also is disheartened about the project not moving forward. "Given my friendship and respect for Darren and the year and a half we've dedicated to working on this project, I too am disappointed," he said in a statement released by Warner Bros. Pictures. "Still, I remain encouraged that The Fountain will still have its day." Pitt is in final negotiations to star as Achilles in the studio's epic adventure Troy instead. The news that Pitt was opting out of The Fountain angered many crew workers who had worked on the film's sets, prompting some of them to write an open letter to the Web site Ain't It Cool News that accused Pitt of "Hollywood prima donna antics."
Actor Jude Law and his wife, actress and fashion designer Sadie Frost, had their third child Tuesday night, People.com reports. Frost gave birth to Rudy Law at a north London hospital. The couple has two children together, Iris, 22 months, and Rafferty, 7. Frost also has an 11-year old son, Finley, from her first marriage to Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp.
Actress Jamie Lynn Sigler, better know as Meadow Soprano on the HBO mob drama The Sopranos is engaged to her manager and boyfriend of one year, A.J. Discala, People.com reports. Discala, 31, proposed to Sigler, 21, while the two were on a Mexican cruise.
Late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's childhood home, which was put up for sale on eBay last Thursday, received a high offer of $210,000 from a serious bidder--$10,000 over the minimum set by Ed and Jennifer McKee of Oregon City, Ore, The Associated Press reports. The couple, unaware Cobain had once lived there, bought the nondescript house located 70 miles southwest of Seattle for $42,500 last month. An attorney for Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, and their daughter said the Cobain estate had not authorized the auction. "The estate will not be authorizing any commercial use of Mr. Cobain's name or likeness at the property," he said in a statement.
The Matrix star Laurence Fishburne is taking a serious interest in the small screen. The Oscar-nominated actor will produce a primetime series for Paramount Network Television. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the action drama, tentatively titled Sleepwalker, is a high-concept show following the adventures of a next-generation superhero. Spawn scribe Alan McElroy will write the project, which has received a script commitment from CBS.
Comedian Jay Mohr has been chosen to host a new NBC series titled The Funniest Person in America, the AP reports. Producers of the show, described as a cross between American Idol and The Real World, will pick 10 comedians and follow them as they live together and compete for development deals with NBC. The series will debut sometime in spring or summer 2003.
Canadian singer Celine Dion's manager-husband Rene Angelil sent a notice of claim to Montreal-based radio station CKMF demanding it stop playing a parody of the song "I'm Alive," The Canadian Press reports. The song played for about six weeks before Angelil complained. He also asked that all of Dion's songs be removed from the station's play list. "I was ashamed that Celine is played on a radio station that, in my opinion, displays a vulgar and disturbing tone," he said. The station agreed to pull the song, in large part because it had run its course, but refused to pull all of the singer's songs from its play list.
Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, 55, whose hit song "Werewolves in London" had fans howling throughout the '70s, was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer last month, spokeswoman Diana Baron announced today. "I'm OK with it," Zevon said in a statement. "But it'll be a drag if I don't make it until the next James Bond movies comes out."