Happy Memorial Day, boys and girls, where we all get the day off of work so that we worship our national architectural treasures like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial, and Mad Men. Since we have today off instead of watching the show on Sunday night and then thinking about it for hours and hours and having dreams of '70s fashion and mid-century modern furniture then spending several hours writing about Mad Men on Monday, I decided to try something different. I'm going to write this recap while I'm watching. Basically it's my day off and I'm too lazy to watch TV, take notes, and then write up a whole thing so I'm just going to watch and write the thing as we go along. I hope it's educational for everyone.
Don and the rest of the boys (including Ginsberg, who will one day grow up to be a shape-shifting alien who takes Don's place) are in a room figuring out what is going on with Jaguar. The most noticable thing is that Peggy is not in the room. Don takes a break and runs into her in the hall and she needs him to sign off on Secor Laxitives and he tells her she is in charge. If Jaguar is a sexy car, then Secor is like a rusty supermarket cart and Peggy. Sure, Peggy is in charge, but she's in charge of the stupid cart. Speaking of which, Joan then rolls in lobster for the boys working hard courtesy of Mr. Roger Sterling. Peggy wants lobster and doesn't get any. Calling the obvious metaphor police.
Pete and Ken are out to dinner with some fat cat from Jaguar who says he wants a date with Joan. Ken wants to shoot down the idea because he is a nice decent person, but Pete, who thinks it is OK to finagle with his friends wives if they were on The Gilmore Girls, says that he might be able to set it up. Knowing Joan, she'll give them all dirty looks and a stern rebuke when they tell her about the plan and then go along with it, because Joan will always do what is right for the agency and so she can be the one to save the day. Her days of "being adored" might be over, but I have a feeling she can rely on her old skill if she needs to.
Don goes home after a long day and finds Megan on the bed preparing for an audition she is excited for/nervous about. It's sort of like her Jaguar. Don says he wants to watch Carson and go to bed, but he asks Megan a few questions about it, but then she wants to hear about his day. He prompts her to help him figure out the slogan, but she's pissed because they are liking the car to a beautiful mistress saying that it's the sexy thing to have other than a fat nasty wife at home, the proverbial Buick in the garage (or the rusty shopping cart). Then Megan puts on Carson and goes out of the room. It's obvious they can't be what the other needs them to be and that Megan, though he has given her no reason to be, is still preoccupied with Don cheating on her.
Pete brings the Jaguar date proposal to Joan but does the smart thing and couches it like it's some sort of gross affront that he doesn't want to be a part of. Making Joan think she can save the day is the way to appeal to her ego, but she's appalled at the proposition and says that she's married, even though we all know that she is one signature away from being rid of Sgt. Dr. Rapist forever. Pete tells her that this is her chance to be a queen, like Cleopatra and asks Joan what it will take for her to be a queen. She says, "You can't afford it." Oh, I love that Joan. The best part of the scene is their mutual sarcasm as Pete says he hopes he didn't offend Joan while giving her a face that says, "Thanks for screwing up my whole account, you whore," and she says she understands in a tone that says, "You are a nasty, dirty creep and everyone knows it." Joan is right. We all know.
Ken and the TV guy whose name I can't quite remember right now have a call with Gay Rick from Chevalier Blanc, the cologne. They want Peggy to pretend to be Ginsberg inferior on the call, but she insists she be told that she is his supervisor which is, you know, the truth. More indignities for Peggy. When he talks about pulling the ad, Peggy has to step in and come up with a new ad on the fly to sell cologne to women so they'll buy it for their men for Valentine's Day. She comes up with a humdinger about a guy being rescued by Lady Godiva, something that will appeal to men and women. Everyone is happy. Those gays do love Peggy. The scene is dripping in gender norms, where they want to pretend Peggy is a powerless subordinate so as not to upset the client and they all discount the idea of selling to women. Peggy not only disrupts their idea of what a woman's place should be in the workplace, but also subverts a woman's place in the marketplace.
Pete convenes all the partners to talk about Joan slutting herself out for Jaguar. The odd thing is that every man in the room already has a vested interest in Joan's happiness. Lane has a crush on her and she is his "work wife," Roger is the father of her illegitimate baby, and Don may or may not be falling for her after their excursion in last night's episode. They all think Pete is disgusting, because he is. Don disagrees and trots out the canard that she's married with a baby, because we know he knows the marriage is over, but righteous indignation is one of the acts Don plays the best, so he goes with that. Roger says he doesn't want to pay for it, but won't stand in the way, because, well, that's what Roger would do. Lane disagrees, not out of some sense of decency to Joan, but because Pete proposes paying her off with their Christmas bonuses and Lane has already embezzled his for the tax man. He's the only one who objects on a merely selfish basis, when he should be the one really defending Joan's honor. God, Pete is a real creep.
Don decides that they're not going to do the mistress thing because it's vulgar. It took him this long to figure out something that Megan knew intuitively, and Peggy probably would too. He takes a break and Ken and I Can't Remember His Name, oh wait it's Harry! Ken and Harry and Peggy go into the office and Don is not impressed that Peggy came up with the ad and says that Ginsberg can handle it when he's done. Peggy is pissed she's not getting the credit for the idea and that she's not really in charge of everything. Don says if she wants to go to Paris, then she should just go to Paris and throws a wad of money at her face. God, Don is such an asshole. Apparently the theme of this episode is the shades of prostitution all these women are forced to endure, the way that men just throw money at them and expect them to do what they please. Peggy, Ken, and Harry (yes, Harry!) leave embarrassed.
Ken goes to comfort Peggy and she is in the same pose that we just left Don, drink and hand staring out the window. He says that if Don doesn't get her to Paris then he will and if not, they'll both find a new agency. She scoffs at his "stupid pact," having to lash out at a man because a man just lashed out at her.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Adapted by Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero The Rules of Attraction American Psycho) from his own 1994 novel about the excesses of the rich and not-so-lucky in Hollywood circa 1983 this shallow film seems out of touch now in a time of economic turmoil — even if it is disguised as a period piece. Presented as a multi-story look at L.A. at its sordid best The Informers introduces us to a sleazy movie executive his estranged wife her poolboy lover a coked-out British punk rock star a fading newscaster a voyeuristic doorman a slimy ex-con and any number of beautiful vapid sexed-up twentysomethings who seem to spend their days either partying or snorting immune to any kind of social consciousness in an era marked by the dawn of the AIDS epidemic.
WHO’S IN IT?
The ensemble cast is split between older stars who’ve seen better days and a promising group of new talent unfortunately caught up in this mess. Billy Bob Thornton sleepwalks through the studio exec role while a pre-Wrestler Mickey Rourke (in a glorified cameo) shows us the kind of dreck he’s been stuck in the last few years as a tough ex-con who seems obsessed with someone called “the Indian.” Kim Basinger survives intact as a long-suffering Hollywood wife looking for a human connection from anyone who crosses her path while Winona Ryder projects just a shadow of her once-promising career as the aging newscaster. The late Brad Renfro who himself apparently fell victim to a drug-induced lifestyle is oddly touching as the peeping-tom doorman. Filling in the lost youth part of the equation are Jon Foster Amber Heard Austin Nichols Lou Taylor Pucci and amusing British star Mel Raido who do the best they can with their clothes on and off. Chris Isaak and Rhys Ifans also turn up in minor roles.
For what it’s worth The Informers has been handsomely shot and does capture emotional deadness well but unfortunately there’s nothing behind the façade of a group of characters we just don’t care about.
Ellis covered this all in Less Than Zero — same era same losers — so did we really need a LESS THAN Less Than Zero in 2009? It’s also a shame to see a fine group of actors so completely wasted both on screen and off.
BEST STONED-OUT LOSER SCENE:
The tenor of the whole film is summed up in the ice cube-filled bathtub sequence where a drunken almost catatonic British rocker proceeds to nearly kill himself trying to light a cigarette and answer a phone that NEVER stops ringing.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX:
This movie may already be available on DVD before you finish reading this review.
If you thought the Viking Age was uninteresting in that old history textbook Pathfinder does it one better by actually upping the boring ante. In fact even ye Old World buffs out there will be disoriented. It’s set “600 years before Columbus ” when “people had to guard America’s shores from marauders.” One of those most noble guardsmen was Ghost (Karl Urban). Native Americans happened upon him as a young orphan boy and decided to raise him as one of their own--even though he was never truly accepted due to his unknown ancestry. Fifteen years pass and Ghost once a frail child has blossomed into a beast-sized man capable of warding off almost anyone. His size and skill set come in handy when Norse invaders look to raise hell in his village. Armed with horses swords and thorny helmets they kill and maim everyone in sight and mostly get away with it. That is until they mess with the object of Ghost’s affection Starfire (Moon Bloodgood) thereby seriously messing with Ghost. You don’t put Ghost in a corner! Beefcake actors are apparently a dime a dozen these days and Pathfinder lead Urban does nothing to separate himself from the supporting actors of his own movie let alone from the aforementioned Hollywood stereotype. Looking like a runway model on steroids the Lord of the Rings and Bourne Ultimatum star only stands out aesthetically here and is in danger of being pigeonholed and typecast for a long time to come. Unless he can somehow show a different side Urban will wind up on a long list with the likes of wrestlers-turned-actors who can’t act. Thing is in Pathfinder he can’t even manage the uber-virility his character is meant to project. Bloodgood (Eight Below) meanwhile owner of the best non-porn name in showbiz holds her own and softens things up in a movie otherwise completely dominated by males. And finally there's veteran Native American actor Russell Means (Natural Born Killers) who as the Pathfinder himself at least lends some desperately needed credibility. Looking up a director’s name and past work isn’t a fair way to pre-judge his or her movie but it may sometimes hint at what you’re in for. Take Pathfinder for example: Director Marcus Nispel's past work includes Texas Chainsaw Massacre and music videos. Massacre was terrible and music videos are stylized; thus we arrive upon Pathfinder which is terrible and stylized. When parents complain about violence in the movies this should be their focal point. Nispel like other offenders is unable to ever refrain and beheadings and such in all their slow-motion glory resemble fun video games. Not that his lack of morality makes Pathfinder the crap it is however. That blame rests on his apparent decision that such violence is all moviegoers want to see. And it is perhaps the sheer lack of a story that accentuates how mediocre the violent scenes really are--scenes that are meant to leave us agape in amazement as if we’ve never seen a loose eyeball on the screen before. On a (lone) positive note though the set design seems up-to-snuff.
The thing is Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties doesn’t even have anything to do with the classic Charles Dickens novel. Two Kitties is more a pauper/prince type story. I guess kids probably don’t know what a “pauper” is and well The Prince and the Pussy wouldn’t really work would it? Still they could have at least come up with a clever story to go along with the title. This time around Garfield (Bill Murray) wants to stop Jon (Breckin Meyer) from asking cute-as-a-button vet Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) to marry him on a trip to London by stowing away. Once over the pond the fat yellow cat ends up being mistaken for a royal fat yellow cat Prince (Tim Curry) who has just inherited a castle. Sure Garfield likes all the perks--minced pie anytime he rings a bell; pampering beyond your regular tongue bath; and no Odie. There are a few downsides namely an evil relative (Billy Connolly) who wants the cat dead so he can get the estate but it doesn’t matter. Both cats are killed in the end anyway. Oh I’m kidding (I only wish). The laconic Murray is certainly a wise choice to voice the indolent fat cat and was mildly entertaining in the first Garfield. But for the Oscar-nominated actor to agree to do it again let’s just say it must have been very costly for the producers. I would hope anyway that he asked for a lot of money because why else would you do something as inane as this? The character interminably grates. There are also a bevy of British actors in Two Kitties who are equally annoying doing animal voices--from Curry as the mollycoddled Prince to Bob Hoskins as a bulldog and Sharon Osbourne as a pig. As for the human factor Meyer and Love Hewitt are gag-producing sugary sweet while Connolly just makes a complete ass of himself as the dastardly villain. It’s kind of embarrassing actually --for everyone involved. It still boggles the mind the first Garfield grossed $75 million domestically. Yes it was an understandable endeavor since the comic strip has always been immensely popular and with the advent of CGI creating the Garfield we all know and love for the screen was finally possible. But the first Garfield was so mind-numbingly ridiculous you just have to wonder what the audiences saw in it. I guess maybe it had something to do with keeping 7-year-olds occupied. Of course all the studio execs saw were dollar signs so it stands to reason they’d make a sequel. It made money dammit so we have to do it again can’t you see that? OK so let’s say we go with that reasoning hoping maybe they’ll have realized their mistakes with the first and come up with something better. No such luck. I have feeling this time around however those same execs may be disappointed. In a summer full of far more stellar entertainment for the kiddies these Two Kitties are going to thankfully fall by the wayside and put an end to the franchise once and for all.
In the beginning of the Dark Ages the warlords of England are brutally kept in line by the Irish King Donnchadh (David O'Hara). Tristan (James Franco) has grown up hating the Irish for killing his family and has made a strong allegiance to father figure Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell) while Isolde (Sophia Myles) Donnchadh's daughter has grown up under her father’s thumb. After a fierce battle that leaves Tristan near death he washes up on Irish soil and is nursed secretly back to health by Isolde who tells him she’s someone else. The two fall madly in love but Tristan must return to England before he’s discovered. Meanwhile Donnchadh decides to stage a tournament between all the champions of England with his daughter as the prize. Tristan ends up winning the princess' hand for Lord Marke but is horrified to find out she’s his own true love. Tristan and Isolde now must suppress their love for the sake of peace and the future of England. But despite their best efforts to stay apart the lovers are driven inexorably together. Despite the fact that Franco (Spider-Man) and Myles (Underworld) look lovely rolling around on the ground in romantic trysts and gazing forlornly at one another you don’t necessarily feel any heat between them. That seems to be mostly the fault of Franco who plays the young Tristan far too stoically. We understand he’s a tortured soul torn between duty and love with his eyes perpetually half-filled with tears. But couldn’t he have shown a little more passion (and while he’s at it washed his hair)? The luminous Myles is better at showing her burning desire but she too is left many times sad and weepy. Only Sewell (Legend of Zorro) who is usually delegated to playing bad guys shows any kind of raw emotion as he first falls genuinely in love with his bride--and then is betrayed by her and the only son he ever knew. He’d probably make a great King Arthur. As the Celtic myth of Tristan and Isolde predates the Arthurian legend as well as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet you can easily see how those two more famous stories were possibly formed. Tristan & Isolde is a classic story of forbidden passion set against political upheaval as well as a tale about a tragic love triangle. Producers Ridley and Tony Scott had been fascinated with the legend for many years and finally got the opportunity to bring it to the big screen. Ridley however who directed last summer’s medieval fare Kingdom of Heaven wisely chose to hand over the directing reins to Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) who adequately paints a picture of a time when chaos reigned. Maybe Tristan & Isolde is not as compelling or romantic as the king of them all Braveheart but it is certainly far more accessible than say Kingdom of Heaven. Sorry Ridley.