The age-old debate over fate vs. free will has been and always will be a tough theme to crack in any medium but with the benefits of modern filmmaking technology the theory can be explored in ways that Philip K. Dick never imagined. However when one relies too heavily on spectacle to tell a story a piece of cerebral science fiction can quickly become just another action extravaganza. In this day and age there’s a fine line between the two; The Matrix walked that tightrope with style and grace while Next never found its footing in the first place. Fortunately the precious work of novelist Dick has for the most part been treated with respect by Hollywood (the aforementioned Nic Cage dud notwithstanding) but that doesn’t necessarily mean movies based on his stories are completely faithful to his vision.
Case in point: George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau an adaptation of Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” The film stars Matt Damon as David Norris a successful businessman and rising political candidate who after a chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Emily Blunt) loses a crucial election. He happens to run into her on a Manhattan bus the following week before finding his office swarming with masked men who are “adjusting” everyone inside. Richardson (John Slattery) the man in charge captures Norris who unsuccessfully flees the scene after seeing behind “a curtain he wasn’t even supposed to know existed” as the enigmatic figure puts it. From that point on Norris must live with the knowledge that he (and we for that matter) is not in control of his own life. Rather the choices he makes fit perfectly into “The Plan” that’s been written by “the Chairman”.
In relation to my earlier statement I have to say that Nolfi’s picture looks stunning but his natural urban aesthetic doesn’t overpower the story. Sleek contemporary production design and elegant costumes characterize the high-concept story and the wraithlike agents who shape our destinies. Topically we’re dealing with some heavy material but Nolfi and editor Jay Rabinowitz move the action along at a brisk pace that keeps you engaged and entertained without having to try. The film is properly proportioned as a chase thriller romantic adventure and sci-fi fantasy and thankfully no component overshadows another.
Setting the film in the world of politics and big business helps make its larger-than-life revelations a bit more accessible (as do appearances from Michael Bloomberg Jon Stewart and Chuck Scarborough) while providing sub-text about the corruption involved in elections and campaigns (there are conspicuous shades of The Manchurian Candidate in the movie) but the writer-director often tries too hard for broad appeal. For a film with existential implications as severe as they are here the dialogue is at times hokey and superficial. Dick’s source material is far more abstract and Nolfi for the sake of commercial success panders to the palette of soccer moms and mallrats.
What’s worse is his unwarranted exposition of the Bureau a shadowy organization whose major allure is anonymity. Some secrets are best kept and less can be so much more when crafting a mysterious atmosphere; Nolfi reaches that level of magnetic curiosity but squanders it as he reveals the truth about the Bureau and its grand scheme. On the other hand he brushes over the technical lingo between agents Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar) and others without explanation perhaps hoping that the ambiguous terminology will fool you into thinking that his script is smarter than it really is.
Even though Nolfi’s allegorical conclusions are uncomfortably ham-fisted the chemistry between Damon and Blunt alone is enough to enchant you; this is one highly watchable cinematic pairing that should be revisited as soon as possible. Their innocent relationship blossoms organically and together they make it seem as natural on screen as it is for their star-crossed characters. Even if you have a hard time believing in higher powers or manipulative Orwellian forces you’ll have faith in David and Elise’s fated relationship one of the most captivating couplings I’ve seen on the big-screen in some time.
S4:E13 Last night was the season finale of Mad Men. No kidding. That was a season. I don’t feel like it was? The only reason last night was the finale was because it was about Don figuring out who he wants to be, and he wants to be with Megan (his secretary who seemed to have reminded the chair that Mrs. Blankenship died in that it is just supposed to be a chair and not a death trap). Also, Joan’s fertility was brought into question (again), but we’ll get to that later because it comes later.
S4:E12 Last night’s episode of Mad Men picked up right where we left it off last week. We saw Don having a meeting with someone from Heinz, who was dissatisfied with the way his advertisement agency was handling his beans. He seemed to be pleased with Don’s ideas (like that beans are a substantial food and they therefore don’t have to rely on humor to sell it, because it’s not a condiment or a pickle or a kazoo), but refused to completely hand over his business to SCDP because he wasn’t sure if the agency would be around in six to eight months. Don even offered him a discounted commission if would be allowed to present a few ideas to him, but the bean guy said no, and that Don should let the “account boys” handle this one. Uh oh, ageism! Right? That's ageism!
It ended with Don firing people, and them crying into their boxes. But it's the sixties, and like Midge said: heroin is a full time job!
S4:E11 Man, has Don taken a beating these last few episodes! Anna in California died, the government almost found out he's not really Don Draper, and his secretary died at her desk! Unfortunately, what happened to Don this episode was nothing that had ever happened before: his world really started to cave in, and it wasn't because Sally moved to the red light district because she could safely masturbate there, as opposed to in Ossining.
The episode started with Peggy spending the day at Jones Beach with Joyce and her great friend Abe, who Peggy told off a few episodes ago for not feeling the same passion about women’s rights as he felt for the civil rights movement. She spent the whole ride back to Manhattan sitting on his lap, and he tried to make up for his previous indecencies by brushing any remaining seawater off her arms. Apparently it was enough of an apology because Peggy brought him back to her apartment in Brooklyn, where they had sex because she doesn’t do that kind of thing, because the people who always do that kind of thing were sick of their current crowd and were looking for pledges.
Don went home to his apartment to find Faye waiting there for him to tell him how she set up a meeting with him and the people at Heinz. Don did not tell her he just slept with his secretary, because he had ketchup and beans on the brain.
S4:E10 Last night on Mad Men, we watched as Don slowly started to realize the government was on to the fact he stole his friend’s identity after he died in the war and started parading around in his clothes like a goofy marionette and sleeping with all these women so as to carry on the real Don Draper’s legacy. HA! Don. I’m kidding. At least one of those suits was a gift from Joan, so it’s really yours.
The next morning, Pete came over to Don’s house and told him his friend at the Department of Defense told him Don had been flagged, and that the investigation on his past would stop if they surrendered the account. At the partner’s meeting, Pete came up with an elaborate excuse as to why North American Aviation wasn’t going to use their advertising expertise, and they weren’t going to get the $4 million that was originally attached to the deal. Pete had to take the fall for the loss, and Roger ripped into him and called him an asshole. Then he laughed. But give him a break: he got Joan pregnant and she still won’t be with him! In the end, though, everything worked out fine. Don got tickets to take Sally to see the Beatles and realized his secretary was pretty when she was putting on her lipstick. You know: the ushe.
S4:E9 Finally! After that other episode where Don woke up next to Patty (the diner waitress and stand-in for the pageant girls while the lighting guys get their lights right) I thought we weren’t going to get to see him ever wake up next to another pretty woman ever again! But last night, he woke up next to FAYE, the pretty woman who conducted that Q&A session about Ponds with all the office women that Don thought was so pointless. She counts, even if she’s a Dr.!
Don took the next morning off from work so he could take Sally to the zoo. When he got to the office, he had a tiny meeting with Peggy about a family owned automotive account, and which recording artist would be best for them to hire to record a jingle. Peggy decided it was the perfect opportunity to ask why they were doing business with a company who didn’t hire African Americans, and Don said it wasn’t their job to convince a family black people should be treated equally in the first place. But really, he meant they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on (not even a peg one) or an example to lead by in this endeavor.
Before Betty came to get Sally at Don’s office, Sally promised she’d be good and that she really would rather come live with him. Didn’t he like the rum pancakes she made him? She threw a tantrum and tripped on the floor, and luckily, was scooped up into the arms of a woman wearing a yellow dress, which mentally stimulated her enough to get her to stop whining and submit to living with her mother in the suburbs. She went peacefully away with her mother, who was only nice to her because there were other women around, and Don went into his office to get an earful from Faye who was upset he sent her to watch Sally at his apartment.
The last scene, which everyone is talking about today, was Peggy, Joan and Faye all getting into the elevator together. It was pretty quick, but the differences between the women and their relationships made for quite an ending. They're all at different places in their lives, but are each working equally hard to please men -- sometimes the same men but in different ways, as is the case with Peggy and Faye both doing whatever Don says. But out of all of them, the most dominant is undoubtedly Joan, who took her revenge on her husband for not consulting him on his decision to go to Vietnam by sleeping (ON THE STREET) with Roger. OH MY GOD WHERE IS HER PEN NECKLACE?!?!
S4:E5 We kicked off last night’s Mad Men episode with producers introducing a newcomer to the group of ad agencies on Madison Avenue. Don got a call from a reporter at The New York Times who asked what Don thought about Cutler Gleason and Chaough, the new agency that picked up the Clearasil account after Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce dropped it. The reporter wanted to know how Don felt about a man named Ted Shaw, who said, “every time Don Draper looks in his review mirror, he sees me.” Maybe, but how good does he look in a gray Gucci suit?
Back at Don’s bachelor pad, Sally and Bobby watched the news while Don got ready to go on a date with Bethenny at Benihana’s. Sally said she didn’t like that, which is completely understandable now that she knows during sex, “the man pees inside the woman.” Later that night, Sally cut her hair off in the bathroom because she wanted to be more like the girls with short hair that her father has sex with. Which is, needless to say, somehow adorable and disgusting at the same time.
Back at Don’s old house that Betty seems to have no problem continuing to live in, Betty slapped Sally across the face when she saw what she did to her hair. When Sally went upstairs to try and figure out how she was going to make her mother love her again, we realized Betty is a complete skank who overreacts to everything. We finally had a nice moment with Henry, however, when he convinced Betty not to punish Sally for cutting her hair off and instead, to let her go to her sleepover as opposed to punishing her like Betty originally intended. Why are we rooting for everyone except Betty right now?
Peter and Don met with people from Honda, who were finally willing to create a T.V. ad for their motorcycle. Unfortunately, they weren’t really there to talk about the terms of the advertisement. Instead, they were there to inform SCDP they would be participating in a competition with two other agencies to win their business. They’d be given $3,000 to create a campaign to convince them which company to sign with. But Roger walked into the meeting and refused to take part in any sort of arrangement with the Japanese, and any of their companies because of WWII. Pete stormed into his office and yelled, “Christ on a cracker!” If I liked tattoos, I'd get that tattooed on a cat or a pig or something.
Betty went and spoke to a children’s psychiatrist about Sally’s behavior, and it became clear she’s the one who really needs someone to talk to – not her daughter, who was just doing something that lots of little girls do. Of course the situation was unfavorable (on the couch with her friend sleeping next to her), but Betty revealed she felt Sally was doing things to punish her for the divorce.
Don went in to meet with the Honda people and pointed out they didn’t follow their own rules of the competition (which said “no finished work”) and that instead of coming up with some fancy shmancy ad, he was going to draw for them the idea he had…which was really just a check for the money they gave him to come up with a mock ad.
In the end, the Honda people favored Don over the two other agencies, who actually did walk into their office and present them with posters of their shiny motorcycles. Sally had her first session with Dr. Edna, which was probably bad, but not terrible. It certainly wasn't as fun as what she was doing on the couch, but let's be real: not much is.
The comedy, about a group of high school students in a choir club, will fight for the Outstanding TV Comedy prize against Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie, The Office and 30 Rock, which has taken home the title for the last three years.
Glee's leading stars Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele have been nominated in the male and female categories for the outstanding comedy actor awards, while their co-star Chris Colfer has received a best supporting actor nomination.
Morrison faces competition from Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jim Parson (The Big Bang Theory), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Steve Carell (The Office) and last year's winner Alec Baldwin (30 Rock).
Meanwhile Michele will face off with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Toni Collette (The United States of Tara), who took home the statue last year (09).
Producers of cable network HBO's gritty World War II drama The Pacific will also hope for a triumphant night after receiving 24 nominations, including Outstanding Miniseries.
The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be handed out on 29 August (10) at a ceremony in Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre and will be presented by comedian Jimmy Fallon.
The main list of nominees is as follows:
Outstanding Drama Series: Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Good Wife, Lost, Mad Men, True Blood.
Outstanding Comedy Series: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Glee, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie, The Office, 30 Rock.
Outstanding Lead Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Hugh Laurie (House), Matthew Fox (Lost), Jon Hamm (Mad Men).
Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama: Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer), Glenn Close (Damages), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), January Jones (Mad Men).
Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Matthew Morrison (Glee), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Steve Carell (The Office), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock).
Outstanding Lead Actress, Comedy: Lea Michele (Glee), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Toni Collette (The United States of Tara).
Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: John Slattery (Mad Men), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Martin Short (Damages), Terry O'Quinn (Lost), Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age), Michael Emerson (Lost).
Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Rose Byrne (Damages), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Sharon Gless (Burn Notice), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife).
Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Chris Colfer (Glee), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother).
Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: Jane Lynch (Glee), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men).
Guest Actor In A Drama Series: Robert Morse (Mad Men), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), John Lithgow (Dexter), Ted Danson (Damages), Gregory Itzin (24), Dylan Baker (The Good Wife), Beau Bridges (The Closer)
Guest Actress In A Drama Series: Mary Kay Place (Big Love), Lily Tomlin (Damages), Sissy Spacek (Big Love), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Ann-Margret (Law & Order: SVU), Shirley Jones (The Cleaner).
Guest Actor In A Comedy Series: Mike O'Malley (Glee), Fred Willard (Modern Family), Eli Wallach (Nurse Jackie), Jon Hamm (30 Rock), Neil Patrick Harris (Glee), Will Arnett (30 Rock).
Guest Actress In A Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth (Glee), Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live), Jane Lynch (Two And A Half Men), Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory), Betty White (Saturday Night Live), Elaine Stritch (30 Rock).
Reality Series: Antiques Roadshow, MythBusters, Undercover Boss, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Dirty Jobs, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
Universal Pictures is having a tough year. In fact, it's been a tough couple of years for the studio. The only profitable films it has released in 2010 are Get Him To The Greek and...wait for it...Leap Year. Losses abound, the distribution executives over at the recently remodeled company are racing to adjust their release schedule for the remainder of 2010 and the first half of 2011 to maximize profits. Courtesy of The Wrap, we've got the low down on when a handful of Universal's upcoming products will officially bow.
The biggest change is the George Nolfi-directed sci-fi romantic drama The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon as a rising politician who's affair with a stunning ballerina is thwarted by a shady organization. Based on the riveting short story by the inimitable Philip K. Dick, the film co-stars Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Daniel Dae Kim and Anthony Mackie and has been moved from a September 17th 2010 release to March 4th, 2011. Taking it's place is the M. Night Shyamalan-produced The Night Chronicles: Devil.
Next up is Neil Burger's The Dark Fields, which was set for March 18th 2011 but will instead be seen on January 21st 2011. The film centers on a copywriter who discovers a top-secret drug that enhances intellect and other abilities. As his usage begins to change his life, he begins to consider the drug's shadowy origins; meanwhile, a group of killers trail his every move. Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star.
The dramedy Kids In America (which could be released under the title Young Americans), starring Anna Faris and Topher Grace, moves up from January 28th 2011 to December 3rd 2010, while the James Cameron-produced Sanctum moves up a month from March 4th 2011 to February 4th 2011.
Additionally, the studio has set release dates for a pair of films that previously were not on the slate, including The Strauss Brothers' thriller Skyline (November 12, 2010) and the Seth Rogen sci-fi comedy Paul, directed by Greg Mottola and co-starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Source: The Wrap