Mad Men returns with more vices and vixen

Mad Men Season 5

After almost a year and a half sabbatical, Mad Men has returned to television, with more alcohol and licentious behavior than ever. Accruing over 2.92 million viewers and 19 Emmy nominations last season, Mad Men sought to continue their lucky streak with a boldfaced advertising campaign for its long-awaited return, “Adultery is Back.” New York residents complained that the iconic billboards of a man falling through the high rises of New York City was insensitive to the events of 9/11. Whether or not the producers of this AMC hit needed to resort to such shocking ads, we’ll never know, but it certainly set the tone for the season five premiere this Sunday.

Praised for its visually pleasing set and periodic costumes, America has become quite attached to the cheating, drinking, lying, brown-nosing men, and women, of New York’s Madison Avenue c. 1960. Banana Republic even rolled out a Mad Men-inspired line of sheath gowns and sharp suits. The past four seasons have been a rollicking ride as the characters confront adultery, blatant sexism, various countercultures, identity crises, and racism, all while puffing at that ever-present cigarette and clinking that whiskey on the rocks.

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Tim and Eric Stay Weird on the Big Screen

The style of comedy in Tim and Eric’s feature length film is as over the top as always, throwing all conventions out the window in favor of their own trademark absurdist humor. This film is unlikely to win over any who have previously scorned the duo’s work, but fans of Tim and Eric and fans of eclectic comedy in general will find plenty to love here.

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Smash brings audiences back to Broadway

NBC Smash

When I first read the description for NBC’s new show, Smash, I rolled my eyes and snorted derisively. “Another television series based on making musicals?” I thought.

I was right about the overabundance of clichés, that’s for sure. Every character seems to be shipped straight from central casting; you’ve got your stereotypical gay musical writer, your Type A diva extraordinaire, and even your bitter, smoldering director from across the pond.

But I must admit: after watching the first episode, I felt a connection with these characters, these cookie-cutter stock roles I never expected to sympathize, let alone fall in love with. This eclectic group of producers, choreographers, politicians, singers, parents, and dancers come together to commemorate Marilyn Monroe in a new musical. Their goal? Take Broadway by storm.

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The Tree of Life: Genesis Retold

The Tree of Life (2011) is American director Terrence Malick’s fifth feature film in his 38-year career. After more than a decade of shooting and moving the film’s namesake 65,000 pound oak tree into the small town of Smithville, Texas, Malick has left us with a true masterpiece. The film debuted at the 2011 Cannes Film festival, where it won the prestigious Palme d’Or and is now nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.

The Tree of Life is a story of truly epic proportions. Malick employs awe-inspiring imagery in a highly experimental, non-linear narrative to weave together the story of one human life and attempts at the grandest of metaphysical questions. Malick simultaneously takes us on two journeys—one humanist and cosmological, one temporal and infinite—all through the lens of the Christian paradigm.

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Fellini’s La Strada (1954): Personal Realism

Fellini’s La Strada clearly exists within the Italian Neorealist tradition. Yet, in Fellini’s translation of this social reality, the majority of the realism is captured within Anthony Quinn’s Zampanó.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on Blu-ray

Eastwood in 720 close-up
“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” There are also two versions of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the Blu-ray re-issue of this 1966 Spaghetti Western: the original and the remastered. But does the Blu-ray update improve on the classic? Here’s a review of the film itself with the changes to expect on the high definition re-release of Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

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