1. ”Mad Men Series Finale Recap: I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” Matt Zoller Seitz recaps the final episode of the show.
“The Coke ad at the end is funny and ironic. It packages hippie sensibilities for a TV commercial, and Don starts the series selling cigarettes and ends selling stomach-and-tooth-rotting soda. But the tone of that ad is uncharacteristic of Don, whose most striking campaigns tended to have a melancholy, self-aware vibe, bordering on meta. The Coke ad is all about making the viewer feel good. It’s a Pollyannaish ad that befits a smiley-faced episode. I don’t have a problem with that. These characters have made mistakes and learned from them while remaining the same flawed people they always were. Any happiness they receive in this finale isn’t an unmotivated, unrealistic, out-of-nowhere gift. They worked for it.”
2. “Tinderbox.” Frank Rich asks: Why do America’s riots so precisely mirror each other, generation after generation after generation?
“As the slapping video got old, the usual sterile conservative-liberal debate reasserted itself. Those on the right blamed Baltimore’s black mayor, black police chief, and Great Society policies for the riots and argued that the fact of Baltimore’s black leadership in itself canceled out any racial component in the unrest. This ahistorical judgment glides over the reality, as Emily Badger wrote in the Post, that ’several minority elected officials’ cannot ’be a corrective to decades’ of government-sponsored policies, from Robert Moses–style ’urban renewal’ to discriminatory mortgage practices, that perpetuated poverty, blighted neighborhoods and families, thwarted homeownership, and fostered a cornucopia of inequality, from financial to environmental. (Not for nothing was Gray poisoned by lead paint well before he was thrown into that police van.) The notion that black leadership from the White House on down, however strong, can ipso facto clean up the mess that white people compounded over centuries and usher the country into some postracial nirvana is absurd. Those who profess to believe it are looking for an excuse to absolve themselves of responsibility and do nothing.”
3. “Meet the Fullers: Sam by Samantha and Christa.” A Fuller Life is a movie memoir of Samuel Fuller made by his daughter Samantha. She and her mother Christa recall their lives with the maestro of tabloid cinema.
“I gave the readers the freedom to channel my father’s words in their [own] way. Bill Duke was our first guest, and he dove right into my father’s spirit. I adored his lively performance and could feel my father smiling all the way through. I’m also sure that my father would have gotten a kick out of Wim Wenders and Bobby Carradine enjoying a good stogie in the shack. I trusted everyone to deliver a fitting tone and spin his words with their personal touch. My direction consisted mostly of providing a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere and making sure our guests had a good time. After all, I made this film as a celebration, so it was important to make this as enjoyable as possible.”
4. “Maximized Madness.” Armond White pans Mad Max: Fury Road.”
“[George] Miller doesn’t simply master this we-are-all-gladiators trope, he celebrates it. None of today’s specialists in nihilism can match this stuff. Not Darren Aronofsky, not Christopher Nolan, not Bong Joon-ho, not Quentin Tarantino. But so what? When Miller put aside the Mad Max franchise and made the marvelous Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet, he showed more feeling for a pig and for penguins than for humans. Hardy’s charisma is wasted (masked again, as in The Dark Knight Returns [sic]), leaving the film’s emotional core to Theron’s one-armed Furiosa—a grindhouse cliché like the one-legged Rose McGowan in Planet Terror. None of this mindless madness is meant to scare you as Jurassic Park did. Miller’s action-cinema ferocity is hollow. His apocalyptic circus has video-game spectacle but no cinematic power; its revved-up imagery is unconnected to an understanding of what sensation and violence have done to our souls.”
5. “Cannes: Justin Kurzel on What Makes ’Macbeth’ a Western (Q&A).” The Aussie auteur discusses turning Michael Fassbender into Macbeth, Marion Cotillard’s “aura” and why he’s attracted to dark material.
“To me, it’s a Western. We shot it all outside. We were able to explore the madness in these brutal and unforgiving and beautiful landscapes, such as in Scotland. It gave it a whole new shade. There’s a simplicity in the storytelling that I think is unlike any of his other plays, and it fit in that Western structure quite effortlessly. It was at a time where kings were killed continuously, and it was a place where you’d be at war for years and years, and the idea of Macbeth being a product of that and having to carry what it means to be a warrior and the things that he’d seen and the things that he’d done, there’s something very interesting in terms of the post-trauma that’s connected to that.”
Video of the Day: The first trailer for Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender:
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