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Mad Men Recap: Season 7, Episode 1, “Time Zones”

The purgatorial mood that Matthew Weiner and his crew conjure here sets the stage for Don and company’s final season-long cocktail hour.

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Photo: AMC

Late into “Time Zones,” the first episode of Mad Men’s final season, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is literally stuck in a holding pattern, flying above the East Coast alongside a talkative widow, played by Neve Campbell. She offers him a ride home with a wink and he pointedly responds that he has to get back to work. It’s the same line he lays on Megan (Jessica Paré), his wife, when she insists they have a few more hours of time together in Los Angeles before he has to catch his flight back to New York. It’s a seemingly throwaway line, but it’s the way Hamm delivers it that reveals the sinking desperation and boredom that Don is stewing in. The fact that he’s reintroduced via Spencer Davis Group’s strutting “I’m a Man” is telling: “Well, if I had my choice of matter/I would rather be with cats/All engrossed in mental chatter/Movin’ where our minds are at.”

Advertising has never quite been “work” for Don, but rather a creative platform he utilizes to speak to delicate social, emotional, and existential notions, even if the ultimate goal is commerce. The same could be said of Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), his unlikely protégé, and both characters are clearly linked through professional stagnation in the season premiere, which finds them in a crucial moment of rebranding. Don’s new job, writing ideas for Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) to sell under his name to SC&P, lacks the stakes he feeds off of, the thrill of performance that’s crucial to pitching and gaining the client’s confidence. For Peggy, her inability to connect with Don’s replacement, Lou Avery (Allan Havey), has put her in a similar state of anxiousness and frustration. In effect, Don and Peggy are both copywriters now, mid-level cogs in the SC&P machine.

The purgatorial mood that writer and creator Matthew Weiner and his crew conjure here sets the stage for Don and company’s final season-long cocktail hour and it’s going to get weird and sad quick. After all, it’s 1969, and one needs little more than the clip of the first inauguration of Richard Milhouse Nixon playing on the tube to know what the atmosphere is like. Of course, Roger Sterling (John Slattery) is on his own strange trip, sharing his bed with a free-love poster girl and whomever she invites into their bed. The desperation that’s crippled Don and has a firm grasp on Peggy by the end of “Time Zones” hasn’t quite struck Sterling yet, but the quietly distressing sequence in which his daughter offers forgiveness for his, um, doings suggests that the sickness will hit him sooner than later.

Meanwhile, Joan (Christina Hendricks) is on the frontlines, convincing a naïve director of marketing for one of SC&P’s major clients, a shoe company, to hold off on crafting their advertising in house. Though the episode rides high on Weiner’s reliably direct, evocative dialogue, the most breathtaking sequence of events revolves around an image, Joan’s earring, which becomes as much a symbol for her empowerment as it is for eye-patched Ken Cosgrove’s (Aaron Staton) continuing emasculation. The initial rough exchanges between Peggy and Ted (Kevin Rahm), back from the West Coast, make it seem that they’re destined for a similarly resentful professional disposition, but then there’s that repeated line about Ted not having a tan, a sly hint that the change of scenery hasn’t affected him, or his desires.

A number of uneasy partnerships are probed in “Time Zones,” a devastating opening movement for a final symphony, many of which seem to be all over but for the crying, which comes, shatteringly, at the end. Peggy and Don’s solitary moments of eruptive loneliness are accompanied by “You Just Keep Me Hanging On,” but it’s important to note that it’s a cover by Vanilla Fudge, who turn the Supremes’ urgent, angry declaration of the title into an aching, hopeless plea. It’s masterful final stroke as we see that Don, both figuratively and literally, can’t keep the cold out anymore.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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