Sunday, May 17, 2015



Tonight, sadly, is the series finale of one of the greatest achievements in television history, Mad Men. My wife and I will be lucky enough (thanks to our Film Independent membership) to spend the evening watching a Live Read of the first season's final episode with a cast selected by director Jason Reitman, and then watch the series finale with the cast and creator of Mad Men Matthew Weiner.

The show filled a gap left behind behind by The Sopranos in 2007 and proved that TV could be just as powerful and cinematic as film. Each week we've been challenged by these characters, many of which are messy and cold and frankly unlikable, and yet we can;t take our eyes off the screen, no matter how many times they break our heart. It hasn't always been easy to love this show, but it's always been worth trying.

I shared a few predictions on Twitter this morning as to how I thought the series might end, specifically the fate of the show's lead character Don Draper, played marvelously over the years by Jon Hamm.

The first is that Don takes on a new identity, for the second time in his life, to the tune of a long forgotten 1970 (the year the final season takes place) hit song...

Another possibility is that the military finally catches up to Don (like the dream/nightmare he just had) and they chase him up the Empire State Building, leading to a climax where Don jumps off the top as is shown in the series' opening credits animation...

My final prediction is that perhaps the series ends on a flashback or homage to the very first scene the series opened with, with Don sitting at a bar doodling on a napkin as "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" (the name of the very first episode) plays in the background. Is it the past? Is it the future? We are left uncertain.

I actually think the very last scene of last week's second-to-last episode ("The Milk and Honey Route") would have been a fitting end to the series, with Don sitting alone on a bench in the middle of nowhere. Where's he headed? Not even he knows...

In a few more hours we'll know for sure just how it all ends. It truly is the end of an era of great cinematic television. Thanks for the memories and goodbye to all you mad men and women.


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Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Actor. Writer. Director. Producer. Editor. Costume Designer. Music Department. Production Designer. Cinematographer. Art Department. Camera and Electrical Department.

One look at all of the tabs on Orson Welles' page and you start to understand how much of a one-of-a-kind genius Welles was. Today he would have turned 100. Here's a quick look at some of his greatest contributions to cinema, and a look at his enormous influence.

By the time Welles was 25 years old he had already scared the nation to death with his radio dramatization of The War of the Worlds (1938), graced the cover of Time magazine as the "Wonder Boy" of the theater world, and written, produced, directed, and starred in perhaps the greatest film of all-time, Citizen Kane (1941).

Welles followed up Kane with The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), which was taken away from him and chopped up and released in a completely different version than Welles originally constructed. Some scholars believe had Ambersons not been taken away from Welles it may have actually topped Kane.

Over the next decade he wrote, directed and starred in other classics including The Lady From Shanghai (1947), Macbeth (1948), and his unforgettable turn as Harry Lime in Carol Reed's glorious The Third Man (1949).

Welles continued to work throughout the early part of the 1950's in Europe without much commercial or critical success, but upon his return to Hollywood in the middle of the decade he completed one final masterpiece, Touch of Evil (1958), though just like The Magnificent Ambersons it too was taken away and re-edited. The opening sequence, one long, continuous shot, is one of the single most influential scenes in all of cinema history.

Welles would continue to make and appear in films all the way up until his death in 1985, with his most lasting later work coming in the form of the documentary/film essay F For Fake in 1973. Far and away though the most lasting impact that Welles left to the world was Citizen Kane.

Below is a testament to the legacy of Welles and Kane, as some of the cinemas greatest directors (Friedkin, Scorsese and Spielberg) sang his praises to the American Film Institute.

When Welles was given the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award his frequent on-screen collaborator Joseph Cotten spoke of how Welles got his career started (along with many others).

Last but not least, you know you're a legend when Frank Sinatra literally sings your praises...


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Monday, May 4, 2015




To celebrate the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Vanity Fair sent legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz to the set of the film and captured some of the first images from the next chapter in the space saga. Link to the full story HERE

Video found on the VANITY FAIR YouTube channel.

"Actress Daisy Ridley for a scene in which her character, the young heroine Rey, pilots her speeder through a bustling marketplace on the planet Jakku."

"Members of the brain trust behind The Force Awakens: composer John Williams, producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, and director and co-writer Abrams, photographed at Bad Robot, Abrams’s production company, in Santa Monica."

The full Star Wars: The Force Awakens issue of Vanity Fair will be available in digital editions on May 7th and May 12th on newsstands.

In case you are one of the three remaining humans on Earth that hasn't seen the teaser trailers for The Force Awakens yet, here they are...

The Force Awakens trailers found on the STAR WARS YouTube channel.

And if you are the last remaining person on Earth who has yet to see the first six Star Wars films they are now available for digital download.

Star Wars: The Digital Movie Collection trailer found on the STAR WARS YouTube channel.


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