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After last night's episode, I'm now convinced this is going to culminate with Coca Cola's Hilltop ad.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Ryan, that would be amazing. The whole ad feels like a Don attempt to market fizzy sugar water to a younger, self-serious generation. 

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Well, the ad was done at McCann Erickson. You guys could be onto something.

 

http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/blog/id-like-to-buy-the-world-a-coke/

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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Last night's episode was the first one to feel like it's really building to a finale. This season has been entirely about the old strategies no longer working. You can't always start over.

It's weird -- but not upsetting -- to see tweets and comments about a season you won't watch until much later, but I take it that the final half of the final season may have turned a corner, caught fire, etc. with the most recent episode. I see mention of Peggy and Pete, and that still image tells me something I might guess at.

 

But I'm not feeling like the revelation has been spoiled, assuming my guess is right. I'm just glad "something happened" (to use a description I've rejected as a complaint about this show -- "nothing happened in that episode" -- until its final season).

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Don't get me wrong, Christian. Seasons five and six still feel more essential than this season, which has played out like an extended epilogue.

But this past episode was the first to really deliver some closure. Not just because "something happens," but because of some very well-executed exchanges between these characters.

As much as I've groaned about the series spinning its wheels, it's going to be hard to say goodbye.

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Old, but fascinating. Paris Review: The Art of Screenwriting

 

 

WEINER

...I read very slowly. I’m a good listener. If they’d had books on tape back then, I would be the best-read person in the world. When I had to do a report on Measure for Measure, I went and got the records, and I listened to John Gielgud do it. My dad read Mark Twain to us at night. I loved “The Stolen White Elephant” and “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” And The Prince and the Pauper, oh my God, did I love that. I read Mad magazine and stuff, but my parents were always yelling at me, You need to read more! Crack a book already! I was not really a reader until I left college. My favorite form of writing is still the short story.Winesburg, Ohio was the first book that I read where I recognized the people in it. I knew the teacher who was sort of gay and couldn’t control his hands. I recognized everybody in there. And then, with John Cheever, I recognized myself in the voice of the narrator. His voice sounds like the voice in my head—or what I wish it sounded like.

INTERVIEWER

Who are your favorite writers?

WEINER

I don’t make lists or rank writers. I can only say which ones are relevant to me. Salinger holds my attention, Yates holds my attention. John O’Hara doesn’t, I don’t know why—it’s the same environment, but he doesn’t. Cheever holds my attention more than any other writer. He is in every aspect of Mad Men, starting with the fact that Don lives in Ossining on Bullet Park Road—the children are ignored, people have talents they can’t capitalize on, everyone is selfish to some degree or in some kind of delusion. I have to say, Cheever’s stories work like TV episodes, where you don’t get to repeat information about the characters. He grabs you from the beginning.

Poems have always held my attention, but they’re denser and smaller. It’s funny because poetry is considered harder to read. It wasn’t harder for me. Close reading, that is. Milton, Chaucer, Dante—I could handle those for some reason, but not fiction. From ninth grade on, I wrote poetry compulsively, and pushed myself to do iambic pentameter and rhymes because free verse was cheating—anybody could do that. But I was such a terrible student. I couldn’t sustain anything.

[snip]

 

Four years after I’d started working in TV, I wrote the pilot for Mad Men. Three years after that, AMC wanted to make it. They asked me, What’s the next episode about? So I went looking through my notes. Now, imagine this. At this point it’s 2004—I’m writing for The Sopranos—and I go back to look at my notes from 1999 ... but then I find this unfinished screenplay from 1995, and on the last page it says “Ossining, 1960.” Five years after I’d abandoned that other screenplay, I’d started writing it again without even knowing it. Don Draper was the adult version of the hero in the movie. And there were all of these things in the movie that became part of the show—Don’s past, his rural poverty, the story I was telling about the United States, about who these people were. And when I say “these people,” I mean people like Lee Iacocca and Sam Walton, even Bill Clinton to some degree. I realized that these people who ran the country were all from these very dark backgrounds, which they had hidden, and that the self-transforming American hero, the Jay Gatsby or the talented Mr. Ripley, still existed. I once worked at a job where there was a guy who said he went to Harvard. Someone finally said, You did not go to Harvard—that guy didn’t go to Harvard! And everyone was like, Who cares? That went into the show.

How could it not matter, when everyone was fighting so hard to get into Harvard and it was supposed to change your life? And you could just lie about it? Guess what—in America, we say, Good for him! Good for him, for figuring it out.

 

EDIT: So I posted this before I worked through the whole thing because I knew it would be good. As a result, I keep finding nuggets like this:

 

The original director, Alan Taylor, is a huge fan of Wong Kar-wai, and so am I. What Wong Kar-wai does is let scenes develop in front of your eyes. In a conversation, the point-of-view shots will include parts of people’s shoulders and heads. He has a shot design that appreciates the space, puts the people in the space, puts the audience in the space. Music and mise-en-sceÌ€ne are part of it, but the editorial style was most important of all. 
Edited by NBooth
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Don't get me wrong, Christian. Seasons five and six still feel more essential than this season, which has played out like an extended epilogue.

But this past episode was the first to really deliver some closure. Not just because "something happens," but because of some very well-executed exchanges between these characters.

As much as I've groaned about the series spinning its wheels, it's going to be hard to say goodbye.

To be clear, I didn't really have you or anyone at A&F in mind when I mentioned criticisms of "nothing happening." I've seen that charge issued far and wide over recent seasons of the show, even during earlier seasons. It's just something that stuck in my craw early, certainly as the show cast its spell on me and made me just not care about whether anything "happened." I can get by on mood, visuals, music and basic character familiarity for a long time before grow impatient with a show, but that's just me. I understand why others (again, not thinking of you or others here) might be less patient with the show.

 

EDIT: And to be clear, even I started to show some impatience while recently watching the first half of the final season.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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LARB

 

In a final season preoccupied with Don’s disappearance, irrelevance, powerlessness, etc., it seems to me that Mad Men is still interested in displacing its lead. Don Draper, the mysterious cipher at the core of this story, has almost never been the most interesting character on his own show. And, this season, his tiresome repetitions, his follies, his failures suggest that the show knows that. We’re going to see where Don’s road trip ends, but, by and large, the world of Mad Men is over Don Draper. He’s moved on and so has his universe. Rather than this show’s dynamic engine, he has become its institution, its context. Jon Hamm stars as The Nineteen-Sixties, more an embodied era than a man. And while the passage of time haunts us all, who has empathy for Time itself? I am interested to see what happens to Don; I care about what happens to Peggy and Sally and Joan. Don will bring the series to its end; they will give that end its meaning. Don is the show’s protagonist, but that doesn’t mean that Peggy can’t be my protagonist.
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The Atlantic: With Brands, What Exactly Is Mad Men Selling?

 

While some brands like Heineken have actually paid for product placement on the show, others like McCann have had to hold their breath and pray Mad Menwon't invent a closeted drunkard CEO for them (Lucky Strike); use their product in the backdrop of a suicide attempt (Jaguar); or remind viewers of how they contributed to civilian deaths (American Airlines and Dow Chemical). For brands, a Mad Men mention, or even a full storyline, could summon eitherexcitement or dread; and the way companies react to their portrayal reveals how they're often willing to let themselves be seduced by the show's nostalgic sheen. If the depiction is kind or neutral, it's free advertising. If it's ugly, brands have the excuse that it's just fiction. But either way, leaning into the publicity hints at a willingness to ignore Mad Men's series-long effort to lay bare the hollowness of so many popular products, and the cynical attempts by marketers to tie them inextricably to the American Dream.
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The Daily Beast: Did This Woman Predict ‘Mad Men’s Ending Two Years Ago?

 

Here’s the theory: In Green’s post, “Where Don Draper Ends, D.B. Cooper Begins,” she supposes that Don Draper is about to pull his most daring identity theft yet—he's going to turn into a real, historical figure.
 
“D.B. Cooper” is the pseudonym of a man who permanently skipped town in November of 1971 by skyjacking a Boeing 727 in the most Don Draperian way a man could skyjack an airplane. Clad in a suit and tie, Cooper handed a note to a flight attendant. She presumed it was his phone number until he whispered over to her, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.”
He then demanded four parachutes and $200,000, and, because it was 1971, he got just that. After the handoff in Seattle, he proceeded to tell the pilots to fly to Mexico. The pilots wound up flying to Reno under the guise of a refuel, but it didn’t matter. Cooper opened up the stair door at some point before the landing and disappeared into the wilderness with a suitcase full of money.
 
No one knows what happened to D.B. Cooper, just as nobody ever knew or cared what happened to Dick Whitman, the identity that Don Draper abandoned in the war for a fresh start. Of course, the difference is, Don Draper is a fake person with a fake name. D.B. Cooper is a real person with a fake name.
 
As Green’s theory outlines, similarities and clues are everywhere. Don’s former boss on the show is named Bert Cooper, and he was one of the only characters to know that Don is working under someone else’s identity. Bert Cooper famously didn't care upon finding out about the identity shift—dispelling Don’s greatest fear—and shooed Don out of his office.
 
I've seen this theory floated before and never paid it any mind. I still don't, really. But still.
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Well, they'll have to compress an entire year into the last two episodes.  From clues dropped (Sally starting her fall semester) the last episode takes place around September 1970.  DB Cooper's exploit took place in November of 1971.  But hey, they've pretty much ripped right through 1970 in the last five episodes.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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The series finale is titled "Person to Person," which could easily refer to Don changing identities again. And I remember Weiner saying the finale might make people angry, and a huge risk like DB Cooper would do just that.

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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I am surprised to not see many people talking about the very deliberate testing of Don's window in his new office. There is a brief shot of him pressing his fingers against the glass, testing its sturdiness. This is surely a direct allusion to the show intro and predictions that this shadowy figure falling is actually Don.

 

Seems as if that moment is Weiner saying quite eloquently: Nope.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I am surprised to not see many people talking about the very deliberate testing of Don's window in his new office. There is a brief shot of him pressing his fingers against the glass, testing its sturdiness. This is surely a direct allusion to the show intro and predictions that this shadowy figure falling is actually Don.

 

Seems as if that moment is Weiner saying quite eloquently: Nope.

 

Oh, yeah. I either noticed that or had it pointed out to me. It's a nice touch.

 

Meanwhile:

 

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No Peggy, Roger, et al tonight at all. I wasn't thinking of their moments last week as series wraps, but I guess they could be. Unless I missed something, Pete was the only non-Draper regular in this episode.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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Tonight's episode made me cry.

 

Me too, man. Me too.

 

I mean, I don't even 

like Betty. I don't like Jones' performance as Betty. The character has grated on me since I watched the first season. And the fact that she, of all characters, could get a storyline this devastating is a real credit to the writing. Someone on the AV Club said that it's as if Betty has grown as a character without us noticing it and, while I definitely did notice some of her character growth, I would never have thought that she's progressed so far that she could carry the weight of one of the most emotionally draining episodes of the show. I'd even dare to say that her previous performance helped the episode. That's how good this episode was: I'm actually being forced to reconsider my previously-held judgments of January Jones' performance in this show.

Edited by NBooth
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Tonight's episode made me cry.

 

Me too, man. Me too.

 

I mean, I don't even 

like Betty. I don't like Jones' performance as Betty. The character has grated on me since I watched the first season. And the fact that she, of all characters, could get a storyline this devastating is a real credit to the writing. Someone on the AV Club said that it's as if Betty has grown as a character without us noticing it and, while I definitely did notice some of her character growth, I would never have thought that she's progressed so far that she could carry the weight of one of the most emotionally draining episodes of the show. I'd even dare to say that her previous performance helped the episode. That's how good this episode was: I'm actually being forced to reconsider my previously-held judgments of January Jones' performance in this show.

 

 

 

I couldn't agree more. 

 

This was handled, and performed beautifully by all involved in that particular story thread.  I say this as someone who lost both parents to that awful disease, and am very weary of watching films or TV shows that tackle the subject.  Not only did January Jones pull off an incredibly nuanced performance, but kudos as well to Christopher Stanley's acting (especially in the scene with Sally).  And I can not say enough good things for Kiernan Shipka's performance, and the writing behind it.  Her moment with Henry was the first thing to get to me last night.  Just that act of setting aside her justifiable reaction, and simply reaching her hand to console him.  Then the silent moment between Sally and Betty, followed immediately by the tender moment she has with her brothers, asking them to sit closer to her while sharing dinner.  And that letter...  man....  you think it's just going to be the same old cold, vain Betty, until it reaches that final paragraph...  something I've been longing to hear her say to Sally for years.

 

And then the show does a complete 180, and had me shedding tears of happiness for the reunion of Pete and Trudy.

 

I can't say that I've experienced a more emotional episode of television as I experienced last night.  I'm not sure how they can top it,

 

Edited by John Drew

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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I didn't cry, but really dug all the doubling in this episode.

 

Don's con man ego gives birth to a younger version. The movement from Sally to Betty. I love doubling when it is done well, as it geometrically expands our capacity to empathize with or understand a given character. That last shot of Don at the bus stop (perfectly framed with the geometric doubling of the power line angle through the regression of the trees - see below) is the kind of image directors spend entire films working toward. That young, con man part of him that started this entire journey has just driven away. This reversal happens on the heels of his first public confession of what actually happened in Korea. Which turned out to be not that big of a deal. Everyone just kind of nodded and chalked it up to the fog of war. These things happen.

 

But Don is freed by that. He has spent his whole life capitalizing on his new identity as if he was obligated to make something out of it. He isn't anymore, and that youthful passion for recognition and success has literally driven away via that doubling. This is such classic, precise storytelling.

 

mad-men-season-7-episode-13-jon-hamm-2.j

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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