Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mad Men: Prepare to swim the English Channel and then drown in champagne

The scene I had been waiting for almost all my life finally happened, and it was just as great as I ever dreamed for it to be. Don and Joan. Chilling.
That was possibly the single most gratifying moment in my Mad Men memory.
I have already discussed how I really wanted something to transpire between Don and Joan, since both of them are such great archetypes of their respective genders. In fact, before this season started I was convinced that the story line would somehow bring these two together, since Jon Hamm mentioned something cryptic regarding Don and Joan's relationship. I was overjoyed at the possibilities.  Fact is, I love Joan. She is possibly one of my favorite characters of all time in general TV history, and Don is obviously larger than life...at least in my life. I think its been a constant amazement for all Mad Men fans that the two characters have not shared any kind of  a romantic past. I mean, come on, just look at those two. Why not? they have both been shown as highly desirable characters on the show- so the fact that they have never gravitated towards each other has been a legit question mark.
I'm not saying they need a relationship,  because I think we can see that perhaps that would not be quite so successful, but  a little tryst is due. No? that they have been working together for like a decade or so without anything happening poses a conundrum the size of K2.

Well, this week's  episode answers some of those queries and perhaps raises new ones.
Joan gets served divorce papers in the office, which causes her to lose her cool (which she rarely ever does, and she does it sooo spectacularly; a pleasure to watch, really.).

 Don happens to be there at that moment leaving to test drive a Jaguar. Seeing how upset Joan is, he takes her along to the showroom they pretend to be a married couple- and eventually wind up at a bar for a drink- which leads where to one of the best conversations of this season.

We find out that the reason why Don never made a move on Joan was because she 'scared the shit' outta him. They talk about Joan's divorce and Don's cheating (?) in his marriage- but in a very cloaked manner. But what could've been a very serious , dreary conversation in this case was just full of sparks and cheekiness. Loved it. I swear I felt like I was a part of the convo. You would expect for something to happen, cos like...you know; duh. But nothing did, and what is more surprising than that is that somehow, it made that moment even better.
Seeing the two together in a bar, indulging in some harmless(?) flirting, and witnessing the chemistry that the two share- was possibly better and more fun than anything else we could've asked for.
It really was like an earl christmas gift. Or just a gift.

On first viewing of the episode, I was just on the edge of my seat (actually that not true I was lying down, but whatever, you get the picture) waiting for someone to make a move, someone to lean in. The pretend husband-wife duo at the Jaguar showroom, the fooling around at the bar somewhere between tipsy and drunk, the obvious comfort between the two pointed towards something happening, how could it not? This is Don, this is Joan, and this is TV. But it never happened. Don - playing wingman, just left before anything got messy. Now, I have wanted Joan and Don to happen for a while so I had every right to be all wtf. I mean, this storyline was just a tease in that sense. It almost happened. Yet, the flirtation, the conversation, just the way the two interacted with each other was delectable. I actually paused and rewinded that scene right that instant to see it again. It was just so enjoyable. I mean I could totally relate to it; obviously barring so many things- but still.  I loved the flowers the next day, the 'Ali Khan' sign off, and the way Joan was beaming when he gave that little speech. Btw I really feel like Joan does have a bit of a crush on him. Just the way she looks at him says it almost. And twice she was like "oh, you're irresistible" , and "who would believe that?" to the possibility of him ever striking out with any girl. I mean she really put him high up there on a pedestal. If it was any other girl, we all know that she would piss me off for doing such things and generally being so gushy. But because its Joan- who btw I have never seen to be as a gushy type- I let her get away with it, and tbh i love her for it.

I think the question that remained in my mind was what would have happened if Joanie and Don did end up having that dance to 'her music?'. Would things have gone off on a different direction? Why didn't she?
Also, was it me or did it seem like Joan wanted him to stay?

What else? I'm sorry I can't even pretend that I was remotely interested in anything else in this episode besides the two of them. So that's that.

Megan wore a great red dress. Ugh. Btw, she has been really spending his money on wardrobe huh? You can really tell.

I don't know what Roger wants from Joan. Not sure. Towards the end of the episode, when he's leaving Joan with her flowers; he seems kinda genuinely upset.

I loved Megan channeling Betty Draper. Sitting pissed off with wine at the dinner table. I didn't love Megan, I just love that she's begin driven to that point. Btw, have I told you I hate her temper tantrums? The way she pouts and shouts. Ugh. Annoyance personified.

Okay, thats all I care about.
Btw, only three more episodes to go till the end of the season.
Can you believe how soon this is happening?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Revolutionary Road

I just finished reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates and it slayed me.
Like demolished me.
Books rarely ever get to me like this, that I find it hard to concentrate on simple bbms even, but wow. It truly gets inside  you and wrenches your heart and guts.

I don't know whether that would be a reason for anybody to read this, because despite being brilliant it is soul crushing. Also, I am thoroughly biased, since I loved the movie as well, which was a given that I would since I love Leo and Kate quite a bit. Although, I must add having watched the movie was detrimental to the book experience since I had a pretty vivid picture of the characters in my mind, so my opinions were pre-determined. It would have required something short of a miracle for me to not like the book and not sympathize with both the protagonists.
The character of April Wheeler, perhaps in any other case would've annoyed me, or I would have classified her as very difficult/ unlikeable/ ungrateful woman except for the fact that in the movie she was played beautifully by Kate Winslet- who fashioned the character so brilliantly in the movie that we understood her plight. That is how she is supposed to be, its just that I find it very hard to be sympathetic towards most female characters in books.

Same with Frank Wheeler, I already imagined my Leo saying everything, or lets be honest I remember exactly the way he delivered his lines, and I understood him. Although, in the book, Frank is supposed to have been a little more manipulative ( in a person in a relationship going through a difficult period sort of way, not psycho abusive husband sort of way) which was something I never got in the movie. Maybe its because I have special dreamy filters on whenever I watch Leo,so I didn't see the character flaws, or it was something that the screenplay didn't delve into and bring to the audience's attention as the book did.
What was really cool was how faithful the movie had been to the book. Apart from what I just mentioned above, everything else was the same.Like religiously faithful.  Usually that's not the case with most bookmovie transitions but then again I've only seen adaptations of fantasy novels (Harry P), and well, that can hardly be accountable since the books are an entire universe on their own.
Anyway, the book is poignant, soul crushing and deeply melancholic.
Quite simply, its about the mind numbing boredom and monotony that plagues a life of social conformity and practicality. Its about being weighed down by youthful dreams and idealistic hopes  that remain unrealized due to the sad practicalities of life that we feel the need to abide by, since that is simply how things are done.

 Its actually quite similar to Pete Campbell's plight in the latest season of Mad Men.
 The common denominator is the suburbs.
 Alot of American literature, and such works in the media really portray the suburbs as the place where the human soul dies.Where the need to blend in, forced at first, eventually shapes who you become, and before you know it you don't recognize yourself anymore.

The Wheelers for example, form the ideal postcard picture of American Suburbia. A handsome couple, with two beautiful children in a cute little house, on a winding road in Connecticut. The man commutes to the city everyday by the train, the wife stays at home and does the housewife bit . They seem happy.
You  take a deeper look into the adults' lives and realize that this is never the reality that they wanted for themselves, but were almost conned into it because it seemed like the right thing to do.What made it the right thing to do? Well everyone does it. It seems like the next logical step, as defined by society.
Yet the Wheelers like all individuals felt that they were different, and they were self assured in their individuality. Their chosen lifestyle was just a means for everyday comfort, and that did not essentially define them as or classify them with other suburban types.
But it did.
They were as ordinary or extraordinary as everyone else. They weren't any different.

Frank Wheeler, was almost content living the life of a suburban stereotype while pledging his true nature was more akin to that of a social rebel. His suburban-ness (in all aspects of his life) was just something he indulged in for now, until he figured out what it was he actually wanted to do. He was almost okay with the existence of cookie cutter variety, as far as in his mind, his friends and his wife (especially his wife)  he was viewed as someone extraordinary. Basically all talk.
April Wheeler, his wife on the other hand saw things for what they were. She saw that their existence, despite their regular discussions about being being different, was exactly the same as the others. She knew that they had almost become people that they had never wanted to be .She wanted to actively change the entire dynamics of their living, rather than just talking about it over drinks and smokes. She suggests they pack everything up and move to Paris, where she could work to support them and he could figure out what sort of work made him happy. Practicalities be damned. And that was working for them for a bit, until it wasn't. And then that was that.

In my opinion, one of the most telling parts of the book is that when the Wheelers disclose their big plans to move to their friends/colleagues/neighbors. Each and everyone (except John Givings) has similar reactions, infront of them and in private. Usually the announcement  was followed by alot of questions of the practical variety before a congratulatory, but empty - good for you type thing. But in all of their cases ; the Campbells, Frank's colleague and Mrs Givings, a sort of envy was apparent-the Wheeler's had found a way out of the 'comfortable little God damn mediocrity' their lives had come to personify. It was as if the Wheelers' plan to move to uncovered the 'hopeless emptiness' that they felt in their own lives, and brought it in clear view. They had not done anything about it, instead cover it up and pretend that it never existed, or was just not 'practical'  while  the Wheeler's were going to. It was as if the inadequacies of their own lives seemed to great to bear in the wake of the Wheeler's big announcement.

When the plan to move falls through, you can almost understand and feel the triumph that the various parties feel when told about it. Its like their lives had gotten a stamp of approval. They immediately felt better for not going after their dreams, because the Wheelers' too gave up on theirs. The 'comfortable little God damn mediocrity', then again seemed a fine space to reside in,and their confidence was restored in the choices they had made in their lives. Perhaps mediocrity was a fine space to exist in, we see Frank Wheeler surely open up to it and sort of prefer it to the unknown; however it just didn't cut it for April Wheeler.

The sense of foreboding that we get towards the end of the book perhaps cos i saw the move), is unmistakable. The morning after the last fight, when April Wheeler makes breakfast for the two of them, and is being so 'nice ' about everything. You see that Frank Wheeler being caught off0guard by her wife's behaviors and his genuine interest in his work just as he imagined her to have in his many fantasy conversations with her, the reader realizes that Frank responds very well to suburban domesticity, despite all his ramblings professing the opposite. At the same time, April just isn't that girl.

So before giving everything away I should stop. I would highly recommended this book but with warning  that it takes a hammer to your gut. At least that's how it was with me. I'd still read it again though, and probably will.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Biggest Fashion Night of the Year

 The annual Met ball is usually the biggest fashion night of the year.
Organized by the Voguettes and hosted by the Queen Bee, Anna Wintour herself ; this is a night to look forward to. You know that people will be going all out; and not really playing safe as with the oscars or any other major awards ceremonies..
That was the biggest disappointment of this year actually, after, well, nothing actually. (No, that doesn't mean its been a good year it just mean I have lowered my expectations all the way down to zero). Anyway, the fashion at all the major award shows was far from scintillating; which is not say we didn't see some great gowns, we did- but nothing that makes me truly excited, save a few- which was a major let down after seeing some fabulous couture in Paris Couture Week in the same month.
In any case, with the Met you know that won't be the case. People dont jsut want to look gorgeous, they want to make a statement. They want their clothes to be talked about, and so they put their best fashion foot forward (or atleast try) and take some risks and have some fun.

My absolute favorite look was a beautifully played Prada by Diane Kruger, who is a great style icon in my books. She takes these risks, yet doesn't over-do them. There is a Kate Moss-ish quality to the way she approaches clothes which is always welcome.

She wore this purple Prada gown with feather embellishment, and she kept the rest of it really nice and simple. It all just looked lovely, yet not boring.Nice casual air about her styling, while the gown , the feathers, the colour of it obviously said more.
I really liked this.

I also really liked models Chanel Iman, and Coco Rocha's outfits.
Chanel Iman was in Tom Ford in this exquisite black and white gown, which looked stunning on her. It doesn't hurt that she has tom Ford on her arm which is to say nothing except that I think he's a fox. A gay fox, but fox nonetheless.

Coco Rocha wore this vintage Givenchy pant suit that was previously owned by Liz Taylor; which I think is just so camp and  positively decadent. Also, the suit actually looked really nice on her, and so fun. It kinda seemed like some people are treating the Met Ball as the actual Oscars; which means they take it too seriously, and just put too much pressure on looking the best that you could possibly look, and take the quirky, fun element which is an essential part of fashion out of the entire equation. Coco Rocha says, eff that. I'm going to wear a wine stained pant suit and look great in it and have fun and  that's all that matters. This sort of approach always passes with flying colors.

Camilla Belle was one person who went with the Oscars type look in Ralph Lauren, but she killed it, so I'm all for it. I loved the dark lips. I usually don't like dark lips, well I didn't like them when they were last in fashion which was in the 90s and I was a kid back then and I couldn't understand for the life of me why any woman would wear dark purple, auberginey type lipstick over a pretty pink, but now as I'm older- I' see that it can be pulled off. I just don't think I'm there yet, but Camilla clearly is.
Another person also working the dark lip is Kate Bosworth. I actually loved her entire look as well, Prada I think. I'm sorry I'm too lazy to google and recheck.Okay it is Prada.  But yeah, is it me  Are you also loving the lip? 

 Who else? Okay, I love  Givenchy , you guys know what, but some how, I just didn't feel it- even though there was alot of Givenchy on the red carpet. Gisele looked the best in it, and A+ to Beyonce for trying but somehow , vastly they all ended up being not quite for me. Like I had to force myself to like them cos its Givenchy.They looked stunning, of course, but I dunno-  something was amiss.


Trying too hard.Love the tail of it, and how she has lost all her baby weight, but I don't know.

 Eww. A for trying to be different though.

 Okay, stunning- but come on its Gisele.

 I love Liv, and I love Givenchy so its a real surprise that this isn't working for me.

Too intense. Maybe if she wore her hair down, and went for softer makeup.Am just too used to Rooney Mara looking the same way, and having that same Lisabeth Slander look going on. I think someone hasn't told her that the movie has been released for a few months now.

You know what was the funnest, flashiest and most Oh-wow-someone-pulled-out-all-the-stops look of the night? Biance  Barndolini d'Adda . She wore this Dolce and Gabbana number, and she really went all out. I loved it.

 Sooo diva-esque na? So Barbara Striesand or Cher type. I would love to get a closer look of the neck embellishment, but oh well such is life. At the same time, Karolina Kurkova (styled and in a gown by Rachel Zoe, stylist par extraordinaire) went for a diva look as well, but it some how didn't work for me. I found the dress to be too similar to the Armani Prive gown Anne Hathaway wore to the Globes last year (also styled by Rachel Zoe) , and the Turban just reminded me of Kate Moss at the 2010 Met Ball.

Is it me , or does it loo like the amalgamation of both these looks?

Christina Ricci wore this Thakoon number which is on a lot of best dressed lists, and it really is a fab gown but man I don't rally like Ricci, which takes it a few point down. But hey, I'll look past it. Its not Thakoon's fault. 

SJP was a real miss for me. She wore Valentino (spring 2012) , and , well, I dunno fell kinda flat for me. But I think that's just got to do with Valentino not being sexy anymore.Too girly, and not to be age-ist or anything but SJP is no girl.

Btw, am not just asskissing here ( what would even be the point of that) but I loved Anna Winotur's Prada Lobster gown. It was mazey ka. I always love weird animals with fashion.

Another like, Caroline Tentini in Theysken's theory.
I like the idea of the embelished crop top/bolero type on top,and that beautiful blue colour.

You know, I dont like Gwynnie Paltrow very much. I just find her persona annoying over-effy type. I also find she goes out of her way to promote her legs/bod. Not that she shouldn't cos both are amazing, and she works like a dog on the treadmill for them, laikin, it just seeems like the ultimate cause for her dressing: LOOK HOW HOT MY BODY IS. I know Jennifer Aniston also does it,but she manages to pull it off, and she doesn'tpretend to be a fashion freak along the way.
 Omg, I just realized both are Brad Pitt's exes. Do you think its a complex these women develop after Brad?
Hmmm... must ponder on that a little more.

Gwyn, being fake cheery in her Prada.

Jessica Stam. Dior. This is how its done.
Equal parts elegant. Equal parts insane.

Lana Del Ray. Joseph Altuzarra. Love it. Unlike others, I don't think its too similar too Gwyn's oscar Tomford thingie. I think the metallic gown is pure beauty.

Nina Dobrev. Donna Karan. Also really nice. Like i know its a little oscary, but is also a little not. Stunning if you ask me.

Sofia Vergara killin' it in Marchesa. Somehow i find the silhouette a bit dekha dekha on her, like its very close to what she always wear...which I guess I mean is strapless (!?!) you know what I mean No, not the strapless part...but just generally, its kinda the same old same old, but I guess she always look soooo good in it, that its forgiven and blessed.

And those, were my pick of notables from the Met. btw, if your wondering why there was so much Prada on the red carpet, no its not cause they're having a sale, actually the Met celebrated the opening of the Prada exhibit titles "Impossible Conversations" I bet it will be amazing. Do check it out if you are in NY.

There is no wrost dressed, because I just dont believe in that sort of thing, unless ofcourse its hard to refrain.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Mad Men: Just Try it, I mean Taste it.

 I cannot tell you just how much I enjoyed last night's episode.
Yes it was pretty light compared to the previous few, but I realllllllyyy enjoyed it. Maybe I was just in a very happy mood, but I found it funny enough to  laugh out aloud at some parts. And as we know, Mad Men doesn't really have "jokes" like usual tv jokes. But once you get into the grind of it, and know what you're looking for- well then this episode is gold.
See, as I've mentioned before here, MM tries to be as minimally contrived as it can be, and more and more like everyday. So the funny moments, especially funny moments for us viewers are ones that on another show we wouldn't even smirk at. But here, that's all you get; and in a series that is heavy on  heavy subtext ,nuance and undertone- these moments can be genius.

 The ones I enjoyed most from last night were:

1) Pete on the payphone and Harry Crane
 I'm trying to find a video for this one and I am failing. But this was in the first half of the episode again. Anyway it was hilarious. The thing is, I could imagine it happening to anyone; not just these characters. Its a situation taken straight from actual life. It interrupts a very desperate call that Pete is making to the Gilmore Girl and its unnecessary at that point of time which is precisely why its funny.

2) Pegs telling Don "Do you know where Abe is?"
Don calls the office looking for his wife. As usual the only person there is Pegs. Pegs is trying to find suitable answers to give to Don, which Don keeps rebutting and eventually an exasperated Pegs says, I don't know where she is Don do you know where Abe is?.I loved  it. It was such a legit thing to say. Of course, the ensuing " Pizza House" scene was hilarious. I'm really starting to like Peggy btw, she's so ballsy and dorky at the same time. Like in the Pizza House scene, we the phone first starts ringing you see her get like full tense and all, so as a viewer you are also made to feel like oh-no-whats-going-to-happen-anxious...only for her to yell PIZZA HOWWWSE in a somewhat Asian way.It was sooo out of  the blue And her expression after she hangs up is just priceless. Her expression reflects the viewer's reaction- WTF?
Pegs bhi na. What great acting though ( not just these scenes, general life on the series as well)

3) My Ken Cosgrove bopping and dancing.
As I mentioned before, I've developed a little soft spot for Kenny. He's such a  good boy. His little dance was toooooo cute,and Don looking at him up and down like wth-is-wrong-w-you was also the icing on the cake. He's adroable. I think he's my new love now cos lets face it Don is just no fun anymore.

4) Peggy filling in for Meg in the cool-whip thingie...
 and sucking at it.
 That just didn't go very well did it? But giving how Pegs has been throwing her weight around , it just made sense to make her fall a little bit. The little husband wife charade went horribleyet it was morbidly amusing. The moment she spoke you knew that this was going down.  Loved the look on Don's face when Pegs kept saying "just try it" instead of 'just taste it' . Then they fight like school children, and Pegs eventually tells
Don to shutup. How gutsy has she become? She's like a little don (not like draper, but like the mafioso).

5) Roger: Jane wanted to have kids, but then I thought why do that to someone?
     Enough said.

So those were my best. I also really enjoyed Harry and Peter's exchange. Harry has beocme such a lovable douche. I love that he's still scared that Megs might tell Don about his comments from the party (on Zou bisous). See that's what's good about this show, the continuation.
Also funny was Ginsberg wondering how he'll get his $15 back for lunch from Megs. 
" You know what takes guts? Never having money for lunch"

Other than that, I guess the only major plot development was Megs quitting which I am overjoyed by because eff it it had become the Megan show. I'm sick of seeing her. Hell why can that much screen time be devoted to Joan and Roger? Each week the central focus is Megs, Don and Pegs Gimme a break.  Megs is obviously a thorn in my path, Don has become a snoozefest to watch since I cannot watch him go around like a lovesick puppy all the time. The best scenes by far- in this entire season -of him are the fixing of Pete's faucet and him kicking down his apartment door. I guess because thats the only time we've seen him be a man this entire season- my apologies for the sexism.

I think,the age gap between Megs and Don is finally coming into play. I think for Don, he is being forced to come out of his little happy bubble. In his mind, he had made his own little choti si duniya w Megan, in which he was very happy, and everything was perfect and honeymoon phasey. Basically at 40, having lived half of his lifetime, he found his answers and his entire life in a way in his relationship w Megan- at least for now. He thought they had everything. But with Megan, cos she's so young- he's realizing that their relationship, their joint domestic happiness is not the be-all, end-all as it is for him. Its not the answer to everything for her. Its just one aspect. There are more things that Megan wants in her life other than a goodlooking, rich husband , a lavish apartment and fancy clothes.She's still young, and she wants more in life than to just be Don Draper's wife- a title a thousand would kill for.  Which brings us to the season's main conundrum: a person can have everything they want yet nothing that they need.

Also known as the Pete Campbell syndrome.

Anyway, with Megs out of the picture that means we don't have to see her in the office atleast. Annoyance.
Btw, I really don't want to use the term style star for Megan Draper, since j'hate but motherofjesus they're really giving her very nice clothes to wear. I loved the two coats she wore in this episode. The first was the patent leather trench coat that she wore that day she had to resign, and the second was in the last scene when she's going for her class. It was like an army green sort of thing with a leather collar. Gorgeous.

Okay, coming to Pete Campbell Syndrome.

I don't find Pete as despicable as others do in this episode because I really get the void he feels in his life, irrespective of the fact that it is totally self created, and he is just being selfish and pathetic.It happens. Pete's done everything the way he was supposed to; the wife, the house, the kid, the career- but it just doesn't amount to anything and he  feels reckless. I guess life has been the same for him for too long, and living the same day everyday can make you self destructive to an extent.


Yes, making  a move on his train buddy's wife was not the nicest thing, but tbh she really did come on to him and let's face it Pete has never been the beacon of moral high grounds. We all know he is a little twerp, with perfect potential sleaze capabilities so I dunno, this hardly makes me hate him... that too now, after four seasons of his being a despicable slimeball. In fact now is when I've started understanding him a little bit. I guess it has to do with the " Don, I have nothing" moment.
Also I found Rory to be too young to be that guy's wife. Maybe its cos I still see her as Rory.

Okay, that's about it. I hope we have more Joan and Betty next episode, it seems like those are my only two requests in each episode.