Culture Popby Kara Rota
- Wilson's World Series Beard- I mean bid
- Emma Donoghue reads an excerpt of 'Room' at the Irish Arts Center
- Stephen Colbert testifies before Congress on the plight of migrant workers
- Five Books to Read This Fall
- Season 4 of Mad Men wins over new fans and nostalgic viewers alike
So, I don't know if you've heard about this little show called Mad Men? It premiered in July of 2007 and, now kicking off its fourth season, has four Golden Globes and four Emmys under its belt. I got on the bandwagon awfully late, largely due to not having cable, but last week a co-worker took pity on me and lent me Season 1 on DVD. I finished it in days, canceling dinner plans and drinks with friends to sit in bed and watch three hours at a time of Don Draper's half-smirk and Joan's costume changes. I was absolutely mesmerized- and so, it seemed, were the approximately 2.9 million viewers who tuned in to watch the season 4 premiere, having figured out long before I did that this is a show worth talking about.
Set in the early 1960s, Mad Men is about far more than the careers and affairs of Madison Avenue ad executives. It's hitting on some deeper levels of analysis about Americana that resonate even with those of us whose parents were very young children when Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty (January Jones) were chain-smoking while reading bedtime stories. Solidly fifty years later, with all the changing social mores that half a century have brought, these characters have as much as ever to say about the shifts between surburbia and New York City, about the complex desires and choices (or lack thereof) of women carving out new roles in their homes and in corporate settings, about redefining happiness in an era where those of a certain sociocultural stature were overwhelmed by the prospect of "having everything." As Peter Applebome put it in a recent New York Times piece, "If Mad Men came with a decoder ring it would surely spell out: "Read John Cheever."
Growing up in the nineties, I loved Tim Burton and I loved Johnny Depp and I absolutely loved when the two came together to personify the ultimate goth-chic aesthetic. I can't tell you how many times I've watched Edward Scissorhands, only that I had a copy of the VHS long before I bought the DVD. It's a fantastic movie, surreal and satirical and truly beautiful as a modern fable. When I heard that the Brooklyn Studio Lab was bringing the classic to the stage, I was skeptical, to say the least, but also intrigued.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend one of the final performances of the play, which ran through July 3. It was clear that this was going to be a different experience than the film, which cost $20 million to make in 1990. Without a significant budget and faced with the obvious logistical limitations that differentiate stage production from cinema, director Richard Crawford was forced to get creative. Many artists involved in the production donated their time and even money, and it's obvious that their hearts are seriously in it.
When director Lance Daly conceptualized the new Irish film Kisses, Shane Curry and Kelly O'Neill must have been just the rough-around-the-edges street urchins he had in mind. Both breakthrough performances gave raw emotion to Daly's story of a ten-year-old boy and eleven-year-old girl living next door to one another on the fringes of Dublin.
Kylie is one of six siblings whose harried mother is oblivious to her traumas, while Dylan shields his hatred of an abusive father and the loss of a brother who ran away two years ago in silence and tough apathy. The asthma inhaler he sucks on in moments so terrifying its uselessness is palpable belies a level of vulnerability that the script never quite allows Curry to explore.