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‘Mad Men' creator Weiner, composer Carbonara reflect on AMC series before finale
By Frazier Moore, Associated Press
POSTED: 05/15/15, 10:58 AM EDT |
NEW YORK — “Mad Men” is nearing its end with grace and assurance as its characters already are scattering from view. After seven seasons barnstorming a long-ago decade, the series feels like it’s coming in for a landing, though just how smooth or rocky won’t be known for sure until touchdown (Sunday at 10 p.m.
Even so, already there’s plenty to say in eulogizing this glorious drama, which monitored a swath of modern American life through the prism of the 1960s New York advertising business, led by the prismatic, enigmatic ad man Don Draper, played, of course, by series star Jon Hamm.
Except what hasn’t already been said (and re-said) about “Mad Men,” which, in the hands of series creator Matthew Weiner, charted its own path, defying expectations while propelled by a peerless company of actors?
— Well, for starters, there’s that clarinet.
Pinpoint the most affecting moments in “Mad Men,” and you’re likely to find a plaintive clarinet (or fellow woodwind) reinforcing the scene’s poignancy.
“A mournful, lonely boy sound,” says series composer David Carbonara, whose contributions have reliably underscored, so to speak, what was taking place onscreen without drawing attention to themselves or telegraphing an intended response. “I’m that kind of composer. I don’t showboat.”
And unlike so much of TV, where so-called “background” music blankets the action, Carbonara was sparing with his music cues, whether a clarinet or more full-bodied interludes: “On ‘Mad Men,’ I tend to come in late and leave early,” he says with a laugh.
Related duties have included producing song tracks, such as agency boss Bert Cooper’s rousing number, “The Best Things in Life Are Free.”
“When I worked with Robert Morse on that,” Carbonara recalls, “he was like, ‘What do you do on the show?’ He knew me from producing songs, not writing the score. ‘I compose the music on “Mad Men,’ I told him. And he says, ‘There’s music on ‘Mad Men’?!’”
Such are the subtleties of Carbonara’s work.
"Glickman" Premieres on HBO Monday August 26th, 2013
Before Marv Albert and Bob Costas, there was Marty Glickman. A gifted Jewish-American athlete who was denied the chance to represent the U.S. at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he went on to become one of the most revered and influential sportscasters in history, pioneering many of the techniques, phrases and programming innovations that are commonplace in sports reporting today.
"GLICKMAN" is the first documentary from writer, producer and director James L. Freedman, who produced Glickman’s late-night sports program on New York radio as a high-school senior. Featuring archival footage and interviews with such notables as Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Bill Bradley, Jim Brown, Frank Gifford, Larry King, Jerry Stiller, New York Giants co-owner John Mara and others, the film tells the story of a man who overcame prejudice to forge a remarkable career, setting the gold standard for sports broadcasters past, present and future. Music by David Carbonara.
Old Flames Before New Life
‘Some Girl(s)’ Is Based on Neil LaBute’s Play
Adam Brody and Kristen Bell in a scene from “Some Girl(s).”
Published: June 27, 2013
“Some Girl(s),” the pungent, queasy-making screen adaptation of Neil LaBute’s play about a smug, opportunistic cad, delivers the same message as Cole Porter’s jaunty show tune “Most Gentlemen Don’t Like Love.” What they do like, Porter joked, is “to kick it around.” But in addressing male callousness, the movie’s attitude isn’t so lightheartedly blasé.
Its unnamed protagonist, played by Adam Brody, is a handsome and polished New York-based fiction writer in his early 30s who is about to marry. The story tracks him as he embarks on a national farewell tour during which he reunites with old girlfriends, hoping to make amends for past bad behavior. At each stop — Seattle, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles — he encounters varying degrees of rage and resentment from women he had abruptly walked out on and not contacted again.
The movie, directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer (“Party Girl”), is set almost entirely in hotel rooms, where these attempts at friendly closure are conducted like interviews. He naïvely assumes that exoneration can be achieved simply by saying “I’m sorry” with a modicum of sincerity. Although the still-wounded exes let him have it, only one, a woman who was under age when he toyed with her, truly rattles him.
In Seattle he summons his high school sweetheart, Sam (Jennifer Morrison), whom he didn’t take to the prom. In Chicago he meets Tyler (Mía Maestro), a siren who puts the moves on him by seductively blowing cigarette smoke into his mouth. He barely resists her wiles.
At this point, you may still be willing to withhold judgment. But his encounter in Boston with Lindsay (Emily Watson), an older, married college professor with whom he had an affair, is another matter. The man he cuckolded and who caught them in bed was his academic mentor. Rather than face the consequences, he fled, leaving Lindsay, to whom he had made lofty promises, to deal with the consequences.
Although Ms. Watson gives a blazing performance, her character tries to exact a revenge that is so preposterous that it throws a monkey wrench into a movie that never fully regains its balance. It recovers some stability when our antihero, back in Seattle, summons Reggie (Zoe Kazan), the younger sister of his high school best friend. Reggie’s character is not in the original play. On the eve of her 12th birthday, she recalls, he kissed her, touched her inappropriately and whispered that he would marry her someday. He was 16. Ms. Kazan gives a compelling portrait of a woman still wrestling with the theft of her innocence; her face registers the conflicting emotions of the still-confused girl inside her wounded grown-up self.
Los Angeles, the tour’s final stop, is where he meets Bobbi (Kristen Bell), the closest any woman has come to being his true love. During this meeting, in which she labels him an “emotional terrorist,” the screenplay throws in a zinger that reveals the extent of his narcissism and misogyny. I won’t give it away except to say that it is foreshadowed by a mention of his recent magazine story, “The Calculus of Desire,” in which several of the women recognized themselves.
In his 2006 review in The Times, Ben Brantley described the play as having the “formulaic precision of a scientific experiment.” That assessment applies not only to Mr. LaBute’s manipulation of his characters in play after play, but also to his manipulation of the audience by dispensing the dramatic equivalent of tidbits of scurrilous gossip to make you gasp.
Mr. LaBute’s best film is still his first, “In the Company of Men,” in which two male business associates contrive an elaborate and vicious practical joke on a female colleague simply for sport. There are a lot of truthful notes in “Some Girl(s),” but there are also false ones that let you know that you are being played with. You’d best beware.
Opens on Friday nationwide.
Directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer; written by Neil LaBute, based on his stage play; director of photography, Rachel Morrison; edited by Michael Darrow; music by David Carbonara; production design by Maya Sigel; costumes by Nancea Ceo; produced by Patty West, Chris Schwartz and Andrew Carlberg; released by Leeden Media. In Manhattan at the Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. This film is not rated.
WITH: Adam Brody (Man), Kristen Bell (Bobbi), Zoe Kazan (Reggie), Mía Maestro (Tyler), Jennifer Morrison (Sam) and Emily Watson (Lindsay).