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Mindhunter shows how simple shot and editing techniques can elevate a series above a routine crime procedural. For this post we’ll look at one standout scene in the final episode of season one. Subtle changes in shot length, distance, and angle heighten emotions. David Fincher directs, Erik Messerschmidt serves as DP, and Kirk Baxter, who’s been Fincher’s primary editor for almost a decade, edits. (Mild spoilers follow.)
On paper the scene is a conversation between two characters that turns threatening. FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) profiles and studies serial killers. Incarcerated mass murderer Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton) is Holden’s interview subject early in the season. This last scene serves as a reunion after many episodes apart; Kemper tried to kill himself, and Holden visits him in the hospital.
As I wrote weeks ago, Apple TV needed several key factors to challenge console and PC gaming. Based on the keynote and what we’ve learned since, they missed on all counts. Traditional console or PC gamers won’t be flocking to Apple TV. Yet some wildcards could upend the casual gaming market in the long run.
Apple TV’s problems start with the included remote. A touchpad and single available button won’t give the precision needed for most traditional games. And add-on controllers are unlikely to make headway. Apple didn’t release a first-party option, and developers can’t require external controllers for play.
Then there’s the issue of a fairly weak starting library. Granted, several games look entertaining. Yet it’s mostly small scale entertainment — diversions alongside other apps and streaming media.
It’s a bummer that Hannibal only got three seasons. Great acting across the board, especially by Dancy and Mikkelsen. But it’s DP James Hawkinson’s visual language – striking, dreamlike, horrific, often all at once – that makes it especially unique.
New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum (and yes, spoilers in the quote and article for the entire Mad Men finale):
I don’t think the show was saying that real change is impossible. In fact, nearly everyone around Don changed quite a lot, and in ways that ring true for people living through decades—a real rarity in a TV show. Pete and Peggy and Joan, in particular, barely resemble the people they were at the beginning of the show. They’re stronger, clearer, and also more ethical. Their relationships are authentic. (Roger not so much, but that’s why we love Roger.) But if Don Draper is as much a symbol as a person, maybe that’s the point.
Among the many shows its compared against – from The Sopranos to Breaking Bad – Mad Men’s final world view ends up far more optimistic.
David Bax, host of the consistently excellent Battleship Pretension podcast, writes on the dangers of the Netflix “all at once” TV model. For some shows, making an entire thirteen episode season available at once works. But some shows like Bloodline suffer from the format and treatment.
Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff on Mad Men and TV’s transition away from antiheroes:
The story of Mad Men isn’t about a man who slowly closes himself off from others. It’s the story of a man who builds a workplace family around himself, even if he’s not consciously aware of it. For as lousy of a husband and father as Don is, he’s often a magnificent coworker. He recognizes in his protege, Peggy Olson, something that nobody else likely would have, and he urges Joan Harris not to do something unthinkable simply to land an account.
One of my favorite Reddit AMA’s that somehow bubbled up to the movies subreddit front page a few weeks ago. As a huge The Wire fan, it’s awesome hearing so many behind the scene bits presented from such an unorthodox angle. An extended example of the British actor Dominic West (McNulty) having to head in the studio for ADR sessions is a highlight.
The praise gets arguably hyperbolic, but as written in this profile and interview by Vulture’s chief critic Matt Zoller Seitz, it’s hard not to love Michelle MacLaren’s work. An exceptionally strong director, she’s one of the rare TV names that I recognize (usually in the credits on Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones) immediately and know we’re about to get something special.
Yes, Mad Men’s midseason finale was a week ago. But after an extremely busy week at work, I finally caught up to this A.V. Club review by Todd VanDerWerff and Sonia Saraiya and it’s incredible (spoilers for the episode below and of course in the post):
As aware as Mad Men is of the future—because it’s really about our present, told through the lens of 1960-1969—its characters are conscious of the past. Bert was a piece of that past—a piece laid to rest tonight, as astronauts did the unthinkable and miraculous. There is no moment that says the past is over more powerfully than the moon landing. And for this show, there is no more powerful moment that says the past is over than killing off Bert Cooper and selling his agency before his body is cold. Bert was the past, and now the show’s sense of past is gone. The future is now, as Cutler intimates to Roger—SC&P is becoming “the ad agency of the future.” And that means the next crop of people to die will be those characters currently left standing in the halls of the Time-Life building. Great moments have a way of boiling down to the exact same feeling—a dawning realization that outside of the hustle to stay alive, the only thing that is waiting for you, for sure, is death.
Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz writes on TV series that are breaking away from the traditional 13 to 26 episodes per season format. It’s a concept often mentioned on social media and the occasional blog post, but Seitz constructs the best argument to date. He cites influences like the BBC and Netflix, along with our changing viewing habits and mediums (e.g. TVs, computers, tablets) to help shape the “anything goes” approach that defines a lot of TV today.