Press Play

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: GAME CHANGE, Sarah Palin, and the Limits of Competence

HBO's "Game Change," about the making and unmaking of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election, is basically that scene stretched out to feature length — an agonizing experience. You don't need to know the names of political consultants or remember every detail of the campaign to become immersed in it, because in its heart, it's about coming up against the limits of one's own competence. This harsh lesson is learned not by Palin, but by the people who submitted her as McCain's running mate, and by McCain himself, who unknowingly ceded the election the minute he added her to the ticket.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
  • |
  • March 9, 2012 11:35 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

LUCK RECAP: No icing error, this

About a third of the way through episode six of "Luck," a conversation between the horse trainer Turo Escalante and the veterinarian Jo is cut short by portents. A flock of birds erupts from behind, or within, the stands; silhouetted, they look like bats. The horses freak out. Then comes an earthquake. The walls tremble. The ground shakes. And then it's over.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
  • |
  • March 6, 2012 1:02 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: What makes MAD MEN great?

We head into "Mad Men’s" fifth season knowing nothing about it. The on-air promos recycle moments from past seasons, and the teaser art has been cryptic even by this show’s standards: an opening-credits-styled image of a falling man that could be hawking any season, and a photo of hero Don Draper staring at two mannequins — a clothed male and a naked female* — through a dress-shop window. Matthew Weiner, who banned advance screeners after a New York Times review revealed innocuous details from the season-four premiere, has dropped a cone of silence over the production. We have no idea if Don went through with plans to wed his young secretary, Megan; if Joan had Roger’s baby; or if the new agency is still in business. We don’t even know the year in which this season takes place, which at least would prepare us for the wingspan of Roger’s lapels.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
  • |
  • March 6, 2012 12:50 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment

VIDEO ESSAY: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN HOLLYWOOD: HORROR, MAKEUP AND THE OSCARS

The practitioners of visual effects have a favorite phrase for what they do: the Invisible Art – effects that are imaginative, even astonishing, but that are ultimately there to sell a world, a character or a moment. Special makeup might be the best illustration of this principle. One of makeup's greatest triumphs is An American Werewolf in London, which in 1982 became the first film to win an Oscar for makeup in regular competition. Overseen by Rick Baker, who supervised all of the film's makeup effects, it shows a man changing into a werewolf in real time…right in front of your eyes. This sequence was the culmination of eight decades of movie makeup. And the film's Oscar represented a coming-out for a once-neglected aspect of filmmaking.
  • By Aaron Aradillas, Matt Zoller Seitz & Ken Cancelosi
  • |
  • February 24, 2012 1:15 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Outstanding Collaborative Performance - Yoda, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Muppets creator Jim Henson once said, “When Frank Oz does Grover, I think he is a better actor than Lawrence Olivier.” That’s not really an exaggeration. Puppeteering is not just a clever way to entertain children. It’s an ancient art, common to cultures all over the world. And it’s another kind of performance -- sort of a merger of acting, gesture and dance. It combines vocal performance with hand movements that approximate the movements of a human, an animal, or a non-human character.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz & Matthias Stork
  • |
  • February 24, 2012 12:00 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Outstanding Collaborative Performance - E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial

For a pretty long time, Steven Spielberg’s "E.T. The Extraterrestrial" was the top grossing film ever made, and it’s still one of the most beloved. The title character is a space alien. Who plays him? It’s hard to even begin to answer that question. There were so many people involved, and they all contributed something. But it you rule out the obvious suspects – Spielberg, who directed the movie, and Melissa Mathison, who wrote it – it’s still a pretty long list.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz and Steven Boone
  • |
  • February 23, 2012 9:25 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Picture TREE OF LIFE

All of the 2011 Best Picture nominees have their merits, but one towers above the rest: "The Tree of Life," writer/director Terrence Malick's film about...well what is "The Tree of Life" about, anyway? For a free-associative non-linear movie that skips back and forth through time and space, and that includes a lengthy early section recounting the creation of the universe, the movie was a surprising commercial success, dominating discussion among cinephiles throughout a summer moviegoing season that is usually overshadowed by much louder, dumber movies. And at the center of the discussion were very basic questions about writing and direction – about storytelling generally – that cut to the heart of what movies are and what they can be.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz & Serena Bramble
  • |
  • February 21, 2012 12:13 PM
  • |
  • 26 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Outstanding Collaborative Performance: The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of "The Fly" would have been a shoo-in for a theoretical best collaborative performance Oscar. What makes it truly special is its empathy for its arrogant scientist hero, Seth Brundle, who tests his revolutionary new matter transporter on himself and becomes genetically fused with a fly that was not supposed to be in the telepod with him. Jeff Goldblum’s performance as Seth Brundle is a nexus point for all the film’s creative elements: direction, writing, acting, makeup, optical effects, miniatures and puppetry. Goldblum’s work here brings everything together. It’s kind of a thespian telepod.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz and Steven Santos
  • |
  • February 21, 2012 9:40 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment

VIDEO ESSAY And the Oscar for Outstanding Collaborative Performance goes to...

Why hasn't Andy Serkis won an Oscar yet? Will his achievements as an actor ever be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? Should they be recognized? Is Serkis an actor, or is his physical performance in a CGI-assisted role just a rough guide for a movie's digital effects?
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz & Steven Santos
  • |
  • February 21, 2012 7:39 AM
  • |
  • 11 Comments

ADWEEK INTERVIEW: New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz takes a tough stand on reality TV shows

I don’t feel like Indiana Jones in front of the boulder at New York magazine. Everything that happened at [ex-employer] Salon is like what happened on the island of Lost. There were people who would comment on everything. On one level it was terrifying, but it was kind of nice. There were people who cared about every little thing.
  • By Adweek
  • |
  • February 20, 2012 9:48 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

Follow Us

Most "Liked"

  • VIDEO ESSAY: Rough and Ready: The Return ...
  • Second Sight: How Channel-Surfing, an ...
  • Better Red Than Dead: Director Gabe ...
  • The Hour is Getting Late: The Outsider ...
  • ARIELLE BERNSTEIN: Orphans, Refugees, ...
  • Vivian Maier, Mystery Woman and Master ...
  • Waleed Zuaiter Discusses Producing and ...
  • Hannah Horvath from GIRLS Is the Last ...
  • VIDEO ESSAY: Lars Von Trier: Cinema's ...
  • What's Behind the Puzzling Bum Rap TRUE ...