Just when I was getting sick of people telling Peggy—to her face, on repeat—that the men she works with will never respect her, Agent Carter brings back some of Peggy’s war buddies and we get to spend a refreshing hour watching people who genuinely respect Peggy work effectively with her. Agent Carter was just beginning to wear the sexism schtick too thin—which is what happens when you keep having super obvious conversations about the same topic—we’re reminded that not everyone treats Peggy like a sandwich girl. This episode sees Peggy and Agent Thompson heading to Russia to investigate a lead about Howard’s stolen weapons, and they hook up with the Howling Commandos to complete the mission. Well, they hook up with some budget Commandos from the comics who were not in the The First Avenger, and Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough).
With Fifty Shades of Grey due later this month, there’s a lot of focus on erotica at the cinema, or rather, the near complete lack thereof. Once upon a time, there was a niche market for grown-up films about sex, and it ranged from highbrow arthouse fare like Last Tango in Paris to the sexploitation flicks of grindhouse movies. Erotica used to be a whole healthy ecosystem within cinema, but it disappeared in the 1980s, and now there is only the occasional outlier in grown-up sex-themed movies. This month, though, there are two movies dealing with adult relationships and intimacy and sex: the ubiquitous Fifty Shades, but also the indie gem The Duke of Burgundy, which is now available on demand.
After a State of the Union hiatus, Agent Carter returned without missing a beat. In very short order, this show has become everything I wanted out of a Marvel TV show—exciting action, a mix of fun and dramatic character moments, and meaningful connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The best part about that last one is that the show’s writers are managing to create those connections without banging you over the head with reminders about what’s gone on in the movies. You don’t need to have seen both Captain America movies in order to understand Peggy Carter, and if you haven’t seen Iron Man, you can still enjoy caddish Howard Stark. This week’s episode was chock full of those sub-connections, which went a long way to enhance the movie characters, especially Tony Stark.
Michael Mann is a difficult filmmaker. His style is ugly on purpose, especially since he started playing with digital cameras while making Ali in 2000, and he isn’t particularly interested in engaging the audience. On the surface, he makes action movies, but his movies, even the less-good ones—I don’t think Michael Mann ever really makes a bad movie, just one that’s less good than the others—are never just an action movie. Blackhat, Mann’s first movie since 2009’s Public Enemies, looks like any run of the mill action-thriller, and by rights ought to have been terrible (certainly most people thought it was anyway).
I haven’t done one of these in forever!
It was a boring night for fashion so it’s not like anything here was a jaw-dropping fashion moment, but these are the people who managed the best individual style for the night.
Lorde is my favorite in a Narciso Rodriguez tux with a crop top. I like that she’s learning to find eveningwear to fit her style, and not changing her style to fit into eveningwear. Also, I love that the tux isn’t body-con. Tina Fey wore a pretty great tux, too, but I’m giving Lorde the points for going with the wide leg and menswear jacket. Julianne Moore in Givenchy had the best silver/grey of the night, Laura Carmichael managed the best “not a nominee but still happy to be here” look in James Galanos, and Allison Tolman proved it’s possible to look beautiful and stylish when you’re not a size two in a Gauri and Nainika gown. Melissa McCarthy should take notes. Jessica Chastain had a personal best with a plunging Versace gown that was also the best boobs-out display of the night, and finally, Ruth Wilson’s “inside out” Prada was the closest thing to a gasp-worthy dress for the night.
Before we go any further, just a reminder that this is your average Academy voter:
In its third episode, Marvel’s Agent Carter builds on the solid start of its doubled-down premiere and accomplishes in three episodes what Agents of SHIELD hasn’t quite managed to do in one and a half seasons—become a fun, engaging, must-watch hour of nerd TV. Agent Carter is doing so much to expand and shade in various corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and beyond that, it’s giving us the female superhero we’ve all been dying to see. Because while she might not have superpowers, Peggy Carter is CLEARLY a superhero.