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Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Tuesday
Jun272017

In Which David Lynch Becomes Both Mother And Father To Us All

The Master in Disguise

by ELEANOR MORROW

Twin Peaks
creators Mark Frost & David Lynch
Showtime

The question of when evil began is an easy one, but when did evil resume, this time for good? June 25, 2017. David Lynch answered that query in this year of our Lord, and people became very angry and afraid when he told them. Reactions on messageboards to Lynch's statement were diverse, but most boiled down to a central question in response to Lynch's hour-long answer: What did I just watch?

Not to single out one particular messageboard post, but it went something like this: Twin Peaks didn't make me feel anything. Well, when I watched a mosquito frog march into a young girl's mouth in glorious black and white, I am pretty sure I felt something, but I can recognize that others might enjoy things that I do not. I have never particularly enjoyed Hannukah, dalmatians or the game of hearts. I mean, it sort of plays itself?

Evil, says Lynch, dates back to 1945. I was not around then, and neither were my parents, so I will have to take his word for it. Soon no one living will remember World War II, and soon enough no one living will remember facebook. I can't honestly tell you which memory will last longer, and whether it will be in human years, or dog. What I do know is that Mr. Lynch's aesthetic sense knows no peer – imagine if he was actively working to display an actuality of pure beauty, rather than endeavoring to describe the various stains human beings have impinged upon their world!

I was at the movies a lot last week, since it is so warm here. Before all of the screenings the theater plays the trailer for Al Gore's new movie about the environment. There are some great scenes when they make it look like Al is negotiating between nations to solve the pressing problem of how warm it is himself. The amount of self-aggrandizement is staggering. At one point during the trailer Al verbally spanks people for suggesting we could move to Mars if Earth does not work out as a habitat. Al, it was just an idea.

Well, in 1945, humans unleashed even more serious destruction upon the planet and the third most populous species of land vertebrates this world has to offer. (Ranking slightly ahead of humanity is the brown rat and common chicken.) Evil was invented to eliminate evil, but then who eliminates the second, peripheral evil? David Lynch.

Lynch was always a troll of sorts. Even watching his most sincere movies is like staring at a David Hockney painting, where everything worthwhile in it is held below the surface of things. Yet what was so marvelous about this episode of Twin Peaks, the most perfect episode of television that has ever aired, or at least the most perfect episode of television that has ever aired on Showtime, was that it was relatively sincere.

Halfway through the events of the episde, when Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross took the stage to perform "She's Gone Away", we got a sense that Lynch was interested in this idea, and that he was uncovering it as a child unwraps a particularly precious candy bar. Most people did not take Twin Peaks very seriously, they watched it casually to see what weird thing would happen to some familiar, quirky characters in a place we all knew. But Lynch decided this whole revival could go one of two ways: he could make a stupid, jokey imitation of what people liked about the small town aesthetic, or he could go the absolute other way into expanding a mythology to describe why people do awful things to each other, and themselves.

This is the much more courageous artistic statement. If it is not always the most traditionally satisfying, we should look deep within ourselves to think: should television really be something that makes us feel good or bad, or could it possibly make us think why we might hold these emotions in the first place?

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Monday
Jun262017

In Which We Encounter Sofia Coppola's Darkest Mood

Visitor Man

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Beguiled
dir. Sofia Coppola
94 minutes

An elegy for the Confederacy may not be the most politically appropriate theme these days, but Sofia Coppola is unafraid. She is willing to turn anything, even the War Between the States, into a fulcrum of boredom. The Beguiled, a remake she conceived at the behest of her close friend in tone deafness, Quentin Tarantino, turns the story of a runaway Union soldier into a two hour admiration of Colin Farrell's body by a group of eight women with ages ranging from 11 to 50. The resulting feature film feels like reading a novella; it is really over before it has even begun.

Speaking of Colin Farrell's body, his legs are hairy but his torso is mostly hairless. He has clearly dieted down for this important role. Matted hair covers the lower part of his face, and his left leg contains shrapnel and a vertical cut of three or four inches. Ill or well, he is the central figure of The Beguiled. Despite being a movie with a bunch of women living together, where they might have friendships or conflicts, we find nothing of that here. I guess the reason is that they are literally beguiled by Farrell, even though he is a little old for them, speaks with an Irish accent, and is quick to anger.

Coppola's trailer for The Beguiled was rather exciting, but after viewing the final product, you realize it is one of those trailers that disappointingly captures the entire movie. I don't mean this in a metaphorical or casual manner, either: this piece of promotional material even includes the final scenes from the film. Probably Coppola was afraid no one would go see the movie if they thought it was about a bunch of women flirting with Colin Farrell; they had to have some darker intent for him, like ghosts or at least sustained violence.

The Beguiled moves at a breakneck pace through its non-plot. Nicole Kidman is a bit overly familiar as the head of this small girls' school, and her lack of subtlety or verve indicates she does not have much to offer in this role. We never learn much about her, except that she is willing to completely give herself over to a man she barely knows. As her second in command, Kirsten Dunst continues to show how much she has grown as a performer over the past decade, and Coppola wisely gives her most of the action in the film.

Directing younger actresses is Ms. Coppola's forte, and expanding the role of Oona Lawrence, who plays the young woman who finds Farrell dying below a tree, would have probably added a lot here. Instead we have to watch the ghastly spectre of Elle Fanning making out with an unconscious Farrell as he recovers in the house's music room. Except for Dunst, none of these women possess any inner life, and that is the greatest disappointment of The Beguiled. Rather than develop these characters and their relationships, The Beguiled is more focused on establishing a definite mood, of a cocooned hideaway impervious to happening of any kind.

Between every scene, Coppola cannot help but show the overgrown property of the girls' school in the gloaming. Without music for the vast majority of the film, the sounds of crickets and birds make up the overwhelming portion of the soundtrack. This is an effective way of building tension; unfortunately it never really leads to much. Farrell's soldier recovers and begins gardening; as soon as he is on two feet he is on the verge of convincing the women to stay when he is caught in Elle Fanning's room. Two scenes of violence, accidental and then intentional, follow.

The metaphor for the fate of the American south is sure laid on thick here. It is a Northerner's understanding of that place. Even these women, who are ostensibly future wives of the Confederacy, all speak with their own accents. Coppola understands that the audience for her films has no desire to witness versimilitude. This is the South in name only. Stripped of any substance or agency, the women of The Beguiled move to and fro as if in a dollhouse. It is all too obvious none of this is real.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

Friday
Jun232017

In Which We Seriously Miss Megan Fox At This Time

Operation: Enduring Freedom

by ELEANOR MORROW

Transformers: The Last Knight
dir. Michael Bay
149 minutes

There is a scene smack-dab in the middle of Transformers: The Last Knight where Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is sitting in a room opposite Oxford professor Viviane Wembley (Laura Haddock) for around two minutes. That is how long it takes for him to refer to her attire as "stripper-wear" because she was showing maybe an inch of her breasts. That no one has thought to arrest Michael Bay and put him in jail for this is a testament to the enduring freedoms possible in our country.

In all other ways, Mr. Bay informs us at length, Dr. Wembley is a piece of shit. Even though she appears to be a tenured professor, she also gives tours at a local museum. She informs her tour group that the Knights of the Round Table probably never existed, which is quite the statement. Dr. Wembley is proved to be an academic fraud shortly after she was objectified by a man she did not even know. Subsequently, we learn her only purpose for being in the film is that she is the only one able to grip a long wooden shaft.

The rest of Transformers: The Last Knight makes a lot more sense, except the parts that don't. Take one subplot involving Seymour Simmons (John Turturro). Simmons appears in two scenes in Transformers: The Last Knight. Both of these scenes take place by telephone – Turturro literally got paid to stand next to a phone and talk to Anthony Hopkins for a few minutes. Why was he in Transformers: The Last Knight? I don't know, is it weird every single woman in these movies is a carbon copy of Megan Fox at different ages? Yes.

At the beginning of Transformers: The Last Knight, Cade Yeager finds a fifteen-year old Peruvian girl (Isabela Moner) in the wreckage surrounding Wrigley Field. He calls her "bro" and allows her to stay in his house. Much later, she hides aboard a dropship, unnoticed by a platoon of soldiers in order to follow Cade Yeager into the upper atmosphere. And that's it. That is her entire role in the movie. I don't know, is it weird that the way we are introduced to Dr. Wembley occurs when she careens into a bunch of bicycles with a car because she can't handle the challenges of an automobile?

In another scene, Anthony Hopkins is trying to evacuate an old Navy submarine that is held in a museum. He screams, "Get moving fat boy!" when one of the tourists does not vacate the premises as quickly as he would like. But why stop there? Why not just bring racial slurs back into vogue, Michael Bay? It certainly would have livened up the proceedings. Without ever having met Michael Bay, is it not terribly hard to conclude he is the dumbest piece of shit of all time. Transformers: The Last Knight features the long awaited return of the ghetto Transformer, who speaks in an African-American dialect siphoned from landmark films like Do the Right Thing and Scary Movie.

Cade Yeager and Dr. Wembley pilot a submarine into a ship buried off the coast of England. Although it is at the bottom of the ocean, there is no depressurization whatsoever as they return to the surface. I don't know why, but this bothered me more than anything else in Transformers: The Last Knight. The cast heads from underwater to Stonehenge, where they have learned the Earth's ancestral name was Unicron, and that the Earth's crust conceals a massive organism beneath the surface. Despite teasing this early on, Bay saves this plot development for a future movie he has promised not to direct.

The worst part of Transformers: The Last Knight, besides the lack of plot of any kind, is the humor. Since the characters have zero pre-existing relationships, it is painful to hear them joke with one another. Particularly cringe-worthy is a transforming butler voiced by Jim Carter responsible for the major comic relief. He is more like a physical manifestation of Michael Bay telling us what we should be laughing at in each scene of the movie. After Anthony Hopkins dies at Stonehenge, the butler explains that of all the lords he served, "you were by far the coolest." Michael Bay hasn't changed since the moment he walked out of The Goonies in 1985.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording.