Quantcast

Video of the Day

Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(e-mail)

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

Live and Active Affiliates
This area does not yet contain any content.
Thursday
Jul202017

In Which We Stare Down Alison Brie In The Past

Perils of Adam

by ELEANOR MORROW

The Little Hours
dir. Jeff Baena
90 minutes

You can tell how much writer-director Jeff Baena loves his girlfriend Aubrey Plaza in the opening moments of The Little Hours. Fernanda is a young witch posing as a nun in 15th century, and as she drags a donkey across a landscape that looks suspiciously un-European, the camera can barely hold its attention off of her. Baena writes his life partner into the most objectionable role, but this is a subtle message also esteemed in the source material of The Decameron: the unlikeliest things are also the holiest.

Plaza looks a lot like Alison Brie since for the most part all we see are their full-lipped, pouting faces and icy eyes. Even with her body obscured, there is something indecent about Alison, and no matter how prim she looks, we realize she will be disrobing at some point in every narrative. In The Little Hours, that comes in the garden of a convent, where she pounces on the mute gardener, Massetto (Dave Franco).

Even thought The Little Hours does not focus at all on the beauty of its female leads, it would be a hard thing to obscure it. Baena not only seems devoted to Brie and Plaza, but this is also the best Molly Shannon, also playing a nun, and John C. Reilly, as the local priest, have looked in years. Baena gives all of his actresses and actors a quiet dignity, except for one. 

Dave Franco was maybe not the best actor to begin with, but he is supposed to be the straight man here and in this role he fails miserably. Attempting not to draw undue attention to Franco's physical form, Baena makes a show of his considerable deficiences. First of all, the man's gargantuan adam's apple slides up and down his throat perilously for the entire film. I don't know what everyone involved might have been able to do about this, but preventing Franco from repeatedly swallowing during his scenes would have been a welcome start.

The Little Hours initially focuses on Alison Brie's desire to leave the convent against the wishes of her father Ilario (Paul Reiser) in order to select a husband, but it is quickly distracted by her embroidery. Reiser never appears in the movie again and Brie never does manage to find a husband. Instead of any plot per se, we receive a series of jokes involving the aggressive nature of Ms. Plaza. Some are funny, like when she assaults the convent's handyman and calls him a Jew. Others are not really as enlivening, since they involve her brandishing a knife repeatedly and saying 'fuck' more times than is really entertaining.

Baena's last directorial effort, Joshy, was a clone of The Big Chill that was very serious and depressing. In contrast, The Little Hours is even less significant or thematically memorable than a Mel Brooks movie. It is at least a great deal funnier, which is not actually saying a lot. It is obvious that the film was made on a considerably tiny budget, and it shows. The Little Hours avoids displaying the local town at all – we just see actors going and returning from the place. Even the props and costumes on this production are third or fourth rate.

Late in the film, Fred Armisen shows up as a bishop. His presence adds a striking focus to the proceedings, as if what we really required to enjoy the bad behavior of these purported adherents to the word of the lord was an antagonist who doubted their sincerity. It is a missed opportunity that he only receives a few scenes, and that they are the most amusing in the entire film reminds us that The Little Hours is about as meaningful as a Portlandia sketch.

I don't know what turned Baena off from making serious cinema instead of something this frivolous. He might taken a page out of the comparative success of The Big Sick and made something that comes a little more directly from his heart. He could make a movie about why Aubrey Plaza is interested him. Does he have a large penis or cooking skills that would otherwise explain why she lives in the house?

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording.


Wednesday
Jul192017

In Which We Accept Almost Every Situation Imaginable

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hey,

I have two older brothers who are very protective of me. I haven't been the most assertive person in the past — it is just part of my personality. So when they asked my boyfriends difficult questions or made them uncomfortable, I argued to myself that it was all in my best interest. I even recall telling someone I was very close to that they would have to accept the presence of my brothers in his life.

Now this seems stupid, since they are both married and I am not. Despite having families of their own, they are still deeply involved in judging whoever I am with at the time. Well, I have met someone new, and this time I plan to approach the situation differently. I sat them both down individually and asked them to back off, but I don't think I am getting through to either of them. I'm at my wits end. Do you have any ideas?

Thanks. You're the absolute best.

Chelsea M.

Dear Chelsea,

Often when people are determined to finally be honest about something, they do not take it far enough in one direction. Calmly and calculatingly asking these people to behave differently is humming when you require yodeling. 

Fortunately, it sounds like you have built up a lot of credit with these deplorables, so some cursory sobbing should be able to get through to them at a level honesty cannot. Since they have been oblivious to your desire so far, we cannot count on being able to react them in this fashion. If you still struggle to disabuse them of their sexist notions, then you must begin returning like for like and sabotaging their lives in a similar fashion. Soon they will realize what a disastrous fucking imposition they are.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. 

Hey,

I have a friend we should call Charlie. He recently broke up with his girlfriend of three years, Nora. He met someone else and really hit it off, so he told Nora that things were over.

I have always liked Nora and we get along great. Before she was with Charlie, she had admitted we were attracted to each other but I was going into the Peace Corps. I would like to at least try being with her now, but I sense that Charlie would be angry about this and she might be reluctant since Charlie and I are friends. I don't want to ruin my relationship with either of them.

What's the best way to clear the path?

Dan Y.

Dear Dan,

The best thing to do is have her make the first move. This solves several problems for you.

1. It puts the impetus on her to explain to Charlie that she is now with you and not him. If she does not tell him, all the better. The longer you can delay speaking to Charlie about this the better.

2. Her reluctance about getting with you is strongly diminished if she eliminates your potential questionable motivations for being with her from the field of play.

3. It's easier.

If Charlie confronts you about it, tell him you did not want to hurt him, but she is the love of your life. What is he going to say to that? No?

Tuesday
Jul182017

In Which We Have Written And Discarded Some Sansa Stark Love Scenes

He Did It All With A Knuckle

by DICK CHENEY

Game of Thrones
creators David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
HBO

There was a moment during Sunday's Thronesing when I was pretty sure Jon Snow was going to strike Sansa Stark down. She was talking at length, in front of a large crowd, about her plan to make child-aged heirs to fiefdoms homeless, and he let loose a "No!" deep within his caustic stomach. All the nearby lords were like, "Sansa, the fuck are you doing, girl? You have done exactly shit except watch a couple husbands die and now you think you're Disraeli?" Thrones is just fanfiction now.

They should honestly make Thrones silent at this point. Jamie Lannister can mime with his faux right hand if he can't sign. You see, the original Game of Thrones was actually about how various families operated when they pursued power  but now it is about decimating a Big Bad, in this case a frozen army that is going to be awful susceptible to three enormous dragons. I mean, what can they really do against these beasts, hole up in a refrigerator like Indiana Jones?

Sure, Game of Thrones was always like a light, easily passed stool but now it gives me various headaches with the plot holes and the reinvention of various characters. Only one thing can never be retconned or re-envisioned, and that is how much of a useless mound Bran Stark is. Maybe I'm feeling particularly hostile because no one can ever bother to write dialogue or conflict for Daenerys Targaryen and her group of ne'er-do-wells looks to average a height of 4'11". 

I think I was most angry when I saw Arya Stark destroy the Freys in one scene. How hard is it exactly to murder all of King's Landing given that? This mass poisoning was roundly unsatisfying, and the sexist way she spared the women like they were not culpable as well irked me, too. Thrones has a terrible time struggling with its innate sexism. Women are quick to anger and murder, men are all Father Brown. Even when you flip a stereotype on its head, it's still a fucking stereotype.

Speaking of Father Brown, Samwell Tarly living with his wife and child in the Citadel was such a letdown. I mean, would it have been that hard to give the maesters some secret power over their betters, for example a blood pressure test or access to unlimited antibiotics? Instead they are a shittier, primal version of doctors, having inherited only the egotism and propensity for note-taking. 

Now that every single one of Cersei's children is dead, I was semi-interested in how she would appear altered as a character. Instead we are witnessing a quick rehabilitation of her as a powerful executive, only the point of all this is not exactly clear. She at least is a good performer – we feel how lame and pathetic the regular stars of Thrones are when a particularly charismatic and attention getting actor takes over the scene: the immensely talented Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion, or the disembodied hand of Ser Jorah Mormont.

Thinking too long about this stuff gives me a headache at the worst possible time, before Lynne and I curl up to a solid hour of the Starz series Power. It seems they have taken the criticisms of Thrones' constant nude scenes to heart: now we cannot even get so much as a bodice or some ample cleavage. What a world. To fill the gaps, I have composed this brief elegia to the Sansa Stark that was. Enjoy.

When we had to pass in a narrow space, doing the hard work of reassembling Winterfell, she contrived to bump me with a round hip. She looked bemused and tricky and smug, darting her blue and challenging glances. She finished a sandwich, licked her fingers, tried to give me a wink. But she couldn't close one eye without nearly closing the other. It made her look like a blind direwolf.

When she would come to show me where something went, she would manage to press the heat of a mellow breast against my arm. She built the big awareness of Sansa. The infrequent small talk — "Did you know that Brienne always smells like a hot dog that has been left out for a couple days?" — bore little relation to what was happening between us. Wasn't I supposed to be her brother?

Finally, she managed to trip and turn and be caught just so, gasping, a silky weight, breath warm, eyes knowing, lips gone soft and an inch away, and not enough air in the frigid room.

I straightened back up and gave her a little push. "Now, Sansa, we can't do this."

"Oh Jon," she said, "ethics and everything. The little sister. You talk so many bold games about knighting those traitors, it gets confusing for a girl. I guess you think it would be a lousy thing to come here to take care of me, and then take care of me too many ways? But there are all kinds of ways. How it is you should be so stuffy you make me seem sort of cheap and obvious?"

I said nothing, only thought of Sam giving it to his girlfriend in warmer climes.

"I'm getting mad to keep from crying," Sansa said, brushing her hair back from her face. "I mean you're so stuck on this role you have to play. Seven gods, I suppose I am the little sister, but I am also an adult, Jon. I told you before I've run into some doors and had my share of black eyes. My husbands are all dead now. I had a disaster of a marriage and a very fast annulment. But you have some kind of boy scout oath... Now I feel degraded, and... damn it, get out of here!"

I laughed and caught her. She leapt about, saying in effect that the precious moment had passed, and to the Narrow Sea with it, and we couldn't retrieve the situation, it was spoiled, etc etc. I stilled her mouth and each time she talked it was with a little less conviction, and finally she stood docile, trembling, taking huge noisy inhalations, her strong pale neck bent forward while, with clumsy fingers, I unlatched the little hook on the back of the potato sack she was wearing for some reason.

"This is n-n-n-nutty," she whispered. I told her that indeed it was. I could feel Littlefinger's eyes on us from the alcove above. Time moves slowly, then, as in an underwater world. She had hitched herself to rest upon me, so distributed that she seemed to have no weight at all. She had her dark head tucked under the angle of my jaw, her hands under me and hooked back over the tops of my shoulders,  her deep breasts flattened against me, used loins resting astraddle my right thigh.

"Golly, golly, golly," she said in a sighing whisper. "Do you think that Jamie ever made Cersei this happy?" I told her I hoped that he had.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.