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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
Jul282015

In Which It Is More Difficult Than You Think

Orange Blossoms

by ELEANOR MORROW

Fort Tilden
dir. Sarah-Violet Bliss
95 minutes

"The criminal mind always sets its own traps," a man screams at Allie (Claire McNulty) as she peels off the down a Brooklyn street on a bike after hitting a child. Her friend Harper (Bridey Elliott) is even worse, hitting up her greasy ex-boyfriend for drugs and writing a check for iced coffee. They live in the most magnificent New York apartment I have ever seen:

Sarah-Violet Bliss, a writer for Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer series, is like an even meaner Nicole Holofcener. Her satire of her peers is savage — at first it seems like there is nothing redemptive in Fort Tilden. Bliss' debut film takes place in an area of New York City where everyone wants to live: children, families, dogs. Fort Tilden makes it look like an unrelenting nightmare of posturing and whining, persistently disgusting gentrification.

In one scene the two women are shopping in a thrift store when they see a small Asian teenager stealing their bikes. Instead of stopping him or trying to intervene, they just observe him pedaling away. A woman behind them in line wonders aloud, "That boy just took your bikes, and all you did was watch him do it." Things are immaterial to a certain type of person, captured effortlessly in Bliss' writing. They can be replaced. Everything can.

White people are especially disgusting, Bliss argues in her satire, and they are incapable of ever understanding their privilege. Their power comes from their ignorance of what power is. Any attempt at recognizing the racism of cultural norms just transitions into appropriation. This goes for underrepresented minorities themselves as well. "You have to let these people do what they are going to do," Allie ironically explains to Harper at one point. "You just have to take punches."

It emerges that the origin of Harper's casual lifestyle is her father's imperialist Indian business. He takes advantage of his position in the country and sends her money to continue her lifestyle. "It's not my fault that I am his daughter," she explains after being thrown out of a cab by a Indian immigrant. Fort Tilden's attempt at constructing real drama to underlie Bliss' brilliant one-liners is disturbingly insightful, making me wish that she would shelve some of the wackier Broad City-esque humor and make something that reaches even deeper than the story of two shallow Brooklynites.

As Allie, McNulty projects a saucy innocence that you would expect of a blonde girl about to be sent to Liberia by the Peace Corps. Bridey Elliott (daughter of comedian Chris Elliott) carries Fort Tilden with a retinue of facial expressions that express every conceivable emotion as the girls try to make their way to a beach date with two guys they met at a party the night before. 

After these two find a quartet of stranded kittens, they begin to argue over which one of them posted a picture on the internet. The fight escalates, and one of the women says that the other isn't an artist. This is the worst thing one person can conceivably convey to another at this time in our lives.

By the end of Fort Tilden there is actually some disappointment. This sadness comes not from the massively entertaining and humorous film constructed by an exciting new voice who spent too much time watching Broad City. The real let down of Fort Tilden is the world that is being satirized. There is not really much to it, and the movie culminates like the sad, disturbing end of a wet dream.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"I Got That Feeling Once Again" - The Memories (mp3)

"Love To Break Your Heart" - The Memories (mp3)

Monday
Jul272015

In Which Ve Indulge In All Ver Most Potent Fantasies

Ash Factory

by DICK CHENEY

Kissing a woman on the forehead is the literal kiss of death unless you are a nun or a pimp. As this season of True Detective spirals to a close, Vince Vaughn smooches his wife on the head way too much for my liking. He does it in his creepy bar, in his mediocre apartment, at the movies. A man kisses a woman on the head for one reason and one reason only: because he does not want to kiss her on the lips. Lynne says it is because Kelly Reilly's mouth tastes like ash and lotion. It is dangerous to assume that other people put the same things in their mouths as you or I or Michelle Obama does.

That is what I was thinking when a woman sprayed ecstasy into Rachel McAdams' face cavity at the Eyes Wide Shut sex party. Rach did not like it, primarily because the drug could not make the woman happy, which frankly suggests that nothing can.

You're going to a cool party with all the right people. Why aren't you psyched?

I took ecstasy for the first and only time in 1997. I then read some Leo Strauss and masturbated. One was about as good as the other.

There is this New Zealand novelist who invented a whole set of gender neutral pronouns because she herself is a declared asexual. Ve and vis and ver are used pretty interchangeably, although sometimes they refer to biological gender. McAdams' haircut and new wig reminded me of their utility.

Can Vince Vaughn even grow a beard?

In her stupor McAdams dreamt of ver childhood molestation, where ve was tempted into a van down by the river by a man promising rare animals and delicious treats. All unicorns are sterile and suffer from low testerone. The unicorn is ver spirit animal, the same way that Carly Fiorina's spirit animal is an opossum and Bernie Sanders' spirit animal is a turkey sandwich.

Even the pimp went to great pains to emphasize her age. Rachel McAdams' agent has been in Cabo for the past year is the only explanation for all this.

I think Rachel McAdams thinks gender is probably just a construct. She probably reads Judith Butler when she isn't watching her sister strip on the internet.

Colin Farrell is undecided. He gets really drunk and really high on last night's True Detective. He is so messed up that he no longer even enjoys constructing models of airplanes. (His son explains that they are killing machines.) There was also a long scene where he threatened to puncture the balls of a man awaiting his sentencing in a local jail, but I didn't really understand the point of it or who the guy was.

They should have just sent this guy to the Wall.

Under the influence of drugs we can acquire an otherworldly courage, Pizzolatto is saying. This pro-drug messaging has been heard from Boulder to the PCH. Given the moral at work here, I would be surprised if the man isn't addicted to some substance. That vice is clearly not alcohol, given that it is merely a lingering percussion in the symphony of drug abuse we suffer through on the show.

His spirit animal is a lasagna.

It was hard to understand the connection of a masked robbery during the L.A. riots to all this, unless Casper was one of the thieves. Perhaps the children recognized his face and decided to murder him — it doesn't seem to be the evil hosts of the party who murdered Ben. The killing strikes me as more personal, and they had nothing to gain from the death of the city manager in their employ.

Taylor Kitsch's acting in this scene consisted of nods and murmurs. It was somewhere between completely awful and career-ending.

The culprits are therefore a formerly well-to-do brother and sister who were dropped into the foster system. The now-deceased Latina described a cop, so we can assume the perpetrators are police officers. The male child looked suspiciously like McAdams' ex-partner played by Michael Irby. By encouraging the subordinate she did anal with to file charges against ver, he planned to keep ver away from the truth. I have no idea who his sister is, except that I demand she be portrayed by Kelly Ripa.

That is a very natural way to stand.

Now that I have solved True Detective, I feel at peace. I went around all day kissing Lynne on the top of the forehead and watching Key & Peele. Boy are those guys deft, very very deft when it comes to dealing with America's tarnished, racist past. I also didn't realize exactly how awful the title sequence of True Detective was until I saw their parody of it.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Saw the Light" - Seapony (mp3)

"Bad Dream" - Seapony (mp3)

Friday
Jul242015

In Which We Would Like To Explain To The Citizens Of West Germany

Perestroika

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Deutschland 83
creators Anna Winger & Joerg Winger


Germany in 1983 was a very special time and place to be a part of. Sundance Channel's Deutschland 83 begins where last season of The Americans ended — Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire speech. No one takes Reagan the least bit seriously in East Germany, if they could even watch the speech, which was mostly about the evil of women aborting their children. Enlisted East German soldier Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) has bigger problems: a blonde named Annette (Sonja Gerhardt) whose sexuality is a beacon in this grim time.

Martin doesn't take communism very seriously. Annette is more devoted to the cause. When she finds some banned books in the house of Martin's mother, she immediately takes them to the Stasi. "That's a good book," Walter Schweppenstette (Sylvester Groth) tells her upon seeing a paperback copy of 1984. "But it's not permitted in East Germany."


Martin is deployed by the Stasi as an aide to a West German general named Edel (Ulrich Noethen), the disobedient son of a Nazi officer. Edel is the real hero of Deutschland 83, a man trying to unite his country in a good faith democracy and turn back the communists. Every single person around him, from his wacky wife, to his commune-residing daughter, to his turncoat son Alexander (Ludwig Trepte), seems focused on impeding that goal.


Martin is not much of a spy. At an important NATO meeting he is almost killed by an American operative. His sloppy work leads to a floppy disk no East German computer can access. Tasked with seducing the secretary of a NATO representative, Martin can't bring himself to let her drown when a cleaning lady finds a microphone he has placed under her desk. (Another agent runs her over with a car.) It is precisely because Martin is so goofy that the West Germans don't suspect he is endangering all their lives.

Nay only has three or four main facial expressions, but he vacillates between them at a moment's notice. He is blackmailed into his service by his aunt Lenora (Maria Schrader), who insists that his mother will be moved up on the kidney transplant list through his continued service with the Stasi. Martin continues his work even after his mother gets his own kidney, recognizing that he is in too deep with these people to simply abscond.


Filming Deutschland 83 in the native language of the period adds a lot to the diegesis. The German language is gorgeous and practical in the right tones, but screeching and inhuman when elevated through anger or pain. Unlike English, it very quickly ceases to make sense when stress is put on it — a facile metaphor for Germany's national character in the late part of the 20th century.

Deutschland 83 presents a nuanced view of the country. No one comes across very bad: the worst thing you can be in a serious time is silly, and no one has ever accused the Stasi of that. There is a lot of humor here, but it is always a broader comedy, never at the expense of the individuals involved. The German state is ridiculous — the people that comprise it are only doing their best.

The husband-and-wife team behind Deutschland 83 marches the German versions of 80s music over the proceedings like it is the first time anyone has thought of using "Boys Don't Cry" ironically. It's actually the millionth time, but there is a certain triumph in the innocence of Deutschland 83 — nothing here is especially new, but the series doesn't do its viewers the insult of assuming you have seen and heard it all before. It is more important to be in the spirit of a period that may have never really existed, than to get it all down right.

Despite the fact that he believes she is carrying his child, Martin becomes disillusioned with Annette. Instead he begins a relationship with General Edel's daughter Yvonne (Lisa Tomaschewsky). Yvonne is a backup singer who has escaped her society by taking up with the nonviolent Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh worshippers. She is the most beautiful thing in the entire world, so it is not a surprise that Martin is drawn to her after his fourth or fifth murder.

While the music and dialogue might feel a bit familiar, the wonderful sets, striking color and wildy different scenarios of Deutschland 83 all add up to an experience not previously possible in television. The series brings a sense of absurd fun to historical events that has evaporated from dull jaunts like The Hour and Aquarius. There is really nowhere to go with the show from here except to explore darker and more horrifying avenues, and that may ruin it. The Wingers seem intent on preserving the history itself, reminding us that it is more important to remember things as they were, before going on and on about why they ceased to exist.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Unstoppable" - Lianne La Havas (mp3)

"Green and Gold" - Lianne La Havas (mp3)