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Alex Carnevale
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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
Mar142017

In Which We Did It For Our Country Or A Woman

The Years After Kobe

by DICK CHENEY

Six
creators William Broyles, David Broyles & Harvey Weinstein
History Channel

You might not know it, but Harvey Weinstein is a patriot. The terrorist villain in Six, his ode to the great country some call the USA and other call 'Murica, is a vengeful American adherent to the religion of Islam called Michael Nasry (Dominic Adams). He is very upset that Navy SEAL Richard Taggart (Walton Goggins) killed his brother Omar during some godforsaken mission in Afghanistan. The show builds to a climactic scene where Michael confronts his brother's killer. "Omar was from Detroit, remember?" the evil villain states. "He loved the Lakers because of Kobe, that's what he told you." Fuck everything.

"I made a mistake," Goggins responds. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't kill all you motherfuckers." This is the hero of our story.

Flashbacks make Goggins no more sympathetic. We never see his penis at all, but we do see him losing interest in his wife in the years previous to his Kobefrontation. At first when he comes home from a mission, he is excited to see her and pounds her gleefully in her car, which from all appearances is absolutely terrible for the environment. Then, after the next mission she picks him up after lunch with his fellow soldiers and he is like, "Give me one minute," and the prospect of having to wait is too much for her. They break up with a round of hate sex and it is suggested his alcoholism is a major impediment beyond the frequent absences.

When they learn of Rip's abduction while on nongovernmental security detail in Africa, his friends all desire to save him. Bear (Barry Sloane) is unable to conceive with his wife, has no money and also drinks heavily. Ricky (Juan Pablo Raza) cannot afford his daughter's private school and is losing touch with his wife (Nadine Velazquez) with whom he frequently cries during wintercourse. Alex (Kyle Schmid) sleeps with the waitress at Denny's during his off time and never sees his daughter. Can I take back what I said about Harvey Weinstein being a patriot?

None of SEAL Team Six's family members can reveal to their friends or families about the elite unit they represent. It came out that the men who killed Osama Bin Laden made an average of $54,000, which does not seem like a lot. However, military pensions are generally lucrative. When I was vice president, I only made $230,000, which was frankly not a lot either for the hours. When I went to Wendy's I frequently made the choice to opt for the 4 for 4.

Six consists of several deployments to Africa in order to find Walton Goggins' character. None of the fighting in the show makes these excursions seem particularly, exciting dramatic or fun. Bear, Ricky, and Alex are deployed against a terrorist group called Boko Harum, which has the virtue of not being particularly active anymore. Although they rape an entire coterie of Nigerian children, most of this is offscreen. During one outing, SEAL Team Six loses a member. His widow is not particularly enthused by the way the rest of the squad takes the death, which includes riding golf carts erractically and making a big scene at the man's wake.

William Broyles made an amazing show about the Vietnam War called China Beach. At the time Dana Delany was legitimately the most appealing woman in the Northern Hemisphere, and the show got a lot of mileage out of the moral uncertainty involved. With the way that war has changed, it is always easier for us to put such things out of our mind now. As the cost of waging war decreases, you would think the ease with which it is waged would go up. Six argues that this is not really true. The more we know of war, the more we come to hate it regardless of scope.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is the former vice president of the United States.


Monday
Mar132017

In Which We Continue A Course Of Birth Control

Wet Work

by ETHAN PETERSON

Cardinal
creator Aubrey Nealon
CTV

John Cardinal (Billy Campbell of The Killing) is one hell of a guy. His wife developed dementia just a few years ago, and he placed her in a full-time care facility. He feels too guilty about this to pursue any other woman, even if he wanted to – he still loves his blonde wife, who intermittently forgets her name. Each time some aspect of her illness presents itself to him in conversation, you can see the sorrow vaguely emanating from his beard. Since he is Canadian – more specifically a resident of the freezing fictional hamlet of Algonquin Bay – he does not weep openly at these developments, but tries to do some good in the world to make himself feel better about the bad.

Cardinal is a detective paired with a young, female partner named Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who is secretly investigating him as well. During the six episode first season of Cardinal (happily, the show has already been greenlit for several more), the pair follow up on the case of a tortured little girl. The mystery story is not much of one – it is purely a genre pretext to investigate how small communities relate to each other, and how little knowledge of the outside world is really relevant to their lives.

A whole group of human beings, Cardinal suggests, are worried about what happens in the world at large. These emotional swells are caused by what they read in the news or see or television. The rest of humanity, as depicted in Cardinal, is focused more closely on the drama of their friends and neighbors.

The severe environment of this area in Canada has always made an impact on the local culture, of course. As Cardinal and Delorme investigate a couple perpetrating the murder-abductions, all the witnesses to the events are deeply upset by the wrongness in the community. Most are angry at Cardinal himself as if it were his personal responsibility to end crime as they know it.

Cardinal's daughter Catherine (Deborah Hay) is a student at a Toronto college. The geographical separation from her parents seems intention on Cardinal's part – he does not want her attention so inwardly focused in this tiny community. His partner shares his reservations about making a life in this frigid place. She clandestinely takes birth control while she and her husband Josh (Alden Adair) are trying to have a baby.

The violent aspects of Cardinal are as severe in other shows of its genre, but they are far more clumsily done. The boy that serial killer Eric Fraser abducts is more threatened and confined; he never really comes to harm. Delorme's investigation of Cardinal is the more exciting thread, but she only confirms he is as virtuous as we expected. This traditional result comes as a relief, since it is not reassuring to think of a morally ambiguous man patrolling this last place.

Based on the novels of Giles Blunt, Cardinal does feel like a relic at times, both the character and the show. Wary of stepping into the familiar rhythms of the police procedurals Cardinal is intent on not being, there is a striking focus on how Canadians deal with justice and loss in their own inimitable fashion. The American actor Billy Campbell himself is keenly suited to this role, expert as he is at conveying a basic sincerity that is not at all naive. Anything that survives so long in the cold deserves to be preserved.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.


Friday
Mar102017

In Which Joan Crawford Possessed The Requisite Nerve

The Disagreements

by ETHAN PETERSON 

Feud
creator Ryan Murphy
FX

Mannerisms have always been Jessica Lange's great forte as an actress. She is most deft at using her head, which never seems to be in motion, yet it is generally turned in exactly the right direction — away from the inevitable, and towards a possible recusal of the pain any other avenue offers. Feud's Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) loves her for these subtle contortions, and for how her unmistakable vocal properties can accelerate from the austere iciness with which we associate her finest roles, to a hot, insensate rage. Joan Crawford was nothing compared to her.

In Feud, Alfred Molina plays director Robert Aldrich. Educated in Providence, RI, Aldrich became a brilliant director after running away, West, from his family fortune. Aldrich becomes the weirdly sympathetic center of Feud, which is not terribly surprising given that he has to deal with both Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon), one of the strangest looking women of her time, and Crawford herself, who was a slightly better human being, if Feud hews at all close to the truth, but no picnic.

Aldrich was an artist in the studio system. His story is at least the equal of any actor, but he is merely an accessory to the main story here, which is, I'm not quite sure. Murphy makes a lot of noise around the idea of a feminist allegory to this story, whose essential composition — that women in the same business struggle to get along — is anthetical to the stated point.

The rest of Murphy's cast is filled with exciting actors in familiar roles. Kathy Bates and Catherine Zeta-Jones make cameos in the pilot, and the wonderful Judy Davis stars as a reporter. Her scenes with Lange are both the most humorous and the most joyful. In contrast, Sarandon does not seem to have the quite the same joy in hamming it up, sensing that this approach is a bit facile. Murphy doesn't rest the weight of this show on its made-up surfaces, but he knows how good he is at that part of things.

There really is not anything close to enough material for eight episodes here, and Feud suffers from frequent slow patches where he relies on the basic charisma of his actors and his Douglas Sirk-esque sets to fill time between the spicy confrontations that feature prominently. It is never very clear why exactly Ms. Davis and Ms. Crawford detest each other from the start, only that we should not allow it to undermine the very basic theme that there are not enough roles for older actresses.

I don't know if we can exactly say that this is completely true anymore, given that Lange and Sarandon have not stopped working at all in the past two decades. The idea that any actor should be entitled to work, when they rely entirely on writers and directors for their roles, is a bit inexplicable. Here Joan Crawford does not rest on her laurels when parts are not coming her way: she reads every book with a woman on the cover of it before happening upon a paperback copy of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

There is a lot less joy, by half, in the Bette Davis sections of Feud. Positioned as the more serious actress, Davis' overwrought style is very much out of date. Rewatching Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? the Aldrich film on which the two women clashed, is very difficult because of these performances. Aldrich's director is impressively modern, but he seems to have to work around the dated style of acting that Davis made famous. The idea that we are entitled to the same success in old age that we achieved in youth, regardless of the work's quality, is a very American notion.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.