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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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Entries in 500 days of summer (2)

Friday
Jul312009

In Which This Is Not Love

Wait, You Like The Smiths?

by LAUREN BANS

The last movie I saw where the two protagonists were convincingly in love was Wall-E, and that really only worked because it was the apocalyptic future, they were both virgins, and they didn't speak all that much. But that's good — rom coms shouldn't try to tackle love, it doesn't work, it ends up tasting of saccharin and looking like glow sticks.

John Hughes rightly concerned himself with crushes, infatuations, the first flushes of like—developments that can realistically be covered in two hours. Molly Ringwald scores the popular bro and Eric Stoltz learns that there is such a thing as upward penis mobility for the working class redhead. Real love is boring and unwatchable. This is not love:

I LOVE The Smiths.

Wait, you like The Smiths?

Yeah! (sings) ‘To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die’ Love 'em.

I mean, my Mom likes The Smiths. Love based on the triviality of one’s taste should at least be exclusive to the point where the shared preference saves both souls from eternal ostracism, like:

I LOVE the Klingon version of Hamlet!

Wait, you like the Klingon Hamlet?

Yeah! (recites) ‘taH pagh taHbe’ Love it.

The highly stylized, disjointed story of the relationship between Tom and Summer is full of meaningless signifiers, starting with the annoying fact that there’s no reason 500 needs a parentheses in the title. It’s why Tom and Summer work at a greeting card company—the only setting with enough faux sentiment to beguile the viewer into thinking Tom and Summer are the real deal, at least in contrast to the empty platitudes on an Anniversary card.

Have you ever clicked the “Romantic” tab on a porn site? Of course you have. You know how it’s still the same old gross dudes effing college students for book money, only they dub in "Lady in Red" or "My Heart Will Go On" as the audio, and maybe add a face caress or two to make it seem more like lovemaking? This is more believable than 500 Days of Summer.

Sorry to be so harsh! I mean, I know, who the frak doesn’t love Joseph Gordon Levitt? It’s simply unfortunate that he plays a lovelorn idiot who falls for the real life version of the Morton salt girl. Tom never learns anything about Summer.

She prances around the screen with perfectly adorable saucer eyes, eschewing commitment (but not in any way that might lend insight to her character) and shouting “Penis” in public (how Quirky Aggressive!). She’s like an ethereal form — free of any human wants, desires or needs — a blank page onto which Tom can project his fantasies.

It happens quite literally as they sit on a bench overlooking Los Angeles. Lacking paper, Summer proffers her arm as a drawing board for Tom’s architectural renderings (his dream is to be an architect). So nice that she lets him work out his self-actualization on her skin! Now what does she want to do with her life again? Oh yeah, they never talk about that. I don’t really see how this is all that different than having a relationship with a 2 dimensional anime pillow.

I think we’re supposed to relate emotionally to Tom, because for some reason Hollywood thinks women like distraught, emasculated men. Somewhere along the way a dude who can't function as a fully formed human being became synonymous with the female dream of an emotionally-rich man.

I don’t know if I should blame Wes Anderson or Ethan Hawke for such emosogyny. Can you imagine if they made a movie where a chick spent the duration sobbing like an emo-idiot over a breakup with a guy who said that he wasn’t looking for anything serious right from the get-go? There would be bra burning in the street! I might partake!

Lauren Bans is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here and twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about Adventureland. She writes at The Perfect Ratio.

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"Mozzarella Swastikas" — Adam Green (mp3)

"Baby's Gonna Die Tonight" — Adam Green (mp3)

"Apples I'm Home" — Adam Green (mp3)

Monday
Jul272009

In Which We Find There Are Two Types of Guys

Good At Something

by ALMIE ROSE

I have two types of guys. The first guy is very easy to describe; he's a tall, skinny, rocker type (but a rocker more in the vein of Pulp than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers).

The other type has been harder for me to describe. He's a nerdier type of man — but not the kind who is into World of Warcraft or any of that weird digital hocus pocus shit. I ain't into that. He's also not so nerdy that his social life consists of him watching films about other nerdy guys all weekend. He's the kind of guy who's cute, dresses well but not so well that you'd mistake him for a GQ model (or stylist), and is creative and good at...something.

In short, as I discovered today, he is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character in (500) Days of Summer.

I have never been aboard the JG-L train. I see the appeal, I'm just not going to buy a ticket. Maybe this is because I'm bummed that I missed out on my chance to ask him to prom (and this story isn't as juicy as it sounds, trust me. He was best friends with a relative of mine whose mom suggested that I ask him, but he was in Harvard or whever really smart good looking actors spend their time when they're not working.

Also how was he to know I would turn into a total babe? I mean, this is what my mom tells me.)


But like the sudden 90s revival, it's all starting to come together. Spoiler alert for (500) Days of Summer: JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT'S CHARACTER IS ADORABLE!!!! THERE IS NOT ONE PART IN THE FILM IN WHICH HE IS NOT ADORABLE!!! IF THERE WAS A SCENE OF HIM TAKING A DUMP IT WOULD BE THE MOST TOUCHING DUMP SCENE IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA!!! THERE IS NO SCENE LIKE THAT AT ALL, I DON'T KNOW WHY MY MIND WENT THERE, I'M REALLY SORRY EVERYBODY!!! LET'S JUST ALL WALK QUIETLY BACK TO OUR CARS, DRIVE HOME, AND PRETEND THAT THIS NEVER HAPPENED! WHY SHOULD THE POLICE COME? NOBODY'S CALLED THEM.

The thing is, ladies, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character exists in the real world; he just doesn't look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

In fact I have a guy friend who basically is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character. But he's like 8 feet tall, kind of chubby, and doesn't wear argyle sweaters. So he's basically screwed. Because all around him his female friends are bemoaning the lack of men as sweet and understanding as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character when he wants to shout, "BITCHES I'M RIGHT HERE" but he never would, exactly BECAUSE he is as sweet and understated as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character.

So what the fuck is he supposed to do? What is any of us supposed to do? What is Joseph Gordon-Levitt supposed to do? Now he's got straight-up Lloyd Dobler syndrome where every woman he meets is going to think that he's his character. But wait, fuck him, it's 20-something adorably nerdy men types who should be pissed because now we, 20-something future Annie Halls, are going to superimpose his character on every adorably nerdy man we meet, and be totally bummed out when we realize that he's not him, even though we know he won't be, because it's all fiction anyway.

In short, we need to never EVER see movies again. WE NEED TO BURN THE MOVIES BEFORE THEY BURN US.

That or just stick to skinny rockers.

Almie Rose is a contributor to This Recording. She blogs here.

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"Under No Enchantment (But My Own)" — Alasdair Roberts (mp3)

"Hazel Forks" — Alasdair Roberts (mp3)

"The Book of Doves" — Alasdair Roberts (mp3)