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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious

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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Entries in alex carnevale (170)


In Which Manglehorn Has A Difficult Time Adapting To His Situation

Kitty Kat


dir. David Gordon Green
97 minutes

Al Pacino always looked good for his age. He was fifty twenty-five years ago, and he managed to portray the lives of men decades younger. Bouncing around like a hyper Italian Elia Kazan, Pacino stepped into every type of part you can imagine with the same aggravating way of speaking, like he was inserting breaths where there should not be any.

In Manglehorn he plays a dissatisfied old locksmith who meets a bank teller (Holly Hunter). She is the kind of person who wakes up every day exciting for what is to come, she explains, which makes her a very wise 57. She looks way too young for Al, who shows his age by taking a bad spill while tripping over a plant on their first date.

Angelo Manglehorn has a Persian cat named Fanny who eats a number twelve key that he sells in his locksmithery. A veterinarian removes the obstacle from the animal's duodenum; the hospital astonishingly allows 24 hour visitation. Manglehorn uses it as an excuse to get out of the prospect of intimacy on his date with Holly Hunter, who makes the error of suggesting that they see a movie.

I don't think Pacino can sit comfortably for that long. Manglehorn at first seems to be making fun of him, if not Texas. Neither would be in very good taste, except that the vibrant life that surrounds this broken-down person is altogether more interesting than he is. Manglehorn witnesses a six car pileup that is in better shape than his personality. Everyone is perpetually having a more terrific time than he is.

Harmony Korine plays the owner of a male tanning salon, Tan Man. Chris Messina plays Manglehorn's son Jacob, an unhappy broker who offers his father money rather than emotional sustenance. Instead of being pleased, Manglehorn complains about the quality of the dinner his child treats him to — he is a very ungrateful keymaker.

Gordon Green displays everything at arm's length, rarely lingering for a close-up of his subject. This is brilliant, because it gives us the chance of forgetting we are looking at the husk of Al Pacino all the time. The resulting creature envisioned in its own environment becomes something far different than his usual imitation of himself. It is enough that this is not a parody — Green is a lot more tolerable as a filmmaker when he is completely sincere, and Manglehorn is nothing but utterly serious at all times.

In one scene, in order to please his old Little League coach, Harmony Korine treats Manglehorn to a sexual massage. Instead of thanking him profusely, Angelo breaks his lamp and screams, "You don't know me!" This is not played as a joke whatsoever.

A soundtrack by Explosions in the Sky gives a dreamy happiness to Manglehorn's redemption, as if Angelo's dissatisfaction with the world can only help but give rise to the opposite. The cat eventually recovers from its surgery, and Manglehorn ends up giving his son an important loan with money he had been saving for some woman he drove away through endless complaining about the price of food and his mortgage. He burns all the photos of the girlfriend he longed for along with the letters that were returned to sender, and starts fresh.

The script of Manglehorn is nothing much, but Pacino and Messina wring all they can out of it, making you wish the fractious father-son relationship had been a little bit more of the focus here. Gordon Green's art direction is typically superb, and the living spaces Manglehorn inhabits would almost make him feel real if he weren't, you know, a dessicated Al Pacino.

I guess Manglehorn is primarily about FOMA (Fear of Missing Out), which I did not know applied to people over seventy. For this reason, Manglehorn seems like a film about older people written by younger people. It makes sense that we would expect at least some people never really change from their previous selves. A book I read recently suggested we all freeze, emotionally, at one age or another. For Mr. Pacino, it might be that moment has yet to arrive.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Workin' Man" - Neil Young & Promise of the Real (mp3)

"Rules of Change" - Neil Young & Promise of the Real (mp3)


In Which We Dominate Various Rexes At Our Leisure



Jurassic World
dir. Colin Trevorrow
124 minutes

Bryce Dallas Howard resembles a lit candle, hollow and glowing from within. Bryce is the only person on Isla Nublar who hasn't gotten the least bit tan or even burnt. Presumably she applies vast quantities of sunscreen, but we would never know that. We never even see her, or anyone, eat so much as a sandwich in Jurassic World. Once, for only a second, Chris Pratt takes a sip of Coca-Cola.

Bryce's sexuality has begun radiating off her like contagion, suddenly, as she nears middle-age. Pratt wears the tightest clothing possible in corcordance. "I'm the alpha," he tells her about the group of velociraptors he controls with movements of his hands and butt.

Is it any wonder Bryce wants to spend all her time with him? His khakis look like spandex. She ignores her two childish and spoiled nephews during their visit to the park, detecting on some level that they are too ensconced in white privilege to properly appreciate the genetic research and biological study in which her organization is engaged.

None of these people seem to be in very much danger from the dinosaurs. Chris Pratt has befriended most of the creatures, and at one point Bryce engages the help of a tyrannosaurus rex to sedate a crankier dinosaur with longer arms. It is good to see white people at peace with their environment.

There is one African-American handler, but he has like three lines and the rest of the time he just shakes his head mournfully and hides in a pipe.

A few of the dinosaurs get out of their containers, but most everyone in Jurassic World survives the day-long events of the film. Chaos is a minor inconvenience — isn't it after all just a close cousin of excitement?

In one scene, while searching for her nephews, Bryce finds a wounded diplodocus dying in a field, and she makes some time to cry for it, even though her sister's children may be dead. She really loves the damn beasts.

After the disastrously boring shitshow that was Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt has much more fun romancing the stone that is Bryce Dallas Howard's slightly upset countess. He has only a couple of limitations as a performer, but he respects those weaknesses so completely he nearly worships them.

In a completely white outfit, Howard is the central figure. It would probably have been more fun to really get her dirty and disgusting as dinosaurs tracked her through a paddock, but instead she barely rips her shirt. Nothing much is lost by that, since dinosaurs are not really prominently featured in Jurassic World, the way the thing you best remember about the Magic Kingdom is when your sister vomited at a character breakfast.

As a result, it is hard to exactly know whether Jurassic World is more vapid than its deadly serious predecessors, or just as silly as the idea should have been to begin with. Michael Crichton was never much for satire, but more than twenty years later, parody is unavoidable. Jurassic World even uses the exact same music as the original — they probably just should have remade it.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Drift" - Debruit (mp3)


In Which Paul Feig Lost Us Completely This Time

Stunt Woman


dir. Paul Feig
120 minutes

I am trying to think of the exact point that Paul Feig's Spy becomes just plain mean-spirited. It is probably about the forty-first or forty-second time someone comments on Melissa McCarthy's appearance in a negative way. The sentence most often uttered in Spy is, "You look like..." with the ending of the statement finishing with a derogatory comment such as "a hairless squirrel" or "a diseased cauliflower." This is a form of comedy so lazy it was mocked in a forum as discerning as Hot Tub Machine 2.

McCarthy is an office drone in the Central Intelligence Agency, working behind the scenes in order to navigate agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) through what appears to be a Los Angeles pool party with terrible production values. I understand Spy is a spoof, but all the agents, including a barely understandable Jason Statham, are British with accents intact, making the entire setup impossible to take seriously, even in a fun way.

In addition, the only real spoofing going on is one scene where Michael McDonald plays a parody of Q who rigs up various bathroom products — stool softener, hemorrhoid cream, rape whistle — for McCarthy to sue as weapons. The rest of the time Spy is basically just a fish-out-of-water comedy. It's like Paul Feig ran out of things that would even be entertaining to spoof and just decided to throw in some explosions and one-liners about how anyone even slightly overweight should be alone with cats.

Now that Melissa is a star, every role she takes has to be focused on her apparent lack of beauty. This is entirely ridiculous to anyone who has eyes, and insulting to the vast majority of human beings who don't look nearly as good. Spy has her weirdly drooling all over Jude Law, and movie is barely minutes old before McCarthy is dropping puns about sucking his penis. Law is several decades past his prime, has a hairline that resembles the tines of a comb, and what amounts to his gross, sexist banter consists of asking her to pick up his laundry, a task many people, male and female, perform without humiliation.

It turns out that McCarthy's charazcter is an exceptionally talented agent, and the best parts of Spy consists of seeing her perform various stunts and fights. In 2013's The Heat, the disastrous script Feig directed had one virtue: it made her the living center of an Irish family that both loved and detested what she was. Here Melissa is presented as a lonely woman of 40 with no romantic prospects or social life. Even as a caricature, it is a depressing and sexist one.

What happened to Paul Feig? He used to actually be interested in material with emotional and comedic weight. Spy is the kind of tonal disaster that should make you evaluate your deepest life priorities : the biggest laugh the movie got in my theater was when a bunch of agents accidentally viewed photos of a man's penis. Formerly talented writer-directors like Joss Whedon, Brad Bird and now Feig working on these humorless summer vehicles is a tremendous loss for us all. At least people went to see the absolute stinker (an army of robots?) that was The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

This year's other James Bond parody as least knew its source material. Kingsman: The Secret Service was pretty much a mess as well, but it was so obviously having a good time: Colin Firth and Michael Caine practically held the movie up by sheer force of will and finely tailored suits. Spy looks like it was filmed with a third of the budget. Samuel L. Jackson may have been a bit much in Kingsman, but at least he was somebody: Spy's main baddies are Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale.

Even more puzzling were Spy's pathetically pandering reviews. Apparently when comedy based mostly around inserting various words for human genitalia in unlikely places in verbal speech originates from men, it's demeaning. (This much we know is true.) When a woman utters the same lame bullying verbal invective, Paul Feig emits a chuckle and tells other people it's okay to laugh. I hope everyone involved in this pandering dreck never works again.

Spy runs out of Steam about halfway through after McCarthy's husband's wretched cameo. The rest of the film turns into a bunch of people standing in a circle threatening to kill each other. Listening to their fake, quasi-humorous banter made me want to take one of their firearms and turn it on myself.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.