Quantcast

Video of the Day

Masthead

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

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

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
Search TR


follow us in feedly

Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Entries in alex carnevale (151)

Thursday
Mar202014

In Which We Shut Our Eyes Wide To Elia Kazan

The Friendship Mask

by ALEX CARNEVALE

She says the same thing, that bitch, that you do about me, that I'm an emotional cripple, by which she means that I don't release my true emotions, that it's a cover-up, what I show the world.  

- Elia Kazan to his therapist about Barbara Loden

Elia Kazan decided to break things off with Barbara Loden. She had already felt, almost imperceptibly, his reluctance. She had recently told him at length of all the men she had ever been with. She informed him of her history, she said, so he did not have to wonder.

Enraged, Kazan began cheating on her whenever he could. She rehearsed her part in The Changeling all afternoon and evening at Lincoln Center, and he was free to stroll off from the set during those times. With a blonde girlfriend, he now exclusively courted brunettes.

with first wife Molly

One of these available women was a singer in a religious choir he had met in Tennessee. She kept her eyes closed while they fucked, mystifying Kazan. Another was a Greek brunette who tried to convince him to impregnate her and disappear. (He refused.)

While Loden was being fitted for costumes for her role, he wandered in Central Park one day and picked up a girl playing softball. She gave him her dead husband's favorite sweater.

Kazan's friends feared that Barbara Loden had trapped him years before by keeping her only pregnancy. The boy, Leo, was now three, and Kazan had less than no interest in him. "I've never regretted telling Barbara that if she wanted a child it was all right with me," he writes in the best show business autobiography ever penned, A Life. "Knowing my nature, wouldn't you say she was taking a riskier chance than I was?"

wrapping up 'Streetcar'

Seven years into the relationship, Kazan was now weary of her. ("No one can tell me that novelty is not a great charge in sex," he states in A Life, as if that were a revelation.) His numerous indiscretions only further convinced Kazan that he and Loden did not have love between them anymore.

Elia and Barbara

He planned to pick up Barbara Loden from rehearsal in a cab and head back to her place, where he would break the news gently. In the taxi, she immediately began complaining about how he had blocked her scenes, and criticized his directorial efforts in general. Kazan turned on her, dismissing his earlier reticence towards cruelty. She listened quietly to what he said.

Once her room, she took off all her clothes immediately, as she always did, to appease him. "I wanted to lie still on the bed and hold her," Kazan writes about the post-coital mood. "But I noticed she didn't like this the way she once had, and although her head was on my upper arm, and her leg over mine, she seemed tense, like a runner before a race. Then she said, with a casualness I thought feigned, 'Daddy, I wish you'd tell me what you want me to do.'"

with his father

He could think of no real reply. Moments later, she said, "It's either we marry or break up for good." After seeing her home, he went to the apartment of the young widow. There he was happy for a time.

+

When Elia Kazan had first introduced Barbara Loden to his friend John Steinbeck, the writer told him, in no uncertain terms, to stay away from her. Kazan planned to resolve his conflict with Loden by leaving for Europe; his therapist suggested he would feel better if he said goodbye to her. There, on a bench in Central Park, he met his son Leo for the first time.

Molly & Elia with John and Elaine Steinbeck

Elia had been with his first wife Molly Kazan when he first met Loden. Ostensibly a playwright, Molly was not much of a writer and on some level, even after four lovely children by her, Kazan could not forgive this weakness. Molly first learned of Kazan's penchant for infidelity during his not-so-quiet affair with the actress Constance Dowling.

with katharine hepburn & spencer tracy

He always made a habit of introducing his wife to his mistress, but his affair with Constance was so obvious Molly was told by a third party. His wife banished him to the study of their home, right next door to the bedroom, and seriously considered divorce. A friend gave her a piece of advice: "If you want him, you'll have to take him as he is." The only one who supported the director in the marriage's impasse was his parents.

+

He started up with Loden originally on the set of Splendor in the Grass. They had sex during every single lunch break. When the production was in New York, he would go home to his wife and their maid would serve the family dinner. He only stopped having sex with Loden when she became visibly pregnant.

directing Vivien Leigh in 'Streetcar'

Again he was compelled to see what Molly thought of Barbara, and vice versa. Unable to resist, he asked Loden for her opinion on his wife. "She's a very handsome woman," Loden said.

with Molly and their four children

Throughout these lascivious trails, Kazan reveals he felt very little in the way of guilt. His penchant for self-acceptance in A Life reeks of 20/20 hindsight, but there is something else at work there, too, an essence his analyst identified and determined could never be fully repaired. Kazan did not long for other women because there was something lacking in his life. He had determined that this was his life: what primacy could any other part of his self claim, to stand up to that?

Elia's commiseration with Loden waxed and waned as the years went on. Sometimes she sent him letters describing an empathy she felt for him; at other moments she wondered if she even liked the man at all.

From his perspective, her innate destructiveness and lack of interest in how others viewed her was what attracted him in the first place. It was also the inner element which produced the natural charisma invaluable to her work as an actress and filmmaker.

Molly Kazan

Loden and Kazan continued to see each other, if infrequently, in the last years of Molly Kazan's life. (She died from a brain hemorrhage in 1963, and was buried with her wedding ring.) Given a new primacy in his life after Molly's death, Loden challenged Kazan regarding the stage roles he gave her. She constantly threatened to move to Los Angeles.

Kazan openly wondered to friends whether he'd required Molly to make his relationship with Loden work. He lost the ability to maintain an erection with her during sex, and attempted to break things off, as I have already described.

with Marlon Brando

Free of Barbara, wandering the earth, Kazan felt somewhat alone. He wrote to Loden, suggested he missed her and asked her to come to Japan. They kept writing until she arrived, and when he saw her at the airport, he knew he had made a mistake. Still, she did everything she could to please him, and he responded in turn. She seemed happy to be with him again until Kazan told her that he had been fucking around with another woman in the month before she arrived.

Back in the U.S., Kazan continued seeing both Loden and his new mistress. (He was never able to manage much more than two at a time.) Again, his curiosity got the better of him, and he encouraged Barbara to confront the other woman he was seeing. Kazan called the girl to warn her Loden might try to see her.

"She's right here," the girl said.

"How are you getting along?" Kazan asked.

"I like her very much."

Loden somehow emerged the victor of these events, and she moved in with Kazan a few months later, walking into Elia's study and putting Leo in his lap. They were married in Kenya soon after, and a ceremony was held in the Caribbean. They were wed for less than a year before he found a mistress that would complement her better.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

loden during her cancer
"No Devotion" - White Hinterland (mp3)

"Wait Until Dark" - White Hinterland (mp3)

Thursday
Mar132014

In Which We Visit The Grand Budapest Schmotel

Delicious Frosting

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Grand Budapest Hotel
dir. Wes Anderson
100 minutes

Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) is an apprentice baker at Mendl's, a famous patisserie in the greater Zubrowka area. She is ostensibly content; she has a boyfriend and a caring mentor at her workplace. She sleeps in an attic room that occasionally becomes cold during the winter, but that is when the warmth from a wood stove fills the room with a comforting heat. Still, something troubles her placid existence: she is the only female character of any note in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel.

There is something profoundly satisfying about Wes' movies, since you know no one will ever change or be altered by the events around them in the slightest, except possibly a small note of recrimination or exuberance at the completion of their tale of woe. This rejection of the traditional satisfaction of narrative turns The Grand Budapest Hotel into a sort of vapid picaresque, something like eating the frosting off the top of a cake.

The masterstroke here is casting Ralph Fiennes in the role of a bisexual concierge who seduces rich old ladies. At first we are disgusted by this frothy caricature, but we soften to him like we do to so many other Wes Anderson protagonists, who succeed merely on the enthusiasm of their love of their world: its elevators, booby traps, perfumes, handsoaps and keys.

Fiennes has a protege of his own, the precociously-named lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori). The two travel to the home of a Dowager Countess (Tilda Swinton) who Fiennes has masterly seduced in the confines of his hotel. She is a disgusting creature, basically a less ambitious Cruella de Ville, and in the wake of her death Fiennes hopes for a bequest from her estate.

The concierge discovers she has been murdered by her family, and the rest of The Grand Budapest Hotel concerns itself with what will now happen to her ample holdings. In a particularly disturbing scene, Willem Dafoe pursues and executes the family's Jewish lawyer in an allegorical fable of anti-Semitism. Attorney Deputy Kovacs is the most virtuous character in all of Wes' movies, for he is the only one who gives a shit about his duty.

The hotel itself is rather deprived of joy before and after the war, and the other major set, a prison camp, is also a design disappointment. It would be weird to repeat the detailing of the Life Aquatic's submarine on a concentration camp, but it is hard to believe there wasn't a better prison movie here. What the director is really in love with is how style should overwhelm anything, and nothing will survive when pitted against it. He proves this so often we must agree it is mostly true.

Abandonment of people and places is foremost on Wes' mind here. "I can't go back to prison," the subtly ethnic Fiennes whines about his tenure in a Harvey Keitel-infested jail, but he could equally be talking about the hotel itself.

Rather than a celebration of anything, the hotel is a cauldron of bad memories and unexpected feelings, just like every long lived-in place. When we move on from painful environs, The Grand Budapest Hotel points out over and over again, they are never the same upon our return to them. This is an ancient, romantic theme; but then most of Anderson's recent movies feature an intense aversion to anything contemporary. It is only his best work which tell us something about the world we live in, rather than the one they lived in.

In his debut as young Zero, Tony Revolori's laconic expression makes the most of his unforgiving role as Fiennes' refugee lackey. He is never given very much to do in the part; he only really changes his clothes once or twice in the entire movie. The full depth of his affair with Agatha is avoided at all costs: we are never permitted to watch anyone show real love to each other in The Grand Budapest Hotel, as if that would violate the sanctity of the place. Ronan offers even less in her slim role. We are mostly told, in grating, purposeless voiceover, about what a remarkable and brave person she is.

Despite this coldness, there is some kind of underlying sympathy in The Grand Budapest Hotel, although it takes great pains to really locate it among dark jokes about dead cats and Jews. You actually have to admire the director for not pulling the heartstrings more, since both of the protagonists of the film are poverty-stricken orphans. But had we been informed of that at length, we would have instantly forgiven them anything. Forgiveness and pity is never what such people want, and they are loathe to accept any.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"When You're Older" - Fair Oaks (mp3)

"See What the Sun Gave" - Fair Oaks (mp3)

Friday
Mar072014

In Which We Saunter Jauntily Down A Red Road

Always There

by ALEX CARNEVALE 

The Red Road
creator Aaron Guzikowski

Jason Momoa's sexuality is like an extruding pimple on some poor sap's face. When he bends down to retrieve something from underneath a car, he always looks up, as though there were something above he wanted to view him as well as whatever was below. His sex is always there. Momoa's jawline is rearranged by a scraggly beard that constantly has to be reworked on set. There is a person whose job it is to only deal with Jason's facial hair. If something goes wrong with the facial hair, this person, whose name we can presume is named something like Anne, will be disemployed and have to do a much worse job, like be responsible for Channing Tatum's goatee or work construction.

The only person I've ever been attracted to as much as Jason Momoa is Robin Wright Penn. The year was 1998.

In his new show The Red Road, airing exclusively on the Sundance Channel, Momoa portrays a half-Indian ex-con named Philip Kopus making collections for his crooked white father (Tom Sizemore). In old age Sizemore looks an emaciated shell of his former self, yet he still clings to a certain firmness of spirit that matches Momoa's artful solidity.

After Philip gets out of prison, he spots a police officer with whom he matriculated from high school searching for a missing boy. He immediately knows the boy is dead and suspects the killer, resolving to protect this person from harm.

His high-school buddy, police officer Howard Jensen (NZ actor Martin Henderson) appears to be a repressed homosexual former football player. The man just wants to protect his two girls, both of whom are named Rachel for no reason I can fathom. Having white children appears to be a considerable responsibility, and when the older Rachel takes up with an adorable local member of the Rampough Indian tribe named Junior, Rachel' mother Jean (Julianne Nicholson) freaks out. In a fugue she takes her husband's gun to go find her daughter and accidentally (oops) runs over a local Indian boy.

The casting of Julianne Nicholson in this role is against type, and basically all wrong, which is the point. We cannot conceive of what interest Howard would have in this prissy woman, and indeed he sleeps in the guest room.

Putting Jason Momoa in a storyline where he has an adversarial, pseudosexual relationship with a police officer is certainly most thinking people's dream scenario, right up there with him playing Mr. Darcy opposite Selena Gomez. Momoa has the bad early George Clooney habit of looking up through his brow to deliver his line, which I believe Steven Soderbergh cured through shock therapy. It absolutely fucking ruined ER though, I can tell you that much.

Momoa's Philip calls up his cop classmate for a reunion. They meet at a goat farm in New Jersey; I guess there had to be one. The officer looks as out of place as Momoa, feeling out jitters while he holds the biggest gun he can find, cradled in his arms like a baby. At first Momoa stays in the car in order to give the officer command of the meeting. Before long, and when he feels it is safe, he steps out of the vehicle to hand the officer his own firearm, jostled as it had been from the man's wife SUV as she manslaughtered a boy.

The rest of The Red Road concerns the cover-up of these events. Several times, but not sequentially, Momoa will lift his shirt over his massive head for a pinup pose, and in the briefest of moments we can see the chance he had of being the one approaching Pemberley on horseback, instead of the ruffian-type roles he plays now.  Momoa was on that Stargate spinoff, and it was amazing. Khal Drogo was a crying little baby in comparison to this individual:

Even with his trademark scar, Momoa is always complete in himself. In contrast, the teenagers in love on The Red Road resemble each other too closely; we can suspect that Rachel and Junior may share the same father, or at least much of the same blood, and this more than anything else is the reason for their coming together. (We know that this sort of conglameration often happens when children are not told who their parents are, and recognize something of themselves in their cousins.)

Sherman Alexie is probably turning over in his bed, but there is a lot of unmined material here. The Red Road's Juliet/Rachel is not so fetching really, and Junior makes even worse decisions than Romeo, bringing his girl to places as dangerous to him as they are to her. Momoa is like a brazen Mercutio at times, and those moments where his absence of malice seems most obvious are when we permit ourselves to like the characters in The Red Road. It is the grace period we afford the people in our lives before, inevitably, they disappoint us.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"This Blue World" - Elbow (mp3)

"New York Morning" - Elbow (mp3)

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 51 Next 3 Recordings »