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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

This Recording

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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 anna torv (2)


In Which We Have A Long Way To Go In The FBI

The Whiz


creators Joe Penhall and David Fincher

Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), the mercurial protagonist of Netflix's Mindhunter, returns home from a long day of hostage negotiating, and he sits alone in his apartment. In that disturbing space, he has no books or television, and every other aspect of the interior design is a cross between Patrick Bateman and Teresa Giudice. This is a fellow who is not quite right.

The next evening Holden goes out and meets a very masculine woman, a sociology graduate student at the University of Virginia named Debbie (Hannah Gross). After coitus Holden asks Debbie why she is with him. “You’re smart,” she says, the biggest kiss of death there is. Holden is not much bothered by his new girlfriend’s apathy towards their burgeoning relationship, because there has never been a more transparent homosexual in the history of television.

The fact that Jonathan Groff broadcasts his gayness in every line reading he gives perhaps should have tipped off David Fincher and British playwright Joe Penhall that the hours they spend trying to make Groff come off straight are a waste of time. In one particularly graphic sex scene, Holden has Debbie pinned in such a position that it would be virtually impossible for their genitals to actually be touching.

Casting a magnificent gay actor as a straight FBI agent is a gag, and Mindhunter has plenty of them. Fincher has wanted to develop the more parodic elements of serial killing in a number of films: Seven and Zodiac both contained humor on this topic. I blame Silence of the Lambs for this trend; although I doubt Jonathan Demme was aware Hannibal Lecter would become a parody of himself.

With his partner Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), Holden performs a series of powerpoint presentations on the somewhat dull topic of what drives people to do evil things. Since forensic evidence eventually rendered criminal psychology into a background discipline, the only thing even vaguely interesting about the academic side of Mindhunter is Holden himself.

Others have argued that Holden is destined to become a serial killer in season 2 of Mindhunter, which does not necessarily seem farfetched since all his friends are murderers. One positive tendency of this modern age has been less glorification of killers themselves. We no longer see any novelty or intrinsic interest in the killing act. To hear the details of a murder, one need only turn on the endless reruns of NCIS or CSI. It’s unclear to me what Mindhunter really offers that is new in this vein, if it is not the story of how an FBI profiler became an evil man.

The only aspects of Mindhunter worth viewing are certainly not the dreary scripts – it is the performances and the sets, which bring to life a small corner of the world at the end of the 1970s as if it were a location and time period that makes an intrinsic sense that our own does not.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.


In Which We Are On The Fringe Of Things

The Edge of Good


Occasionally a television show gets everything right but botches all one or two large decisions. This happened with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman's show Fox show Fringe. They made a litany of awesome title sequences; they reminded one of a return to one of the great series of the last decade, The X-Files, they have solid writing when it doesn't verge on melodrama, but the casting is awful.

why is plaxico in jail while josh jackson walks free?Heterosexual man's hatred of Joshua Jackson goes back to his days as Pacey. Do you even understand how much less action I got in high school because of that? Pacey was a dick. All you needed was a mop of blonde hair. Paceys were fucked. Now Jackson enunciates every dreadful line of dialogue and sounds like a foggy horn. He doesn't look all that great either, kind of what a poppy bagel might look like as a person. Let's deport him back to Canada where he and Michael Moore can increase in size quietly together.

His would-be paramour (in one episode they went undercover together!) is the officious Anna Torv. She's probably the best actress on the show, but she's cold and icy and frankly, boring. Gillian Anderson is turning over in the grave she occupies with the career David Duchovny took from her. (Amazingly, Gillian Anderson is 64 years old and David Duchovy is 26. Who knew?) Torv's seriousness is ungainly and her hair looks as bad as her boss's.

Why do I feel like J.J. Abrams had a steamy night on the set of Lost with the bald former Dharma drone who ruins every single scene he's in? Lance Reddick is the worst actor on television besides Reba McEntire and Tyler Perry. Every single sentence is conveyed in this cold, unnerving grizzle. It's off-putting, and it gives his co-stars nothing to play off of.

trusting your career to j.j. didn't work for matthew foxThe only thing the show can find for a young black FBI agent (Jasika Nicole) to do is babysit criminally insane former human engineer. Torv whirls about radiantly, doing "work" when it suits her, double-timing the agency which she purports to represent. At the end of last season's finale, she met William Bell, the show's central MacGuffin. It was Leonard Nimoy, and I was not amused. The finale showed Bell in another universe where the World Trade Center didn't exist and Kanye stayed in college and was still interning for Louis Vuitton.

As intellectual or visual fodder, the concept of parallel universes doesn't really make any sense. Unlike serious science fiction, another universe draws no basis in reality from human experience. If there's more than one universe, then there are billions, and none of us mean very much. This isn't a very enlightening way to believe in the world.

Lost had the good fortune to become a jovial comedy, and Fringe seems to be aping this goal so far in season two. Here messy science fiction clichés combine with Pacey to create the show's only relief from the drudgery of weird science. What's missing is the wonder of discovery; the pattern that was created by universe splitting need not be an awful fate for those who must investigate it. Properly done, such a happening should free us from ourselves.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here.

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