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Entries in black swan (4)

Monday
Jan102011

In Which We Upgrade And Or Totally Ruin Your Next Social Gathering 

Black Swan: The Party Game

by MOLLY LAMBERT with contributions from TESS LYNCH and SARAH JOHNSON

In case you haven't seen Black Swan, reading this reveals and ruin nothing. The party game is simple; all things can be paired up and divided into white swans and black swans. White swans have technique but black swans have essential style. The white swan is the brain, the black swan is the crotch. Not every facemash splits this way but it sure wasn't hard to come up with like a billion of these in ten minutes with friends.

As with Fuck Marry Kill, the thing about this game is that it becomes dangerous as soon as you start directing it to people's personal black swans, which inevitably always happens. Drunk people have a tendency to be more honest than they really intended to. As soon as you start talking about people in the room at the party you are fucked.

But aren't all parlor games kind of dangerous/purposely meant to encourage relational transgressions? Isn't that also why people drink? God knows spin the bottle is built for destruction. It's easy to be the black swan that pushes other people into playing. Who wants to go to a party where nothing happens? What, you never rolled before?

White Swan/Black Swan

Madonna/Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry/Chrissie Hynde

Diana Ross/Donna Summer

Michael Jackson/Prince

Prince/Rick James

Luke Skywalker/Han Solo

Judd Apatow/Adam Sandler

Jackie O/Marilyn Monroe

Seth Rogen/Jason Segel

Jonah Hill/Danny McBride

Elvis/Little Richard (original black swan queen)

Joe Strummer/Joey Ramone

Belinda Carlisle/Cyndi Lauper

Emmylou Harris/Linda Ronstadt

Rachel Weisz/Marion Cotillard

George Clooney/Jon Hamm

the 60s/the 70s

Conan/Letterman

Thomas Pynchon/Kurt Vonnegut

Dreamworks/Pixar

Beatles/Stones

Coke/Pepsi

Steven Spielberg/Joe Dante

Joni Mitchell/Carly Simon

American Idol/X Factor

Betty/Veronica

Debbie Gibson/Tiffany

Lily Allen/Katy Perry

Drake/Lil Wayne

Taylor Swift/Miley Cyrus

Selena Gomez/Demi Lovato

Gwyneth Paltrow/Winona Ryder

Blair Waldorf/Serena van der Woodsen

Jack Kerouac/Neal Cassady

John Mayer (musician)/John Mayer (celebrity)

Adam Trask/Charles Trask

Fitzgerald/Hemingway

Kathleen Hanna/Courtney Love

David Bowie/Iggy Pop

John Cale/Lou Reed

Mick/Keef

Superman/Batman

black and white/color

Dakota Fanning/Taylor Momsen

David Byrne/Bryan Ferry

Philip Glass/Brian Eno

Sean Penn/Robert Downey Jr.

Brad Pitt/Johnny Depp

Oprah/Martha Stewart

Paul/John

sight/sound

2Pac/Makaveli

The OC/Gossip Girl

Elton John/Jeff Lynne

TRL Xtina/TRL Britney

TRL Britney/Pink Wig Britney

Gaga/Robyn

Fat Joe/Big Pun

Green Day/Blink 182

David Foster Wallace/Jonathan Franzen

Bernard Malamud/Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow/Philip Roth

John Cheever/John Updike

Steve Martin/Chevy Chase

Dan Ackroyd/Bill Murray

Bill Murray/Andy Kaufman

Lindsey Buckingham/Don Henley

Robert Redford/Warren Beatty

Warren Beatty/Jack Nicholson

Gregory Peck/Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando/James Dean

The Graduate/Carnal Knowledge

Thoureau/Emerson

Emerson/Whitman

Pacino/De Niro

John Malkovich/Christopher Walken

Emilio Estevez/Charlie Sheen

Meryl Streep/Susan Sarandon

 

Angela Chase/Rayanne Graff

Townes Van Zandt/John Prine

Godfather/Godfather II

Freaks And Geeks/Undeclared

Loudon Wainwright III/Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon/Tom Petty

Harry Nilsson/Randy Newman

Eric Clapton/George Harrison

Tyra Banks/Naomi Campbell

the 90s/the 00s

showers/baths

Harvest/On The Beach

Rumours/Tusk

Tina Fey/Amy Poehler

Leonardo DiCaprio/Matt Damon

Matt Damon/Ben Affleck

Priscilla Presley/Ann Margaret

Betty Draper/whoever Don Draper is banging 

Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn

David Gordon Green/Jody Hill  

David O. Russell/Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson/Coen Brothers

Christopher Nolan/Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky/David Fincher  

Madonna/Young Madonna

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She tumbls here and twitters here.

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"The Passenger" - Iggy Pop (mp3)

"China Girl" - David Bowie (mp3)

"Under Pressure" - Queen ft. David Bowie (mp3)


Monday
Jan032011

In Which It's The Best Jewish Comedy Western Since Blazing Saddles

Nature's Cathedral

by MOLLY LAMBERT

True Grit

dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

110 minutes

Who incepted my fantasy about wandering the wildernesses of New Mexico with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon? Who told the Coen brothers that every scrappy tomboy sees herself in Rooster Cogburn? When did Matt Damon get so goddamned awesome? Is he Leonardo DiCaprio's black swan because he reminds us that what we don't love about Leo is his humorlessness and inability or unwillingness to make fun of himself?

Since they slayed it on the first try with No Country For Old Men, you might think the Coen Brothers would shy away from making another Western. Apparently they're going for the hat trick and doing Blood Meridian next, although you never know if they'll zig. If they can manage to make Blood Meridian not humorless, I will give them a billion percent of my mind futures. True Grit is a perfect modern existential Western, a tribute to The Wizard Of Oz the way O Brother Where Art Thou was a retelling of The Odyssey.

Matt Damon knows how to play a white hat in an interesting way. He always brings something of a black hat attitude to it. That's why he was so great in The Departed and The Talented Mr. Ripley as a black hat hiding behind a white hat façade. He is a genuine movie star. True Grit reminded me a lot of Hayao Miyazaki movies, which feature determined little girls on dangerous missions in dreamlike environments. National treasure Jeff Bridges really gets his Orson Welles in Chimes At Midnight on.

In addition to Western tropes, all of the Coens' own tropes are here too: severed limbs and digits, repetitions of key phrases that become funnier as they are repeated, salty old men and fast-talking women. The Coens are tender-hearted nihilists, and so are all of their characters. Do other directors resent the Coens because they make it look so easy? I am sure that making it look that effortless is actually really fucking hard. 

My favorite classic existential Western is Man Of The West, Anthony Mann's claustrophobic take on the genre. Existential Westerns are Waiting For Godot against the background of nature. They replicate what it's like to be inside your own mind, and recall all the weird Jungian dreamscapes you've ever seen in your sleep. Attempting to convey in film the intense spirituality of landscapes is Terrence Malick's life's pursuit. 

I have a lot of love for Westerns, because I am from the West. I romanticize Western tropes, and so this movie was perfect for me because it was a romantic but not bloodless take on the Western. I also loved No Country For Old Men, which was decidedly anti-romantic. I love that the Coens can execute both and see no conflict in the differences between them. I respect versatility more than just about anything.

For me, True Grit and Black Swan both captured the atmosphere of dreams and nightmares in a way that Inception did not at all. The immanently mystical quality of some places, especially natural environments, derealization, the ways in which life sometimes feels like a three character play in which you are all three characters. 

Avatar was James Cameron's Wizard Of Oz remake. The Wizard Of Oz is the ultimate existential fantasy movie, and seeing it for the first time is a lot of people's first mundane psychedelic experience with art. In dreams you are often on a mission of some sort, and it is comforting to think about having such a clear purpose in life. In real life our personal directives are much less obvious, if they are discernible at all.  

The modern existential Western/Wizard Of Acid/spiritual landscape film that best captures and approximates my own internal processes is Easy Rider; the avatars of 1970s Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson are in constant battle for my eternal soul. God help you if Jack Nicholson wins. God help me if Dennis Hopper does. There's an excellent argument to be made that I am also McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Genre tropes always sound like liabilities in advance. I've seen enough bad child actors to be instantly wary of a movie centered around a child actor, but Hailee Steinfeld is a born natural. She more than holds her own against the A List actors all around her.

Fun facts about Hailee: her dad is "Body By Jake" as shown in the Pie-O-My episode of The Sopranos, she is a valley girl like me, that diva bitch from Glee snubbed her and it made her cry. If I was caught off guard by the ending of True Grit (and what an ending), it's because I expected her to grow up to be Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona.

Jeff Bridges' Rooster Cogburn is the cowardly lion. Bridges is one of my absolute favorite actors. I have a major soft spot for second generation actors, because a lot of them seem to understand how to treat acting like it's a regular job. They are not necessarily less prone to be divas, but certainly Jeff Bridges doesn't seem like a diva.

Neither does Matt Damon. That's why they are so good. They never pull focus, even when hamming it up. They understand how to collaborate, how to work on a team. It's a quality I think all the best actors have. Can somebody please cast Owen Wilson in their next Western? Shanghai Noon/Knights fan #1 over here, and I'm serious. 

The Coens always create a sort of collaborative seeming world, perhaps because they are themselves collaborating. One wonders if Joel and Ethan ever disagree on things. Surely there must be times when one of them sees a shot one way and the other sees it some other way, and they have to compromise. Who is Micky and who is Dickey?

Here's how to fix The Fighter. Wahlberg and Bale swap roles. THINK ABOUT IT. Wahlberg would be much more genuinely menacing as the fuck-up crackhead brother, as anyone who's seen Fear can attest. Bale's natural smarminess would make the sympathetic lead more complex and interesting. Bale and Amy Adams actually had the best chemistry in the movie in their one real scene together. To make it up to me, they can do a webcast of True West where they switch roles every other scene.

Fargo is a kind of Western (a Midwestern), wherein Frances McDormand is the law. The Big Lebowski is a Western, in addition to being a neon noir detective movie. I was a little sad Sam Elliott never showed up in True Grit. He could have been The Wizard.

In the FMK situation that will be this year's Academy Awards, I think I'm going to have to kill The Fighter, fuck Black Swan (it was college!), and marry True Grit. But I need to see both of the latter again to be sure. How exciting is it to have so many actually good films in theaters? Winter movies are summer tentpole movies for film geeks.

Best Existential Westerns:

The Searchers 

Dead Man

Man Of The West

High Noon

Unforgiven

Once Upon A Time In The West

The Good The Bad And The Ugly

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

El Topo

Ride The High Country

The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre

Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia

There Will Be Blood

Easy Rider

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. If somebody can hook her up to be artist in residence at the Gene Autry Museum she'll murder your enemies for you. She tumbls here and twitters here.

"River Crossing" - Carter Burwell (mp3)

"A Great Adventure" - Carter Burwell (mp3)

"Your Headstrong Ways" - Carter Burwell (mp3)

"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" - Iris DeMent (mp3)


Thursday
Dec232010

In Which You're Telling Me You've Really Never Rolled Before Tonight?

I Love Your Nails

by MOLLY LAMBERT

I was told we needed more Black Swantent on This Recording. Surely you read Durga's review. What about Elizabeth Gumport on Wild Things or when I did Basic Instinct? As with Inception, I joked about Black Swan forever before I finally saw it, and then it shut me up completely with all the subtlety and charm of Mila Kunis sitting on my face.

The erotic thriller genre is never dead because it has enduring core appeal. Despite the abundance of porn on the internet, there's no substitute for the speedball of narrative pleasure and filmic sex. Audiences are voyeurs by definition. Sitting in a dark movie theater surrounded by strangers is the exemplary mundane sensual experience. Sitting in bed alone with your computer is the black swan of mundane sensual experiences.

Inception and Black Swan would make good partners for a double bill; one glassy and phallic, the other wet and feathery. Architecture and Ballet are the barely disguised stand-ins for Film Direction. Both men take on their rivals and fatherpigs (Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lynch, De Palma). Both are meditations on control and release. Is any profession more like being the Old Testament God than directing movies? Blogging?

David Fincher made The Social Network into a movie about how we use the internet to create and control our images. Life is the contrast between perception and truth. Nina Sayers looks like Natalie Portman, but that doesn't help her with dancing or fucking. Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly are cast as the spouses of Vince Vaughn and Kevin James and we are somehow supposed to ignore the cognitive dissonance that follows.

Women especially are told not to talk about or ask what is going on, to trust men and male decision making abilities without question. It's the cornerstone of horror and basis of the "final girl" trope. It is what makes Rosemary's Baby, Alien, Carrie and Halloween, the ultimate horror films about being a woman, so insanely effective. 

Natalie Portman is great. She does the thing in the movie that the movie is about. Mila Kunis, girl honestly if you get google name search alerts and you see this, I just wanna go half on some weed brownies with you and Miley Cyrus and Macauley and some internet Mollys. Seriously Mila is so cool, and part of it is that you know if you saw her and American Psycho 2 somehow came up she'd be the first person to laugh about it.

Every time Vincent Cassel talked about "doing the black swan" I thought of that thing from The Game about subliminal seduction cues like saying "below me" to get a girl to think you're saying "blow me." When you are a girl most of culture is not addressed to you but you are supposed to act as interested in it as if it were. Would men rather see The A Team or an erotic thriller about competitive ballet? Why can't it just be both?

The best thing is that Black Swan passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, was made for cheap, and is doing really well, going against the horribly off-base yet oft-repeated conventional studio wisdom that men won't see a movie with a majority of female characters, whereas women will still have to go see crap like the The Hangover.

Black Swan's box office isn't all dudes being dragged by their girlfriends. Nor is it all perverts in raincoats. Men are able to enjoy movies about women just as much as I am able to enjoy Caddyshack (and I really enjoy Caddyshack). Don't believe me? Just ask the people who watch Mean Girls whenever it's on TBS because that's EVERYBODY.

I mean thank god Aronofsky and Portman both went all the way, as promised. All of the tropes: the heavyhanded symbolism, the mirror scares, the crazy night out at the club from Blade. Without camp it would just be cold. Aronofsky embarrasses himself constantly in this movie, but that's why it works. He stops caring about cool because coolness is detachment, and this is a movie about getting wired into your damn self.

What if There Will Be Blood had closed with Daniel Day Plainview making Paul Dano suck his cock in the basement bowling alley? If instead of bashing his head in, he had forced him to fuck? What's the difference? Mentorship and rivalry are poorly disguised metaphors for sexual roles. Why is it only in movies about females that these tensions are ever noticed or played upon? If True Grit doesn't end with a gangbang, I'm out.

Kill your idols, kill your rivals. David Mamet is my Winona (forever) and Aaron Sorkin is my Mila Kunis. Let's be real, I am my own Mila, tacky backpiece and all. I'm from Hollywood. Ask me about the time I successfully Buellered my way through improvising my final solo project for a modern dance class in college. It was my Opening Night.

Stay tuned for Blog Swan, wherein the many Mollys of the internet get locked inside a library and have to read our way out like a flock of little literary Nomi Malones. "Publish or perish" is taken to the limits of seriousness as we are stalked down giallo lit hallways by the subway poltergeists that leave spam comments on squarespace.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She took dance classes in school for so much longer than you might imagine.

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"The Coral Sea, Part One" - Patti Smith & Kevin Shields (mp3)

"The Coral Sea, Part Two"- Patti Smith & Kevin Shields (mp3)

"The Coral Sea, Part Three" - Patti Smith & Kevin Shields (mp3)

"The Coral Sea, Part Four"- Patti Smith & Kevin Shields (mp3)

The Coral Sea wiki