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Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

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Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

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Life of Mary MacLane

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Entries in bryan cranston (6)

Friday
Apr072017

In Which We Forgive Her Almost Everything

Did You Morph Yet?

by DICK CHENEY

Power Rangers
dir. Dean Israelite
124 minutes

Rita (Elizabeth Banks) returns to American society in the year 2017. For 65 million years she has inactive in the deep sea, but a fishing net trawling the bottom of the Pacific Ocean finds her body. She was consigned to this bitter, watery fate by Dr. Heisenberg (Bryan Cranston). She subsists primarily on gold and water, so obviously a jewelry store makes a useful target. Before she presses a silent alarm, an employee at Jared offers her a variety of gold rings, which she consumes orally. When a single cop arrives he is armed with a shotgun, and when she does not turn around in sufficient time, he tries to put her down.

All I could think during this was how great all of it was. Power Rangers has tons of exciting moments, for example a black teenager (RJ Cyler) explains to his new friend Jason (Dacre Montgomery), the former star quarterback, that he is "on the spectrum." Someone actually was like, "We should make the Blue Ranger an autistic comedy figure!" and another person responded in the affirmative. This was a real moment that happened in our world. Once this unlikely pair discovers a underground cavern together, Bryan Cranston (Heisenberg) informs them they must save the world or at the very least, their small California town named Angel Grove.

In another equally fantastic scene, Kimberly Hart (the ravishing, important Naomi Scott) is explaining to Jason why she was put into detention. It emerges that the reason for her punishment is because she cyberbullied her friend for taking a nude photo and sent it to everyone. Jason registers this information with sufficient interest, before responding, "You should focus on being the person you want to be." It was unclear whether this meant more or less cyber-bullying, but I really did not care at that point. I was just so happy.

There are a lot of montage sequences as well. Such summaries were not the better part of this Power Rangers reboot, since they felt a bit forced and were composed mostly of Bill Hader one-liners – he plays an annoying robot. He wasn't as bad as in Trainwreck, but that is not saying much. Fortunately, Dr. Heisenberg (Bryan Cranston) is mentoring all these young people so he can teach them how to kill Elizabeth Banks' character. Hilariously, Heisenberg (Bryan Cranston) has zero faith in them whatsoever and spends all his time thinking about how he can materialize outside of being an aspect of his starship's AI so he can lead these hopeless fuckers.

After eating up that gold, Rita is sufficiently strong and she finds out there are all these new rangers around. (She used to be the Green Ranger and I guess in a way she still is.) You know how sometimes actors will just phone in roles they believe are beneath them, like Bryan Cranston in everything since Breaking Bad? Elizabeth Banks gives you your money's worth in every single scene, in what feels like a subtle apologia for how terrible Pitch Perfect 2 was. She tracks down the lesbian ranger (Becky Gomez) and almost chokes her to death, and then tracks her to find the rest of the Rangers. Within an hour she has imprisoned them all, and she even kills the autistic one because whatever.

This is not even the height of Banks' performance. As soon as she finds out that these new power rangers do not have the collective camaraderie to "morph", which is some kind of code for a communal sexuality which would allow them to display post-pubescent armaments and weapons, she is constantly being like, "Holy shit, you guys haven't even morphed yet?" and laughing hysterically. A great villain has emerged, and even when she is excommunicated from Earth at the end of Power Rangers and begins to freeze as she hurtles through the deep recesses of space, I began to feel seriously envious that I will never be Elizabeth Banks or even be able to get to know her in a casual, friendly setting like doubles tennis or carpooling.

It is not even Banks alone. The cast of Power Rangers is all completely perfect, even the irresponsible Michelangelo of the group, a Chinese-American teen named Zack (Ludi Lin). He is the Black Ranger, which seems a tad racist but whatever. I have never heard of a Chinese person named Zack, but that's probably more my fault than Zack's. That is what is so wonderful about Power Rangers. It is such an empty vessel that no one even cares what you put into it.

Director Dean Israelite has surely earned the right to make a sequel to this amusing film. I am not totally sure what it would be about, but I have some ideas. The pregnancy of the Pink Ranger seems imminent, and also could she at the same time be cyberbullying the Yellow Ranger? Could the robot played by Bill Hader be really into Grey's Anatomy? Could Jesus be the villain turned hero, and be made an honorary ranger? Where does Aaron Paul play into this? Could he be the Blue Ranger's Magic: The Gathering buddy? The possibilities alarm me in their vividness.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


Monday
Sep302013

In Which Why Does It Feel Like My Feet Can't Leave The Ground

Onwards and Upwards

by DICK CHENEY

Breaking Bad
creator Vince Gilligan

It was about halfway into the series finale of Breaking Bad when I started thinking about a conversation I once had with Gordon Libby. He was like, "I'm really tired of everyone on television being a criminal I can't empathize with." I just looked at him and sipped a mai tai. These fucking people.

You know the type of individual who goes around saying, "I don't know why everyone is so into Breaking Bad, why are they always saying I should watch it; I am content with Vuillard's The Stevedores and the complex moral cinema of Eric Rohmer..." I forgive this sort of person everything, because it is the American way to use your own ingenuity to make yourself look better, feel better, seem better.

is this the AARP? You...wield too much political power, sir.Throughout this last episode, all of the people Walt met told him, "You look like hell." The irony was that he never looked better; as a criminal mastermind the stress lines looked like they were about to split his face. Standing in front of his wife as God intended, he looked super beautiful and charismatic.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think they knew Walt very well, at least not how I knew him.

There's only one day left in Subway's $5 dollar footlong promotion, Skyler. I must be going.
The most emotional scene from last night's Breaking Bad finale was Walt's conversation with his wife, because he lied to her. He said he cooked meth because it made him feel alive. This was complete and utter bullshit, a master class in telling her what she wanted to hear. In the final analysis, Walt was able to forgive these people who did nothing but profit from his own acumen.

I don't know what Walt did that was supposed to be so bad. I guess people think cooking a drug for others to enjoy is wrong. I don't where they learned this. Everyone he killed, he had a damn good reason to do so, especially Mike. That fuck Mike.

no one knew how to hibernate quite like this woman

Simple things you could learn in any basic chemistry course. We don't have any of that ingenuity, it's all fabricated in factories across an ocean. That's where things are made, at great cost but with great benefits for those who risk it. Every day Flynn went to school, Lewis drove him. I never found out why it's dangerous to drive a car with only one foot, there wasn't some shit-for-a-head AMC half shaven twitter handle to explain it to me then after the show was over.

as unhappy as every other unpaid intern

For years Walt and Jesse never had sex, or had sex so infrequently they never mentioned to it anyone. Watching Walt stroll around Gretchen and Elliott's palatial estate, it reminds you what a monk he really is. As the poet said, "I have sacrificed everything, including sex and woman, or lost them, to this attempt to acquire complete concentration."

Watching the scarred Jesse Pinkman sail into the sunset, I couldn't help but think of all that was given him. He had no purpose in life; now he feels happier than any man who ever lived.

shocked there wasn't a last visit to marie, at least send a gift basket, maybe some prunes and a reminder she's a shoplifter
Entitlement festers and grows. Gretchen and Elliott only lock a part of their house. Fear is divided routinely by windowpanes, support beams. Cutting something up reduces its power, of course. The simple shattered presence of a man they know is enough to frighten them. Can you imagine these people storming the beaches of Normandy? (As a side note, I found the character of Elliott to be bracingly anti-Semitic and I have written a letter to Vince Gilligan strongly expressing my disapproval of this meme.)

gretchen, you lie to charlie rose and this is what happens, ask his interns
And it's easy to survive a gunshot wound, especially if you're pretty sure one might be coming. A spin-off would just ruin this.

We could have forgiven almost any choice that Walter White made, because we knew it was up to him and not ourselves. This is a teaching moment, because children are not taught a theory of forgiveness, they are taught a theory of punishment. Forgiveness faded from the whorl roughly the same time that AOL merged with Time Warner. It re-emerged for me the first time I killed a dictator I could only see on a video screen. Monsters deserve death, but only some crimes make a person one, not all. (Like Walt, the last person I forgave was myself.)

dividing lines GET IT
I have to admit I did instruct people to watch Breaking Bad, and when I did so, I managed a certain unctuous tone in my voice. The tone of voice I used to tell them to view this experience was identical to Todd's admonition to his progenitor - "You shouldn't have come back here, Mr. White" - in every way but one: my admonition was sincere.

I do not expect people to always do what I ask, but they do need to know that I ask it for a good reason. It is because I love them and I want them to be happy.

This tone of voice was also meant to convey that by following through with my request, they would attain something divine for themselves, provided they fast forwarded past all the office scenes where Skyler flirted with Ted. (Those were gross.) When I watched Breaking Bad, I thought of those individuals I told, and whether they were thinking what I was as I watched, or thinking of me at all. Sometimes, but only sometimes, I miss her.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location and the former vice president of the United States of America. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the fourth season of Downton Abbey

"UFO" - One Eskimo (mp3)

"Alvar" - Goldfrapp (mp3)

Tuesday
Aug072012

In Which There Is Nothing To Be Afraid Of

Lady Banjo Eyes

by DICK CHENEY

Breaking Bad
creator Vince Gilligan

True Blood
creator Alan Ball

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is distracted from his job for a moment, but no more. On his 51st birthday, his wife slowly walks, fully-clothed, into the family pool. She can't get good with the way things are now that Walt is running his own business. She chainsmokes in the home, she begs for his cancer to return, she can barely manage to bake a chocolate cake. Her behavior is so exaggerated that she has turned into the Danielle Steele version of an adulterous wife.

It's a lot harder to write a character sketch like this about the protagonists in the eighteenth season of HBO's True Blood. What's that you say? It only feels like the eighteenth season? No matter. The typical scene on True Blood lasts only the thirty or forty seconds it might take you to get bored of it before moving onto the next character. It's like skipping from YouTube to YouTube, and in every episode, there are over a thousand.

not casting Fred Savage as Godric was an almost unforgivable mistake

The character I least understand on True Blood is Eric Northman. When the show began he was completely committed to the superiority of vampires over humans, now he walks around acting like he's Saint Ignatius. You have never seen a man so completely convinced there is no vampire god. He's become a Christian message board troll who waits for someone to espouse their faith in under 130 characters and then chimes in with a "Not likely!"

Understanding the motivations of a drama's personages is the first step to empathizing with their predicament. I almost admire how much True Blood eschews this. The only time it has its characters even react to the madness that surrounds them is when they cry afterwards. By the next episode, they are generally fine. The rule on True Blood - that everyone gets a storyline - extends even to the most peripheral characters, especially if they were kind enough to offer Alan Ball an on-set blowjob.

Alan Ball and Anna Paquin will not be doing any USO tours, of that much we can be certain

After a time, playing with the lives of fictional people becomes like moving things around on your desk. Alan Ball hates God so completely he had to become him.

Everything bad on True Blood is associated with religion, even the eating of a child. Ball believes that faith is the corruptor, the scapegoat instrument by which evil is wrought. His most sincere and good-willed individuals on the show are completely without faith; they feel lost in the world as he does, and simply by virtue of not knowing exactly what they are, are blessed and imagined as heroes.

No such luck for Walter White. He spent his entire life before he got brain cancer afraid of things, unable to decide who he was or what he should be doing with his life. Once he realized that, his new problems began.

I have lived longer than anyone I have talked about so far in this essai besides Eric Northman. One of mankind's most enduring cliches is that success comes with a price. (This cliche was first associated with Jesus, and later, Kristen Stewart.)

Whatever truth there is in this statement exists completely outside the realm of human experience. For those who aren't successsful, no price is too high. And for those who are successful, like the creators of Breaking Bad and True Blood, there must be some other reason for their unhappiness, an explanation that lies outside themselves. If they actually found they liked being miserable, success would feel like a curse.

taking Nancy Pelosi's dream and bringing it to life

Basically, it's easy to forget that you are the one who knocks. Many years ago my daughter came to me and explained that one of her classmates was afraid of me. What was I going to do about that? I offered to meet the young man, and he came over to our house for dinner. I asked him if he still felt afraid of me. "No," he said. I told him to wait.

Walter White is happy, perhaps the happiest he's ever been, but there is no one to enjoy it with him. Is this what it is truly like to run a critically acclaimed television series? Must there be a feeling in everything that they will be found out as a fraud, a charlatan? Did Matthew Weiner put his blood in a syringe and infect everyone in Hollywood with his identical insecurities?

I noticed some years ago that I find myself happier in the company of sad people, simply by comparison. And when I meet truly happy people - Oliver North comes to mind - I feel sorry for myself, that I cannot be as they are. Even more astonishing is that I am allowed to behave this way by the people in my life.

Beel, drain this woman while I watch the uneven bars

There might be another reason that this cliche keeps reoccuring in our popular fictions. Vampire leader Salome Agrippa (Valentina Cervi) has quickly become the worst character on True Blood. Her scenes are completely boring; she speaks with a vague monotone that is supposed to come off as threatening but in reality just lulls the viewer to sleep. Her idea of acting consists of brushing back her bangs. If I have to view her bare chest one more time, I'm going to start missing the acting "skills" of the guy who played Lafayette's top.

But besides the fact that Salome can't act and looks completely unappealing without clothes, the various travails of Salome don't interest me or my wife because she is truly satisfied with herself. Salome is incapable of change. Eventually this will be her downfall as she tries to take over the world for her vampire God, but until then I guess I have to keep watching Bill (Stephen Moyer) penetrating her with his ass raised high in the air, like he's about to hammer a nail.

you killed off Christopher Meloni FOR THIS?

True Blood and Breaking Bad, as they ascended to their first heights, made a point of portraying strong and powerful women. Now that these dramas near their conclusion, these women are actually revealed only as exceptions to the general rule of female archetypes - power and vulnerability can no longer exist within one human person. There may be sexism behind this, and I'm sure there is, but I can suggest another cause as well.

sexism, yoWhen a man changes his mind, or becomes something different than what he is, it is not a betrayal. This is expected of him: it happens when he begins a household, settles down with his partner, has children. These are all changes for him, and the responsiblities are said to improve who he is.

When these things happen to a woman, it is thought to be no more than a natural extension of herself. Lies. This vicious canard is completely subsumed in how men think of the opposite sex. But the reality is not that women aren't changed by the contours of family and marriage. It is that, on a conscious or even subconscious level, women are better at understanding what change implies than men will ever be.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is the former vice president of the United States. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the beginning of Breaking Bad's season.

"We Are Not Good People" - Bloc Party (mp3)

"Octopus" - Bloc Party (mp3)

The new album from Bloc Party is entitled Four, and it will be released on August 20th.