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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

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 charlize theron (4)


In Which Nothing Blows Up To Our Considerable Chagrin

A Colder War Than Usual


Atomic Blonde
dir. David Leitch
115 minutes

Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is fond of ice baths, brunettes, and cigarettes. She smokes seventeen of them in Atomic Blonde, which is quite the feat considering she never buys them and none of the other characters arranged in Berlin in 1989 ever offer her one. When two people enjoy smoking in the way that Lorraine and Percival (James McAvoy) do, you would think they would have a lot in common. At first, Percival believes they will.

By the end of Atomic Blonde, McAvoy and Theron have only had about three conversations with each other. Even though I appreciate the idea that they were simply not romantically inclined towards each other, Atomic Blonde runs so far away from this possibility that you wonder if the two actors ever saw each other on set. They don't touch at all during the movie's running time, at least not on the skin. Once, Percival takes her jacket.

McAvoy is a deft and exciting performer, and his supercharged supporting role as an English spy gone rogue is essential to this moody nothing-piece, because without him the only bomb going off would be the alarm at the conclusion of this feature-length nap.

Ms. Theron looks dramatically better as a brunette, or even bald. Blonde hair makes her look a bit goofy, really, but director David Leitch is keen to distract us from this fact by placing Lorraine in her undergarments as often as possible. She is nude in no less than five scenes, which has to be some kind of record. Despite this titillation, Atomic Blonde is rather dull, although that is not to say it does no attempt to make things interesting.

The film's central sequence is a set piece where Lorraine and Percival attempt to transport an East German man (Eddie Marsan) and his family to the West. Unfortunately, Leitch's budget did not really accomodate a crowd scene larger than 100 people. The action gets more chaotic in an apartment building nearby, where Lorraine fights for her life against members of the KGB. This is the closest we ever get to believing she is in serious trouble on her mission, but the drama is rather toned down because of the fact a frame story makes it quite clear she's alive and well except for a black eye.

For a spy thriller, absolutely everything is what it seems in Atomic Blonde. The four other contacts Lorraine makes in Berlin are a KGB agent, a British agent, a French agent named Delphine (Sofia Boutella) and a Swede named Merkel (Bill Skarsgård). None of them, including McAvoy are anything different from what they appear to be. This has the consequential effect of meaning that Lorraine never has a moment where she is taken by surprise, and as an audience neither do we.

More troubling is the absolute lack of a feast for the senses present in Atomic Blonde. Sure, the movie is pretty to look at, which is a major and important concern. But none of the characters ever smell, taste, touch or hear anything in each other's voices outside of a moment where Lorraine is critiqued for her poor German. How could anybody tell? She only speaks one line in the language.

The music of Atomic Blonde is an endless churn of 80s pop. Except for when Lorraine is fighting, she constantly has this lame soundtrack purring around her, with the resonance of the lyrics striking the rare thematic aspects present in the story: e.g. "Voices Carry" and "Father Figure." The songs are all way too familiar to be dropped into these mien, a fact that Leitch amusingly confesses to when he has Lorraine watch an MTV clip of Kurt Loder investigating the phenomenon of sampling.

Kurt Loder seemed absolutely ancient to me when he was on television, and Atomic Blonde does a good job of turning Berlin's atmosphere into something that can be called modern when viewed through this future lens. In a few fleeting moments, we get a sense of Lorraine as a kind of disturbed alien temporarily visiting on a planet of beings that might as well be ants to her: she is that far above them. This is possibly true.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


In Which We Wage A War That Never Changes

Where Is Kristen Stewart When I Need Her?


The Huntsman: Winter's War
dir. Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
114 minutes

One minute Sara (Jessica Chastain) and Eric (Chris Hemsworth) were children raised in kingdom of a sorceress named Freya (a weird-looking Emily Blunt). The next they are in their late 30s, except they are young lovers. I guess to a child anyone who is an adult is old anyway, so who cares if it seems like thirty years passed in the crow's feet of Jessica Chastain? Her agent probably has a substantial fixed rate mortgage.

Charlize Theron shows up for like three scenes in The Huntsman: Winter's War. She has been replaced in her entirety by the plot of Frozen. I can't complain since frankly the Disney version needed a darker, more adult take. Emily Blunt's eyebrows are on point, but when she finds out that two of her child/adult soldiers are in love, she is very upset with them. Personal tragedy colors her opinion of the situation, as does the fact that Hemsworth is inexplicably the only person in her entire kingdom with an Australian accent.

As children, Chastain and Hemsworth hefted bows too large to properly draw, but their soldiering is unquestionable. "Who are those children?" screams Blunt, and her assistant is like, which ones, and she replies, "THE BEST!?!?!" She separates the happy couple with an ice wall and her African-American servant stabs Chastain in the back. Hemsworth flails at the ice for two seconds, but he knew what he was getting into when he had sex with a ginger in a hot tub amidst an ice kingdom. How could he not?

A further decade passes and Snow White ascends the throne, displacing Charlize Theron on the grounds of superior femininity. Anticipating a sequel, they should have shot a few key scenes with Kristen Stewart but no one wanted to pay her salary or deal with her constant playing of Sufjan Stevens and whining on set.

After the ginger has been forcibly removed from his life and Kristen Stewart also declines a romantic relationship, Hemsworth's Huntsman character is quite surly. Dwarves (Rob Brydon and Nick Frost), perhaps not very knowledgeable, proclaim he is the finest tracker in the south. He leads them to a mess of corpses, which he strolls over slowly, recalling the battle like he is the mentalist.

I would be lying if I said I understand very much of what Hemsworth said, but there are some disgusting things about dwarves and women and female dwarves. Finally Chastain shows up even though Hemsworth thought she was dead from the tiniest stab wound I've ever seen. She saves him from some evil men and knocks him unconscious, and it turns out she is very upset that Hemsworth abandoned their marriage pact.

"You're still my wife," he tells her when she does something that he does not like. He bullies her and makes fun of her age, telling her that she is too old to be in this movie and that she makes Emily Blunt look like Demi Lovato. The Huntsman: Winter's War seems intent on brilliantly exposing the canard that female beauty can be at all tarnished by age, as its characters search for a literal and metaphorical mirror. After they bathe themselves in its golden reflection, they will be as they once were.

Accompanied by the two dwarves, Chastain and Hemsworth run into a female little person, who wields a crossbow and is given an unattractive haircut. She also forfeits the gobs of makeup bestowed upon Chastain and Blunt in every scene of The Winter's War. Later on, when Emily Blunt sees her, she is completely overwhelmed.

Instead of explaining why he abandoned her for the last decade or mentioning the entire events of the previous film, Hemsworth starts flirting with his wife and giving her little negs, like "We both look different I guess IDK" and "You're no female dwarf but you're pretty in your own way IDK." You would think this would be unnecessary given that they are already wed, but there is a precious lack of anything else going on in The Huntsman: Winter's War.

It is honestly embarrassing that Charlize Theron was featured so prominently in the promotional material for this movie. I mean I understand a fat check is somewhat reassuring when you have to cope with the emotional fallout from your breakup with Sean Penn, but she could have at least demanded a new costume designer, because everything she wears in this is not good (see above).

Chastain is the only one even attempting to act in The Huntsman: Winter's War. "It seems like I have to love you, but I don't," Chastain informs her husband, demanding that he let her go. "The one you love is dead, and I don't remember what it was like to even be her." She goes on to inform him that she has done unforgivable things. He responds, "So have I," and she gets this look on her face like she was just kidding before they have sex. Disappointingly, the wintercourse is missionary-style, but it is still penetration, thank god.

The next morning, his first sentence to her is, "Have you been true?" He holds up her knife to his heart as he asks the question. Because if she has so much as tongue-kissed another man, he doesn't care about her anymore. She doesn't answer, I mean, what could she realistically say? "I blew a guy after you ran off, sorry."

At that moment Emily strides up, riding a really cute bear.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"You Are So Beautiful" - Bootstraps (mp3)

"Natural Blues" - Bootstraps (mp3)


In Which We Examine The Nature Of Creation

Robotic Faith


director Ridley Scott
124 minutes

In the case of Prometheus the title’s nod to the classical Greek Titan is almost insultingly intentional. The mythological figure is known for bestowing humankind with the power of fire along with his subsequent and sadistically creative punishment from the Gods. Prometheus attempts to place itself on a similarly grandiose scale. In a sweeping elimination of millions of years of evolutionary progress, Prometheus reveals that extraterrestrials were the so-called “Engineers” of human life on Earth. At the start of the film, a pasty almost-human-looking alien disintegrates his body into primordial waters, and his DNA seemingly reconstructs into a new line of native Earth-based life. Prometheus then jumps to the year 2089, where archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) find awe-inspiring evidence of this original creation.

Fast-forward to the year 2093. On a streamlined spacecraft, humanoid robot David (Michael Fassbender) wanders about the empty ship, biding his time studying ancient linguistics until the human members of the crew wake from artificial slumber. Eventually, the team is assembled, which includes the aforementioned archaeologists, a few more feisty scientists, a smart-mouth pilot named Janek (Idris Elba) and an icy commanding officer Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron).

The ship has landed on a moon named LV-223, on which this motley team of scientists has traveled in hopes of answering questions about these Engineers and the bigger question of human purpose. Once there, the crew makes some unexpected discoveries. This is not the Engineers' home planet but a military base, and the Engineers' own weapons, which are organic, parasitic aliens, seemingly killed them while stationed here. Now those parasitic aliens, in various forms of maturation, are set on the destruction of the crew. Get ready for the deaths of numerous expendable characters.

The film’s impressively ambitious philosophical scope is not inherently misguided or unsuccessful. Yet Prometheus at times forces stilted dialogue and overwrought character development to definitively prove the existential importance of its thematic goals. Dr. Shaw’s Christian faith is constantly being questioned, as if the film is reminding the audience that this movie is about the meaning of life, and that’s really important. Rapace is a skilled actor, so it’s even more disheartening to see her attempt the cheesy line, “It’s what I choose to believe.”

The film also pursues extraneous storylines. Early on, David plays a holographic recording of the CEO of Weyland Corporation to the crew, as the company funded the expedition. Mr. Weyland (Guy Pearce), although apparently deceased, expresses his overwhelming commitment to the spiritual importance of the mission from beyond the grave. Eventually Weyland is revealed not only to be alive and on the ship (gasp!), but devoted to finding the Engineers simply to attain his own salvation from death. The plot twist is superfluous and unnecessary, though perhaps it solidifies a character motivation for David who hopes to impress his father figure.

The tragedy of these clumsy plotholes and dialogue is that Prometheus is an incredibly successful movie in other ways. The aesthetic execution is close to perfect. The grayish landscapes of LV-223 and primordial Earth are haunting and expansive. The streamlined symmetry of the inner ship is flawless. The spacesuits look Tron inspired and are desperately suitable for future cosplaying.

The last forty-five minutes of the movie can only be called “thriller movie porn,” with a face-paced sampling of ship explosions, flamethrower fights, and squirmy squid aliens erupting from surprising organs. On a purely visceral level, Prometheus easily achieves the same level of suspenseful anticipation that Alien is famous for.

Michael Fassbender’s performance is stunning, which is paradoxical since he succeeds in portraying a dispassionate robot. The character of David lacks human empathy, as evidenced when he infects Dr. Halloway with a parasitic spore without much concern. Despite this handicap, Fassbender’s David is also the emotional center of the film. We see brief glimpses of inner conflict, or at least some robotic version of conflict. He messes with his co-crewmembers, but does so in part to fulfill a strange father-son relationship with his creator Mr. Weyland. David watches Lawrence of Arabia in an attempt to parrot the cadence of human interaction; he exhibits signs of curiosity as he explores and discovers aspects of Engineer technology. David and Vickers, revealed as Weyland’s biological daughter, even have moments of sibling tension.

David is also engaged in Prometheus' deeper metaphysical issues. The film directly compares human’s creation of this robot with the Engineers’ creation of human kind. When David asks Halloway about the purpose of his own existence, Halloway bluntly answers, “We made you because we could.” David immediately retorts, “Do you imagine how disappointing it would be for you hearing the same thing from your creator?” This trillion-dollar space mission was funded to answer the meaning of human life, yet David is offered no answers of his own.

This issue of creation is the most intriguing thematic thread of the film. Prometheus makes a lot of lip service to Elizabeth Shaw’s “faith,” but the movie is much more successful in examining that relationship between the creator and created. In fact, the scariness of the parasitic aliens comes in great part from their disruption to this natural dynamic. Parenticide is mentioned numerous times, the most famous and publicized of which is Vickers' declaration: “A king has his reign and then he dies. It's inevitable. It's the natural order of things.”

For me, Prometheus is a lot like Lost which makes sense as Damon Lindelof is behind both projects. Both ask unsolvable questions, and fall flat in attempting to answer them. Yet, when Prometheus eases on the overly aggressive religious posturing and lets the mystery of creation remain a mystery, the film triumphs. When it examines the nature of creation, instead of attempting to explain it, Prometheus is a beautiful and surprisingly thoughtful movie. And if that’s not to your liking, there’s more than enough blood, guts and goo.

Lily Goodspeed is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. This is her first appearance in these pages. She twitters here and tumbls here.

"Timekeeper" - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (mp3)

"Roulette" - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (mp3)

The new album from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is titled The Lion The Beast The Beat and it was released on June 12th.