Quantcast

Video of the Day

Masthead

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

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(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
This area does not yet contain any content.

Entries in dick cheney (145)

Monday
Aug222016

In Which We Already Made Our Choice And We Regret It

Spill the Beans

by DICK CHENEY

Sausage Party
dir. Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon
88 minutes

Sausage Party was made for a cool $19 million. The animation was done by Nitrogen Studios, whose disgusting reputation for awful treatment of their employees emerged during the press surround the film's release. It seems even more egregious that animators weren't paid or credited for their work on Sausage Patty considering the production company behind the film is Annapurna Pictures, which was founded by the daughter of Larry Ellison, the fifth wealthiest man in the entire world.

The real tragedy is the end product itself. Animated movies require substantial financial investment in order to look good, and Sausage Party is an aesthetic mess. Most of the work is focused on a group of sausages that include Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. The sausages themselves are a little too glossy, but it makes sense for them to not really resemble meat in any way, since no other living flesh in Sausage Party is given human personification.

Ethically, the most egregious animated film was Ratatouille, which turned a monstrous species of vermin into a cuisine loving pet. It had the advantage of looking substantially better than Sausage Party, where the character models so infrequently resemble food of any kind and yet don't go completely in the direction of being entirely unrecognizable. You spend a lot of time during the movie asking yourself, "What kind of food is that?" and not really caring whether you can figure it out.

Bill Hader plays a bottle of Firewater, and he was instructed by the directors to adopt a Native American accent for this important role of the liquor who warns Barry (co-writer Rogen) that the world beyond their supermarket is not exactly the happy place they had been led to believe. Most of the jokes revolve around the idea that Barry is a penis who needs to be in a vagina. If you find this idea hysterical, it is relatively certain that you thought Knocked Up was a powerful and important statement about pregnant women.

The racial humor in Sausage Party is actually pretty tame, and a lot less offensive than the general visual direction and the meandering nature of the script. The voice acting is also all over the map, with Kristen Wiig sounding like she recorded her audio in an afternoon and Michael Cera doing an almost unrecognizable boy's voice. Edward Norton portrays a Jewish bagel since there are no Jewish actors in the cast to take on this key role.

There is nothing actually funny about Sausage Party, since only amusing part of the concept was pretty much encapsulated by the trailer in which a bunch of sausages were upset about being cooked. With such a flimsy concept, it would have made considerable sense to make Sausage Party a musical, but unfortunately hiring songwriters would have cost too much money. There is an opening theme but it is rushed through as quickly as possible since there is no humor whatsoever in it.

Later, a package of Meatloaf sings "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" for about ninety seconds. Seemingly at a loss for another direction to take things, Rogen immediately has one of the characters get incredibly high in a scene that features prominently in every one of his projects. In this state, he is able to communicate with Barry (Michael Cera). Meanwhile, Kristen Wiig's bun gets involved in a lesbian subplot with a taco (Salma Hayek).

In order to escape from the supermarket, the food products shoot a bunch of toothpicks infected with bath salts at the store's shoppers, so that everyone becomes real to each other. They tie up a man with licorice, and murder a bunch of other people, but this is all just preface to the sausage penetrating the bun while all of the other food watches. It turns into something of an exciting orgy, but even the massive, um, hilarity involved in watching sex among inanimate objects aren't enough to salvage this disaster.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Monday
Aug152016

In Which Women Are Rarely Found Around The Rock

Wear and Tear

by DICK CHENEY

Ballers
creator Stephen Levinson
HBO

Since Ballers is usually a term that refers to people living life well, it is strange that it does not seem to apply to anyone on this show. Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) is a deeply unhappy ex-football player trying to represent athletes in the greater Miami area. The Rock is just 44, but due to decades of wear and tear on his body from life as a professional wrestler, he looks considerably older. The fact that he is so completely hairless makes him resemble something like a cross between Lord Varys and the Predator.

In the ring, The Rock was not much of an artist. When he looked to transition to acting, he did the only sensible thing, which was take as many lessons as he could. His first major foray into this new art form was a role in the 2002 action romp, The Scorpion King. Christ was he bad in this movie, giving absolutely no indication that even fourteen years later he could manage the role of Spencer Strasmore, as close to his own background as that part is.

Wrestlers, in Vince McMahon's world, are classified as independent contractors. This is the immoral way that a company with a billion dollar valuation gets away with not paying for their employees' travel and lodging on a grueling road schedule that keeps them away from their families for almost three hundred days a year. Being a football player requires a lot less work comparatively, although depending on how hard you are hit, it can be even more dangerous.

The Rock did not like to be hit, but he never minded doling out the punishment. In a tragic night at the 1998 Royal Rumble, he got overly excited and bashed a chair into the skull of his opponent more than twenty times, causing a severe concussion that would end the man's career a few years later and permanently scar him for life. It was these disturbing moments that turned The Rock into Dwayne Johnson — he never planned to take such risks with his own body and saw the chance as a safer, more lucrative career.

Still, the fact that men (his father Rocky Johnson and his maternal grandfather Peter Maivia) on both sides of his family tree were huge stars in that industry keep him coming back. The Rock's last professional wrestling match was three years ago. He tore his tendons from his pelvis in a match with John Cena. The months off in rehab delayed shooting on his next film. Brett Ratner's version of the Hercules myth did well overseas, making $244 million on a budget of $100 million. For the role Johnson received $10 million; substantially more than his payoff for that year's Wrestlemania. The movie was shit.

It is in fact hard to think of a movie Dwayne Johnson has starred in that was actually any good. The Fast and Furious films are so completely painful and devoid of any inspiration whatsoever that they certainly make Johnson stand out as the only interesting aspect of them. Comedy should suit him, but for some reason he was the straight man in this year's Central Intelligence: watching Kevin Hart act is painful enough.

Despite the fact that all his projects are garbage, Johnson has improved so much as a performer. This was inevitable, as the innate charisma he possesses was only waiting for the right role. Spencer Strasmore is this role. The main relationship in Ballers is the friendship between Johnson's Strasmore and his partner Joe (Rob Corddry). It is fun to watch the normally spastic Corddry portray more of a laid, back realistic character, and he was the absolute best part of the Hot Tub Time Machine duology, where his acting chops were sorely underused.

The two are so good together in Ballers that you ignore how painful is it to watch an ancient Andy Garcia mug for the camera as their antagonist, Andre. The rest of the largely African-American cast completes Johnson far better. As Dolphins general manager, Dulé Hill is magnificent in a role that plays to all his strengths, and John David Washington is almost as compelling as Johnson himself in the role of a Dolphins wide receiver.

The weakest part of the show is its realism. Ballers presents itself as a behind-the-scenes type look, but it never approaches any of the excess that might shock or appall viewers. It is more about how everyone involved in this disturbing industry of destroying black mens' brains and paying them on non-guaranteed contracts is actually not terrible.

Wrestlers never had a union, because they never had the leverage for one. Their general mistreatment is a ghastly unreported story, but the responsibility the NFL players union abdicated should be a worse one. In every other sport, contracts are fully guaranteed. The NFL is as popular and successful financially as all of those other disciplines combined. You can feel that the particulars of this absurd situation are toned down because of HBO's pre-existing relationship with the NFL, but Ballers highlights some of these wretched moments despite that.

The most depressing moments in Ballers are more subtle. Strasmore's girlfriend Stephanie (Taylor Cole) barely ever sees him and the two have intercourse even less. Strasmore has no love in his life, and it is unclear whether or not Strasmore is even capable of intercourse given the amount of painkillers he subsists on. The Rock seems so sad now.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Monday
Aug082016

In Which Jared Leto's Existential Crisis Troubles Us All

Swamp Thing

by DICK CHENEY

Suicide Squad
dir. David Ayer
123 minutes

“Were there any that didn’t get cut? I’m asking you, were there any that didn’t get cut? There were so many scenes that got cut from the movie," Jared Leto explained. "We did a lot of experimentation on the set, we explored a lot. There’s so much that we shot that’s not in the film." He slightly massaged his left testicle and took a break to rewatch The Dark Knight. "If I die anytime soon, it’s probably likely that it’ll surface somewhere. That’s the good news about the death of an actor is all that stuff seems to come out."

There is a disease called Jared Leto disease. Once minute you're performing a very emotional scene opposite whatever has become of the rapper Common, and the next you think you have one thirty-fourth the talent of Heath Ledger. This ailment is about believing that you are more than what you seem.

The worst part of Suicide Squad is Jared Leto, which is not surprising since almost every actor involved in this movie besides Jai Courtney is a substantially better performer in every way. Hopefully Leto's comments about how mad he is about watching his scenes get cut gets him replaced by the little kid who disappeared in Stranger Things when it comes to the next Batman movie. In a few they will both look exactly the same: like a teenager who freshly discovered emo.

The Joker had one last card to play in the movies — that was his toxic relationship with Harley Quinn. Unfortunately, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto are both in their forties now and playing ten years younger. The characters themselves have aged horribly. The Joker is repositioned here as a sort of manipulative mastermind instead of the crazy man he was when Heath Ledger administered the finest acting performance of the last decade. As Leto suggests, Joker disappears for most of Suicide Squad, although he does send his girlfriend Harley (Margot Robbie) text messages.

Because Suicide Squad is PG-13, Joker never even beats his girlfriend up or causes anything except the most mild inconvenience. Sensing how bad this was coming across in early cuts, director David Ayer decided that Leto's performance was probably the worst part of the movie as it existed. Joker was minimized and fast.

Replacing him as the centerpiece of Suicide Squad is Deadshot (Will Smith). The first twenty minutes of the movie consists of a shortened version of his battle with Batman (Ben Affleck). Affleck is more bloated than he appeared when he strolled out of an after party recently looking like he wanted to pull his pants over his head in shame. Say what you want about Smith's Scientologist beliefs, but he is only getting better with age and Suicide Squad is about 1000x better when he was on the screen.

Seeing how audiences reacted to the humor of Suicide Squad's first trailer inspired a litany of reshoots on the project. The result is a mishmash of tone. Christopher Nolan's efforts in this world were almost never funny at all. Sure Christian Bale popped off a one liner using his Patrick Bateman voice from time to time, but the essential core of the movie was completely overserious, the complete opposite of what Marvel attempted to counteract the franchise's critical success.

Ayer's secret weapon of seriousness is a villain so completely absurd that they cast a fashion model to play her. About forty minutes in Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) causes some chaos in a sequence so completely dull Ayer can't wait to play another seventies rock song over it. The atonal music in Suicide Squad is a mess, so clearly is it attempting to steal from the general vibe of Guardians of the Galaxy. This is like copying a plot twist from Fifty Shades of Grey.

Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) spends a lot of time flirting with Will Smith, and the palpable sexual tension explodes while Ayer layers Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" over it. (Just the amount of songs here is mind-numbing.) Before President Obama went onstage to deliver his address to the Democratic National Convention, he also listened to Eminem, and the similarities between that speech and Suicide Squad are quite numerous. Both proclaim the essential fact of self-importance as a basic human right. I think Obama mentioned himself like a billion times.

Given that these characters do not really have a lot in common with another and don't form much in the way of relationships over the course of Suicide Squad, Ayer smartly makes the movie an all action-shootbang. Honestly, the movie probably should have been about Harley Quinn realizing that Jared Leto is an asshole and settling down with Deadshot in the Gotham City suburbs.

Instead, the sheer amount of guns in this shitshow is almost breathtaking. Ayer isn't exactly Stanley Kubrick, but he does create some memorable visuals here — the astonishing flight of a helicopter radiating light, the iridescence of one character's signature flame — when he isn't worried about the audience getting too bored with the utter lack of depth. Overall, though, he seems genuinely unhappy to be working on a project this cynical.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.