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Entries in dick cheney (153)

Tuesday
Feb142017

In Which We Always Desired A Normal Relationship

Mr. Grey's Beads

by DICK CHENEY

Fifty Shades Darker
dir. James Foley
118 minutes

In a Seattle cafe, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) explains in the most half-hearted manner imaginable that he wants Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) back in his life. He is willing to change, he admonishes her, why would you ever believe otherwise? A moment before, the waiter struggles with a bottle of wine. Both diners appear flummoxed. You see, when two people are together, one of them always feels the slightest bit awkward.

Later, during the first sex scene in Fifty Shades Darker, Jamie Dornan pants like maybe he is going to be out of breath. Regular sex is much more taxing than torture, and it is part of the reason he used to have a contractual agreement that allowed him to take powders for water and gumballs. Next to his stash of various whips, chains and chokers is a glorious room of gumball machines that he only shows to Matthew Fox, and on more serious outings, former child stars. It reminds them all of what they lost.

Grey tells much of his backstory while trying on this normal relationship for size. His mother suffered from drug addiction and died. It is quite disturbing and boring to realize someone's past explains their present, and even more so when it does not fully take into account the considerable weight Jamie Dornan has put on his slender frame for this important sequel. Comparing him to the original Christian Grey, it might be said that there are now two of them. If you did not know any better, you might conclude that Dornan does not give a fuck.

Ms. Johnson on the other hand, really puts all of her considerable charm into this thankless role. She clearly does not want to seem ungrateful: the money from being "fucked" by this man will keep her on easy street for the rest of her life, and she does not actually even need to wintercourse with the blubbery mess like Chloe Sevigny. When Grey gives her an iPhone and a Macbook as a gesture after they reconcile, he texts her to dream of him. She responds, "Maybe. Laters Baby," and Dornan gets this little smile on his face, like how is this woman wanting to work in publishing when she sounds like Demi Lovato after four drinks?

Ana is not really liking her new job, because why would she be an assistant for some guy who looks remarkably similar to her boyfriend, when she could just serve her boyfriend? Eventually, Grey purchases the publishing company. She is not only unsurprised by the fact that she is suddenly working for him, she does not complain. Later, she accepts the position her boss had filled at the top of the editorial chain. Her first memo naturally ends with Laters Baby.

No it does not. She never sends out a memo, or knows what one is, since she has only been an assistant whose main job is to book hotel rooms and relay messages. Despite having nearly unlimited economic resources, Grey keeps having strange women approach him with vague accusations. Normally this would be a red flag for his girlfriend, but it's not like he did anything else weird recently. Bored with their sex life after a single week, he introduces anal beads and a new haircut into their lovemaking. She raises her right eyebrow like The Rock.

Involving Kim Basinger in these proceedings, at an Eyes Wide Shut style masquerade charity event no less, is a bit of a low blow. Director James Foley makes her look like Chelsea Handler a decade-hence. Basinger still gets my blood moving, and it is hard to realize why she is wearing a headscarf like a cancer patient. It turns out that she introduced Christian to this whole psychosexual lifestyle. "Without me, he would be in jail or dead," she tells Ana. "If you really want to make him happy, you'll let him go. Nothing lasts."

Afterwards, Ms. Johnson washes Mr. Dornan with a loofa. During each subsequent sex scene, Mr. Dornan's body is more and more burnt and abused, whereas in some scenes they don't bother applying the makeup since it distracts from his penetration. Everyone who has ever loved anybody knows that Kim Basinger is right and this relationship is going nowhere fast, but she really enjoys the high points: his cabin in Aspen, his massive yacht. I think the subtle moral code here is that having a lot of money is more important than good sex, and maybe a lot more important.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. 

Monday
Dec192016

In Which Lee Daniels Bases All His Characters On Sean Penn

To Sing

by DICK CHENEY

Star
creators Lee Daniels & Tom Donaghy
Fox

From the moment Queen Latifah opened Lee Daniels' new show Star with her throaty voiceover I was in love. My wife Lynne won't let me watch Empire anymore because she says that it only feeds into the stereotypes the media creates about the lifestyles of African-Americans. Since Star has a white lead — its titular character portrayed by Jude Demorest — she allows me to view the show as long as I close my eyes whenever a person of color is committing a crime.

This happens fairly early on in the series. Star walks in on some older fellow sexually assaulting her half-sister Simone (the actress most likely to become an actual star out of this show, Brittany O'Grady). Star indicates Simone should be quiet while she goes downstairs to secure one of the largest knives I have seen since the late 1980s. Her first murder is easy.

Star explains that she plans to move her and Simone to Atlanta from Pittsburgh. They stop in New York and pick up an incredibly rich black woman named Alex (Ryan Destiny) on the way. Alex's dad is Lenny Kravitz, but a very annoying version of Lenny Kravitz. Things only get considerably more exciting from here, especially when Star screams, "I killed that man for us," while wearing the most distracting hoop earrings I can possibly think of.

If I was to explain the top five actors that enlarge my penis to approximately normal size, the list would be in no particular order Bryan Cranston, Benjamin Bratt, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander and Jimmy Smits. Star has two people on this list with the possibility of adding the full set down the road. When Latifah finally pops up on this show wearing a red wig and looking even more spectacular than I ever could have imagined, I immediately paused my viewing of Star and did a hot rewatch of Just Wright.

From the moment these three young starlets hit the stage, only one question comes to mind: Where is Benjamin Bratt? It turns out he is at a strip club in suburban Atlanta looking extremely tired. Star explains that his regular stripper has syphilis. He makes out with Star at his leisure and agrees to manage the band. 

Besides being a fantastic singer and despite being white, Star is also fantastic at hand-to-hand combat. When Queen Latifah finds out that Benjamin Bratt and Star made out, she shows up with a gun, informing him that her father maintained a woman only needed three things in life: your bible, your piece, and your word.

Despite this, Benjamin Bratt arranges for the ladies to perform at the birthday party of a white NFL linebacker. "Do you want to change our lives?" Star screams at her bandmates, I guess as a way of hyping up the whole experience. At the party, the NFL player wears a loose fitting white shirt and eyes Star like she holds a bevy of Hershey's kisses on her insides instead of organs. An hour later she lip-synchs a song about wanting to be a variety of different things.

Real talk, Empire was a little too soapy for me and I feel dirty whenever I am forced to view Terrence Howard in any context. Star is way better so far.

Now that Queen Latifah is back on series television for the first time in decades, I can finally debut my five part retrospective on her seminal situation comedy, Living Single. Included in my recollections will be screenshots from messageboard posts I made about various aspects of the show from 1995-1996. This was a very early time in the history of the internet, and I would troll Living Single fansites and try to get Kim Coles replaced because I didn't like looking at her face. On Living Single, Queen Latifah was the editor of a magazine called Flavor, and I have brought everything I know of it into my journalistic work.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Monday
Dec122016

In Which We Become Brad Pitt At Great Cost

It's All Very Real

by DICK CHENEY

Allied
dir. Robert Zemeckis
124 minutes

It is an important human tradition that all great couples begin to resemble one another. Brad Pitt's eyes have slowly been rendered heavy-liddled; his skin hardening into a flat, slightly leathery carapace. The moment he sees Marion Cotillard he is mainly shocked that a person could look any different. "Now this is the part where I tell you I love you," she whispers to Pitt on a rooftop. The Canadian intelligence officer (these apparently exist) whose role Pitt inhabits in Allied is quite deliberate and cautious, but he has to be. If he perishes in Casablanca, Canada's contribution to the Second World War will be vanquished as well.

Just kidding, Canada, and I'm sorry that Trailer Park Boys became so awful, and thus your only contribution to civilization besides allowing a lot of television shows to be shot in Vancouver is now impotent. Even more sadly, Pitt never even attempts a Québécois accent. Pitt does speak a bit of French in Allied, and it never really makes too much sense that most of the characters speak English: switching back and forth only reminds us how inauthentic it all is.

The rumor, of course, was that Pitt cheated on his wife with Cotillard. Watching Allied you can be fairly certain that this was never the case. At one point Pitt kisses her on the forehead like a sweet friend that you maybe stick your penis into one night after work and then every time you see each other after that it's a little awkward, but the memory is hardly painful.

You never fucked a friend? Good. He never lets you forget it.

Allied was something far short of a box office smash. In fact it lost a substantial amount of money after you factor in the considerable marketing budget. Sometimes a movie will thrive on gossip, but no one really wanted to see these two older people in coitus, especially considering that we will never stop thinking about Brad yelling at his adopted children on their private plane.

Any movie about the past must tell us something about the present. The view of Nazism here is revoltingly casual; the war itself is a mere incidental background. The massacre of millions is nothing in light of the importance of the key romance here; despite that Pitt and Cotillard mostly seem exceedingly frosty to one another. The chemistry is not there at all, and director Robert Zemeckis (The Walk) is out of his depth trying to create it. Cotillard does have the capability of projecting an eminent sexuality, but Allied buttons her up way too much: she is at her most appealing when she is in the corner of the frame nowhere near the center, so elusive she might totally disappear if the wrong word is spoken, or the penis inserted in an unwelcome orifice.

What surrounds this misstep is no less dull. A period piece demands a certain sweeping music, and the score to Allied, by Alan Silvestri, comes across as more or less inchoate. The tone remains entirely off as Zemeckis vacillates between painfully bad scenes where the two senior citizens flirt with one another to supposedly tense moments while Pitt searches for a German official. The set design of Casablanca itself is a total mess — you never get any moment of foreignness, and there is absolutely no surprise here at all: Allied feels more like a Marlon Wayans-led satire of Lawrence of Arabia.

Cotillard gives birth in a somehwat unlikely scene with bombs falling in the background. Somehow Pitt has great personal wealth and the two settle down in England. Marion turns much softer then, and when Pitt wakes up next to her we understand how thrilling it is to have someone there for you, that you can touch at any time and who will touch you.

Marion makes a lot more sense as a dull English wife than a spy, but soon Pitt finds out she is probably working for the Germans and doesn't feel as attracted to her. Compounding the issue is that Marion never undresses for the sex scenes in Allied: the two consummate their marriage in this weird, fetishy, fully clothed wintercourse.

Neither of them feel very attached to the child, perhaps sensing on some level that it was the result of a faux union. The two relentlessly try to recreate their time in Morrocco, but it simply does not feel particularly right. Probably Marion would have just told her husband the truth in real life, but in this story she stays quiet even though Brad is super placid in this role, never once exploding in anger — just showing off some mild Canadian distaste.

It is ironic that the basic plot of Allied is that Brad suspects his wife, when he is actually the suspicious one. Why did Angelina dump this piece of garbage? The terms of the temporary custody agreement allowing Pitt access to his children are quite revealing: not only is he sentenced to a weekly therapy session with Los Angeles-based marriage counselor Ian Russ, he has to go with Angelina. This breakup, then, is in name only. He can never stop looking at her face, primarily because it is his own.

Brad also has to submit to drug and alcohol testing four times a month, which either should have gotten his lawyer fired, or is the measured consequence of the intense diet of cocaine, weed, and alcohol he samples in pursuit of a finer performance in his chosen profession. In Allied, the resulting exhibition is quite the tragic mess. Once we tire of the awkward interaction between the leads, Zemeckis introduces some peripheral characters to testify about the allegiance of Cotillard — one is a pained, squawking Lizzy Caplan who seems totally out of place in this retinue. God this was bad. Please don't see it. They probably should not have ever made a movie which required you to feel sympathy for Brad Pitt.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.