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 (142)

Tuesday
Jul262016

In Which J.J. Abrams Tries To Murder Other Peripheral Franchises

Enterprised

by DICK CHENEY

Star Trek Beyond
dir. Justin Lim
122 minutes

What kind of interest do you have in hearing Idris Elba perform a distinctly racist version of his own voice as a pseudo-alien named Krall as Zoe Saldana, looking like the mom of everyone involved, screams, "You already got what you wanted! Let her go!" I hope the answer is none.

At the beginning of the interminable Star Trek Beyond, Saldana's character Lieutenant Uhura politely informs her boyfriend Spock (Zachary Quinto) that she no longer feels attracted to him and she would like to part ways. She offers back a necklace he gave to her, but he allows her to keep it because it tracks her location. He will always know where she is.

This is the most entertaining scene in the entire movie.

Shortly thereafter screenwriters Doug Jung and Simon Pegg entertain us with the worst fucking cliche in all of Star Trek: the destruction of the Enterprise. Director Justin Lim has Idris Elba's ships swarm and destroy the larger the vessel, and what feels like it should take only moments lasts a good half hour. Pretty much everyone survives, and the artifact Elba pursues is luckily safe. It easily might have been destroyed, rendering his tactics somewhat questionable at best and jawdroppingly nonsensical at worst.

But I mean you won't want to be focusing on the plot here, since there really isn't any. The entire crew is marooned on an alien planet, which would be exciting except there is literally nothing to distinguish this world from any other random place the original Star Trek cast set down upon.

The original Star Trek was always shit and the only reason that these movies even exist for J.J. Abrams to torture us with was the tremendous critical and commercial success of the follow-up television serial, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Patrick Stewart singlehandedly carried the entire cast, but the writing was also very good at times and LeVar Burton wasn't terrible either. 

Star Trek: The Next Generation realizes a key lesson about the vast boredom of space intoned by Kirk at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond: if you don't have someone to ejaculate inside of, it can get super lonely out there. Kirk is so completely done with space that he applies to become the vice admiral of an orbital installation named Yorktown. I guess if Chris Pine's career gets bad enough, they can spin that off to series.

Pine's enthusiasm is usually his strongest selling point, along with his comedic timing. In Star Trek Beyond you can tell that he was ill during some of the shooting, because many of his line readings are completely off and he sounds like he has a frog in his throat. The end result is the most unprofessional final cut of an actor I have seen in awhile.

In order to compensate, most of the attention is thrown to the Enterprise's engineer, Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg). Pegg makes himself basically the star of this movie the exact same way he did in the last horrid Mission: Impossible jaunt. In that movie he at least had lots of great lines and a decent foil in the playful wiles of tiny Tom Cruise, but here his partner in crime is a bit more serious: an alien named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella).

The thing Star Trek Beyond misses the most is any sense of wonder at all. Even encountering this strange woman on an alien planet who lives in the desiccated shell of a Starfleet ship should be a moment of astonishing vitality and novelty. Instead two seconds later Montgomery Scott is being called a cute nickname by the alien and they are bickering like old friends. In every conceivable way it can, Star Trek Beyond skips the B that comes between A and C.

The rest of the cast is given very little. The supposedly southern accent of Bones (Karl Urban) waves completely from scene-to-scene, and he is paired with Spock for most of the film for in-depth conversations about serious and important topics like fear of death and their respective futures in Starfleet. Elba's Krall is not particularly calculating or fearsome villain, and the reveal of his true identity later on both repeats notes from the previous film and makes you wonder why they waited that long.

At the box office, early returns on Star Trek Beyond were that it was down fourteen percent from the previous film. That isn't so bad, but the previous movie really struggled with its tone as well and it had the benefit of a far better villain and story. At least with Star Wars, Abrams can just remake The Empire Strikes Back like he did A New Hope and at least the story itself won't be absolutely terrible. He seems to have no idea what to do with these characters; or maybe he has just realized they don't have very much potential anyway. 

The real answer is war. Star Trek was at its best when it turned space diplomacy into a canvas for the intersections of different ethics and views. A larger, powerful alien enemy is likely to be the focus of the next film, and there is a way to completely revamp this story into something compelling for a modern audience. First contact always has tremendous potential to make us reimagine our own ideas about what meeting other intelligent species in the universe would be like.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Thursday
Jul212016

In Which Motorbikes Claim So Many Innocent Lives

You Before He

by DICK CHENEY

Me Before You
dir. Thea Sharrock
110 minutes

I only break my post-Game of Thrones semi-retirement for Emilia Clarke movies. Alex started talking up this movie real early, claiming "It wouldn't be like the Terminator movie b/c the Dragon Queen has to play a normal." Boy, was he right. Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) proclaims in the first twenty minutes of Me Before You that she doesn't enjoy watching films with subtitles because it requires too much work and she's too basic to read.

Her dad is Bates (Brendan Coyle) from Downton Abbey because of course he is. When Louisa loses her job at the neighborhood bakery that seems to be giving away most of its food, her dad is like, "We're really screwed now," as the bakery $$$$ was all that was holding his small family together.

Louisa's boyfriend is Neville from Harry Potter because half the excitement of this movie is realizing what other, peripheral movies the cast has been in. Neville is a long-distance runner, and since Louisa can't share his passion for fitness because it is painful to run with her breasts, they start to grow apart.

By the far best part of Me Before You — although there are a lot of best parts since this is the best romantic comedy in awhile, even though there isn't much in the way of comedy but who cares since the Dragon Queen is loving a paraplegic — is the fashion.

The costumes in this disasterpiece/masterpiece are stunning. At one point Louisa's sister Katrina Clark (Jenna Coleman, who is a superstar in the making) wears a yellow shirt that was so perfectly emblematic of her character that I began to sob quietly. Katrina is really supportive of Louisa's relationship with the main antagonist in Me Before You, an ex-corporate stooge named Will Traynor (Sam Claifin).

I was once hit by a motorbike and the bike bounced off of me and everything was absolutely fine. It was a tiny little bike I mean who cares. Will Traynor is hit by a motorbike and he immediately goes down like a sack of potatoes and he never gets back up. Neville suggests maybe he should try a fitness regimen, which would make a lot of sense but Will pooh-poohs that advice since all the information he has from his doctors is that he's pretty much incarcerated from the neck down.

Will immediately gets the idea that since he is in no way as sexually active as he was before the accident, that life is not remotely worth living. His previous girlfriend moves on and his mother hires Louisa to cheer him up between pithy remarks.

Although this setup isn't much and anyone not attending the Republican National Convention can pretty much see where it is going, I have to admit some things that I did not expect and am ultimately not proud to have to say. Emilia Clarke is fantastic in this movie. It turns out that it is actually the shit-tier dialogue of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss holding her back. Me Before You lets her carry the action with her bubbly personality. You know what, Sam Claifin is really good too — he mostly just has to play off the Dragon Queen but she is always knocking things over and making mistakes but she never apologizes for them, she just accepts them as a part of life. I never knew how attractive a person like that can be until this movie.

It also helps that Emilia is a bit funny-looking but not without her charms. By all evidence her sister is the greater catch and we sense that when Will Traynor meets her family at a climatic birthday party at the end of the movie's second act that he is maybe more interested in seeing where things go with her. But instead he gives Louisa these wacky socks that she was really wanting. You can never underestimate the impact of a thoughtful gift on making a woman want to dump her boyfriend.

Me Before You kinda slows to a crawl after that. Louisa and Will can only consummate their romance with chaste kisses. She never even plays around with his dick just to see if maybe there is an involuntary reaction. He likes having her in bed next to him and their lips touch at odd, bizarre intervals. To prevent him from wanting to take his own life she takes him to the horse track; I guess logically thinking that watching animals bred for human amusement would somehow cause him to rise out of his chair like Matthew Crawley.

The one reason that all of this inaction comes across so well is Thea Sharrock's brilliant direction. She is completely spare with all of the varied emotions in Me Before You. To be honest, I was quite confused by the different aspects of love depicted here and Sharrock keeps everything spare and understandable. Will's parents are pretty unhappy with his choices but they treat him as an adult and abide by his wishes, even though it's kind of hard to see why you would want to die living in a castle with Daenerys Targaryen waiting on you hand and foot and giving you soft kisses right before bed.

I won't spoil what happens at the end of Me Before You, even thought my target audience has probably read the novel. I really don't understand the negative reviews this movie got. I was legitimately hard throughout the last third of it, especially in this amazing scene where Will's dad Charles Dance/Tywin Lannister chases after Daenerys at the airport. For a second, I was relatively sure that he was going to murder the poor girl. Instead she just rode away on the bus. From an airport. That girl sure was a normal.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Monday
Jul182016

In Which Stranger Things Have Not Yet Occurred

The following review contains mild spoilers for the first three episodes of Netflix's Stranger Things.

Pleathers

by DICK CHENEY

Stranger Things
creators Matt Duffer & Ross Duffer
Netflix

Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) lives in a run-down half ranch ever since her husband left her and moved to Indianapolis. Her clothes are draped over her shoulders in a casual-Mom esque way, the colors all poached green and residue brown. The makeup she does apply tends to make her look older, not younger. She is completely familiar yet entirely fraudulent as a divorced Midwesterner, since a remarkable feature of the Midwest is that it only has Jews in Ohio or Chicago.

Most of Winona Ryder's family died in the Holocaust so she could play this gentile imitation of life. Her sons Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), are maudlin, secretive individuals unhappy in themselves and uneasy with others. Jonathan is an amateur photographer who enjoys taking photographs of his unsuspecting classmates. Will is a strong student more interested in bonding with his tight-knit group of friends than his disassociated family.

Stranger Things leans so heavily on the concept of the 1980s that it will fall over and collapse without constant referring to its own time period. Between games of Dungeons & Dragons, Will's friend Mike (Finn Wolfhard) tells his parents about the guy his sister is fucking, a bro named Steve Harrington whose idea of a good time is shotgunning a beer. Everything in this epoch seems way toned down from what it actually was, like the 1970s never actually touched the small town of Hawkins, Indiana.

Mike's sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) is the breakout star of Stranger Things, which attempts to arrange a bunch of clichés from the terrible science fiction of the period into some kind of amalgam of inventiveness. She does the dirty deed with Steve Harrington, and the next day her friend has disappeared and her mother is screaming at her for telling the truth. This is such an absurd fate for a honest woman living her life as she sees fit.

Slut-shaming is everywhere in Stranger Things, a concession to small-town American values and how they stay intact no matter how much the surrounding world changes. In order to hide a young girl who they find in the woods, Mike Wheeler and his friends dress her up in a wig and do her makeup. No one in this society could possibly deal with a young girl who shaved her head.

I was actually alive during the 1980s. It was nothing like this, and as Tony Soprano famously said, "Remember when is the lowest form of conversation." To further enforce the prurient sense of nostalgia at work in Stranger Things, the chief antagonist is portrayed by a desiccating Matthew Modine. His role is as completely vacuous as the faceless monster who appears to absorb Will Byers into his carapace in the show's dull first episode.

Stranger Things gets substantially better from there. Ryder, it turns out, plays a fantastic Christian woman, and her considerable charisma is always a relief to engage. Just as entertaining to watch is the breakout performance of Hawkins' only sheriff, Jim Hopper (David Harbour). The rest of the casting on this project is as sublime, and it is great fun to watch all these characters engage with one another, no matter how slight the premise.

The science fiction elements of Stranger Things are in fact pretty dreadful, and contain nothing much in the way of science at all. This decision appears purposeful. Like much of the cinematic output of that dreadful decade, the context of horror in this small town is more basic fantasy, and not overly ambitious fantasy at all at that. Joyce believes that she can contact her son through the electrical circuits in her house. Mike's telekinetic friend that he found in the woods has a similar idea, and things develop slowly from there.

The synthesized music adds to general fantastic atmosphere. It would have been easy to turn this flimsy story into a tongue-in-cheek situation, but almost nothing is played completely for laughs, and the general tone in Stranger Things is, if anything, over-serious. "Sometimes people don't say what they're really thinking," one of the characters explains to Nancy at one point, but in Stranger Things they mostly do, again and again.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.