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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

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 dick cheney (86)

Tuesday
Sep302014

In Which We Believe That God Has Spoken Directly To Ron Perlman

His Left Hand

by DICK CHENEY

Ron Perlman's goatee looks like a hand covering his mouth. He is left handed, so it is his left hand that he raises in a public fountain where the police find him, speaking in tongues. In the opening scene of Hand of God, his pert body receives enlightenment from his God, a traditional beginning to many Bible stories. Executive producer Marc Forster's Amazon pilot purports to make fun of this tale. Hand of God is a roundly pessimistic take on this inspiring yarn.

You see, Perlman's character is from Texas, which means he is probably a bad person. Ron's wrinkles portray a judge named Pernell who used to give everyone maximum sentences - before God spoke to him. 

I was recently told by someone that Barack Obama is an atheist, which I have to admit surprised me. If someone made me president, I'd be sure think God wanted good things for me, and was probably planning for me to enter into a long term relationship with a woman completely different from my wife in every way, say, a prime minister of another country.

Dana Delany plays Ron's wife. They are rarely in the same frame together, because it is really hard to believe the two are a couple. Ron has sex with an African-American prostitute in his judge's chambers, but then he thinks better of this act. He's been enlightened, and having sex with a woman for money is wrong. The woman has to hear her client say, "I think we should just talk from now on." Ron seems sad to do it, but he can't cheat on his wife anymore.

European artists like Forster are obsessed with Westerns, which was kind of a sideways version of the south. Now they've turned their back on people like Pernell. Unfortunately, I can think of no redeeming quality of such a person, either. Perlman's character degrades everything around him in pursuit of God's wishes, which does not seem so terrible in theory, but is in practice devastating.

Pernell's daughter marries a Jewish woman who wants to take him off life support after he tries to kill himself, after watching his wife raped by a police officer. (This is what Forster thinks law-abiding citizens of America do with their time.) Pernell disobeys her wishes and keeps his son alive, believing the young man can communicate with him, using the power of the Lord, who the rapist is.

Pernell's fellow churchgoers include men and women of color. Pernell finds he relates to them better than the other people in his life, who have only a cursory connection to the Lord. 

That people who believe in God go against his principles is not a contradiction in terms. Ron turns ugliness into its own farcial weaponry on those who understimate him. Whatever gruff charm he has left is kind of like the final snarl of a working hound. 

Austin, TX makes for a flaccid setting, probably because the show is not shot there and because Forster knows nothing of whatever charm might be had in the city. Hand of God does not know whether to condemn belief or consider it a cause roughly on the same level as justice. It is as mixed up as its protagonist.

As bad as the Amazon-funded Hand of God is, it should have been a lot campier, with Perlman in gothic robes and a subplot about Dana Delany's addiction to drugs. Camp really needs to come back; where is Wayne Koestenbaum when we actually need him for once?

This past week was saved by a female performance that will echo through the eons. Kristin Connelly's performance as the wife of Harry Houdini had to be seen to be believed. I invited a lot of my friends over to watch this woman. She was incandescent:

This is what she wore right when the doctor tells her Houdini isn't going to make it. I mean the costume design on this thing was the most moving part of the magician's journey. There's also a moment where she screams at Houdini, why did I marry a Jew? The entire story is quite dramatic. It's weird that Kristen Connolly and Ellie Kemper are two different people, and not twins.

There's a really odd scene in Houdini where Houdini kisses his mother on the lips. It turns out to be the smooch of death, because I guess she died when he went on tour in Europe. The History Channel really brought it this time. I wonder if there was actually a newspaper that said this:

The paper would probably looks authentic, were it not for the motto, "All the News That's Fit To Print." I guess the inaccuracy would be forgivable, I mean William Randolph Hearst was not that big of a dick, and Aladdin was actually a wonderfully effective thief.

Kristen Connolly's effortless line readings were the highlight of this ten-cent production, but Adrien Brody was not terrible himself. His hair was electric, and he made Houdini seem very condescending and obsessive. The actors who played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife were also excellent:

Campy biopics haven't been this impressive since the Celine Dion biopic with Joe Pantaliano. If you have a chance, treat yourself to that gem. I think the TV Guide network airs it every Kwanzaa.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. Visit our mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"Holloway (Hey Love)" - Wildcat! Wildcat! (mp3)

"Garden Greys" - Wildcat! Wildcat! (mp3)

Tuesday
Sep232014

In Which Every Morning When We Wake Up Robert Rodriguez

Mexican Goddess

by DICK CHENEY

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series
creator Robert Rodriguez


I still think the casting in Pulp Fiction was all wrong. Bruce Willis was too old to play a prize-fighter. Uma Thurman looked pretty good but she didn't seem like some crime lord's wife, and I still don't understand what the point of flirting with a gay hitman was. Also giving someone a long speech before killing them, especially if they are Phil LaMarr? Pulp Fiction had a lot of plot holes, and it was also missing something very crucial: Wilmer Valderrama in a key role.

From Dusk Till Dawn
, the 1996 version, had George Clooney. It was before he met Steven Soderbergh and contracted the airborne virus of self-righteousness; it was before he turned an engagement with a semi-pretty lawyer into a public makeover emphasizing what a great guy he is. He was still doing that annoying thing where he lowered his head and looked up through his brow to talk to other actors.

I am ashamed to admit I thought the accent from That 70s Show was how he really talked.

The new George Clooney (D.J. Cotrana) looks like a miniature version of his hunky predecessor. Everything about the series version is a little smaller, a little less depraved, but it turns out that is just what the concept needed. The new From Dusk Till Dawn fixes almost everything that was wrong with the first one, including killing off one of the Gecko brothers far, far too soon. Recently released on Netflix in its entirety, the show has already been renewed for a second season.

Stacy Keibler is salivating for the third time today.

Seth and Richard Gecko's journey from Los Angeles to a strip club in Mexico that traps them inside deserved a lot better. It was one of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's first projects, and if George Clooney wanted in their movie, they had to take him, even if he was kind of bad and mealy-mouthed in the role.

The casting of Seth Gecko is no better here, but the casting of Zane Holtz as Richard Gecko is entirely improved, since Tarantino wasn't much of a performer either. Even after only a few minutes of From Dusk Till Dawn, you get how much of television has entirely the wrong tone for its content - Rodriguez's control over that aspect allows you to relax and enjoy the litany of stupid cultural references we have come to expect from Quentin Tarantino-inspired diegesis.

MIght be best not to take your wardrobe cues from Frank Miller there Bob

The original surprise of From Dusk Till Dawn is that you could be surprised by it, assuming you did not know it was a supernatural movie to begin with. In 1996, the twist came so out of nowhere it is hard to imagine the drama without it, but now that the mystery is gone, the concept has to rise or fall on its own momentum. In 1996, we were surprised by a lot of things, I mean, who even knew why a man would put a cigar tube in a woman's vagina in those innocent days?

Valderrama himself is a revelation as a powerful vampire masterminding the crime spree of the two disturbed brothers. Opposite Mexican pop star Eiza Gonzalez as Santanico Pandemonium, the pair deepen the flimsy role popularized by Salma Hayek. The extensive background on the vampires is not really necessary, but the tone is so much fun that it obscures all the flaws in the concept.

She should take her pep talk to the UN

The Gecko brothers meet up with a former reverend (Robert Patrick) taking his kids to Mexico as he flees a vehicle manslaughter charge, it was kind of hard to imagine Harvey Keitel as a man of the cloth. Robert Patrick makes a much better Jacob Fuller, and Juliette Lewis was a bit old to be the virginal sacrifice/ preacher's daughter. Replacing her in our hearts is Noah's Madison Davenport, who kind of looks like an off-brand Emma Watson.

She's eighteen and you're disgusting.

Davenport's star turn here is perfect. She is just tantalizing enough to be impossible; the character is deeper than any female in the entirety of Rodriguez's oeuvre to this point. Instead of being simply a survivor, we understand and appreciate what it means to be a woman torn apart by the men around her. Turning Kate into a real heroine rectifies nearly all my complaints about the original.

How I learned I want to marry Robert Patrick.

Rodriguez's talents are rare in the industry: he gets nuanced, emotional performances out of young actors that other directors can't, and his control over when violence happens and how people react to it stands out too. Where he is not so unusual is his love for the stems of his leading ladies. Fortunately the women of From Dusk Till Dawn are overall too young for him, and judging from the excessive screen time and gratuitous nudity Eva Green had on display in the latest Sin City, he had other priorities.

On some level worshipping women as gods or beacons of purity is as destructive as positioning them as prostitutes, but at least in From Dusk Till Dawn, they get a chance to select their fate for themselves.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"I Keep Running" - Ryan Adams (mp3)

"Jacksonville" - Ryan Adams (mp3)

Friday
Sep192014

In Which Red Oaks Takes Us Back To A Certain Time And Place

Something Better

by DICK CHENEY

Red Oaks
creators Gregory Jacobs and Joe Gangemi

It was truly disturbing listening to BBC coverage of the referendum on Scottish independence. Pundits trying to pretend to be neutral resulted in more ehhhhs than when Mel Gibson made his speech to the Anti-Defamation League. (The amount of Braveheart memes that spawned from this event was also intolerable.) The British were acting like, "Hey, Scotland has something really great, why would they even think of looking elsewhere?" Scotland responded, "OK fine."

David Myers (the pimply Craig Roberts) has roughly the same situation on his hands. He is in a long term relationship with a wonderful looking blonde Karen (Gage Golightly). She is the yoga instructor at a Jewish country club in New Jersey, and he is the junior tennis pro. On the surface, things seem great:

What was life even like before AppleWatch?

There is always a very good reason that a man is more interested in a brunette than a blonde. Some of these reasons include

1) colorblindness

2) recently saw an episode of Chelsea Lately and was like, "I'm out"

3) Listened to Nina Simone's "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair" during transcendental meditation

4) common sense

5) "the grass is always greener"

6) Neil Strauss' The Game

7) Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

8) Any movie starring Reese Witherspoon's obsequious chin.

Actually, what am I saying, who would pass up a yoga instructor for a human sized mouse?

When David spots a Molly Ringwald-type watching him play tennis against the country club's president Mr. Getty (Paul Reiser), he loses his focus and concentration. Her mystery spans the eons; there is no way she would ever let him take her on the greens of the club's single golf course, so of course she must be more desirable than his current girlfriend.

someone kissing your face while mosquitoes bite your bare thighs is a most unpleasant sensation

Karen wants to move in with David after high school. She thinks they should get a cute dog together and take the little pup for walks. She will pursue her modeling career quietly, and only when David strictly approves of what she is doing. (Unfortunately Terry Richardson was still alive in the 80s, but such danger comes with the territory.) David is not as thrilled by the life Karen has set up for him.

David closely observes the relationship of his parents, portrayed by Richard Kind and Jennifer Grey with the kind of aplomb that the Anti-Defamation League should probably look into when they complete their Mel Gibson investigation. David's father has recently suffered a heart attack, but this incident has resulted in only more bickering and stress.

Jennifer Grey, we hardly knew ye

Watching Grey without her signature schnozz is still very difficult for me, whereas my wife Lynne wondered aloud, "She couldn't throw on a little make up? She's on television" while doing her Joan Rivers impression. David's parents are not in love with each other. There is no passion there: his mother may be a closeted lesbian, and his father has a predilection for Asian women, both of which are so noxious a stereotype that you might notice it if you weren't too busy observing the glory of Karen in her natural habitat:

Getting menopausal women to wear blue eyeshadow should have been the focus
of Michelle Obama's wellness initiative

Sure, Red Oaks does start to feel a bit cobbled together after awhile, but David Gordon Green excels at giving us something that is completely familiar and filling it with new surprises. It makes a dark sense that people stay in unhappy relationships while they continue to pursue new ones. Could Scotland maybe find a better God? They'd rather have England on the hook if they need them. I'll get my coat.

Where was I? New surprises. The senior pro at the club is Nash (Ennis Esmer). After David lets Paul Reiser, the club president, take a few sets off him, David's job is in jeopardy if he can't beat the older man after losing a set. He wins while the brunette watches him from the cheap seats.

life was so good before popped collars

It turns out that the lingering brunette is Paul Reiser's daughter. I think they eventually had a kid on Mad About You, didn't they? That relationship sure took its sweet time. Paul and Helen had the most amazing kitchen. It was like an enclosed room with counter space everywhere. It was super-cozy, and Helen Hunt's forehead wasn't super-massive yet. Paul Reiser really had it all. Now he just looks tired, cranky and sick of starring in pilots that don't get picked up:

"I was with a blonde woman for two decades, David. Pass."

The best part about Dirty Dancing was the class struggle, and how Patrick Swayze was trailer trash that no one wanted around their daughter. The second P. Swayze saw that schnozz, he sang the Jewel song, "You Were Meant For Me" and they danced together. (It's been awhile since I've seen Dirty Dancing.) Jennifer Grey was radiant in her role as a Jewish man's daughter,  of that much I can assure you.

Skye (Alexandra Socha) is a lot less charming. Her name isn't really funny, but her resemblance to a brunette Molly Ringwald is intense. Red Oaks will probably never make it to series, since it seems to run out of steam on its own concept about twenty minutes in to its first episode. There's something interesting here, but not enough to commit to. I'm going to go ask Lynne if she wants to pull my pants down to my ankles and scratch my mosquito bites. Talk to you later.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

If you watch Animal House today, all those guys would have life sentences in jail.
"Not a Second More" - The Lees of Memory (mp3)

"(I Want You To) Let It Flow" - The Lees of Memory (mp3)