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Entries in dick cheney (73)

Thursday
Jan092014

In Which We Tire Of Disney's Frozen At A Rapid Pace

I hope antoine de saint exupery's daughter's daughter by a prostitute is getting royalties for this

Icy Hot

by DICK CHENEY

Frozen
dir. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
102 minutes

The racism is back and better than ever. I complain, loudly, when Amazon puts an anti-Semitic hack like Agatha Christie on my kindle screensaver, but when it comes to Disney's relationship with bigotry and hate, most turn a blind eye. Every single person in Disney's feature length animated musical Frozen is white except for a Mama Troll who is voiced by a black actress, Maia Wilson.

at least give us a latino troll as well
The white protagonists of Frozen must be distinguished by their hair color. The blonde, Elsa (Idina Menzel), is the evilish one. Both Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa's parents perish in a vicious, parent-killing storm that capsizes their ship, and the next scene shows a group of cagey servants pulling a curtain over their portraits. This makes no sense, because portraits of loved ones who have passed help us remember them. There are a lot of things in Frozen that make a similar kind of sense.

longing for a white guy (she knows no other races).

But hey, you object, pausing a moment to gargle a rabbit's foot in your mouth for good luck, at least animals don't talk in Frozen. You will be half right, since many sociological experts consider trolls to be a different species, and also a snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) is present for merchandise considerations and because having to hear the voices of Anna and her poor-ish friend Kristoff warble their way through their songs is quite painful, no matter how amusing the lyrics.

kristen bell's sonorous voice should never have been associated in any fashion with this image

Frozen would be much better as a stage musical, since it only uses three sets: an ice castle, a village and the tundra. Without other races and creeds, things are for the most part boring, and the lives of the girls in Frozen are occupied by nothing more than pining for the world outside their castle, waiting for the "gates" to open that will signal their adulthood. (You didn't seriously think this movie wasn't going to be sexist as well? Was there even a woman in The Lion King, and don't say a female lion cub, that doesn't fucking count.) Eventually the metaphorical vaginal gates open and the citizens are tolerably pleased with the shape of the aforementioned items.

Bah! you remand me with. Why can't you just enjoy things that are utter shit, like the rest of us? So what if the main antagonist in Frozen is basically an anti-Semite caricature that has Walt Disney nodding somewhere in the depths of hell?  Who cares if the disturbing racial stereotype of a wacky black troll saying, "Lawddd" is totally inappropriate for children?

this is worse than the quenelle
I have no real response to this other than to quietly post skeptical things about global warming on reddit, but I think you know most of what I'd like to say.

On her seventeenth birthday Anna finally is introduced to the village that surrounds her deceased parents' lonely castle. (They are never mentioned again after they go to their watery graves.) In one day only, she agrees to wed a local prince who she "unexpectedly" meets in this position:

the MPAA should be ashamed of itself, but more for existing at all
This movie was rated G. Think about that, or I mean, don't.

Elsa becomes quite upset when she learns of her sib's engagement, which I understand is typical. (I am not totally unfamiliar with the conflicts sisters have with each other.)  In response to this betrayal, she shoots ice out of her fingers and brings eternal winter to the land. Since it was basically already winter before this, it's hard to quantify what "eternal winter" means, but it involves a new hairstyle and a musical number.

I tire of all this obfuscation. One thing is most definitely not another; we may indeed regard what a thing is as its primary aspect. A mermaid is not a charming young woman; she is a siren who lures young men of two legs to death by true love. A lion is a savage predator, not a friend to warthogs and primates alike, while I have never met a deer who could talk, at least outside of a few sentences like, "Liam Hemsworth is too full of himself" or "Whatever happened to Everything But the Girl?"

you travelled to my ice palace and didn't bring snacks? I've been eating ice ever since the corpses ran out.

Eventually Anna tells Elsa of the harm she has inflicted on the local area, especially the money-driven Jewish landowner. She implores Elsa to end her isolation and the accompanying cold deluge. Elsa's response to her sister goes along these lines, "I have no way to melt ice, only create it. Therefore your complaints are noncupatory." The talking snowman is fairly displeased by this turn of events, but he tries to lend a certain lightness to the proceedings:

Musicals are fairly hit or miss unless they involve Stephen Moyer, in which case they consist of poor singing and acting. Frozen's songs are jaunty and amusing, although they do seem to largely revolve around one key joke: it is cold when it snows. I have always taken this for granted, but I suppose on some level it is worth mentioning, just not at the expense of women and minorities.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording and a writer living in an undisclosed location. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about The Hobbit.

I close my eyes when I sing also, so this part was relevant.

"We Made It Through Another Year" - Nerina Pallot (mp3)

"I Wish" - Nerina Pallot (mp3)

foreplay on the ice

Friday
Jan032014

In Which We Do Not Think Much Of This Smaug Person

Her Method

by DICK CHENEY

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
dir. Peter Jackson
1145 minutes

Tauriel (Evangelina Lilly) is a wild, rambunctious elven warrior in service to King Thranduil. She has maybe like an on and off again thing with Legolas, who looks weirdly older than the other man we knew so long ago. Orlando Bloom's face looks like it had to be re-put together after a car crash, and he stares at Evangy with muted hatred. She is an elf and he is an elf, but they are not the same kind of elf.

Acting Without Acting is of course Ms. Lilly's masterpiece in the field, following the flamboyant homosexuality of Stravinsky's An Actor Prepares, the pro-Israel schleffing of David Mamet's True and False: Don't Act and the whorish subtlety of Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations. Ms. Lilly follows somewhere along the lines of these great thinkers in chapters like "Play Hard To Get", "Know Any Tennis Pros?" and "Sawyer." It is a great shame there is no Sawyer in The Hobbit - after all, it seems like everyone else got to be in it.

There is a scene in The Hobbit where Gandalf is physically assaulted by the eye of Sauron. It is meant ironically, for our own eyes are at war with Evangeline every moment is she on screen. She says words in a way where it is very clear she has no idea what they mean, a strategem she outlines in the book's persuasive last chapter, "Sayonara." At one point the camera even catches her mouthing the words, "Kate would run."

A theory of acting is always appreciated; a theory of politics less so. Peter Jackson has elevated a truly dull provincialism into a globe-trotting aesthetic in this second part of a second trilogy. Virtually nothing happens in the entire movie, a feat only recently perfected by Christopher Nolan and the guy who records my family functions. New Zealand looks very exciting really, probably more so than Middle-Earth just in its randomness. Jackson's mind is so ordered that the only thing out of place in his lazily long ode is Stephen Colbert.

Smaug is the inner personification of Lilly's anxiety over her future; he wakes when she leaves her Elven nest. Orlando Bloom is mildly concerned about this, so much so that he needs to talk it over with his dad. The two guys agree that there is a lot of violence in the world, most of it caused by non-Elves. Josh Holloway should have been Orlando Bloom's dad for maximum impact; he could offer the uptight, emasculated Legolas scotch in a semi-dirty glass and the two could intermingle ideas over how aging affects female elves so much more profoundly than males.

The elves and dwarves murder about 1600 orcs and other "dark persons" without so much as suffering a single blow. The pack of dwarves journeying to the dragon boasts equal invulnerability until Evangy's favorite dwarf takes an arrow in the knee from one enterprising villain. She saves him from death, and he frees his friends from an elven tributary that has virtually no one point of existing other than the fact that the elves have to dump their waste somewhere. Never trust a race whose sewers look like Appalachia.

It is not only the elves who are culpable in the acting disaster that occurs here. Martin Freeman saps the wonder from nearly every scene he is, making up for it only with an unexpectedly splendid physical comedy. His nebbishness has a half-life of about ten to twenty minutes, after which you want to hold him underwater by his ears. The gimmick of him turning invisible when he places a ring over his finger was done far more meaningfully when Chevy Chase did it, and I believe his version predates this one by almost eight decades. A lot of scientists agree that Fletch was first written in 25 B.C.

In some ways Middle Earth reminds me of the world without Jesus and guns, although an arrow seems as deadly put in the bow of a very horrible actress. Without these stabilizing voices, Jackson seems to be arguing, civilization breaks down, normal people are evacuated or forced away from the land, and genetic anomalies begin to dominate the discourse, in thrall to specific special interests. For the elves it is isolation, for the dwarves it is money, and for the hobbits it is food and pleasure. All are aberrations of humanity which must force down their inclinations in order to restore order.

There is a certain limitation to the dwarves in this volume. Previously they were messy, stimulating and individuated. Now they trot the landscape like a group of missionaries, barely able to think of anything except their task or loved ones left back in dwarven lands. There is little of the fun of new places; they are more like pilgrims wandering their ancestral desert. Their leader, Thorin Oakenshield, is a particular maudlin fellow.

The dragon itself looks quite wrong. It is not the thinness of its limbs, or the agility in the confined space at the mountain's base that are quite troubling. Instead the problem concerns the dragon's latent humanity. If he can contemplate revenge, as the dwarves seem to believe, then Smaug possesses his own legitimate set of grievances. Perhaps the dragon even has a coterie of devoted worshippers capable of blowing themselves up in public places like ferries or jizz saloons. The dragon may petition the council of races to be recognized; he could send a candle as his representative.

Fun has been stripped out of the world entirely; there is only an imported sanctimoniousness, impulses that occur seemingly on behalf of others but are actually disguised outlets for guilt and shame. The thrill of acting for its own sake has been dispensed with. There are no happy accidents in the business of making these movies, since even the slightest fuck-up can be fixed in post. What we find here is all there is: magic has fled the land, destined to be reclaimed in the sequel to Acting Without Acting, The Hobbit With Kate From Lost.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He last wrote in these pages about Christmas reading. You can find an archive of his writing in these pages here.

"Planetary Motion" - Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (mp3)

"Cinnamon and Lesbians" - Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (mp3)

Monday
Dec162013

In Which We Made A List Of Gift Ideas For You And Your Loved Ones

Christmas Reading

by DICK CHENEY

It's always nice to cuddle up in an armchair that encircles me completely like a lover, holding in my clunky hands an e-reader stained with the juices of avocados, imported grapes and that tetanus shot. In those moments time itself stands still, and I am brought back to a familiar yet unfamiliar moment that of being in the womb.

Real books made of paper hold little interest for me now, but I understand that for others they remain a novelty. Instead of looking at the binded paper as simply a conduit for information, I now purely view it as a material good, like a dinner bell, a caftan, or a PlayStation 4. I was not paid for any of the recommendations I make here, or even slightly encouraged. If you're going to accept amoral blings and blangs for your tactfulness, make sure it's from an oil company.


Sometimes when I'm in the only hipster coffee shop in Wyoming, trolling for people to hand out "flyers" for my "lost dog" as a means of getting their fingerprints, I see what people are actually reading. Everytime I see the name Jonathan Franzen on a spine I want to cry out, but instead I just bing Michael Chabon divorce and hope today will be different.

As a status symbol, a physical book is better than a crown I suppose. People still like to receive them, it would seem, so I have written down some options for your loved ones. But if you do find a woman or feminine-looking man that you really want to impress, don't give her a book, give her a Sea-Doo watercraft. She'll leap on you like your blouse is on fire.

Compared to Ugly Duckling Presse, every other independent press is gross and weird. Ugly Duckling's Brooklyn location publishes fine poetry and prose in the loveliest imaginable editions, and unlike the kickstarter you funded for a book featuring all of Chip Kidd's sketches of penises, the end product is sure to find your door. Moreover, your lady friend to be will be reminded of you all year, and not just of vague texts like, "Ur my orange peel," none of that, just exquisite poetry to shake the rafters. The only man who did not have to continually remind a woman of his greatness was David Ben-Gurion. A base membership is only $60.

Emily Books is well on its way to becoming the premiere book-of-the-month club for women in America. (I think once or twice they chose a book by a man, but it was not very well received.) The idea for the club, born in Emily Gould's kitchen or finished basement, consisted of the possibility that women could be taught to think less of their partners by specific movements in literature. Once you see Keith Gessen's chest hair up close though, it's very hard to think badly of men. But seriously, these young women have exquisite taste in books, and when I see Lynne curled up with the latest Scott Turow I kind of wince. Turning me onto the magnificent writing of Rebecca Brown was merely their opening act. If only Park Slope had been around when I was looking for a wife. Joining Emily Books is so cheap too you guys, I mean Emily was pretty nice to you, why can't you support her thing?

The club's December pick was its most inspired so far. Elena Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment mixes the two intellectual concepts I find most attractive in other people a contagious sadness and the possibility of humor in any moment.

But yes, actual books, not just pathetic jokes about people who are actually interested in them. The New York Review of Books began their own subscription club fairly recently, although none of their fall titles really rustled my jimmies. Spring 2014 looks a lot more promising, as the label brings out Hillel Halkin's exciting translation of Eli Amir's The Dove Flyer, which you can find elsewhere if you're impatient. Halkin is not only the best translator of Hebrew alive, he may be the finest in any language besides Lydia Davis. (Her Proust remains the iconic gift for a gay man in love.) The new season also promises On Being Blue by William Gass and an erotic collection of the poems of A.K. Ramanujan.

New Directions is still an exciting and eclectic publisher, even if they seem to be focused on the discursiveness of the past rather than the present. This year they offer two volumes completely suitable for the other person in your life. Imagine how happy her face will be when instead of displaying that engagement ring, you give her ND's marvelous release of the Emily Dickinson envelope poems, The Gorgeous Nothings, with an essay by the poet Susan Howe. I think it might be sold out, so go with God/Margaret Atwood and consider Takashi Hiraide's feline novel The Guest Cat and the long-awaited collected poems of Denise Levertov. They make magical gifts as well.

Have you ever felt that 90 percent of the people in the world were named Molly or Emily? You're not alone.

Ever since I wrote my now legendary teardown of Fox's fetid show Almost Human, publishing companies have been sending me the latest science fiction, although nothing by Peter Hamilton, since I don't have anything close to that amount of time on my hands. Major standouts include the beautifully crafted custom editions provided by the best niche press in publishing, William Schafer's Subterranean Press. If I had an unlimited amount of money I would buy all of the Michigan press' lettered and limited editions (you can usually request your LE number, I routinely pick 69 for giggles). Especially popular has been a lively and bright new version of The Shining. Gift editions are still available according to the publisher, who I badger on gchat constantly by reiterating how much The Dark Tower sucks.

A new anthology by George R.R. Martin and the equally rotund Gardner Dozois entitled Dangerous Women feels a bit hastily slapped together, as if the best writers in the field were busy trying to put more sex in their novels and this is what was left. Still, at $20 this makes a nice coffee table book for your new girlfriend, or if you're feeling generous, her earthy daughter. Try not to laugh when the top google search result for 'dangerous women' is now a book edited by two dangerously obese men.

A better choice would be Gene Wolfe's new Kafka paean The Land Across, which features feuding magicians, a mediocre dictatorship, treasure hunting and a fairly long prison stay squeezed in there as well. Wolfe's recent novels are almost all dialogue, making them perfect for any travel that doesn't have an ending destination in Eastern Europe. After reading about the land, you will not want to go there anytime soon.

The Land Across was almost the best book I read from this year (it came out over Thanksgiving) but it was not the best book I read from this year. (Well, Morrissey's autobiography was stellar too, did you perchance know he was sad?)

That honor goes to Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize. One time I promised Lynne I would spend the entire day speaking in back cover plaudits. Lynne was "a masterpiece, a woman that any thinking person should read and enjoy," my mailman was "a key treatise...Genuinely thrilling," and my younger daughter was "Gripping; Got me in her clutches and would not let go." For some reason I feel the exact same way about anything that takes place in New Zealand or involves the name Eleanor.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed hipster coffee shop. You can find an archive of his writing in these pages here. He last wrote in these pages about evolving at an uncontrollable pace.

For further recommendations in this field, experience:

100 greatest novels

100 greatest sff novels

our novels, ourselves

"Beautiful Lie" - Sophie Madeleine (mp3)

"Let's Never Love" - Sophie Madeleine (mp3)

The new album from Sophie Madeleine is entitled Silent Cynic, and it was released on November 1st.