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Alex Carnevale

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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

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Entries in dick cheney (150)


In Which Motorbikes Claim So Many Innocent Lives

You Before He


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.


In Which Stranger Things Have Not Yet Occurred

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



Stranger Things
creators Matt Duffer & Ross Duffer

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.


In Which Yara Greyjoy Enters A Small Tent In The Middle Of The Desert



Wow, Rickon Stark is so completely stupid. A man one hundred yards away is shooting you with arrows and your best effort is the whimpering trot that is a straight line. Rickon Stark, first of his line, King of the Andals. It only took half the amount of time Ramsay Bolton spent on tossing up his arrows for Theon Greyjoy to sail to Mereen.

While there, Theon was unable to sample any of the local flavor. I imagine we're all a bit tired of the main fact of each Game of Thrones character being brought up in every scene. It just reminds me how bad Tyrion's dialogue is. I mean, we get, you're somewhat on the short side. Is it really productive to make your life all about how small you are? I think we all understand that Theon is supporting his sister — so why did he talk and she stand there smirking like some kind of disturbed loon?

Fanfiction depicting the various intimacies that will transpire between Yara and Daenerys is all well and good. It's nice to see a proper lesbian relationship, one based on the common interests of taking power away from siblings and relatives and wielding it for yourself. It kinda felt like Sansa was one-upping Jon Snow a little bit. She completely undermined his battle plan and waited until most of his forces had been killed to enter the fray.

The battle itself was the best and possibly most expensive set piece the show has ever done. Jon's inability to die after Melisandre's pronouncement of "the god we have" was amusing, although I could not help but notice that Kit Harington never changed his expression once throughout this entire episode, not even after he was pounding Ramsay's face like he once did that wilding girl who told him he was in an idiot in that cute cave.

It was a great day for the North, and even Littlefinger put in an appearance. Ramsay's death was a little unsatisfying and perhaps even pleasurable for him. It didn't make sense that his dogs would attack him and perhaps secretly I was hoping they would turn on Sansa. The reason all the animals have been written out of Game of Thrones is largely financial and practical.

Speaking of animals, I guess the slavers of Mereen temporarily forgot that the Queen of Dragons had, you know, dragons. Unrelated, but did Tyrion really think that Daenerys didn't realize her father was going to burn down King's Landing? And in hindsight, would it really have been all that big a loss if he did? That moment was nicely paralleled with Ramsay's sacrifice of his own troops.

Ramsay Bolton was a masochist. People who enjoy inflicting pain on others usually aren't so averse to suffering it themselves - that's why torture is so prominently an aspect of their self. Ramsay came off as a bit ineffectual in the end, and I found Sansa's disturbed smile as he was being mauled rather disconcerting. I'm not sure all that much was accomplished last night, but at least I never have to watch the Illiterate Knight negotiate ever again, as this seemed to wrap up his arc completely.

Great episode. Now I'd like to address a lot of e-mails I have been receiving about the upcoming presidential election. Here is one I have received a number of times in different versions, one of which called me a "decaying piece of shit." Naturally I reported him to the police, but the question still stands:

Would you really consider voting for Hillary or will you just vote for the Republican by reflex?

The campaign is so incredibly far from over right now. Sure, Trump has said a variety of disgusting things, and I'm sure he meant a good twenty percent of them. But you have a woman whose husband is a sex offender who might be indicted before the fall. This is hardly a cakewalk and the Clinton campaign knows it.

I would never vote for Donald Trump, since I don't believe there is anything wrong with a Muslim immigrating to the United States. I have many Muslim friends, and a variety of leatherbound volumes. But whatever he says now, he can just change later on in the debates.

Well, you say, won't that make him look fractious and inconsistent? Uh, sure, but isn't that a whole lot better than looking like a xenophobic psychopath?

Do you think Donald Trump is a bad person?

Honestly, no. We have this profoundly awful tendency to demonize our enemies. Calling Trump a Nazi because he offers unpalatable solutions to very real problems is immensely troubling. You would have to really not understand what the Nazi Party was to say something so completely disturbed and offensive about Donald Trump. Trump has operated under the laws of this country for decades and he has never professed a desire to murder anyone. When we treat adversaries in a democratic system like they were demons from hell we are no better than the bloodthirsty crowds in the Roman Coliseum. I think Hillary understands that if you treat Donald Trump like anything other than what he is — an intelligent, successful, misogynistic American businessman — you are giving him way more power than he deserves.

Who should Hillary choose as her running mate? Who should Trump choose?

I don't think the running mate really matters much, and picking someone who is notably successful or appealing can even undermine the focus on the main candidate, like Hugh Laurie did on Veep. I think in the end Hillary won't choose a man. Why bother? Elizabeth Warren appeals to a lot of key people within her party and it just seems less exciting when you see Hillary and some guy up there next to her signaling no other capable women could be found.

If you're going to make history, make history.

Trump should choose me. I've changed a lot. Just read my Game of Thrones reviews, ty. I appeal to women annoyed by Sansa Stark, men who think Kit Harington is the worst actor in the last hundred years, and people of both genders who enjoy Yara Greyjoy erotic fanfiction.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

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