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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

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

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Entries in jesse eisenberg (3)


In Which The Immobility Of Ben Affleck Does Not Impact The Relative Distribution Of Justice

You Will Bleed


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
dir. Zack Snyder
151 minutes!

There is a scene in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice where Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has time for a nice long bath. She is one year past forty, an unmarried woman entering her second prime. Her prominent cheekbones and resoundingly high, nasal tone in her voice keep her looking roughly the same age as her boyfriend, even though he is nine years younger than herself.

Although she is a journalist, she does not spend very much time writing. Her skills lurk more towards the investigative side of the ledger; perhaps an intern even does the actual grunt work on her stories. "No one buys newspapers anymore," grouses her boss (Laurence Fishburne). She lives her life independently of the men in it: if one she likes happens to stroll in on her during one of her long soaks, she may spread her legs for him — if she doesn't have to catch a flight for Johannesburg in the morning.

The basis of her relationship with her boyfriend is relatively unconventional given that he is immortal. She is constantly concerned for his welfare, even though he at times seems impervious to physical pain. When a fat man (Ben Affleck) is about to stab her one and only with a green spear, she intervenes to save her man's life. I liked this, because we do not just have to assume how much she cares about him — Lois showed it.

The fat man has no love in his life. He can in fact barely move; the fat man's butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is clearly a more athletic person and practically runs circles around the overweight child he was forced to raise in the absence of any living family. Affleck did not do any of his own stunts, and here he verges on not being able to do any of his own acting, since he has only a few scenes where he has significant dialogue with anyone as Bruce Wayne.

In that scene he is sort of flirting with a model-type Israeli woman (Gal Gadot) who has made an appearance at a fundraiser. "You've never met a woman like me," she tells him, and his response is something along the lines of, "Would you be at all interested in babysitting my kids?" Jennifer Garner played a heroine in the mode of the young woman in Dawn of Justice decades ago, as the love interest of a not-so fat man (Ben Affleck) back when he still had flexibility in his knees. In Dawn of Justice Ben is entirely stationary — we don't see him walk more than two feet without a double taking his place.

On the set of that film Affleck would often suprise her with croquet or a brewski and ask her how she liked being pinched. It was a win-win for the not as fat man, because if she said she did not like it, he would pinch her. You know what happened if she said she did. (The dogshit movie that Affleck directed about a film crew had basically no women in it.) The fat man gets this look on his face everytime he sees a woman like he is glimpsing the gender for the first and last time, whispering away, sotto voce, "Can you believe this?"

Batman has a vision of the future. He is wearing an overcoat but still a mask. At first we can't help thinking how silly he appears but a new look is long overdue for this character and when we are snapped back to the Batcave, we feel a pending nostalgia for what we have witnessed. A time-traveler (Ezra Miller) warns the fat man about Lois Lane's boyfriend, so he decides to kill Superman until he finds out his mother (Lauren Cohan) and Lois Lane's boyfriend's mother (Diane Lane) have the same first name, which is Felicia.

The best part of Dawn of Justice is relatively early on, when we relive the moments where Ben experienced the destructive and murderous battle between Lois Lane's boyfriend and General Zod (Michael Shannon). He tells everyone that they are going to be all right, to be the point where he seems to be have a disturbed stress reaction to all the killing. Even a little girl gets this blank face on her face like, "You just told a guy without his legs that." It is fun to watch powerful people helpless and writhing like worms.

All of the people who are most upset about the hundreds of millions of dollars Lois Lane's boyfriend has cost Metropolis are black, and pressure from this community forces a senator (Holly Hunter) to convene a hearing. Lois Lane tries to explain that he was just trying to pick her up some Papa Johns on the way home, but the black people are contemptuous of Superman's claims on moral righteousness, perhaps being wary of the concept altogether. It turns out that the Israeli model Bruce Wayne met had a tape of a man living underwater, and this man was also an ethnic minority. He makes no further appearance in Dawn of Justice.

It is helpful to think of Superman like a vase. Preserved on a secluded corner table, it will not die of old age. If preserved, it is proof against time, it will never become sick or look differently outside of a few minor imperfections. But it could be broken, and in so being smashed it was capable of death before its time.

Overall I would rate Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice five stars out of ten stars. I would take one star off because there was really no positive role model of color in the movie. I took another star off because they pretended like Superman was dead, even though everyone knows that is not going to happen. I removed a third star because we never see anyone with their top off, especially not Mr. Affleck. I took another star off because the movie made no sense and had huge holes in its plot. I added a star because it seemed like Scoot McNairy and the fat man were going to kiss at one point, but then they kind of backed off. I took off a star because they digitized Batman's voice and he sounded like a male Siri. I added a star after the scene where Wonder Woman reviewed security cam footage like she was on CSI: Metropolis. I took off a star when Holly Hunter died. I added a star, and it went shooting across the sky. Men and women gawped, but not at the same time.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Make You Holla" - No Regular Play (mp3)


In Which The Complexion Of Jesse Eisenberg Renders All Else Dark

Missing Out


American Ultra
dir. Nima Nourizadeh
96 minutes

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) has a more pallid complexion than usual. He only goes outside at night, when the rays of the sun aren't present to make his skin burn or discolor. He has tricked a woman named Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) into embodying this drastic way of life as well. There is a great question here waiting to be answered about why such people live as they do. Stewart had a nicer tan when she was a vampire.

American Ultra, the second film written by John Landis' son Max, is a not very funny romp through West Virginia, since the town itself is devoid of any Americans other than Rose (John Leguizamo). We quite literally never see another person, which is funny because John Landis was quite interested in how Americans spoke and acted, and the zany half-comic romps he specialized in thrived on jokes about how the individual took his place in a greater whole.

American Ultra is devoid of any specific comic relief. Eisenberg is depressed and upset he can never live his West Virginia birthplace. This is because he is secretly a government project designed as a drone of sorts. Adrian Yates (Topher Grace) sends out the other members of his program to hunt him down for no discernible reason, since he is just working at a Cash N Carry and having very infrequent sex with his CIA handler/girlfriend.

Stewart proved herself a talented performer capable of a superstar-like role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria last year, but she is not really suited for open aggression — just subtle tear downs and sideways looks. American Ultra basically pretends she doesn't exist, focusing mostly on the self-defense Eisenberg offers against those trying to murder him.

Eisenberg has established his credentials in a variety of quick-talking roles. He is still doing the same basic schtick, but he has a novel way of putting a twist on what is essentially a variety of similarly narcissistic characters. There is a hint of something more vulnerable in the character of Mike Howell, but the clueless direction of American Ultra never touches it.

It is supposed to be comic that a stoner is killing all these people without really meaning to, but director Nima Nourizadeh does not really give a humorous flair to the action. The only depth given to any of the characters is a man from Howell's program named Laugher (Walton Goggins) who offers Howell empathy after failing to murder him. He is the only one to receive it: otherwise, Howell is a savage killer, dismembering and cutting up his victims in fast and explosive ways. Watching it is vaguely like witnessing Hannibal Lecter eat.

Beneath the clueless and rote direction, there is another script here. Hollywood has a rich history of writer-director collaborations that barely even spoke to one another. Famously Lee Tamahori never understood that David Mamet's 1997 script for The Edge was a satire. There was nothing special about anything in the script of Casablanca, but it accidentally became a kind of phenomenon. A more recent example of such discord might be the recent Fantastic Four, which looks like someone spliced five different scripts together and called it a day.

American Ultra contains nothing that bad. It is just so devoid of any kind of character development that we forget there used to be movies like this, narratives which contained no content, and which in some level are designed to be appreciated by children or pets. Fortunately or unfortunately, we expect more now.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Tilted" - Christine & the Queens (mp3)

"Narcissus is Back" - Christine & the Queens (mp3)


In Which We Eagerly Await Aaron Sorkin's Friend Request

Cinematic Typing


The Social Network

Dir. David Fincher 

Wr. Aaron Sorkin

I took to social media immediately, because the two things I love most in the world are socializing and media. Alex Carnevale asked me to write a column about it for the Brown Daily Herald, where I was writing a pop culture column under his editorship after he asked me during one of the breaks in our (insane) playwriting workshop if I'd ever thought about writing a column (I hadn't). I was the first person I knew to join Friendster. My piece essentially went "What the fuck is this? So weird right?"

As a media nerd I resent hierarchies of media, which is why I always thought it was lame that people who "didn't even own a TV" readily jumped on the internet, as if one screen is more intelligent than another. I didn't always feel this way. After we graduated, Alex had to court me into writing on the internet. I thought I was going to do it the old fashioned print magazine way, a bridge that later gave out anyway.

Content is content (is content). Sure you are clicking through links and participating more, but on some level you are here to be passively entertained, to consume things that are being presented, and no kind of entertainment is better than any other kind. The enjoyment I get from reading Moby Dick is related to the enjoyment I get watching cute cat videos on the internet, albeit not identical. It activates the same regions.

The basic human reaction to being rejected is "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I AM?" It hardly matters if you aren't notable yet. This leads to phase 2: "I'LL SHOW THEM," where the donuts are made. Your own personal donuts may be in the realm of business, music, art. Wherever you pursue acheivement. Say donuts again (donuts).

The idea that romantic rejection spurs all creativity/achievement is a tale as old as Philip Roth (is this phrase catching on as a meme yet, this is my second usage attempt). Lady Gaga's whole creation myth involves being dumped by a hair metal bartender and deciding to make him pay by getting so fucking famous. And then she did, and now they are dating again, and he's not even hot/clearly using her.

If people could sue when they got dumped, they would. Friendships are actually exactly like romantic relationships. They are even more romantic ofttimes, because there is no sexual commitment involved. But like regular romantic relationships they involve emotional intimacy, bouts of jealousy, and occasionally a violent breakup.

Everyone has noticed how much more productive they are when working through some neurotic shit. On the most basic level all of Justin Timberlake's achievements since 'N Sync are him working through getting cheated on by Ms. Britney Spears in front of the whole world. Way to DHV, Brit Brit. Justin has always seemed like a bit of a Zuckerberg, he has a lot of the arrogant socially incompetent preternaturally gifted geek to him.

This was Fincher's best gay love story since Fight Club. This one was actually a gay love triangle, with Justin Timberlake as the charismatic fuck-up that seduces you out of your stable if somewhat boring by now real relationship. Do you think Justin and Sorkin tried to snort the stunt coke? I thought the denouement was rushed.

It's funny that people think of Fincher as such a macho director because of Se7en when he also directed the Madonna videos for "Vogue" and "Express Yourself"! He is just a genius, and if anything it was his transition from stylized fashion pop music videos to gritty violent films that first demonstrated his brilliance and versatility. 

However he couldn't rescue time travel romance, the unfortunate, universally terrible genre that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button falls into (not really sticking up for The Panic Room either). The Social Network is not David Fincher's Citizen Kane, because David Fincher's Citizen Kane is the "Vogue" video. Twenty years later it is still the definitive music video, a pure distillation of form, content, and style.

Despite the appearance of mythical internet startup groupies (the thing about interns is true though), The Social Network was not particularly sexy. Trent Reznor's soundtrack was the hottest thing about it. Not that Fincher can't do sexy. His videos for George Michael's Freedom '90 and Billy Idol's Rock The Cradle Of Love basically spurred me into puberty (also you can literally see the 80s turn into the 90s).

Actually the sexiest parts of The Social Network were the super fast cross-cuts, and they totally reminded me of the instrumental breakdown in Freedom '90 and the accompanying video part with all the fast cross-cuts. The coldness makes sense though, as it is what makes Mark Zuckerberg undateable and hard to sympathize with.

Eduardo Saverin radiates some warmth at least, and it gives him a likability and good naturedness that Zuckerberg deeply envies. Andrew Garfield will make a good Spiderman probably, if I gave a fuck about superhero movies. I will say that I went to one Alpha Epsilon Pi party at Brown and it was exactly like that. Fincher made Harvard look beautiful beyond belief and stirred up all my old New England fantasies

Sorkin has said that "workplace as alternative family" is one of his biggest themes, while admitting that he finds collaboration impossible. Personally I have never had a writing partner because I don't even begin to understand how that would work. A writers' room? Sure. I could cede total control to be part of a group. But could I give half? Could I compromise on some of my ideas in order to allow for another person's ideas that objectively might be equally valuable? There's no fucking way in hell.

There is a reason there are so few co-directors, and why they are generally siblings or married. I recognize that we live in such a male-oriented society that even I still sort of conceive of the artistic process as pumping my dick into something repeatedly. Did anyone believe Paul Thomas Anderson when he said that the "I have a competition in me" speech from There Will Be Blood wasn't about him personally? I sure didn't!

David Fincher is notoriously meticulous, and his movies of late have been especially meticulous. Zodiac is my favorite Fincher film, one of my favorite films ever. There is obviously something very OCD/code-writer/Zuckerberg about the image of David Fincher putting Jake Gyllenhaal through hundreds and hundreds of takes with no explanation (he was just trying to knock the actory quality out of Gyllenhaal's acting).

Alex Carnevale is Jesse Eisenberg, I am Andrew Garfield, and Will Hubbard is Justin Timberlake. I kid, I am just saying that because Will is always buying me apple martinis. Justin should only play douchebags. He has found his calling. 

Actually Justin Timberlake should please stop acting, although he was certainly the best here he has ever been, and much better than in Alpha Dog. But I need him to make new music way more than I need him to be acting.

If you think California is all guacamole and margaritas and five-foot bongs and zip-lines into pools, you are totally right. Did they just reuse the sets from Alpha Dog for those party scenes? I wish Alpha Dog were more widely seen so I could make more specific jokes about it. I am sure it costs ten cents for a used copy.

The internet has taught me that people are radically transparent even when they try not to be. It is a way to channel your id directly, sometimes dangerously, and everyone's id is going "I'M THE BEST LOOK AT ME I'M THE BEST" and then also simultaneously "OH GOD FUCK I AM THE WORST" as an extension of the same thing. Namely that people are fucking fragile, even the accomplished ones. Especially the accomplished ones, who are looking over their shoulders for the next horse. 

Mark Zuckerberg called his ex-girlfriend a bitch on livejournal, and now David Fincher has called him a bitch in front of the whole world. Nobody has ever called me a bitch on the internet to my knowledge (please do not fill me in if I am wrong), but I feel terrible for anyone that goes through the process of seeing themselves slandered anonymously. Jesse Eisenberg is way hotter than the real Mark Zuckerberg (faceMASH!)

I know exactly what drives me so nuts about Sorkin. That he is possibly the only other person in the universe who talks as much or as fast as I do. I take his whole life and career as a personal neg. He likes redheads and mushrooms and people who talk too much! Do you know what his personal hidden inhaler is? That he graduated from Syracuse with a degree in musical theater and spent the 80s as a struggling actor.

I always resented Sorkin's reputation as the male writer who writes great female characters, because they are mostly just snappy, and it reminds me of how disgusting it is that we feel the need to congratulate male writers just for writing female characters that are anything more than objects. Just imagine a condescending voice saying "and they write such realistic male characters!" Last thoughts: Literally every time they said "Saverin" I heard the beginning of "Venus In Furs" in my head.

You know what had the most unrealistic male characters? Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, but that is because cokehead television writers are not people, they are monsters. Also note to Aaron Sorkin: everyone knows Jewish girls don't want guys that look like Hitler, they want guys that look like the Winklevoss twins, i.e. Aryan supermen. Hitler's whole issue was that he looked like a Jew. DUH. And when I pay more attention to my blog than I do to my cat she lights a trash can on fire.


When you make things virtually, of course it doesn't feel real. In case you were wondering This Recording has no office and our masthead is basically that business card that says "I'M A FUCKING CEO." I have been waiting for a magical meeting with bay area angel investors since our inception (INCEPTION) and I got over that idea and recognized it as completely ridiculous probably two years into our run on wordpress

Who does Aaron Sorkin consider his competition? He is the last and only of his totally outdated category, kind of like Jonathan Franzen. Here's a paradigm shift, I'M YOUR COMPETITION BROS. And I am winning every day that I write on the internet instead of in a notebook or on a sentimental typewriter or a computer with a USB plugged in and then snipped off. I may not be able to sell my cred yet, but it sure rules is that I can build it without the old networking channels here in an artistic meritocracy.

Some more disclosures: My own inner Zuckerberg went off on Alex for failing to post this yesterday, but it was an honest glitch. The internet's biggest joke is that it is a well-oiled machine just because it is technological. Even though the post was already done and ready last night I have been tweaking it all day obsessively, rearranging words and turning sentences over for no reason other than to please myself more.

The first DVD I ever rented (want to buy a Tower Video?) was "Fight Club." I was home alone for the weekend because I made myself a drink and that was the first time I ever got drunk alone (also the last?). It was also the first time I was ever attracted to Brad Pitt (again: Aryan supermen) and the first director's commentary I heard. What really freaks people out/draws them in about the web is how it blurs the lines between our inner and outer selves to an unprecedented extent. But hell I'm a writer, that's all I do!

Molly Lambert is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of the new novel Freedom and the inventor of Facebook. She made a billion dollars in the time it took to write this. She is the CEO of your dick and the owner of your soul. She also tumbls and twitters


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"On We March" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)

"Eventually We Find Our Way" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)