Quantcast

Video of the Day

<

Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose
(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
Search TR


follow us in feedly

Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Entries in judd apatow (3)

Wednesday
Jan022013

In Which Money Buys Judd Apatow Happiness

With Luxury

by SHELBY SHAW

This Is 40
dir. Judd Apatow
133 minutes

If anything, Judd Apatow should have titled his new effort This Is My Life In 2012, and not only because Apatow’s wife of 15 years is cast as the lead mom/wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann), alongside the couple’s two daughters as 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow) and 8-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow). Alternatives such as This Is Marriage or This Is Family or even This Is Life would not have been any better.

The family in This Is 40, rounded out by the deceiving and charming Pete (Paul Rudd), is anything but typical. Sure, the daughters go through tantrums against the parents and bouts of getting along/hating one another, and there are plenty of problems stemming from woes of finances and in-laws, but this is not the average American family. For one thing, their California house is gorgeous and massive, and at one point even called out as too big for the four of them by Pete’s overbearingly dependent father, Larry (Albert Brooks), who Pete secretly continues to lend money to despite having told Debbie he hasn’t done so in years.

Despite the family’s lavish home, decorated and conveniently organized like a Pottery Barn catalogue, and the private catering for Pete’s 40th birthday party (only days after Debbie’s own birthday, which is celebrated as turning 38), and the nice cars they each have, and Debbie’s personal trainer Jason (Jason Segel), and Sadie’s random anger outburst in her walk-in closet over needing new clothes – despite all this, the family is having financial problems.

Debbie’s clothing boutique, Lulu’s, is your dime-a-dozen L.A. clothing store, something you would find in the likes of New Canaan or Katonah, and seems to be relatively new at her career. Whatever she did beforehand for a job is a mystery. Pete is a music producer, and manages the British rocker Graham Parker, whose latest album is hardly selling past 600 copies.

So how does this family of four manage to have weekend get-aways and still afford their life in-house? While, let’s not forget, secretly supplying $80,000 to Larry, in order to support him, his wife and their test-tube triplets who are always dressed in the exact same outfit? Something seems a little suspicious about their money 'woes', until at one point (late in the film) Debbie mentions how Pete’s left Sony to work on his own. So he made a lot of money in the past, I guess, and it’s lasted them through now.

Oh, and provided all of their little goodies along the way. The cars, Pete’s bicycle and matching Livestrong gear, Debbie’s trainer, and the girls’ countless personal items (including photos with Justin Bieber and the Jonas brothers, both of which are events that probably happened in the Apatows’ lives but here are simply shameless props), constitute the mere basics – This Is 40 is essentially a commercial for Apple.

It would be impossible to think Apple was not a sponsor, considering how iPhone, iPad, iTunes, iHome, etc are all used not only physically, but named constantly by the characters. Yes, many/most people own an Apple product. But the way we just end up expecting the girls to watch Lost on an iPad, or for Pete to be found playing Scrabble on his iPad while on the toilet, or for Debbie to pull out her iPhone, or jump onto her MacBook in order to see if hot-to-trot salesgirl Desi (Megan Fox) is stealing $12,000 from Lulu’s, all feels like too much of a privilege.

Is this really what being 40 is about? Having all the latest technology in a big house with a swimming pool and caterers and doctors' appointments where they all seem to promise you good fortune and good looks and good health just for showing up? I may not be 40, I may not be married, I may not have kids, but I know that this isn’t what your average household is up to. Maybe in Los Angeles or Orange County, or even Fairfield or Westchester counties on the opposite coast, but I live there and that is not even what most of those families are like.

The film is about having privilege and luxury, alongside “common” domestic problems. But it probably does not speak to the majority of families, married couples, or even 40-year-olds in the country. Debbie’s constant fear of Pete losing interest in her would insult me as a viewer if I were 40 – I am sure the majority of women that age would kill to have Debbie’s looks; in fact, I would not mind looking like that right now and I am half her age. Together, the couple effortlessly steals the attention when they are out, like something out of a bank commercial, as pointed out by an angry and outlandishly brutish parent from school, Catherine (Melissa McCarthy).

I am not even sure that kids who would see the film, for whatever reason, would be able to relate to Sadie and Charlotte. Puberty can make any adolescent seethe with unwarranted rage. Sadie comes off as simply unstable with anger when she throws tantrums over needing new clothing in her walk-in closet or hating her family for not letting her carry out a bizarre obsession with watching as much Lost in as little time as she can. Meanwhile Charlotte seems the quiet prodigy of  a piano playing and humble family caretaker, but is more of just a Shirley Temple-esque face for the screen, making “cute” kid quips about this or that, often with the kind of stilted candor only a child who hasn’t had much time to practice the lines could deliver. Regardless, my biggest question is whether all kids these days own iPads and have iPhones that their parents take away when they are grounded.

The perfect lives of the family, chipped here and there by stress from work or each other, are hardly entertaining when the ending comes together in an almost too-resolved fashion. And aside from Rudd and Mann’s good looks, their conversations feed off one another like something from improv comedy; it’s like they constantly are mocking the other’s lines, and it gets annoying quickly.

The couple seems the most genuine when either high on marijuana cookies, practicing the kind of talk their therapist suggested, or simply crying. This Is 40 tries too hard to portray what it's trying to sell itself as: the poster-child for mid-life crises, family dysfunction and love, and coming to terms with yourself in your age. It should have been called This Is What You Wish 40 Could Be, because there does not seem to really be anything wrong.

Shelby Shaw is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer and artist living in Chicago. You can find her website here. She twitters here.

"What's All This Talk" - Ruby Fray (mp3)

"Barren Hill" - Ruby Fray (mp3)

Monday
Jun072010

In Which We Party These Limey Fucks Into The Ground

Get Him To A Shrink

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Get Him To The Greek

dir. Nicholas Stoller

Nowhere near as offensive or funny as Neel Shah's "How To Date A White Bitch" (coming to CBS this fall starring Arj Barker as Neel Shah and the chick from Gilmore Girls as some white bitch who loves picnics and probably museums and all that other bougie shit), Get Him To The Greek pushes the envelope a few times, mostly in the gay direction. I just assumed "The Greek" was Russell Brand's bookie and/or dealer/lover.

"I want you to fuck me as hard as you can." "What? In the face?" "Surprise me"

Like basically every (Apatow) movieGHTTG is about an immature not very masculine guy apprenticing to learn how to put on the mantle/drag of masculinity. AKA how to bullshit, intensely. Jonah Hill's Aaron is a "girlfriend guy" like Paul Rudd's character from I Love You Man and basically all the dudes I'm friends with in real life.

What this means is that he respects women more or less, and has no real interest in putting up a front of bro-dog-ness, probably because because he looks like a cute cartoon walrus and knows that he will never do better than Doctor Peggy Olson. His worst quality is that he is passive about everything in his life but his fandom, which is why Diddy hooks him up with Russell Brand's magnetic manic pirate dream bro.

Jonah has grown into a modern day Rodney Dangerfield, flop sweating his way through strenuous situations. He gets no respect, and at the beginning of the movie he doesn't even try. Which is where Aldous Snow (Vince Vaughn/Jason Segel/Will Oldham) comes in to teach him how to act more like an entitled prick (i.e. "A MAN")

What Russell Brand performs is not traditional Don Draper style masculinity, but that other kind of more androgynous but equally insidious form known as Dandyism. Favored by Brits like Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, and Mick Jagger, and cornerstone of the indie rock frontman sensibility, heterosexual dandyism is about reveling in your own male sex appeal and objectifying yourself endlessly while subjugating women. 

Carla Gallo: Get Her In A Movie For Longer Than Ten Minutes, Please, C'mon Judd

The best parts of Get Him To The Greek end up being the women and Puff Daddy. Rose Byrne delights and astounds as a Cheryl Tweedy Coleish Brit Brit named Jackie Q, (whose ribald theme song written by The Bird And The Bee's Greg Kurstin and Inara George is one of the more memorable tunes). Carla Gallo is unrecognizable at first and then essentially hijacks the movie for a good ten minutes as a ridiculous drunk slut.

Anna Faris amuses and delights in Jody Hill's Observe & Report from last year

Ridiculous Drunk Sluts starring Anna Faris and Carla Gallo, coming soon to a theater near you in 3-D this fall. (REAL TALK: I will make this 4 SO CHEEP, studios! and spoiler alert all the jokes will involve jizz flying towards the audience and boners swinging around! Molly Lambert, for all your three-dimensional sex comedy pitch idea needs!)

Man how depressing has the press tour for Grown-Ups been? Alternate title for that movie: Menchildren Giving Up with a weird undercurrent of being so depressed about not giving a fuck about ANYTHING. We know Sandler knows better than this because he does other movies that are good on the side, but just doesn't care enough to make his own funny anymore? Like starting with Big Daddy he just stopped caring to try?

Meanwhile I monitor the twitter gender wars between exes M.I.A. and Diplo and Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas. Those are two different couples, but wouldn't it make a hilarious fishes out of water comedy about polyamory, technology, promise rings, gingercide, and truffle fries? He's Just Not That Into YouTube, a modern dubstep take on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, UStreaming this summer! FUCK USTREAM PAY MESTREAM!

gay porn version title: "Get Him To Go Greek" alternate: "The Cable Guy"

Get Him To The Greek is really a movie about a grown up former fat kid facing down against a younger, fatter, version of himself. There is a lot of father/son weirdness involved as well and the gay sexual tension between the male leads is addressed more directly than in any other bromance thus far (although Pineapple Express and Superbad were both still gayer all in all). Whether or not it actually goes the whole Y Tu Mama Tambien is a matter of discussion for the extended DVD cut commentary track. 

"Step up in this mothafucker just a swangin' my hair"

The real question is how will we deal with womankind's newest problem: Do we want to fuck Russell Brand? Womanity is split down the middle. Half of us find him repulsive and the other half want to lick the weird cleft between his eyebrows. He's either Brando or the Splice baby depending who you ask. Straight men think he is repulsive.

Is this a subset of the gentleman-dirtbag complex? WHERE DO YOU FIT INTO THIS MATRIX? I waffled before seeing the movie but now I'm definitely in the camp that believes Russell Brand is hot. Weird but hot. You know, in a tall skinny androgyne British guy way. He has a Jarvisy quality about him that can't be denied.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording and star of the upcoming film Get Her To The Great Greek. She is on tumblr and twitter.

digg delicious reddit stumble facebook twitter subscribe

"Margoton" - Serafina Steer (mp3)

"Port Isaac" - Serafina Steer (mp3)

"How to Haunt a House Party" - Serafina Steer (mp3)

serafina steer website

photo by erika wall

Wednesday
Aug052009

In Which We Ask Whether It's Still Funny

  Funny The Way It Is

by ELEANOR MORROW

When we last left the Judd Apatow-influenced world of adolescent Jewry, Judd was showing the world why a woman had to marry whatever fat slob accidentally ejaculated inside of her. Now he's off to tell us exactly how sorry he is to be Jewish and unhappy in the nine-hour long epic tribute to inventing reasons to hate yourself, Funny People.

The point of the titular joke is that comedians are somehow more tortured than the rest of us. You have to be really sad to write a dick joke, apparently. George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is more upset than usual by the millions he's made off said dick jokes. In the film's first act, the star of Merman and Re-Do finds out he has cancer and loses interest in people, money, and fame.

This plotline would be slightly more successful if going off the rails and acting like you don't care what people think wasn't the central premise of most of Sandler's movies. He always yells at people and acts like a dick. Why do I feel like Judd Apatow never sat through Happy Gilmore?

they would have made a lot more money if they went with this premiseSandler is absolutely terrible here, substituting aging, sickly makeup for actual acting. He's bombed in every dramatic role he's taken: whether it was his stiff, almost comatose run through Punch-Drunk Love, or his weird performance opposite Don Cheadle in the brutally bad Reign Over Me. If you're going to go to the trouble of casting such a limited star, you should promote the movie as a gigglefest instead of a super-emotional learning experience for rich people. In any case, they found out at the box office last weekend that they had made a costly mistake. Which isn't to say Funny People is totally unrewarding. It's actually a very mature and promising film at times.

As the film's major subplot proves, all we really want from Judd is a gigglefest. Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) works at the deli with a member of a Wu-Tang Clan. Most people no longer look down on such work, but Rogen wants to spend hours performing for free at the local comedy club. (In hopes of becoming someone's assistant, presumably.) 

Seth looks a lot less schlumpy than usual, which is fine, but Rogen's comparably limited talents are blown off the screen by Jason Schwartzman and Jonah Hill, who play his more successful roommates. A movie about comedians shouldn't have an extra need for comic foils, but Jonah and Jason's scenes pop like a Michael Bay action sequence in comparison to the main storyline.



The film struggles through this awkward first act, of George trying to put his affairs in order, and Rogen feeling bad for him, and neither knowing who the straight man is supposed to be. Apatow's a genuinely funny writer, but his command of higher drama is lacking. Watching George bang teenagers and make fun of Andy Dick and Paul Reiser feels like a bunch of deleted DVD scenes strung together. But whatever — I'd watch these DVD extras anyway and it's not like we're waiting for any semblance of plot to unfold.

girls, don't become your momBut then it does unfold, and while I give Funny People credit in that it does come up with a protagonist and antagonist eventually, the conflict that results is so strange that I think most of the theater was simply sticking around for the next Jonah Hill one-liner. Simmons gets cured of his cancer, and newly invigorated, he decides to look up his old flame Audrey (Leslie Mann). They start talking on the phone while her husband is away on business. Pretty soon George and Ira are on the road to San Francisco so they can break up a happy little family.

This is where Funny People stops being harmless and starts getting insulting. Why Judd would write a part like this for his wife is truly beyond me. Leslie Mann's character Laura is a sobbing mess who lives for head and cheats on her husband with her kids mere feet away, justifying it by saying that he got some hjs in a Chinese hj parlor.


Let me clarify this once and for all. A handjob at a massage parlor does not count as cheating, hell you can even get a rusty trombone and it's really not that bad. I can even accept a full happy ending, unless you exchange Christmas cards afterwards. More importantly, is it really likely that the love of George's life is a weepy housewife who craves his attention and resents her husband? A husband who unlike Sandler actually has some semblance of acting ability?

"and then megan fox told me that she doesn't date jews"Without spoiling much, Apatow at least answers that question in an unusual way. There's a scene in the interminable third act that hasn't begun to leave my mind yet, perhaps because it's a moment cinema rarely attempts to capture. Laura, George and Ira are watching Apatow's daughter's performance during the final scene of a middle school production of Cats. The girl sings the song tolerably well. Leslie and Ira are crying, but George only laughs and complains about his agent.

ah yes, the second choice for Norah in 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist'Later George's reaction is thrown back in his face, but we actually are witnessing him being honest. Only dimly romantic fools cry at such things, Apatow is saying, and the rest of us just have to be ourselves. When you're actually good at love, you never have to pretend you're in love. If we all cried at the same things, like the beginning of Star Trek or the end of Old Yeller, what a horrible world this would be.

Aside from his penchant for writing mind-bogglingly terrible female characters, Apatow is on very comfortable ground here. He loves boys' clubs, the wriggling nuttiness of male friendship, of male love. These are all ideas that may have not been explored fully in American film. Men do love each other, quite deeply, and the strongest couple in film is Rogen and Simmons: the love of a celebrity for his assistant, and vice versa.


Would I be overjoyed to see the machinations of the tragically rich and luckily poor every week of my life? (Rogen and Sandler's characters, despite millions of dollars of differences in net worth, have the same computer.) No, I would not. I don't care about people who aren't bright enough to look their own good fortune in the eye, and my interest in Jewish adolescence ended with Woody Allen's Anything Else.

But by the end, you do have to see if there's a lesson there, because for all its flaws, Funny People pays attention to how people are, how intolerable they are, how sad and hopeless that sort of life is. "We'll slide down the surface of things," wrote Bret Easton Ellis. Funny People flopped because, thankfully, no one is the middle of our country cares about the complaints of the upper class, but it's easy for a New Yorker like me to identify with existential hopelessness, and outright despair.

We all need someone to envy. It is what drives and motivates most. After two and a half hours with these denizens of Los Angeles, both wealth and fame lose their hold over us. You can't hate these funny people. You just feel sorry for them.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about Belle & Sebastian.

digg delicious reddit stumble facebook twitter subscribe

"Simple Life" — The Weepies (mp3)

"Jolene" — The Weepies (mp3)

"Somebody Loved" — The Weepies (mp3)