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
This area does not yet contain any content.

Entries in marlon brando (4)

Wednesday
Aug282013

In Which We Wallow In A Palpable Misery

What She Saw In You

by LAURA HOOBERMAN

In the opening scene of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 film Last Tango In Paris, we bear witness to a hunched and graying Marlon Brando pulling at the edges of a camel-colored overcoat and screaming a succinct plea to the ceiling of the overpass that creates a line between his body and the evening Parisian sky. Against the mounting noise of the metro moving overhead, he shouts, “holy fuck,” matching its mechanic droll and squeal decibel for decibel. To his right ambles by a beautiful young woman draped in white fur, the softness of her face punctuated by the brim of a black wool hat. Upon that brim, blossoming flowers writhe against her forehead. She pushes ahead of him, looks back, disturbed.

They find each other again, almost impossibly, in a phone booth and then, again, in a squalid and abandoned apartment. They listlessly discuss their considerations for renting the space and dance about one another in a grotesque courtship. He pulls her toward him, and, against the fraying wallpaper, fucks her. When she moves to tell him her name, he stops her.

This apartment becomes the battleground of their intimacy. They meet here, and under the weakly protective guise of anonymity, engage in expansive bouts of sexual experimentation. Their intertwined shadows on the floor are filmed as browns against gold. She is shown frequently, and pointlessly, topless. Their conversations are punctured by his refusal to discuss the past and her pervasive frustration with his abrasiveness and palpable misery.

We discover their histories only through peripheral plotlines that bleed outward from their shared, ethereal existence within the flat. He, Paul, is an American living in Paris whose wife’s suicide left saccharine splashes of blood all over the bathroom of their shared home. He returns briefly to find the stains still there – vast and impermeable. We watch him move through shadowy high-rises and the shadowed urban streets. His grief seems complex and boundless, but he wraps it in tight, neat violences. To his wife’s corpse, drenched in flowers, dressed funereally, he whimpers, “it took you 35 cents and a cheap razor to get out of our marriage.”

She, Jeanne, has a fiancé who shadows her with a film crew in a fashion that suggests proto-reality television. He observes her through this detached, cinematic lens and imparts upon her manipulative and self-absorbed abuses. Her first love from youth was her cousin, a prodigious piano player with whom she once engaged in mutual masturbation beneath suburban oak trees.

While the film lingers about the spectrum of Paul’s emotional deterioration, it lingers, with almost equal fascination, on Jeanne’s physicality, the shapes her body takes against the background. She is shown, in one scene, thrashing wildly against her fiancé in tense combat as the metro rushes by. We sense that her body exists as the plaything for these volatile men, that not only is she designed to be looked at, but also to be pummeled, debauched, almost in the pursuit of discerning a boundary that does not exist.

In the film’s most notorious scene, Paul sodomizes her with a stick of butter while sputtering forth gibbering phrases that hint disjointedly at incestuous taboo. In another, his dirty talk features the imagery of dead and dying pigs. There seems to be little meaning to it. After some time passes, she cannot help but wonder if they’re in love.

The archetypal love story progresses from anonymity to intimacy to either consummate togetherness or heartbreak. Paul and Jeanne waver, with pressing immediacy and reckless confusion, between anonymity and intimacy. The film occupies this territory of extremism, brought into existence within the decrepit apartment in which they both touch and recoil from one another. At one point, laying pressed against him, she whispers, “it’s beautiful not knowing anything.” This line exists at the crux of the film; it represents the lure and possibility of pure escapism, the erasure of both the profound and minute elements of identity. What Paul and Jeanne know of one another are unspoken truths that emerge from physical and visceral relations in the wake of extreme vulnerability. This is problematic, because these are terms we use when talking about love.

Aesthetics appear to my mind a more immutable and digestible force than ethics. One could watch the film on mute, and, surprisingly, in many instances find its sepia-toned intimacies and intimations more beautiful than vulgar. In one scene, Jeanne and Paul are in an elevator after she has abandoned her fiancé, and she lifts a lace and white wedding dress up to reveal shadeless brown thighs. The light is soft and flickering. They are drawn thus in a dizzying escalation upwards. He accepts her physicality and its implications into his encumbered arms. You consider the whirl of filth and havoc out of which such a rare moment of tenderness arises. You do wonder, briefly, if perhaps love is not only this much closeness, but exactly this much brutality.

If it is, it’s a sort of shit brand of love. And the film isn’t a love story. It’s a story about grief and need and the rare breed of expansiveness that has arisen within their contained and artificial reality. Paul’s single mandate of anonymity allows implicitly for all other forms of linguistic and behavioral freedom, and thus the space in which they exist is infused with not only debauchery but also liberation. For diffusely emotional reasons, they are continuously compelled toward one another. You think about that. You think about her, the perplexity she suffers with him. It’s much easier to ignore someone who ignores you than someone who actively treats you poorly.

The film itself doesn’t think about her much. The magnitude of Brando’s celebrity rests in the film’s forefront, and Paul’s withering psychosis occupies the bulk of our thematic focus. Jeanne is sketched less deliberately, existing fundamentally as the springboard against which Paul reacts and as a point of our aesthetic attention. Any indication of strength on her part is drawn as the sort of feistiness found charming by misogynistic men, rather than referring back to any fundamental fierceness or resolve. I find this personally sort of problematic, because I want to relate to Jeanne. On a certain level, with only tepid approval, I do relate to her. She and I are members of the club of girls who feel big and confusing things for destructive men.

I sort of want to vindicate her, to draw her into focus. I can imagine being her. Imagine being young and inexperienced and having a body that appears to you as a map of questions yet to be answered. Imagine being stalked by a man who has accessed the darkest parts of you, who grabs you and demands your attention after you have ostensibly tried to break things off. “That was one thing, in the apartment,” he tells you. “Now we can start with the love.” He brings you to an archaic ballroom and vacillates wildly between being charming and cruel. He pulls you onto the dance floor. Each set of bodies that surround you, you think, represents some unique possibility of love. The effect of existing among them is dizzying. You realize your profound differentness from these forms that float into one another and float in and out of your periphery. You do not have what they have. This man holding onto your waist, pulling at you, is dangerous.

You find yourself in an apartment with this unknowable man. You want to murder this void of distilled emotion he has created within you. The boundary between your interiority and external reality has become distorted and strange. If you don’t pull the trigger, where is there to go? And if you do pull it, who have you become?

It is discomfiting to exist in her head, to consider the extent to which emotions can be widly untamed and un-categorizable. The first time I watched the film, I felt primaily disturbed by the images and dialogue that are designed to be disturbing, revolting. What makes the film an uncomfortable watch is what makes it resist a softer analysis, but there was for me certain softness to the film, a light ethical pulse. Upon finishing Last Tango In Paris a second time, all I could think was that it is a truly terrifying thing to mistreat one another.

Laura Hooberman is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Greenpoint. You can find her website here. She last wrote in these pages about her life in New York.

"Dream Sequence" - Tythe (mp3)

"Careless Woman" - Tythe (mp3)

Tuesday
Dec252012

In Which The Seduction Is More Complicated

25 Verifiable Facts About Marlon Brando

by ELLEN COPPERFIELD

1

When I first saw Marlon Brando, he looked like a bowling ball with a lisp emitting from the finger holes.

2

He was a hellion as a teen. His parents sent him to the same military academy his father had attended. He wrote, "I'm kinda homesick and want my mother, but I guess I will get over that. I've received exactly one letter since I've been here. Fine support for the baby of the family." The next month he added, "I had to read Wuthering Heights for English and I never enjoyed a book in all my life as much as that one."

3

He fled the set of Darryl Zanuck's The Egyptian, dressing up in the most expensive clothes he could find because they were looking for the Marlon who always wore a t-shirt and jeans.

4

While filming Mutiny on the Bounty, Marlon spied a Tahitian island and purchased it from the blind elderly American woman who lived there with forty cats and dogs. She had to go to Vallejo, CA for medical treatment. He bought the place for $200,000. Shortly after she moved she died.

5

A Harvard Medical School psychologist who slept with Marlon observed, "There are casual ladykillers and serious ladykillers. The casual ladykiller is a person who doesn't try to involve you in a relationship but seeks to get you only by the magnetism of his sexuality. A serious ladykiller has much more imagination and tries to capture you in more intricate ways - meaning that he involves you with his ideas, his thinking. The seduction is much more complicated - only then he has more trouble because women inevitably fall in love with him."

6

When he was trying to get his break in the theater, he was offered a part in a new play by Eugene O'Neill, The Iceman Cometh. Marlon later wrote, "I'd always thought he was dour, negative and too dark." He argued with a producer about "why I thought the play was ineptly written, poorly constructed, and would never be a success."

7

After he filmed the movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire Marlon moved into an apartment near Carnegie Hall and seduced the entire group of young actresses at the Actor's Studio. He met Marilyn Monroe when he elbowed her in the face by accident. She replied, "There are no accidents." She invited him over for sex the week before she died. In his autobiography Songs My Mother Taught Me he wrote, "I didn't sense any depression or clue of impending self-destruction during her call. That's why I'm sure she didn't commit suicide. If someone is terminally depressed, no matter how clever they may be, or how expertly they try to conceal it, they will always give themselves away. I've always had an unquenchable curiosity about people, and I believe I would have sensed something was wrong if thoughts of suicide were anywhere near the surface of Marilyn's mind. I have always believed she was murdered."

8

Jean Cocteau said of him, "Marlon is the only man who can make noise without disturbing anybody."

9

Marlon hated having sex with a condom on. He regarded it as base.

10

After meeting Marlon before they began shooting Last Tango in Paris, Bertolucci said, "In Bacon you see people virtually throwing up their guts and doing a monkey's job on themselves with their own vomit. I found this same kind of appeal in Marlon."

11

He would always willingly supply the money for an abortion.

12

When The Godfather came around, Marlon was desperate for a role to revive his career. Francis Ford Coppola could not possibly ask him to audition, so he asked Marlon if he could come by the actor's Mulholland Drive home and "improvise" in front of a camera. After he saw the tape, producer Bob Evans said, "He looks Italian, fine. But who is he?" He did not recognize the man before him.

13

Marlon's mother was a furtive alcoholic. She would take quiet sips from a small bottle whenever she could. "When my mother drank," Marlon said, "her breath had a sweetness to it I lack the vocabulary to describe."

14

In the wake of Dr. King's death, Marlon felt an affinity for the Black Panthers. They did not share this positive feeling. "They told me that they despised me because I was just another knee jerk white liberal to them."

15

The day before A Streetcar Named Desire opened at the Ethel Barrymore, Marlon telegrammed his father to say, NEED MONEY BY TONIGHT SHOW SPLENDID LETTER TO FOLLOW MARLON.

16

He believed that by dripping a wet towel soaked with hot water on his head, he would never go bald.

17

On the set of A Countess From Hong Kong, during a close-up, he asked Sophia Loren if she knew small hairs were coming out of her nose. She never spoke to him again.

18

After watching his performance in The Godfather, he said, "When I saw it the first time it made me sick. All I could see were my mistakes and I hated it."

19

If he liked you, he wanted to be close to you, even if just briefly. "Like a large number of men," he eventually admitted, "I too have had homosexual experiences and am not ashamed. I've never paid attention to what people said about me. Deep down I felt ambiguous and I'm not saying that to spite the seven out of ten women who consider me - wrongly perhaps - a sex symbol. According to me, sex is something that lacks precision. Let's say sex is sexless."

20

When Lew Wasserman tried to change the title of The Appaloosa to Southwest to Sonora, Marlon did not take it very well. He hired a group of mariachi players to go around Universal singing a song they had written called "Southwest to Sonora" until the studio aceded to his wishes.

21

In later years, Brando became very uptight about his weight. He would pull up the curtain whenever he changed clothes.

22

Marlon's son Christian spiralled out of control with drugs and alcohol as a teen. He would steal pot from neighbor Jack Nicholson's stash. If Jack caught him, Christian Brando would imitate his part in Chinatown, saying "You do that again and I'll break your fucking fingers, man."

23

On the set of Guys and Dolls, Sinatra and Brando just did not get along. One man never blew a line, the other wrote his dialogue on his hand. Frank's thugs followed him everywhere; Marlon was most happy completely alone. The only way they could get Marlon to go through with it was to buy him a white Thunderbird convertible.

24

On the set of The Fugitive Kind, Tennessee Williams screamed at Marlon, "I need radar equipment to hear what you're saying. If I can't hear my fucking dialogue, I'm going home."

25

As he traveled through France, he once spent the night with a woman in Ascain. "It's a terrible story," he told his friends, murmuring, "awful, awful, awful." They asked what happened, and he said, "I had a very nice time with her, and she made me a wonderful breakfast. I was thinking, 'Thank God she hasn't asked me for anything', but then when I was leaving, she did just that. She said, 'When shall we meet again?' It's too awful. That's what I had been afraid of all along."

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about her regrets. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"531 Miles From Aberdeen to Cardiff" - Barefoot Dance of the Sea (mp3)

"Sea Shanty" - Barefoot Dance of the Sea (mp3)

Wednesday
Apr042012

In Which Sex Is Something That Lacks Precision

25 Verifiable Facts About Marlon Brando

by ELLEN COPPERFIELD

1

When I first saw Marlon Brando, he looked like a bowling ball with a lisp emitting from the finger holes.

2

He was a hellion as a teen. His parents sent him to the same military academy his father had attended. He wrote, "I'm kinda homesick and want my mother, but I guess I will get over that. I've received exactly one letter since I've been here. Fine support for the baby of the family." The next month he added, "I had to read Wuthering Heights for English and I never enjoyed a book in all my life as much as that one."

3

He fled the set of Darryl Zanuck's The Egyptian, dressing up in the most expensive clothes he could find because they were looking for the Marlon who always wore a t-shirt and jeans.

4

While filming Mutiny on the Bounty, Marlon spied a Tahitian island and purchased it from the blind elderly American woman who lived there with forty cats and dogs. She had to go to Vallejo, CA for medical treatment. He bought the place for $200,000. Shortly after she moved she died.

5

A Harvard Medical School psychologist who slept with Marlon observed, "There are casual ladykillers and serious ladykillers. The casual ladykiller is a person who doesn't try to involve you in a relationship but seeks to get you only by the magnetism of his sexuality. A serious ladykiller has much more imagination and tries to capture you in more intricate ways - meaning that he involves you with his ideas, his thinking. The seduction is much more complicated - only then he has more trouble because women inevitably fall in love with him."

6

When he was trying to get his break in the theater, he was offered a part in a new play by Eugene O'Neill, The Iceman Cometh. Marlon later wrote, "I'd always thought he was dour, negative and too dark." He argued with a producer about "why I thought the play was ineptly written, poorly constructed, and would never be a success."

7

After he filmed the movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire Marlon moved into an apartment near Carnegie Hall and seduced the entire group of young actresses at the Actor's Studio. He met Marilyn Monroe when he elbowed her in the face by accident. She replied, "There are no accidents." She invited him over for sex the week before she died. In his autobiography Songs My Mother Taught Me he wrote, "I didn't sense any depression or clue of impending self-destruction during her call. That's why I'm sure she didn't commit suicide. If someone is terminally depressed, no matter how clever they may be, or how expertly they try to conceal it, they will always give themselves away. I've always had an unquenchable curiosity about people, and I believe I would have sensed something was wrong if thoughts of suicide were anywhere near the surface of Marilyn's mind. I have always believed she was murdered."

8

Jean Cocteau said of him, "Marlon is the only man who can make noise without disturbing anybody."

9

Marlon hated having sex with a condom on. He regarded it as base.

10

After meeting Marlon before they began shooting Last Tango in Paris, Bertolucci said, "In Bacon you see people virtually throwing up their guts and doing a monkey's job on themselves with their own vomit. I found this same kind of appeal in Marlon."

11

He would always willingly supply the money for an abortion.

12

When The Godfather came around, Marlon was desperate for a role to revive his career. Francis Ford Coppola could not possibly ask him to audition, so he asked Marlon if he could come by the actor's Mulholland Drive home and "improvise" in front of a camera. After he saw the tape, producer Bob Evans said, "He looks Italian, fine. But who is he?" He did not recognize the man before him.

13

Marlon's mother was a furtive alcoholic. She would take quiet sips from a small bottle whenever she could. "When my mother drank," Marlon said, "her breath had a sweetness to it I lack the vocabulary to describe."

14

In the wake of Dr. King's death, Marlon felt an affinity for the Black Panthers. They did not share this positive feeling. "They told me that they despised me because I was just another knee jerk white liberal to them."

15

The day before A Streetcar Named Desire opened at the Ethel Barrymore, Marlon telegrammed his father to say, NEED MONEY BY TONIGHT SHOW SPLENDID LETTER TO FOLLOW MARLON.

16

He believed that by dripping a wet towel soaked with hot water on his head, he would never go bald.

17

On the set of A Countess From Hong Kong, during a close-up, he asked Sophia Loren if she knew small hairs were coming out of her nose. She never spoke to him again.

18

After watching his performance in The Godfather, he said, "When I saw it the first time it made me sick. All I could see were my mistakes and I hated it."

19

If he liked you, he wanted to be close to you, even if just briefly. "Like a large number of men," he eventually admitted, "I too have had homosexual experiences and am not ashamed. I've never paid attention to what people said about me. Deep down I felt ambiguous and I'm not saying that to spite the seven out of ten women who consider me - wrongly perhaps - a sex symbol. According to me, sex is something that lacks precision. Let's say sex is sexless."

20

When Lew Wasserman tried to change the title of The Appaloosa to Southwest to Sonora, Marlon did not take it very well. He hired a group of mariachi players to go around Universal singing a song they had written called "Southwest to Sonora" until the studio aceded to his wishes.

21

In later years, Brando became very uptight about his weight. He would pull up the curtain whenever he changed clothes.

22

Marlon's son Christian spiralled out of control with drugs and alcohol as a teen. He would steal pot from neighbor Jack Nicholson's stash. If Jack caught him, Christian Brando would imitate his part in Chinatown, saying "You do that again and I'll break your fucking fingers, man."

23

On the set of Guys and Dolls, Sinatra and Brando just did not get along. One man never blew a line, the other wrote his dialogue on his hand. Frank's thugs followed him everywhere; Marlon was most happy completely alone. The only way they could get Marlon to go through with it was to buy him a white Thunderbird convertible.

24

On the set of The Fugitive Kind, Tennessee Williams screamed at Marlon, "I need radar equipment to hear what you're saying. If I can't hear my fucking dialogue, I'm going home."

25

As he traveled through France, he once spent the night with a woman in Ascain. "It's a terrible story," he told his friends, murmuring, "awful, awful, awful." They asked what happened, and he said, "I had a very nice time with her, and she made me a wonderful breakfast. I was thinking, 'Thank God she hasn't asked me for anything', but then when I was leaving, she did just that. She said, 'When shall we meet again?' It's too awful. That's what I had been afraid of all along."

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about the new classics. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Cool Light" - Bear In Heaven (mp3)

"Sinful Nature" - Bear In Heaven (mp3)

The new album from Bear In Heaven, I Love You It's Cool, was released today.