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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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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 molly lambert (100)


In Which It's The Best Jewish Comedy Western Since Blazing Saddles

Nature's Cathedral


True Grit

dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

110 minutes

Who incepted my fantasy about wandering the wildernesses of New Mexico with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon? Who told the Coen brothers that every scrappy tomboy sees herself in Rooster Cogburn? When did Matt Damon get so goddamned awesome? Is he Leonardo DiCaprio's black swan because he reminds us that what we don't love about Leo is his humorlessness and inability or unwillingness to make fun of himself?

Since they slayed it on the first try with No Country For Old Men, you might think the Coen Brothers would shy away from making another Western. Apparently they're going for the hat trick and doing Blood Meridian next, although you never know if they'll zig. If they can manage to make Blood Meridian not humorless, I will give them a billion percent of my mind futures. True Grit is a perfect modern existential Western, a tribute to The Wizard Of Oz the way O Brother Where Art Thou was a retelling of The Odyssey.

Matt Damon knows how to play a white hat in an interesting way. He always brings something of a black hat attitude to it. That's why he was so great in The Departed and The Talented Mr. Ripley as a black hat hiding behind a white hat façade. He is a genuine movie star. True Grit reminded me a lot of Hayao Miyazaki movies, which feature determined little girls on dangerous missions in dreamlike environments. National treasure Jeff Bridges really gets his Orson Welles in Chimes At Midnight on.

In addition to Western tropes, all of the Coens' own tropes are here too: severed limbs and digits, repetitions of key phrases that become funnier as they are repeated, salty old men and fast-talking women. The Coens are tender-hearted nihilists, and so are all of their characters. Do other directors resent the Coens because they make it look so easy? I am sure that making it look that effortless is actually really fucking hard. 

My favorite classic existential Western is Man Of The West, Anthony Mann's claustrophobic take on the genre. Existential Westerns are Waiting For Godot against the background of nature. They replicate what it's like to be inside your own mind, and recall all the weird Jungian dreamscapes you've ever seen in your sleep. Attempting to convey in film the intense spirituality of landscapes is Terrence Malick's life's pursuit. 

I have a lot of love for Westerns, because I am from the West. I romanticize Western tropes, and so this movie was perfect for me because it was a romantic but not bloodless take on the Western. I also loved No Country For Old Men, which was decidedly anti-romantic. I love that the Coens can execute both and see no conflict in the differences between them. I respect versatility more than just about anything.

For me, True Grit and Black Swan both captured the atmosphere of dreams and nightmares in a way that Inception did not at all. The immanently mystical quality of some places, especially natural environments, derealization, the ways in which life sometimes feels like a three character play in which you are all three characters. 

Avatar was James Cameron's Wizard Of Oz remake. The Wizard Of Oz is the ultimate existential fantasy movie, and seeing it for the first time is a lot of people's first mundane psychedelic experience with art. In dreams you are often on a mission of some sort, and it is comforting to think about having such a clear purpose in life. In real life our personal directives are much less obvious, if they are discernible at all.  

The modern existential Western/Wizard Of Acid/spiritual landscape film that best captures and approximates my own internal processes is Easy Rider; the avatars of 1970s Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson are in constant battle for my eternal soul. God help you if Jack Nicholson wins. God help me if Dennis Hopper does. There's an excellent argument to be made that I am also McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Genre tropes always sound like liabilities in advance. I've seen enough bad child actors to be instantly wary of a movie centered around a child actor, but Hailee Steinfeld is a born natural. She more than holds her own against the A List actors all around her.

Fun facts about Hailee: her dad is "Body By Jake" as shown in the Pie-O-My episode of The Sopranos, she is a valley girl like me, that diva bitch from Glee snubbed her and it made her cry. If I was caught off guard by the ending of True Grit (and what an ending), it's because I expected her to grow up to be Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona.

Jeff Bridges' Rooster Cogburn is the cowardly lion. Bridges is one of my absolute favorite actors. I have a major soft spot for second generation actors, because a lot of them seem to understand how to treat acting like it's a regular job. They are not necessarily less prone to be divas, but certainly Jeff Bridges doesn't seem like a diva.

Neither does Matt Damon. That's why they are so good. They never pull focus, even when hamming it up. They understand how to collaborate, how to work on a team. It's a quality I think all the best actors have. Can somebody please cast Owen Wilson in their next Western? Shanghai Noon/Knights fan #1 over here, and I'm serious. 

The Coens always create a sort of collaborative seeming world, perhaps because they are themselves collaborating. One wonders if Joel and Ethan ever disagree on things. Surely there must be times when one of them sees a shot one way and the other sees it some other way, and they have to compromise. Who is Micky and who is Dickey?

Here's how to fix The Fighter. Wahlberg and Bale swap roles. THINK ABOUT IT. Wahlberg would be much more genuinely menacing as the fuck-up crackhead brother, as anyone who's seen Fear can attest. Bale's natural smarminess would make the sympathetic lead more complex and interesting. Bale and Amy Adams actually had the best chemistry in the movie in their one real scene together. To make it up to me, they can do a webcast of True West where they switch roles every other scene.

Fargo is a kind of Western (a Midwestern), wherein Frances McDormand is the law. The Big Lebowski is a Western, in addition to being a neon noir detective movie. I was a little sad Sam Elliott never showed up in True Grit. He could have been The Wizard.

In the FMK situation that will be this year's Academy Awards, I think I'm going to have to kill The Fighter, fuck Black Swan (it was college!), and marry True Grit. But I need to see both of the latter again to be sure. How exciting is it to have so many actually good films in theaters? Winter movies are summer tentpole movies for film geeks.

Best Existential Westerns:

The Searchers 

Dead Man

Man Of The West

High Noon


Once Upon A Time In The West

The Good The Bad And The Ugly

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

El Topo

Ride The High Country

The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre

Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia

There Will Be Blood

Easy Rider

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. If somebody can hook her up to be artist in residence at the Gene Autry Museum she'll murder your enemies for you. She tumbls here and twitters here.

"River Crossing" - Carter Burwell (mp3)

"A Great Adventure" - Carter Burwell (mp3)

"Your Headstrong Ways" - Carter Burwell (mp3)

"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" - Iris DeMent (mp3)


In Which We Reduce Songs To The Smallest Units Of Measurement

Cause I'm! Having! A Good! Time! With You!


Celebrating the achievements of musicians in pronouncing individual words in songs in memorable ways. These are mostly Top 40 type songs that I heard on the radio a lot, and a few that I didn't but wish I did. A semi-sequel to this post from earlier this year.

The 2010 Individual Lyric Pronunciation Awards

HEET "you are my number one heeeeeeeeet" R. Kelly, Number One Hit

YAYHUSS "Yayhuss, yayhuss. I can feel it now" Taylor Swift, Mine

NECKALUSS "got Jesus on my neckaluss uss uss" Ke$ha, We R Who We R

KALEE "we drove to Kalee & got drunk on the beach" Katy Perry, Teenage Dream 

BIATCH "that's why I don't got love for a biatch" Too Short, Bitch

YUHHH "I tried to tell yuhhh but all I could say is" Elton John, All Of The Lights

LIYEEN "Did I mention that I was about to do that liyeen?" Fergie, All Of The Lights


HOLSTA "that girl is the gun to my holsta" Iyaz, Replay

SEDUSSES "girl sedusses, they come in deuces" Kanye, Deuces remix

NAO "I could really use a wish right naooo" Hayley Williams, Airplanes 

BOLSILLOOOO "She hides true love en su bolsilloooo" Lady Gaga, Alejandro 

BAHDAY "Not everybody knows how to work my bahday" Rihanna, What's My Name

UHHHHHP "Why would you wanna break uhhhhp" Mario, Break Up

DAYUMN "Dayumn youse a sexy chick" Akon/David Guetta, Sexy Chick

PLAYN "Are we an item, girl quit playn" Justin Bieber, Baby 

LAHV "Lahhhhhhhhhv! I don't get enough of it!" Jay-Z, Monster

LAHV "ya lahv ya lahv ya lahv is my drug" Ke$ha, Your Love Is My Drug

Nicki Minaj 2010 MVP Award: Special Acheivements In Single Word Pronunciation

ASBESTOS "and I just be comin' off the top, asbestos" Bedrock

NOICEUH "LOL smiley face have a noiceuh day" Up Out My Face

ADRUSS "I say meet me in the sky and that's my adruss" Teqkilla

TODLORE, "You're like a candy store and I'm a todlore" Your Love

MONATOWUN "I'm a stereo and she's just so monotowun" Check It Out

SLUGGA "Then I'ma go and get my Louisville slugga" Bottoms Up

FREDDAY "It's nightmare on Elm Street and guess who's playing Fredday" My Chick Bad

BLUFFERRR "I know you're not a blufferrr I'll take you to go see Usher" Little Freak

DEN-TAL "Den-tal, den-tal, yes bitch I'm mental" I Ain't Thru

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is on twitter and tumblr.

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In Which We Listened To A Lot Of Gucci Mane While We Wrote This

Blue Collar Irish Catholic Population


The Fighter

dir. David O. Russell

115 min.

"Wally Beery's a wrestler. Give me his hopes, his dreams. Naturally he gets mixed up with a bad element and a romantic interest or else an orphan." - Barton Fink

A film micro-genre has sprung up suddenly in the past few years, dedicated to portraying the lives of working class white people in Massachusetts. The hat trick of Mystic River (Clint Eastwood), The Departed (Martin Scorsese), and Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck) was followed by Affleck's sophomore effort The Town and now David O. Russell's The Fighter. Everything about the genre caters to a a strangely conservative nostalgia for "simple times" and "common people." When Hollywood tries to depict regular working class folks and their slummy worlds it's often kind of a drag ball.   

People hate the thing they are best at. Or rather, they love it, but they fantasize about being good at its complete opposite. Is it fair to compare The Fighter to Raging Bull or Mean Streets? No, but it constantly invites the comparison. I didn't think about Suspiria once while I was actually watching Black Swan, because I didn't have time to think about it, because I was too entertained. This is the real problem with The Fighter; it lacks spontaneity. It has no real swagger or sexiness. Black Swan is its black swan. 

The sequence where Mark Wahlberg's Micky takes his new love interest Charlene on a first date to see Belle Epoque and then falls asleep during the movie was the best part. The moment when they are waiting to buy tickets and overhear a bunch of bullshit said by an insufferable Cambridge film geek who is basically the guy in line with Woody that knows nothing of Marshall McLuhan's work works perfectly because a) it's funny b) it's entirely accurate c) it's very David O. Russell. The biggest problem with The Fighter is that the rest of it is not quite David O. Russellish enough.

That David O. Russell turns out not to be the most gifted visual director is not very surprising if you've seen his other films, which are great, but not visually memorable. Even Three Kings, his most visual and visceral movie, is remembered largely for its great dialogue scenes (and one cool CGI effect which, granted, was really cool).

This is not strictly a knock, I am also a dialogue person. It's a self-hating knock. Why do you think I go so hard on Aaron Sorkin and David Mamet? I'm a fucking playwright. Why do you think Sorkin and David Fincher went so hard on Mark Zuckerberg? It's because they are a couple of textbook Zuckerberg control freaks. Who else is a textbook Zuckerberg? Kanye. Anyone trying to make a living off their passion.

The direction feels reined in by trying to mimic social documentary photography. The attempts at bravura training montages fall flat and bring nothing new or natural to bravura training montages, which if you're going to attempt such a super hoary film cliché you fucking well better bring something new to it. Russell definitely tries to stretch himself but he doesn't go quite far enough. He refuses to let go long enough for the movie to swing. And for a movie about boxing, that is instant bed death.

This is not the worst criticism to give a director. The film is funny, but it's not quite as funny as it ought to be. There is a strange lack of kineticism in the fights and street scenes. Wahlberg is not allowed to be as dumb as he wants to be, since he's the sympathetic lead. It's not fair either for me to compare all of Mark Wahlberg's performances to his performance as Dirk Diggler, but it remains unchallenged.

It's just that I want a totally seamless integration of visuals and dialogue. If the quality of one is much better than the other, it doesn't mean it's not a great movie, it's just never going to be perfect. Name a completely perfect movie? The Last Picture Show

Christian Bale does his methody bullshit and reveals his limitations. He just seems like a Shakespearean actor playing a guy from Boston. He does not seem anything like he might be the charismatic guy from around the neighborhood that everybody knows is nuts, the role Robert DeNiro owned so hard in the seventies. There's nothing in Bale's performance remotely as scary and dangerous as the recording of his Terminator 4 on-set meltdown. Even his back of the head bald spot is overly fussed and fake. 

I love basically all accents, but Boston accents are especially great. There are occasional flashes of the weirder, funnier, better movie that The Fighter could have been. The subtext seems to be that Wahlberg and Russell were aiming for Academy Awards, but everyone knows the worst thing you can do is make art it with receiving accolades in mind. Blatantly oscar-baiting films always suffer from poshlost

Amy Adams did an amazing job portraying me. Every time she was on screen was the best time. Her scene with Micky's sisters was the other highlight of the movie, recalling Flirting With Disaster, still David O. Russell's best film. The biggest thing I came away with from The Fighter is that I will be calling people wild MTV girls for a long time now. We will never speak of the Red Hot Chili Peppers training sequence again. 

It's hard as hell to make a good genre movie. But so satisfying if you nail it. Everything is in a genre of some kind, and as soon as you step into the ring called "Western" or "rom-com" or "courtroom drama" the audience will have certain expectations. Everyone praising True Grit like the Coens are indestructible (and certainly that is me, I loved it) is forgetting Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. You just have to accept that you are going to die onstage sometimes. That is the whole secret to everything. 

Female directors can make perfect war movies, male directors can make great ballet movies. Black Swan checked off a laundry list of feminine neurotic tropes (food issues, the never-ending beauty contest that is womanhood, mother issues) and The Fighter does the same with masculine ones (athletic competition, rivalry between brothers, mother issues). You know what is a campy ass film? The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger looked just as awesomely silly in kabuki makeup as Natalie Portman does

White male (director)s generally get more of a chance to be total fuckups and then redeem themselves later. How much money was wasted on Nailed, which will never come out and may never have finished filming? Certainly Julie Taymor is challenging the perception that women can't be equally Peter O'Toole in The Stunt Man.

Maybe The Fighter's real black swan is The Wrestler, which also benefitted from a better script. I mean this is a movie where the main characters are brothers named Micky and Dickey, and not only is there no joking about it, it's not even really made clear until halfway though, almost as if it's embarrassed to tell you. I just feel like there was a funnier looser better movie in The Fighter but it held on too tightly to trying to be "great." The whole reason The Departed is so great is because it's sort of just Scorsese fucking around and enjoying himself. Same deal with After Hours.

I have personal affection for the Massachusetts milieu. My grandmother was born in Lowell, and my mom, straight-haired teenage beatnik, would go to the beauty school there to get her hair done because it was so cheap, and come out with the only option available: giant teased hair. I was born in Hollywood. Trashiness comes easily to me. If 90s Boston area fashion comes into style I won't even be mad. I'm trying to think what genre I'd like to see David O. Russell take on next. Maybe a musical? Why the fuck not?

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. Nawt you, nawt you, nawt you, you're cool, and nawt you. She also tumbls and twitters. Have a great New Year's!

"Making Love to the Money" - Gucci Mane (mp3)

"Remember When" - Gucci Mane ft. Ray-J (mp3)

"Haterade" - Gucci Mane ft. Pharrell & Nicki Minaj (mp3)

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