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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

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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 tom hardy (2)


In Which Tom Hardy Wears Something For Every Occasion

The Masque of Tom's Death


creators Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy

Tom Hardy's body is disguised by a variety of fluffy black coats in the London winter, 1814. He is just back from Africa, where he is very regretful about European colonialism. He is the only one. This proto-Edward Said launches himself onto the cosmopolitan London — the highest building by far is St. Paul's Cathedral, which lurks omnipotently in the background. Tom's father has died with a valuable piece of land in his possession.

Tom's half sister's name sounds like a sneeze: Zilpha (Oona Chaplin, granddaughter of someone semi-famous idk) says about four sentences in the early part of Taboo, a new series co-financed by BBC One and FX. But she writes a lot of letters, some under the duress of her profligate husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall), others true stories to her brother. A lot of bad things, we come to understand, happened to them as children.

This, it emerges from the testimony of the acting head of the East India Company (Jonathan Pryce), is the motivation for all bad acts. Pryce is a tired villain, and in Taboo all the composed effluence of his turn as the High Sparrow in Game of Thrones seems to have weakened him. He is becoming quite tiresome to watch, but whatever, it just makes Tom Hardy more charismatic in comparison.

Tom prances from location to location giving everyone the same measure of gruffness. He is well-acquainted with violence, but Taboo at least brings along the onslaught slowly. At first it is not entirely clear why Tom holds such animosity towards the company that however indirectly started his business and gave him his fortune, but who cares? Tom is a racing bullet in a top hat, and it seems only a matter of time before he forces everyone to know it.

Midway through the first episode of Taboo, Tom is interrupted by an older man who demands compensation for raising a little brother Tom seems to have known something about. He visits the man at a farm outside of London, where he witnesses the boy using what I can only describe as a large fork to move hay from one pile to another. "I'm not the sort of man fit to be around children," he announces.

It is hard to key in on what Tom desires so badly he is forced to act like such a madman. He forces a doctor to dig up his father's body in order to perform what I can only assume is the first autopsy in the history of mankind. The next morning finds sunlight penetrating Tom's father's quarters, and the man grimaces as if light itself could be diminished by averting our eyes.

Creator Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) already has plenty of money, and his projects generally avoid the flaccid compromises of traditional television. Taboo is a fun, if a bit mean-spirited romp through an exciting period for Great Britain. What Knight is best at is not transposing contemporary attitudes and preferences to life in the past. The characters of Taboo are entirely alien to us in some respects, and the bracing difference is felt in every action and decision.

I would never complain about watching Tom Hardy, but many of these scenes feel a bit familiar. Giving Tom colonialism to battle is something a bit new, but the way in which he plans on dismantling and resisting this iteration of modernity remains well-worn ground. It would be fun to see Tom in something completely different, which he could show a few different angles. As fun as it is to watch, what is the point of casting the best actor on the planet to always play a gruff, unhappy man?

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.


In Which We Retreat To The Place Of The Revenant

Ghost Story


The Revenant
dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu
156 minutes

I was watching a nature documentary the other day about giraffes. I feel stupid saying it, but I never knew they had horns. When we first view the men of The Revenant, a group of beaver-trappers who collect pelts for a fledgling Colorado concern, it feels like we have never seen human beings before. Not them or the bleak, hollow wilderness that surrounds them. The sets in The Revenant more closely resemble the surface of an alien planet.

Critically injured by a bear, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), struggles across this landscape. He is principally concerned with never being in a place from which he cannot escape. Initially chased by an Indian tribe looking for an abducted woman, the pelters retreated to their boat. Instead of merely navigating their way back on the river, they decide to cross overland, which involves passing difficult terrain. Then a bear.

Domnhall Gleeson is fantastic as Andrew Henry, the leader of Glass' expedition. He is the only easily understood member of the entire cast, which includes the garbled-voice Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a veteran who was half-scalped by indigenous people and survived. Fitzgerald holds Glass in contempt because the man knows the pelt area far better than he does, and because the navigator brings along his teenage, half-Indian son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck).

Eventually The Revenant starts to track along the lines of any revenge story, but before it becomes predictable, its chaos is both enticing and exciting in a fashion no viewer could expect. In the opening twenty minutes, Iñárritu provides a shock to the system is unlike any other in his medium. Afterwards, he wants to have it both ways: a true art film is within his reach, but he holds himself back from any larger messages or conclusions drawn from this measurement of humanity. A more basic and understandable tale takes over.

There is one scene where Glass approaches a herd of bison. The main action is at the front of his field of vision, where a couple of wolves take down a younger bison. But the whole story far exceeds the primacy of the kill that is occurring. This is a suitable metaphor for The Revenant as a whole, where the focus of Iñárritu's camera is often merely a backdrop for a larger canvas.

There is a constant stream of violence that takes place over the course of The Revenant. DiCaprio's quick and subversive mobility implies he has far more body control than we might have expected from him. In the scene where he strips down to nothing, his pink carapace is small and vaguely childlike; most of all it is undeniably human, which we might not have expected. Innaritu is a surprising genius at making his action scenes nervously thrilling, and it would be fun to watch him do his version of a John Woo movie.

Instead, The Revenant makes its violence both exciting and consequential. Glass is in danger from every single aspect of his environment, even the plants and trees. It might be fun to watch how this is equally true in civilized society, but Glass senses this to be the case and immediately heads back out into the wilderness after a hot bath. It is the only thing he understands by that point. 

DiCaprio has always been a technically impressive actor. It is a lot more fun to watch him play a normal character rather than one that rides of the momentum of his vast smile to create a personality. Hugh Glass is not really happy for a moment during The Revenant, and we suspect that he might not even know what satisfaction was if he found it. This makes for a more compelling protagonist.

If The Revenant had no dialogue at all, it would still be among the best films of the year, since its accomplishments in cinematography and versimilitude should change the way every historical film is made. There is no goofy explanation or epilogue, or tags to let us know where and when we bear witness; just simple immersion in another world. Even as we are engrossed in an entirely foreign and disturbingly real new place, the focus here is exclusively on people rather than any of the material things they equip to survive. This is what comes across as most shocking: how little they carry with them.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

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