Video of the Day


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

Live and Active Affiliates
This area does not yet contain any content.

Entries in tom hiddleston (2)


In Which Brie Larson Triumphs On The Merits

Tom H. Kong


Kong: Skull Island
dir. Jordan Vogt-Roberts
118 minutes

King Kong had a gentler side. He wanted to be with a woman in order to satisfy his emotional and sexual needs. This is deemed too reductive and animalistic. Now we need a new reason for Kong to protect a woman, in Kong: Skull Island a photographer named Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). This new reason is as follows: Kong respects her.

You see, one afternoon he comes upon Brie Larson, wearing the sort of top that is so crudely described, after the 1970s era events of Kong: Skull Island, as a wife beater. He sees this tiny woman attempting to lift the wing of a plane off of an oversized moose. She can't move it an inch, so he does it for her.

Later, his faith in this incredibly strong photographer is rewarded during his fight with a massive lizard. At a distance longer than a football field Ms. Weaver strikes the beast in the head with a flare gun. This magical shot indicates she has a future in the Olympics, and in fact the 1976 iteration of those events was held in Quebec. I hope Mason Weaver made it there.

Her other love interest is a human being named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston). Hiddleston's upper torso is even more impressive than Larson's. The two project their chests outwards constantly in a subtle mockery of apes. At one point Hiddleston is patrolling an ape graveyard where the bones of Kong's family are scattered. It is not his custom to bury the dead. Hiddleston's chest area protrudes far out as he slices tiny pterodactyls out of the air.

Kong: Skull Island is kind of going for a Jurassic Park-type vibe, but the film struggles to be either scary or funny. A platoon of soldiers exiting South Vietnam is enlisted on a scientific mission. The film's most exciting sequence occurs very early on as Kong swats about ten helicopters out of the sky. Helos prove to be a very poor choice for the island, since Kong barely notices human beings when they are not in the air firing bullets at his face.

In the island's interior, we meet a fighter pilot (John C. Reilly) who crashed on Skull Island's beach during the last war. Coming across the comic aspect of this extremely serious film is a relief to everyone involved, although we quickly notice that Hiddleston has zero interest in any of the people around him. Some of the hot jokes Reilly is given include wondering if the Cubs have won the world series yet, and the names he has given to the local fauna and flora. He lives with an ancient, silent civilization who, along with Kong, have kept him from harm.

The depiction of these native people, suggesting that in one thousand years they haven't developed a spoken or written language of any kind, is distressing. Reilly aludes to the possibility that the group has a primitive form of telepathy, or maybe he is just saying that they can only understand each other through body language. This is even less advanced than dolphins.

Samuel L. Jackson is given the thankless, pseudo-satirical role of a commander who never wanted to leave Vietnam. He hates Kong and plots to destroy him, eventually managing to burn the monkey quite seriously with napalm. As Kong writhes from his wounds, it is hard to feel too bad for him, given that all he really does is mope around the island and kill foes. What kind of life is that, even?

Mr. Jackson is murdered by Kong's fist before he can achieve his goals. We never get to know anyone else half so well – I think Hiddleston has like six lines in the entire movie. Now that Kong is just a pathetically whiny beast, the entire theme of the original has been overwritten. The replacement for this allegory of man as beast is that Kong is only a man after all. It is almost impressive in a way that Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) is even able to construct a film this insubstantial, this devoid of plot or character. It is like eating a marshmallow the size of a human head.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.


In Which The Frosted Tips Of Tom Hiddleston Electrify And Outrage All Concerned

Foreign Bodies


The Night Manager
creator Susanne Bier

Tom Hiddleston's frosted tips have taken on a life of their own. As a brunette, Hiddleston was a swerving force of flowing locks, always looking down on you through his nightmarish blue eyes, with an expression that seemed to say, "I know you are surprised that I am also a person as you are." Yet there was always something alien about the man, and frosting those tips has brought that inimical quality into the light.

Hiddleston's character in The Night Manager is a former military man who works at a hotel in Cairo for some reason. He starts to take an interest in the mistress of a powerful Arab man and decides to save her from her wicked life, using his frosted tips alone. She is all beaten up from her boyfriend, and looks like she has just been in a car crash, but he feels like this is the optimal time to start a romantic relationship with her.

The next time he sees her, her little poodle is covered in her blood. If you think this is a somewhat heavy-handed allegory for western imperialism, you have not read very much John le Carré. This is actually him being subtle.

I recently watched David Gordon Green's very funny, somewhat racist version of a true story, Our Brand Is Crisis. The movie was never attempts to be particularly complex in the style of The Night Manager, and it ends when Sandra Bullock's heartless political consultant suddenly grows a conscience because she was furious the man she was working for was trying to do the best for his country.

Our Brand Is Crisis is a rollicking and funny portrait of what might ostensibly be a very dull election for the president of Bolivia. Bullock's interactions with poor young men are a novelty, turning the plot into an actual referendum on the goodness of people and what it means. Our Brand Is Crisis takes something completely simple and problematizes it into something deeper. The Night Manager does the exact opposite.

The same sort of rigorous moral certainty pretends to pulsate through The Night Manager, but we can sense the bullshit. It is naivete, pure and simple; the idea that international relations, and the managing of various dictatorial regimes would be pathetically facile if only the people on the ground would go after the real bad guys. In The Night Manager, that bad guy is a British arms dealer who also runs a multinational corporation, Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie).

This cartoonish Bond villain had the temerity to sell weapons to someone! Tom Hiddleston's frosted tips did not really seem to understand that governments manage this monstrous feat almost every single day. When he finds a written list of weapons Roper plans to sell, he immediately calls British intelligence to complain. Four years after he gets a woman of color killed, he is night managing a resort in the mountains when Roper shows up with an entourage.

The Cairo parts of The Night Manager are transparently not filmed anywhere near the city, but up in the mountains we get a fantastic sense of place. In the evening, with the cold restraining the flagging movement of those blondish tips, Mr. Hiddleston starts to grow active in his den, like a nocturnal rodent. He is not very handsome in this guise, or very strong, or very smart. But he is busy.

Laurie is a great performer, but The Night Manager accentuates too many of his weaknesses. He is not naturally intimidating, fearsome or menacing. His friendliness seems to complete explode his cruelty. Sure, he is capable of awful things but combined with a braying smile, we sense he must be a far more complicated man than Tom's tips give him credit for.

Director Susanne Bier has Laurie give elaborate speeches about the virtues of capitalism which come across completely ridiculous. The rest of the time is spent making his subordinates dance with his girlfriend (Elizabeth Debicki, looking quite sussed). Intelligence professionals back in Mother Britain meet for hours to think of how they are going to shut down this maniac. I don't know, maybe they could just arrest him? Christ.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Steel & Stone" - Caleb Caudle (mp3)