In Which Girls Relate To Billy Madison Too You Know

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I Love You, Man

by Molly Lambert

I Love You, Man
Wr/Dir: John Hamburg
2009

Critics were split on I Love You, Man and so was the crowd I went with. Half thought it was funny (if not memorable) and inoffensive and the other half thought it was bland and misogynistic. I remember a similar argument after Knocked Up where a female friend defended Leslie Mann’s character’s actions against a guy arguing that Paul Rudd’s husband character had done nothing wrong. Bromantic passions run high.

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run, run, run from adult responsibilities

What’s bland is not Paul Rudd’s character, who’s actually quite well sketched out, but Jason Segel’s. Which is strange because Segel’s brand of creepy-funny seems like an ideal match for Rudd’s muddled adorableness. I was expecting something more along the lines of The Zoo Story or The Cable Guy.

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oh no, not another big set piece!!!

Instead what happens is that Segel’s character seems to shift from scene to scene to suit the needs of the questions posed to Rudd’s character. Which could also be funny, but it’s just kind of confusing. Lots of ideas are set up and never returned to again. There are some really funny bits in the movie and the chemistry between Segel and Rudd is charged with a first date giddiness, but the film never quite makes the leap from good to great.

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Andy Samberg and Paul Rudd demonstrate two different delicious flavors of handsome Jewish guyness

Comedies have focused on male immaturity for more or less all of time. What is so weird about these movies to real life slacker girls like me is the way they all portray women as inherently responsible. I must have slept through that memo. Women are always shown being driven endlessly towards goals of marriage, responsibility, financial security, with the men bucking against it.

Jon Favreau as Alex Carnevale in the future

Besides Charlyne Yi, girls in these comedies tend to all get cast in this light. The single friend in I Love You, Man (the charming Sarah Burns, memorably from a FOTC episode) is typed as desperate for a man, any man. Most of her laughs come from this, and she’s really funny. But in a movie where a single male character who doesn’t have his shit together is portrayed as having a life worthy of emulation, it feels a little bit sexist.

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they live in Silverlake, naturally

Rashida Jones is as winning as she can possibly be, but she is meant to be the Ralph Bellamy of this love triangle and has no chance against a Rush covers montage. By the time the movie gets to the couple questioning their decision to get engaged I was pretty sure they ought to break up. Like in Apatow movies, a lot of timely and sensitive real life issues about gender and relationships are touched upon and then buried under jokes.

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Segel and Rudd display two brands of feminine masculinity

The only trailer that ran before the movie was for Inglorious Basterds, which was strange. Despite the fact that I finally just saw (and loved) Death Proof, I can’t feel myself getting that stoked for a war movie, even a Quentin Tarantino war movie. I’m just not sure I care yet about B.J. Novak and Samm Levine murdering Nazis. Can I give you a maybe? If it were a World War One movie I’d be so down.

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even though Mahnola Dargis really hated ILYM, she agrees with all of humankind that Paul Rudd is the fucking cutest ever

War movies are the ultimate bromances. They have the same message as most of these comedies; that nothing in the world is better, more fun, or more awesome than the not-gay but gayish close friendships between straight men. Most movies violate Bechdel’s rule so flagrantly that it’s depressing to talk about.

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What we need are more girlmances. I guess Sex and The City is a girlmance. Big Love is definitely a girlmance. Gossip Girl is a gossip girlmance. Little Darlings is a great classic girlmance. I have high hopes for the long-rumored Amy Poehler and Isla Fisher collaboration Groupies if it comes to fruition.

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One thing I Love You, Man got completely right: Sunday night programming on HBO really IS amazing. Or at least it was until ten last night, when Big Love and Eastbound & Down wrapped up their seasons. I was already subjected to one Entourage promo tonight and had to wash my eyeballs out with Axe bodyspray. When does Curb start again?

Rudd and Segel are in "Love"

Ashton snaps a pic of Demi bending over at Bruce Willis’s wedding to a fetus. Planet Hollywood, bay bay!

Ciara and Justin Timberlake make love and sex and magic

Rachel McAdams reads Haruki Murakami

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

We will come to a point.

We can’t overcome that.

This is a bad matchup.

This Recording. What happens on the island stays on the island.

In Which It’s Not Gay Unless The Boobs Touch

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Lesbian Chics

by Molly Lambert

Just because The L Word is over doesn’t mean you’re at a loss for hot same-sex television pairings. Forget the endless seduction wankfest that is Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf, it’s all about the tender loving care made manifest by Blair and Serena.

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OMG CUTEFEST ON THE MET STEPS, AND NO BOYZ!!!

In the wake of so many bromosocial movies and sitcoms and fan-fiction about threesomes between Obama, Joe Biden, and Rahm Emmanuel, we have no choice but to champion an alternative sisterly kind of love. A deep feminine bond.

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If you’re in the dark about “shipping” and what it means for a Big Love fan to “ship” Barb and Margene, you can learn up at Fan Secrets. Unless you’d rather just not know about the dark underbelly of the internet. It’s a strange and deviant world.

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Blair: “sorry Chuck. I love you but I’ve chosen dykeness.”

Kanye And The Real Girl

In a time when the economy is crumbling and heterosexual relationships are fraught with violence, who can be blamed for taking safe refuge in the (beautiful in totally different ways) bosoms of rich and fashionable fictional socialites.

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power lesbians Amber Rose and Pink planning a business lunch

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Kanye’s girl got a (ex) girlfriend

Pretty sure Amber Rose’s ex girl could take Kanye in a fight.

Perpetual belle of twitter John Mayer has a man-boner for Kanye, likes sex and he’s good at it.

More pictures of Kanye and new girlfriend Amber Rose

channeling Lady Gaga and Archie Andrews

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Beyonce and Bey-Z, the ultimate in being a diva

Keri Hilson and a still mulleted Kanye reenact the androgynous Andrew McCarthy and Ally Sheedy sex scene from St. Elmo’s Fire which we wrote about recently.

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Kelly Clarkson’s new single “I Do Not Hook Up” is about eschewing casual sex in favor of a longer lasting emotional connection. It was written by Katy Perry, of last year’s bisexual crossover hit “I Kissed A Girl.”

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Which begs the question, can you be a bisexually curious prude? What does that entail? Lots and lots of scissoring? Third wave feminism is red pandas.

I’m a ninth wave feminist. What does that mean? You’ll find out when you get here. Get on my level, womyn.

Other Gay Couples We Like:

Steve Buscemi and Paul Rudd (kute!!!)

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Jason Segel and Alex Carnevale’s favorite actor Jack McBrayer

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Jason Segel and Paul Rudd do “Dracula’s Lament”

Back in the dull heteronormative world, Emily Gould convinced me to resurrect my short-lived but remarkably successful (thank u Ed Westwick fans!) ladyporn venture Mrs. Skin, now with her contributions. So if you are a straight girl or gay dude or bisexual octopus person come check out our gallery of hot menfolk. Occasionally NSFW.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording

YOWWWWWW KELLY CLARKSON!

I Do Not Hook Up – Kelly Clarkson: (mp3)

Don’t Let Me Stop You – Kelly Clarkson: (mp3)

Long Shot – Kelly Clarkson: (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:

Scarlett Johansson ♥s Natalie Portman

The 9 Year Old Pickup Artist

Blair And Chuck And Devin The Dude 4 Eva

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This Recording Is A Boston Marriage Between Equals

In Which This Is Sort Of About Shaq’s Twitter

Democracy Super America

by Molly Lambert

Have a coke. Go fucking crazy!

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

- Andy Warhol

“As We May Think” is an essay by Vannevar Bush, first published in The Atlantic Monthly in July 1945. Bush argued that as humans turned from war, scientific efforts should shift from increasing physical abilities to making all previous collected human knowledge more accessible. He also helped invent the atomic bomb.

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The Internet Of Things

Coke Art

Memex

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Selena was a spokesperson for Coca-Cola from 1989 till the time of her death. She filmed three commercials for the company. In 1994, to commemorate her five years with the company, Coca-Cola issued special Selena coke bottles.

Coca-Cola was the first-ever sponsor of the Olympic games, at the 1928 games in Amsterdam, and has been an Olympics sponsor ever since.

OLYMPICS

The Coca-Cola Company has been criticized for its business practices as well as the alleged adverse health effects of its flagship product. A common criticism of Coke based on its allegedly toxic acidity levels has been found to be baseless by researchers; lawsuits based on these criticisms have been dismissed by several American courts for this reason.

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There are some consumer boycotts of Coca-Cola in Arab countries due to Coke’s early investment in Israel during the Arab League boycott of Israel. This contrasts sharply to Pepsi which stayed out of Israel. Mecca Cola and Pepsi have been successful in the Middle East as an alternative.

Fanta has its origins in Nazi Germany, when a trading ban was placed on Germany by the Allies during World War II. The Coca-Cola company therefore was not able to import the syrup needed to produce Coca-Cola in Germany.

As a result, their chief chemist, Dr. Schetelig, decided to create a new product for the Germany market created using only ingredients available in Germany. They called the new product Fanta.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording.

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Tyler Coates Buys The World A Coke

Olympic Cermonies and Large Hadron Colliders

Guy Debord’s Society Of The Spectacle

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In Which I Just Blogged To Say I Hate You

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BALLISTIC: BANS VS. LAMBERT

by Lauren Bans and Molly Lambert

He’s Just Not That Into You
dir. Ken Kwapis

“I actually suffered one of those exact rotten guys only maybe two weeks ago. It was just like a scene in the movie. I was at a bar. A fellow who’d texted me promised follow-up texts. I sent follow-ups when I didn’t get anything from him. And I made the excuse to myself that my phone must’ve been blocked. That I didn’t hear it. That it had SIM card issues. I told my mother. She said, ‘Call him.’ People at the bar said to me, ‘You’re acting out from the movie. He’s just not that into you.’ So I reluctantly decided the hell with him.” – Ginnifer Goodwin

Bans: So according to that opening montage our moms and female friends are the ones inadvertently responsible for brainwashing us into believing we’re too amazing for the doods who break up with us. I never even thought of it that way. What stoopid betches. I’m going to disown my Mom.

Lambert: I was not bored for the retardedly long 2 hours and 15 minutes running time. I wasn’t mad initially, but then the more I thought about it postmortem, the madder I got.

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Lambert: I feel like this movie was the girl version of Sin City in some ways. Really simplistic and totally sexist but occasionally satisfying.

Bans: Love Actually is just as sexist, only more insidiously!

Lambert: definitely but it coated the misogyny with Xmas fluff.

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Lambert: This movie was at least sort of “Woody Allen” themed so I expected serious discussions between white people in nice apartments and title cards and on those counts I was duly satisfied.

Bans: Very Woody Allen-esque! I think the Woody Allen Gaze is perhaps more dangerous than the regular “male” gaze, for it’s coated in the kind of intellectualism that makes it seem okay to boink your 17 year old stepdaughter.

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the WAG (Woody Allen Gaze), demonstrated

Bans: That said, I love him and I may have internalized WAG. My major sexual fantasy is walking into a room to see ScarJo on a table naked, covered in Lox, reading Tolstoy.

Lambert: speaking of sultry Jewesses, did you hear Ryan Gosling might be dating Natalie Portman? Fucking sad day in McGoslingville.

Bans: No!!!!!!! RACHEL AND RYAN FOREVER!!!! I thought Rachel Getting Married was the footage of their wedding mashed up with The Notebook, no?

Lambert: Unexpectedly charmed by Justin Long!

Bans: I was also unexpectedly charmed by Justin Long. So much so that I bought 4 Macbooks as soon as I got home. Though he’s terrible as the narrative voice of the “He’s Just Not That Into You” philosophy, his storyline is more like “He Doesn’t Even Know How Into You He Is.”

Lambert: Justin Long was so charming that he kind of transcended the material. In fact, so was Ginnifer Goodwin, and their scenes together seemed really adorable even though in retrospect he was written as a tremendous douchebag who changes at the very last second (just as we are warned multiple times is the exception, and not the rule, in dating.)

Bans: I actually found Ginnifer decidedly uncharming, besides for her haircut and wardrobe. She kind of made me feel uncomfortable being a woman.

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Lambert: I love Jennifer Aniston. I don’t even care that she always has to play opposite dogs.

Bans: I love Jennifer Aniston too. She has her sanity. Should I cut my hair like Ginnifer’s?

Lambert: don’t cut your hair like Ginny’s. remember that she has a Mormon haircut.

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Bans: Drew Barrymore’s lisp gets worse with each rejection. I liked how the script accommodated her impediment by having Kevin Connolly tell her at the end, “Your face doesn’t match your voice. In a good way.” Thank god that girl has a face!

Lambert: I was hoping she’d be like “I hope your dick doesn’t match your height.” Perhaps I ask too much.

Bans: HAHAHA. That movie is called “He’s Just So Way, Way Up Into You.”

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Bans: I also liked how the subtle undertone of the Kevin Connolly/ ScarJo plot was “Dood, she’s too hot for you.” That was the only unsexist thing in the movie. Enough with Apaturdian doods thinking they deserve chicks way out of their league.

Lambert: yeah I appreciated that it showed the issue from both sides. A guy stringing a girl along for sex = a woman stringing a dude along for cuddles and pep talks. Kevin Connolly was a chump, just like his character on Entourage. But who wouldn’t get chumped by ScarJ and her incredibly prominent boobs.

Bans: Totes, and poor ScarJo had to pay for her soulless slut ways at the end– what was she in the last montage, a depressed lounge singer on qualudes? Plus the movie wouldn’t even run a clip of her actually singing. That’s got to sting. I am so surprised she could not work at least one Tom Waits cover into the script. She needs a new agent.

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Bans: But on that: I am scared for when ScarJo starts aging. She needs to go to college.

Lambert: all of ScarJo’s talk about how she has to show her boobs off while she’s young makes me think she’s worried about aging the way of Brigitte Bardot. Then again Scarlett has Jewish genes, which might fortify her beauty.

Bans: MySpace as the “hook up” website? Hello, what is this, 2001?

Lambert: I think this movie was on the shelf for a while, hence MySpace as the hookup website.

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Bans: I am annoyed they didn’t confront emo-caddery at all. Basically all menfolk keep in contact nowadays, the more insidious dating types are the ones who write/txt/wax emo poetic but have no follow-through. I think it’s a recession thing – words are super cheap. That’s why I date T.I. who says I can call whenever I like.

Lambert: ugh yes people who have online/text game but no real life presence are the worst. that’s why I think this movie was interesting, because it did bring up some of those issues. essentially it was a big budget Hollywood mumblecore.

Bans: That was Drew Barrymore’s entire purpose in the movie. She totally got cast as the “new technology dater”, and communicated with men over all these weird mediums like MySpace, txt msg, Blackberry, Email. That is why she had so many gay friends in the movie. She was, like, way more advanced than the other characters. Also, are real estate ad sale companies notoriously gay or did she work for the paper itself?

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Lambert: how awk do you think it is between Justin Long and Drew Barrymore on the press tour? how embarrassing is it when you get your cute new younger bf a job and then the relationship implodes and you still have to promote the film?

Bans: I’m sure they slept together during production, if only to ease the tension.

Lambert: The same thing happened with Cam Diaz and Justin Timberlake with Shrek 3. Note to Charlie’s Cougars: if you emasculate your boyfriend by using your Hollywood A-List status to get him a job, he will dump u. Let him book his own Alpha Dogs, k?

Bans: From what I can tell from my glossy reading, Drew seems to be the kind of girl who likes to be friend-exes. Mostly because I imagine if someone dislikes her it’s a refutation of her entire being.

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Lambert: none of the character’s motivations made sense, like Bradley Cooper and Ben Affleck wouldn’t be BFF if Brad is really such a dick and Ben’s really such a good guy.

Bans: why did they show the preview for the movie All About Steve in which Sandra Bullock stalks Bradley Cooper after their 1st date until he starts to fall in love with her? mixed msgs much? I am so confused.

Lambert: Bradley Cooper does not have “an ass that makes me want to dry hump.” He has hair that makes me think about getting highlights. And a body that makes me consider pilates.

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Bans: Bradley Cooper does have a fantastic body, which actually makes him a little weird for rom-coms. I feel like usually rom coms are reserved for the face actors, action movies for the body actors. Bradley Cooper has an asshole face. Not that it’s not cute, he just looks like an asshole. Ryan Reynolds really paved the way for hot-bodied asshole types in the leading man romcom genre, because Bradley Cooper is ALL over the place now.

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Lambert: I loved Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck. We all know he has a thing for Jennifers. It was so ridiculous that this movie took place in Baltimore. I loved the Domino Sugar neon sign in their window.

Bans: They had really good chemistry. I wish one of them wouldn’t have been white.

Lambert: I was waiting for actors from The Wire and there were none, but Luis Guzmán played the construction foreman and Kris Kristofferson played Jennifer Aniston’s dad.

Bans: Where were all the people from The Wire? Everyone knows when you film a Baltimore movie you cast Wire actors. Hello, Step Up 1 & Step Up 2 are basically The Wire, with some dancing thrown in.

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Lambert: Jennifer Connelly seemed out of place, but what better contrast to Scarlett’s alternate brand of voluptuary beauty? Like, could they be more different? Aside from being beautiful high-paid Hollywood actresses married to B-List actors.

Bans: I was really touched when Jennifer Connelly broke the mirror and grew a spine. I made some tears.

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Lambert: I kept comparing it to Adaptation, in that it spends the first two thirds of the movie sort of setting up these rules for itself, and then the last act breaking all of them. But joylessly!

Bans: Basically I left the theater gleefully gurgling, “IZ CAN HAS BOOYFWIEND????” and sucking my thumb.

Lambert: the underlying message of this movie was?

Bans: It’s always a good idea to have a boat, as a back up.

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Lauren Bans and Molly Lambert are into you, okay?

You Ain’t It – Sleater Kinney: (mp3)

Why Not Your Baby – Dillard & Clark: (mp3)

Ballad Of Big Nothing – Elliott Smith: (mp3)

I Know I’m Not Wrong – Fleetwood Mac: (mp3)

I Won’t Be Good For Nothin’ – Lefty Frizzell: (mp3)

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A House Is Not A Home – Luther Vandross: (mp3)

I’m Not In Love (10cc cover) – Red Red Meat: (mp3)

Nothing – Love: (mp3)

You Are Not Needed Now – Townes Van Zandt: (mp3)

I Think I Thought I’d Nothing Else To Think About – The Chills: (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Annie Hall; still the best romantic comedy ever made

Why we are the way that we are.

Frank O’Hara was the man.

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This Recording is the awkward space between you on the couch

In Which Text Messaging Ruined Dating But So Does This Movie

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He’s Just Not That Into You

by Sarah LaBrie

I wanted to not hate this movie because hating it seemed too easy and because the preview wasn’t entirely unfunny and because the author of the book it’s based on wrote one of my favorite psychological treatises of all time, “It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken” which, look, shut up.

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A few minutes in I gave up and started coming up with titles that maybe would have been more appropriate:

He’s Just Not That Into Also Scarlett Johannsen Has Breasts

OMG! Girls! They Just Don’t Know When To STFU, Right?!

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Scarlett Johanssen Boobs! Let Me Show You Them!

Drew Barrymore Is In This Movie We’re Not Sure Why Either

Jennifer Aniston Takes A Wife

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sorry girls, this will never happen to you in a million years

I think I might accidentally be this film’s target audience. I’m 23 and single and I live in Los Angeles and I’ve had one real boyfriend ever but it was in college so it doesn’t even count. Also I paid to see the Sex and the City Movie and am not as ashamed of that fact as I could be. But where Sex and the City was scripted by women and the gay men who love them, this movie seems to have been written by someone who has never actually met one and instead got all of their ideas about what females are like from the advice columns of Cosmopolitan circa 1998.

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but you probably will get dumped by post-it or text msg

Break-ups suck and so does dating boys who are not as interested in you as you would like them to be. But by the time you’ve listened to 69 Love Songs on repeat enough times to rememorize all the words you’re usually done feeling sorry for yourself and ready to move on. Sometimes boys are jerks and sometimes girls are crazy but in the end time passes and things wind up okay because what other choice do they have?

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But if boys were as consistently awful as Justin Long’s character is in this movie and girls were as mind-numbingly insane as Ginnifer Goodwin’s, mutual hatred would have won out over sexual attraction generations ago and none of us would be around to complain about each other anyway.

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He’s Just Not That Into You’s premise seems to be that if Jennifer Aniston doesn’t get proposed to and Goodwin doesn’t find a boyfriend womankind as a whole will succumb to an apocalyptic fate of dog-marrying and getting cackled at by scary old ladies with big hair.

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All the characters have rhyming names and the whole story takes place in a world where people under 30 still have landlines and answering machines and Justin Long can reject Kim Kelly without getting his face clawed off. Whatever.

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Don’t get me wrong, the script makes some valid points. “When guys act like they don’t give a shit, it’s because they don’t give a shit” is pretty solid, if syllogistic, advice. It is also true that there is a certain type of girl who will run straight into the arms of the last boy who showed any interest in her whether she’s into him or not if the boy she actually likes is mean to her. But these are the kind of lessons you learn from experience, I think, and not romantic comedies.

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So, look, what I’m saying is there is no reason for anyone to see this movie ever. If you are going through a breakup and a well-meaning friend tries to make you, email me instead and I will burn you a copy of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space so you and Justin Pierce can get through this bullshit together. In the meantime, here are some Fun Facts:

1. Ginnifer Goodwin’s first big onscreen role was in a Comedy Central original movie called “Porn ‘n Chicken” which sounds like a viable business plan to me.

2. Wilson Cruz, Rickie Vasquez from My So-Called Life is alive and well and in this movie. He was also recently featured in a TV series called “Rick and Steve the Happiest Gay Couple In All The World.”

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Quoth his IMDB bio: “’Does the handsome young actor think of himself as an Hispanic role model? “I don’t know if I believe in role models,” Wilson reflects. “We’re all so different; we’re all individuals. In the long run, that’s what matters.’”

3. In German He’s Just Not That Into You translates to “Er steht einfach nicht auf Dich!” which Babelfish reverse translates to “It does not stand simply on you!”

Sarah LaBrie is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She writes here, and she tumbls here.

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SLB on Revolutionary Road

SLB on Slumdog Millionare and Synecdoche

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Temptation Inside Your Heart – The Velvet Underground: (mp3)

The Heart You Break May Be Your Own – Patsy Cline: (mp3)

Heartbroken – Aaliyah: (mp3)

Office Of Hearts – Guided By Voices: (mp3)

Smarter Hearts – Superchunk: (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

We will come to a point.

We can’t overcome that.

This is a bad matchup.

In Which Pluto Needs To Be Loved Just Like Any Other Planet Does

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Plutian Love : An Outer Space Baby Making Soundscape

by Ben Lambert

Pluto is no longer a planet. But Pluto still has feelings.

Pluto isn’t a person, but Pluto has a heart.

Plutian Love.

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When the other planets stopped loving Pluto, Pluto was hurt.

Love can hurt.

Plutian Love.

Pluto still exists. Pluto can still love. Pluto loves music.

This is the music Pluto loves.

Plutian Love.

LAMBO PRESENTS FOR YOUR FEBRUARY LISTENING

(In association with This Recording and Laundromat United)…

Plutian Love : An Outer Space Baby Making Soundscape

This Recording Radio, Broadcast #2 – PLUTIAN LOVE: (mp3)

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Tracklist:

Space Intro – Steve Miller Band (non-playing mofo)

Love (Interlude) / Spacey Love- Rick James

You Are My Starship – Norman Connors

Rocket Love – Stevie Wonder

4:30 AM (Interlude) / Private Party – Sleepy’s Theme

Your Hands – Röyksopp

Mermaid – Sade

Tea Leaf Dancers (feat. Andreya Triana) – Flying Lotus

Bullet Proof Soul – Sade

Blac Mermaid – Society of Soul

Hurry Up This Way Again – The Stylistics

We Got To Work It Out – Taana Gardner

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Intimate Friends – Eddie Kendricks

Lovers Everywhere – LTD

Midnight Lovers – Passion

In The Mood – Tyrone Davis

Signal Your Intention – Hodges, James, & Smith

Station Identification (Interlude) – Mo B. Dick

Funky Ride – Outkast

Moments In Love – Art Of Noise

If Tomorrow Never Comes – Controllers

Portrait of Tracy – Jaco Pastorius

Munchies For Your Love – Bootsy Collins

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Catch up with This Recording Radio, download Broadcast #1

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Ben Lambert is musical director of This Recording

Lambo’s Aquarium

Lambo’s Tumbling Aquarium

Laundromat United

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PREVIOUSLY, ON THIS RECORDING:

Ben Lambert’s Birthday

Celebrities As Wee Little Babies

Spend A Day At Disneyland For Free

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In Which International Banking Seems To Have Gotten Sexier

Wasted Love

by Molly Lambert

“Jules, y’know, honey this isn’t real. You know what it is? It’s St. Elmo’s Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them. There was no fire. There wasn’t even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you’re making up all of this. We’re all going through this. It’s our time at the edge.” – Rob Lowe, from the worst monologue ever

St. Elmo’s Fire
dir. Joel Schumacher, 1985
currently on hulu

The thing about screen-capping movies is that it can make almost any movie look great, just by virtue of being competent. Reduced to a series of stills, even the most mediocre movies generally look artfully composed and well lit. A glossy movie like St. Elmo’s Fire, then, looks like Gregory Crewdson photographs.

Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson, the upwardly mobile 80s couple

The people behind hulu (aka “the calabash gourd”) are geniuses for stocking the movie section with exactly the kind of trash you would watch on, say, cable television. To wit there are lots of popcorn flicks, 80s movies, the occasional classic, and bizarro drek like Toys. I’d never seen St. Elmo’s Fire. It’s ideal for hulu.

I have always found the notion of always hanging out in a favorite bar sort of sad. I think it’s because I grew up in California, where the weather doesn’t necessitate that you spend a quarter of your year trapped inside one room or another. Also we have to drive, which makes getting drunk way less fun.

oh and Rob Lowe is a top-billed saxophone player in a local band

However I know that in towns like DC and Boston (and most other cold places), having a regular spot to gather and huddle for warmth is required. This movie makes DC look gorgeous.

Judd Nelson is the OG Chuck Bass, equal parts sex and sleaze. He plays the former center of the gang, now sliding into right wing yuppification and cheating on college sweetheart Ally Sheedy. He has a natural Jewish charisma to him.

but instead of a big portrait of Charlotte Rampling it’s a Nike ad

His 80s moderne white apartment recalls Stardust Memories, a movie whose poster hangs in the other apartment where all the other bros live. As in Gossip Girl, it riffs fluffily on the themes of Woody Allen films, focusing mainly on “infidelity” and “parties.”

St. Elmo’s Fire implies at least twice that vigorously stalking a woman is a good way to win her over. Although, to be fair, it allows alky coke slut Demi Moore to escape being draped by Rob Lowe. Which makes it all the weirder when he comes to her rescue at the end of the film. Say hey to Demi on twitter.

People you definitely do not want to see during your drug-fueled mental breakdown: guys who tried to acquaintance date rape u.

Emilio Estevez’s character recalls fellow eighties psychopaths Lloyd Dobler and Judge Reinhold in Fast Times At Ridgemont High by pining scarily for a rich med school babe and then being rewarded in the movie by the woman finding it charming and not filing a restraining order or punching him in the dick.

token 80s scene of white guy lip-syncing a classic soul song

In St. Elmo’s Fire, everyone thinks Andrew McCarthy’s character is gay because he hasn’t had sex in so long. There’s also a black lady prostitute who repeatedly comes on to him. This movie has all the grey racism you’d expect from such a white movie. It’s basically White Privilege: The Movie.

No, McCarthy isn’t an icily repressed gay (as in Less Than Zero). He is that other trope, the celibate writer suffering for their art. We know he’s a writer because he smokes cigarettes and broods, and we know he’s celibate because every other line is somebody asking him when he’s going to get laid.

In this movie, unlike in Less Than Zero (where he had the fool’s errand of competing with Robert Downey Jr.), McCarthy is actually somewhat hot. His chemisty with Ally Sheedy benefits from how incredibly androgynous they both are. Their hair is cut into identical matching shags. During the sex scene, when no boobs are showing it’s impossible to tell who is who.

Ally Sheedy’s pearl necklace is the only way to tell them apart

It also touches on that classic youth novel theme, the gayness of intense homosocial relationships. Is Kevin in love with Ally Sheedy, or is he really just in love with Judd Nelson? Is it possible that he’s in love with both of them, but only as a couple, and mostly for the ideals they represent? Ideals he ultimately knows to be false? These are interesting thorny questions, and even touched on by such superficial characters they resonate.

What St. Elmo’s Fire really anticipates is the genre known disaffectionately as mumblecore. A bunch of white kids sitting around talking shit, staying up all night drinking and pouring their hearts out, and ultimately dealing with issues of love, sex, and adulthood. It’s the French New Wave via Reaganomics.

like Jules And Jim, but really, really ridiculous and in the eighties

I was also reminded of Donna Tartt’s novel The Secret History, which is similarly eighties and about a klatch of wealthy white east coast college students who are supertight buds for reasons that turn out to be fascinating and kind of gross.

The part about splitting records became especially touching when I realized that modern couples don’t really have to chop up their mp3 collections when they break up.

“You can’t have the Pretenders first album. That’s mine. You can have all the Billy Joel. Except The Stranger. No Springsteen is leaving this house! You can have all the Carly Simons”

Ally Sheedy’s body languages says: she’s just not that into u

St. Elmo’s Fire also shows from both sides what it’s like when one person has been secretly harboring feelings for someone forever, and when given the chance to display those feelings goes overboard, which in turn repulses the object of their affections, who had no idea they were in so deep. Real talk.

From IMDB’s St. Elmo’s Fire trivia section:

Mare Winningham played a virgin while she was pregnant.

Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson all portrayed college graduates in this 1985 film, the same year all three actors also portrayed high school students in The Breakfast Club.

Demi Moore had a drug problem, much like her character when she was cast in the film. One day, director Joel Schumacher actually demanded that she leave the set because she was really high. Moore actually had to go through rehab and promise to stay clean in order to play a character with a drug problem.

Singer John Parr wrote “St. Elmo’s Fire” for the soundtrack. During a speech he said he was “not particularly thrilled” to be working on the film and that, motivation for the song actually came from a young man who had recently become paralyzed. “The wheels” of the Man in Motion referenced in the lyrics was popularly thought to mean the wheels of Demi Moore’s jeep, but actually refers instead to those of a wheelchair.

Movies That Share DNA With St. Elmo’s Fire:

Metropolitan

The Squid And The Whale

Wes Anderson, at his whitest

Reality Bites

High Fidelity

everything involving white kids talking about feelings

O to be a young white man in the U.S. in the 80s

Saints – The Breeders: (mp3)

Elmo Delmo – Stephen Malkmus: (mp3)

Baby’s On Fire – Brian Eno: (mp3)

Diamonds On Fire – Rubies: (mp3)

We gettin’ Arab Money!

Florida’s On Fire – Superchunk: (mp3)

Gazing At The Fire – Ignatz: (mp3)

I’ll Write Your Name Through The Fire – Shocking Blue: (mp3)

I’m On Fire – Dwight Twilley: (mp3)

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:

In The City With Whitney Port And Chuck Bass

Alex Went To Deadwood And Came Back More Alive Than Ever

Lauren Bans Cherry-Picks The Alternative Oscars