The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for television, movies, novels and music
Television: “Mad Men”
To be quite honest, I’ve been off my television-watching game. I have, however, become an avid Youtube television-analysis junkie. In such instances, I find myself gravitating toward the critically-acclaimed “Mad Men.” Each episode rewatch or YouTube clip adds a new layer of analysis. Themes of developing personal identity for Don Draper and other characters overlap with the turmoil and ideological shift of the 1950s. “Mad Men” is sophisticated and, ironically, timeless. “Mad Men” is available to stream on Netflix.
This story follows the dynamic of best friends Andy (Ray Romano) and Michael (Mark Duplass), two neighbors who both work dead-end office jobs. Although reserved during the day, their authentic and attractive personalities emerge when they’re together as they watch kung-fu movies, make pizza and play their invented game “Paddleton.” When Michael is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides to undergo assisted suicide with the help of Andy, we witness the last few weeks of Michael’s life and the remaining memories of their friendship. While it is a comedy, the tragic undertones of this movie create a sentimental aura that will make you cry as much as you want to laugh. A compelling plot combined with an undeniable chemistry between the two actors made me watch the movie over and over.
Novel: “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy
I’ve been on a bit of an old-school, Western kick — Wranglers, boots, thick southern drawls, open skies and all the dirt and grit associated with such. Cormac McCarthy is notorious for his western plots which are quite violent — uncomfortably so at times. “Blood Meridian” is no exception, as the title even seems to imply. His masterful descriptions of both violence and the great outdoors combines grotesqueness and beauty in one work, displaying the mastery and diversity of McCarthy’s writing.
Album: “Half Light” by Rostam
As a die-hard fan of Vampire Weekend, it seemed incumbent upon me to become equally as acquainted with the individual work of Rostam Batmanglij, the former production mastermind of the band. Much of his sound is reminiscent of early Vampire Weekend, which differentiated the band as a unique entity in the music industry. He expands on it, however, by toying with different international sounds and often sentimental, melancholic lyrics. Batmanglij has proven himself to be an artist who has evolved from his roots and developed his own musical identity worthy of listening in its own right.
Written by: Caroline Rutten — firstname.lastname@example.org