The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for movies, books, music and television shows.
Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” premiered on Netflix last week, but for those who have already binge-watched the series and need some more intense student elections in their life, I present to you, “Election.” This 1999 Alexander Payne-directed dark comedy is an underrated Reese Witherspoon classic. Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, an incredibly above-average high school student with her eyes on the prize: Class President. One of her teachers, played by Matthew Broderick, doesn’t think she deserves to win and sets out to sabotage her, underestimating how far someone with unbridled ambition will go to win.
Television: “Tuca and Bertie”
Lisa Hanawalt, the lead designer of “Bojack Horseman,” created a wonderfully weird, colorful world and a powerful female friendship in “Tuca and Bertie.” Cancelled after only one season by Netflix, this show follows two bird women, Tuca and Bertie (voiced by Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong), as they navigate the world together. Let it be noted that the world is not just birds; their neighbor is a tall, mysteriously sexy plant with a thing for turtles. Tuca is a now-sober care-free toucan who is learning to live on her own after Bertie, an anxious, aspiring pastry chef, decides to move in with her architect boyfriend Speckle. At the root of the show are two best friends dealing with everything life throws at them. While they grapple with heavy topics, the birds deal with them in a powerful yet hilarious way. Case in point: when Bertie is catcalled, her breast (voiced by Awkwafina) is so offended, she jumps off of Bertie’s body in protest.
Book: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
Out of all of the mystery thriller “chick lit” I read by the pool this summer, Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” stood out the most. Most famous for the title character, Amy Dunne’s “cool girl,” monologue, Flynn’s characters weave a web of lies that are just believable enough. The narrative switches between Amy and her husband Nick, both out-of-work writers who have relocated from New York City to Nick’s childhood home. Their once-perfect marriage quickly (or rather, incredibly meticulously) disintegrates as the couple deals with Amy’s mysterious disappearance. Flynn keeps the reader guessing with an expert command of unreliable narration and plot twists.
Album: “Whack World” by Tierra Whack
When I texted my roommate asking what came to mind when she thought of Tierra Whack, she replied, “Dope weird funny rapper lady” and “good at freestyle,” which I think is the most accurate way to describe the creative and eccentric Philly-based rapper. Whack’s debut studio album “Whack World” was released in 2018. Most interesting about this album is that each song is one minute long, but they all have the power to stand alone. Whack also released an accompanying music visual for the album. Whack raps like a true poet, her flow mimicking spoken word. During her Freshman Cypher as part of the XXL 2019 Freshman Class, Whack cuts the beat and free-styles, which is just one instance of her ability to break from the norm. You can hear the emotional labor she puts into her song. On the album, “Hungry Hippo” is a standout, but my favorite of hers is “Only Child,” a single released in 2019.
Written by: Liz Jacobson — firstname.lastname@example.org