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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Culture Corner

The Arts Desks’ weekly picks for movies, books, music and television shows

Album: “Ritual in Repeat (Deluxe)” by Tennis

I have listened to Tennis’ phenomenal, albeit limited, discography so many times that I almost cried when they released a new album last year. Even though it was a stripped down version of seven already-released songs, it was beautifully done. Tennis’ 2014 album, “Ritual in Repeat (Deluxe)” is the closest I’ve come to discovering perfection in an album. The band, a husband-and-wife duo (a combination I would usually find eye-rollingly cloying), has produced music so distinct that to compare them to anyone else seems a disservice. I would inject the sentimentality and nostalgia in Tennis’ music and Alaina Moore’s sultry-sweet voice into my veins if I could. My most cherished song off the deluxe version of the album, “Mean Streets,” is hands-down my favorite song of the last five or more years — “Didn’t you know they would love you, baby/Even more now that you’re gone?” Others I’ve listened to countless times are “100 Lovers” (“And I will laugh until I’m tired/I will battle with a strange desire”), “Night Vision” (“Straining your night vision/For a chance to pierce the heavens/In the darkened light”) and “Needle and a Knife” (“She believes/That sacred things don’t need explainin’”).

TV: “Maniac” 

This ten-part Netflix show co-starring the fantastic leading team of Emma Stone and Jonah Hill was written off by TV critics, but I was absolutely enamored with it and still am almost a year after it debuted. It’s full of kitschy, quirky, candy-colored goodness and so, so visually appealing. Ever-changing mini-stories run amuk as the main story arc plays out: Hill, a loner cast off by his family, and Stone, a junkie trying to forget past mistakes, enter a doomed drug trial governed by a computer with feelings — and Sally Field — and become intertwined in each other’s dreamworlds.

Book: “Trick Mirror” by Jia Tolentino

I love Jia Tolentino so much that I weathered a literal flash flood in my attempt to get to her book talk. Granted, I didn’t actually make it to the book talk (I was soaked and afraid I was going to die in said flash flood) and, granted, I haven’t actually finished the book yet, but from the half of it I’ve read so far — and from the numerous articles I’ve read of Tolentino’s — I couldn’t recommend it more. Tolentino has her fingers on the pulse of current culture in a way few others do, but her true talent is describing modern phenomenons and obsessions like Shen Yun, IUDs, vaping, incels, high-profile sexual assault cases and the internet in almost frustratingly accurate and acute terms. She is the Joan Didion of the tech ara: formulating insight into topics the rest of us fail to effectively put into words. Tolentino’s book, like her articles, is a cultural conversation with a mass audience in a hyperspecific, individualized manner, helping her readers process and understand nuanced topics for themselves. 

Movie: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”

Look, I’m as much of a Wes Anderson/Paul Thomas Anderson/Kubrick-Nolan-Hitchcock die-hard fan as the rest of you film nerds, but this piece of comedic genius, written by Jason Segel, is one of my long-standing favorite movies. As if my immense adoration of this movie weren’t enough, my favorite film critic, David Ehrlich (a person I have never met but for whom I would die), frequently tweets about his love of the film, reaffirming that I, too, have good taste in movies. Segel’s character, a loveable chump who gets dumped by his celebrity girlfriend (Kristen Bell), decides to vacation in Hawaii to forget about her, only to wind up at the same resort she’s at with her new popstar boyfriend (Russell Brand). Plus Mila Kunis, Jonah Hill and the ever-charming Bill Hader are thrown in the mix. This movie has a dracula musical performed only with puppets — what more could you possibly want?

Written by: Hannah Holzer — arts@theaggie.org

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