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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Culture Corner with Ilya Shrayber

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

Movie: “Pierrot Le Fou”

If you thought I wouldn’t recommend a dense, deeply tender French New Wave film in my Culture Corner, you were mistaken. Directed by none other than Jean-Luc Godard, a cinematic legend and perhaps my biological father, “Pierrot Le Fou” tells the story of a couple that acts on the most typical romantic questions: What if we just ran away and left it all behind? With mesmerizing shots of naturalistic dialogue, the film is the story of an amorous road trip gone wrong, with gangsters, vintage cars and lovers’ quarrels, all set on the sunny French Riviera. This film sparked my love for Godard’s vision of the world: always romantic, finding beauty in the everyday and mixing it into the surreal. “Pierrot Le Fou” is a film I would recommend to anyone interested in cinema, who explores perhaps not the way things are, but how they feel. 

Book: “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera

What does it mean to truly love someone? Set against the backdrop of a 1960s Soviet-occupied Prague, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” explores the fragile, yet heartachingly relatable, act of giving yourself over to another person. Beautifully written with a narrative that jumps between man and woman, the book is filled with passages that will make you stop reading, put the book down and think about the words you just read. Kundera’s signature philosophical rants are juxtaposed nicely with simple tales from his youth, a technique that keeps the more dense pieces of the novel fresh. This is a book for anyone who has been perplexed by the universal mystery of devotion and the baggage, both good and bad, that comes with it. 

Album: “Chet Baker Sings” by Chet Baker  

I remember my first time in New York City, NY — it was years ago, and I was impossibly overwhelmed, albeit in the best way possible. Bright flashing lights, colorful halal carts and the roar of the subway were my favorite things along with, of course, strolling the streets listening to Chet Baker. Many of my friends had just started college in the city, and visiting them opened up a brave new world where it felt like anything was possible. The soft piano and Chet’s silky vocals take me back to that feeling of endless possibility. It’s been a while since I’ve been back to the Big Apple, but everytime “Chet Baker Sings” comes on, I glance at ticket prices to JFK. This is an album for anybody who misses a dollar slice and the fatally loud yell of pedestrians screaming, “I’m walking here!”

TV Show: “The Mandolorian”

My knees are shaking. My eyes are watering. My heart is full. George Lucas’ vision of seeing Star Wars on the small screen has finally come to fruition. And what a vision it is. “The Mandolorian” is essentially a Western set in the universe of “Star Wars,” abound with classic tropes. Yet, there’s nothing corny about the show. “The Mandolorian” is a stylish, big budget Disney+ affair executed with grace. The choice to still utilize puppets for many alien species brought me straight back to my childhood, and an enormous grin formed on my face as the first episode began. Zooming in on one tiny speck of the massive universe of “Star Wars” is deeply engaging, and it’s refreshing to finally take a break from the Skywalker Saga. This is a show for anybody who wants to feel like a kid again and engage a series that is intriguing, alluring and intoxicating. 

Written by: Ilya Shrayber — arts@theaggie.org


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