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Davis, California

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Culture Corner with Mathilda Silverstein

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

Movie: “Boy” dir. by Taika Waititi (2010)

With recent box office successes such as “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Jojo Rabbit,” Taika Waititi has become a household name. However, the Kiwi writer and director is not new to the scene. “Boy,” Waititi’s sophomore film, is a poignant coming-of-age dramedy about a young Maori boy (James Rolleston) who goes by the nickname “Boy.” Boy idolizes Michael Jackson and his absent father (Taika Waititi). He has a hard time making friends at school and struggles to navigate his complicated family life, so he uses his vivid imagination to create a more bearable reality for himself and his younger brother, Rocky. The film conjured tears of sorrow and laughter. The North Island coastal scenery is beautiful, the acting is imaginative and the story is both sweet and melancholic. 

Book: “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013) 

I read this book a few summers ago, but revisited it because of the announcement for the exciting upcoming film adaptation, produced by Lupita Nyong’o, who will also star in the film. “Americanah” tells the story of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who moves to the U.S., gets an Ivy-League education, blogs and falls in and out of love over the course of the story. Adichie’s writing brings the reader in with a stream-of-consciousness style. The emotional imagery is so vivid and moving that in reading the novel, I became nostalgic for Lagos, a place I’ve never visited. It is an excellent story about immigration that shows hardships and romance in a personal and human way. 

Album: “Pang” by Caroline Polachek (2019)

Caroline Polachek’s breakout album “Pang” has a song for every mood. With its Celtic sound and low horn accompaniment, “Insomnia” can be played whether looking wistfully out a window at pastoral landscapes or at your spooky low-fi Halloween party. “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” makes you want to text your ex in the best way possible. “Door” is on my most-listened-to playlist and drives my friends nuts with its melismatic repetition. It is excellent for jamming in the car or studying for midterms. 

Honorable mention: And the Anonymous Nobody… by De La Soul (2016)

“And the anonymous nobody…” is De La Soul’s comeback album from 2016 that I recently rediscovered. With skits that deconstruct popular music and iconic features such as David Byrne, 2Chainz and Little Dragon, it is well worth a conscious, sit-down listen.

Television: “Daria” (1997-2001)

Winter Quarter is widely acknowledged as the darkest, coldest and heaviest quarter to bare. Just as one eats comfort foods to get through the season, I watch “Daria” to brighten up the long nights. With its vibrant colors, dark feminist humor and quirky characters, this throwback cartoon soon became my go-to show for zoning out after a tiring day. The title character is a grungy highschooler who makes snarky, monotone commentary on the mundane nature of growing up in suburbia, often interacting with jocks, cheerleaders, overbearing teachers and her preppy sister. Her best friend, Jane, is similarly cynical and checks Daria on her existential monologues. Its five seasons are available to watch on Hulu.  

Written by: Mathilda Silverstein — arts@theaggie.org


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