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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Culture Corner with Andrew Williams

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

Movie: The Departed

Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg. Directed by Martin Scorsese. That’s all you need to know. Sit that tuchus down and get ready.

Book: “Slaughterhouse 5” by Kurt Vonnegut

Nazis, time travel and a filthy flamingo, Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 “Slaughterhouse-Five” is an uproarious, acutely honest journey of epic proportions to nowhere in particular. This is one of the few Advanced Placement Language books I was forced to read, but couldn’t put down. It tracks the life of U.S. Army private Billy Pilgrim, a half-hearted attempt of a human being, as he travels from the countryside of a war-torn Germany to an alien zoo’s makeshift suburban living room. “Slaughterhouse 5” is often recognized as Vonnegut’s defining work, and it’s not hard to understand why. His disarming humor and eccentric wisdom provide nonstop cackles and states of heavy contemplation. In Billy Pilgrim-like fashion, “Slaughterhouse-Five” effortlessly stumbles to the top of the satirical war novel canon. Both young and old alike can delight in the absurd genius of Vonnegut at his prime.

Album: “Sound and Color” by the Alabama Shakes

“Sound and Color” is a 2015 Grammy award winner and the second album from the Athens-based artist Alabama Shakes. The arresting voice of frontwoman Brittany Howard stays front and center within the album’s 47-minute lifespan. Howard’s vocals weave between the soulful tones of Etta James and the jarring shrill of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant. This may not sound appealing, but give it a listen and you’ll get it. The opening title track is a delicate layering of chimes, rhythmic snare and tenderhearted vocals. SImply calling it a song does not do it justice. Meticulously timed and masterfully crafted, it bears more resemblance to a resplendent auditory sunrise. Another standout, “Gimme All Your Love,” showcases a deep rooted dichotomy in sound, between warm tenderness and uncensored anguish. When all is said and done, the Shakes manage to piece together a timeless work of sonic catharsis. So, yes, if you were wondering, it’s really good.

Television Series: “Succession”

Coming off its second season, the HBO-produced show is on a roll, and it’s just gaining momentum. The series is set in the opulent mansions and looming skyscrapers of New York City’s financial elite. The story begins to unfold when Bryan Cox’s character Logan Roy, the cold-blooded sociopathic CEO of conservative media goliath Royco, falls into ill health. In the ensuing fallout, Roy’s four bloodthirsty children clamber to snatch whatever power they can get. Packed full of corporate backstabbing, ruthless humor and one of the most gripping casts on television today, “Succession” is downright binge-worthy.

Written by: Andrew Williams — arts@theaggie.org


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