The Arts Desks’ weekly picks for movies, books, music and television shows.
Movie: “Skate Kitchen” dir. Crystal Moselle
I’m a simple girl. If a movie is about a group of girls having fun, I give it five stars. “Skate Kitchen” is a documentary-style film that follows the day-to-day life of a group of female skaters in New York City. It feels incredibly real. It’s breezy and atmospheric and is relatable despite the fact that I do not skate and have lived in California my whole life. Skate Kitchen is the name of a real-life, NYC-based girl skating collective. Their goal is to make the skating world more accepting for women, and their platform of choice is posting videos on Instagram and holding skating workshops for girls. They draw people in with their incredible talent, a unique sense of style and fiery personalities. “The Skate Kitchen” has now taken on a new endeavor: the world of television. HBO’s “Betty” re-imagines the characters from the film and places them in a new storyline. Check out the premiere on May 1.
Book: “The Magical World Of Strega Nona” by Tomie DePaola
When I volunteered in a first-grade class, I stumbled upon a basket full of every “Strega Nona” (grandma witch) book. It was news to me that there were more than one, as the original story was a staple in my childhood. I read them all and explained to my mom the joy of each story. A few months later, she gifted me “The Magical World Of Strega Nona.” The large hardcover book holds six of the best Strega Nona stories. The anxiety-inducing first book kicks it off, transporting you to Calabria, Italy and acquainting you with Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot and ditzy Big Anthony.
“Strega Nona Meets Her Match” introduces two more staples in the magical world of Strega Nona; Bambalona, the aspiring witch, and Strega Amelia, Strega Nona’s best friend. In “Strega Nona: Her Story” we get some much desired information about the witch’s early life. Each story builds Strega Nona’s world even further, with delightful art style and comforting familiar characters. Tomie dePaola, the author and illustrator of the Strega Nona series, passed away this March, and I can think of no better way to honor his impact and memory than sitting down and appreciating the stories that changed so many lives.
Album: “Hannah Montana: The Movie Soundtrack” By Various Artists
After swiping through story after story of Bill Clinton sitting cross-legged surrounded by favorite albums, it dawned on me that none of the people I follow on Instagram have taste. To have four slots and not use one to promote “Hannah Montana: The Movie Soundtrack” is appalling and, frankly, should result in the limitation of music-listening privileges. Ms. Montana is not a stranger to making hits, but she deepens the meaning of her music by using the album as a catalyst for her future as an artist. It blends typical country-infused Disney pop (“You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home”, “Let’s Get Crazy”, “Don’t Walk Away”) with mature ballads, like the forever impactful “The Climb” and “Butterfly Fly Away.” It is enriched by the interactive dance track “Hoedown Throwdown” and the unforgettable Taylor Swift feature “Crazier.” It’s hard to measure the impact this album has had on the music and film industries as a whole. It is a genuine pop masterpiece.
TV Show: “Big Little Lies”
I wish I could recommend something more contemporary, but alas “Big Little Lies” is the only thing I am capable of thinking about. The hit HBO show follows the timeline of five women’s lives before, during and after a baffling murder. Its stacked cast, incredible editing and possibly the best title sequence of all time made it a cultural phenomenon when it debuted three years ago. It has the perfect balance of atmospheric coastal visuals and suburban mother drama to keep you hooked. Each woman has her own distinct and flawed personality, which makes them all magnetic. Exploring the lives of the Monterey Five and the aftermath of the events of season one was more captivating as we got to see the women hang out and be friends (like I stated above, that is ideal). Both seasons are available on Hulu.
Written by: Livvy Mullen — firstname.lastname@example.org