The Arts Desk’s weekly pick of movies, tv shows, books and music
Book: “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac
Some books have a remarkable way of transcending time, and Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is without a doubt one of them. Throughout the novel, Kerouac recalls his adventures across the states from New York City to San Francisco, back to New York and everywhere in between. Indicative of the post-war beat generation, the story reads like one giant paragraph—at least in the original scroll edition I’ve read (the first draft, not the 1957 edition). Yet somehow Kerouac is able to keep the reader’s attention across hundreds of pages, without losing their place in the story because of the raw and unconventional style that is maintained throughout. The book has fictitious elements but is based on real events and people like Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady, other beat generation writers who were friends of Kerouac. Essentially, the reader becomes immersed in the mind of the author, following his stream of consciousness without any sort of filter. If you’re like me and know nothing about the beat generation: It’s nothing of what you would expect from a 1950s story, and that’s just one piece of many that make up the beauty of it.
Movie: “Donnie Darko” (2001), dir. by Richard Kelly
The phrase “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. That is when the world will end.” has been played over and over again now—19 years since the initial release of “Donnie Darko.” Remarkably, the movie was actually filmed in 28 days to match the timeframe of the script in which Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a troubled schizophrenic teenager, must navigate mental illness and potentially a parallel universe in which a demonic-looking bunny named Frank gives him the countdown to doomsday. Full disclosure: there is a lot to unpack in this film and it requires undivided attention. But it is absolutely worth every bit of it, and if you’re at all like me, you’ll watch it again and again to unpack the layers of meaning the film possesses.
Album: “Ok Computer” by Radiohead
To this day I’m convinced that Thom Yorke is an alien of sorts—his songs have a sound that is just out of this world. Plenty of artists lose it with age but, like good scotch, Radiohead’s work just keeps getting better as time goes on. Their third album, “Ok Computer,” released in 1997, is a 12-track journey with a sound completely beyond its time. It’s filled with lyrics that warn against consumerism, alienation, isolation, political unrest and the reach of technology. Track seven, “Fitter Happier,” sort of checks the listener to make sure they’re not just taking note of the overall sound, but to pay special attention to the grim, yet beautiful lyrics that are packed to the brim with imagery. Whether you know the band or not, songs like “Creep” and “Karma Police” are recognizable melodies to most. For the audiophiles in search of their next favorite or rediscovered album, look no further.
TV Show: “Twin Peaks”
Alright, this one is for the David Lynch fans out there. The 1990’s series’ first season begins with the aftermath of Laura Palmer’s murder, a Twin Peaks local girl whose death sets the framework for the series’ plot. Special Agent Dale Cooper from the FBI is brought in to assist the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department in their investigation, which slowly unravels peculiarities of the small town throughout the initial season. The follow-up season deviates heavily from this, diving more into the sci-fi aspects of Lynch’s universe than those of the simpleton, small-town, warm nostalgia of the 80’s that the town of Twin Peaks passes onto Agent Cooper. However dense and fantastical the plot becomes, coffee is one thing that seems to stand-in for a placeholder in both the audience and cast alike. “A damn-fine cup of coffee” drives the characters in this strange and unsettling world, and that alone is curiously relatable.
Written by: Cameron Perry — firstname.lastname@example.org