Culture Corner

Culture Corner

Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE

The Arts Desk’s weekly pick of movies, TV shows, books and music

Movie: “Spotlight” dir. by Tom McCarthy (2015)

“Spotlight” is not an easy movie to watch, but it depicts an utterly amazing feat of journalism. The film tells the true story of The Boston Globe’s investigation into the Roman Catholic Church in the early 2000s. The story begins with Spotlight, a team of investigative journalists, looking into one priest who was accused of molesting children. After numerous interviews with victims and their lawyers, the writers realize that it is not a problem central to one priest, or even Boston. The journalists make it their mission to find proof that the Catholic Church has been covering up sexual abuse for years. Through their investigations and writing, the journalists strive to bring justice to the victims and their families. Like I said, this is not a movie to take lightly, so please keep that in mind before viewing it. It’s a very heavy story, depicting real-life abuse, but it illustrates journalism’s power to spread awareness about injustice. I love a great journalism movie, and this is just that. 

TV Show: “Blown Away” 

Now back for its second season, Netflix’s glass blowing reality show has brought in a new group of contestants and challenges. The show features glass blowing artists who compete against each other in new challenges every episode. In the hotshop, artists have a limited number of hours to create a work out of glass fitting the challenge’s criteria. Each episode, one winner is crowned “Best in Blow,” and one contestant is eliminated. The winner of the final challenge receives a $60,000 prize and an artist residency at the Corning Museum of Glass. Although I usually do not like reality shows of this type, I absolutely love watching this show. As someone who has never glass blown, I find it thrilling to watch experts create vases, cups, glasses and other amazing sculptures of glass. The creators understand that most people watching the show know little about glass blowing, so they present the show in an educational light to get viewers psyched on the artform. The artists themselves are fascinating as well, each with their own background and expertise. Some artists talk of their “little” experience, even though they’ve been glass blowing for 10+ years—illustrating the extreme skill necessary to succeed in this field. From every glass piece dropped five minutes before time is called, to every emotional story behind the artists’ pieces, it’s safe to say that this show really just blows me away.

Album: “Swimmer” by Tennis (2020)

Tennis, the indie pop husband and wife duo, has done it again! Their newest album, “Swimmer”—which was released in February of last year—is exactly what the world needed to listen to at the start of the pandemic. Tennis is a modern vintage band, making their soft pop-rock sound nostalgic yet fresh. Lead singer Alaina Moore’s sweet voice illustrates the deep influence of the great female singers from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The duo’s frequent trips abroad on their sailboat—where they write most of their music—shines through their tunes, giving them wavy, soothing tones. “How to Forgive,” “Need Your Love” and “Runner” are some of the catchiest, grooviest songs I’ve heard in a while and make me feel like I’m dancing at a prom in the ’80s. I’m very disappointed that Tennis will no longer be able to perform their planned show at San Francisco’s The Fillmore this April, just days after my 21st birthday (I know, so tragic). For anyone who needs to hear music that brings you sheer joy inside and makes you want to start dancing instantly, Tennis’s “Swimmer” will bring you just that.

Book: “Spying on Whales” by Nick Pyeson (2018)

My inner science-nerd comes out with this pick. Author Nick Pyeson’s “Spying on Whales” perfectly fits my craving for interesting, digestible literature about mammal ecology and evolution. As a leading scientist in the field of cetacean evolution, Pyeson tells a story of the history of whales and how they moved from land-roaming, dog-sized creatures into 30,000 pound fish-like beings that breathe just like us. The book creates a sense of urgency for readers, explaining the uncertain future of these whales and their oceanic homes. The book also depicts the difficulty of researching animals of this stature in the vast open-ocean, presenting leading research methods of tracking and understanding them. Through Pyeson’s stories of long boat rides and tear-jerking discoveries, readers learn the grueling life of a scientist—where misses are often much more frequent than celebrated breakthroughs. While I have not finished the book yet, I can’t wait to continue learning about the amazing world of studying the world’s largest animals.
Written by: Margo Rosenbaum — arts@theaggie.org