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Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for television, movies, books and music

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Movie: “Someone Great” dir. by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson

I have been known to not have a particularly informed taste in movies, and I’m usually not the one who picks what we’re watching on a movie night, so I think I will surprise absolutely no one when I say “Someone Great” is more than worth the watch. Although the movie starts just like so many others with a close-up of heterosexual couple Jenny and Nate on a night out, it is one of the few movies I can quickly name that passes the Bechdel test—it has two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man. “Someone Great” is beautifully directed and produced, with seamless transitions between the past and present that take you through the ups and downs of Jenny and Nate’s relationship and then bring you back to the present to see how Jenny’s best friends Erin and Blair help her through the heartwrenching breakup. In terms of life lessons, this movie shows its viewers the power of female friendships, and that even an immensely strong love is not always enough. More importantly, it is an incredible show of diversity: Jenny and Erin are women of color, Erin has a girlfriend, Nate is Black and themes of race and gender are constantly being brought up throughout the movie. The movie manages to break your heart while reminding you that with pain comes growth.

TV Show: “Firefly Lane”

Again, it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am picking what sounds like a very cheesy TV series, but I am determined to make my case. Female friendship is once again at the forefront of this piece, but it is so much more complicated than the ones in “Someone Great.” The transitions between the past and present are just as seamless, as we watch Tully and Kate grow up into two incredible women, but their relationship is not without its faults. Tully is the star—literally, she has her own TV show—and Kate is the stay-at-home mom who gave up so much for her family, only to get a divorce from the love of her life. Tully gets and has always gotten all the attention, and Kate struggles with feeling like she’s second-best; her soon-to-be ex-husband hooked up with Tully before they got together even though Kate had feelings for him for years, and her parents and brother seem to have closer relationships with Tully than Kate. Despite all the trials of their relationship, they are so much more than best friends—they are each other’s family, and they provide such gracious examples of forgiving one another’s faults.

Album: “Air Fàir en Là” by Niteworks

Finally! It is my time to shine in a selection that will hopefully redeem me in the eyes of those who viewed my prior two as basic and cheesy. I would best describe Niteworks’ music as Scottish house music. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of house music, but the band’s modern twist on classic Scottish music is truly remarkable. All the lyrics in the album are in Gaelic, and the angelic voice of lead singer Innes Strachan has the power to transport you to the Scottish countryside—even if you have not been there yourself—especially in “Air Fàir en Là.” The bagpipes in “Iain McGee’s” bring the classic house music style alive, and the entire album serves as the perfect study music if you like to have something on in the background but get too distracted when you know the lyrics to the songs playing.

Book: “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien

This is perhaps the most impactful book I have ever read. It follows the author himself, Tim O’Brien, who is an American soldier during the Vietnam War. You read about the physical items the soldiers carried but also the emotional burdens they possessed. Then, the characters start to die. For those of us who only read about the turmoil and national strife during the Vietnam War, it is a rude awakening into the horrors faced by the soldiers drafted. Five years after my initial reading of this book, I still remember the tragedy of the honorable soldier who was killed in a sewage field and was left to rot in human feces. Although we cannot reverse this injustice and the many others that occurred during this time, O’Brien reminds us of the power of stories. We are reminded that death does not have to be an end and that it is up to the living to celebrate the loved ones we used to hold on so tightly to in order to bring them back to life.
Written by: Sabrina Habchi — arts@theaggie.org


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