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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Culture Corner

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

Movie: “Black Dynamite” dir. by Scott Sanders (2009)

Seriously one of the funniest movies ever made. Sanders shot using Super 16 color reversal Kodak film stock over the course of 20 days to ensure it looked as crummy and distended as possible. A boom mic is in frame basically every other scene. Not a moment goes by that the movie isn’t doing something insane and captivating. You will be laughing the whole time.

Book: “Novel with Cocaine” by M. Agayev (1934)

It’s pretty rare that a work of art in any medium goes out of its way to make the protagonist completely unlikable, and for good reason. “Novel with Cocaine” is an unpleasant read—rarely is a book capable of making the reader hate a human being so much, and the dubious pleasure of being so deep inside the thoughts of such a terrible, terrible person allows the reader a glimpse into a world otherwise inaccessible. Penned by an anonymous author, “Novel with Cocaine” is the written equivalent of peeling off a scab just because you can. Nevertheless, it’s tightly written and almost impossible to put down. As it turns out, disgust is a fantastic engine when in the hands of an adept writer.

Album: “Songs About Leaving” by Carissa’s Wierd (2002)

Carissa’s Wierd (yes, that’s how it’s actually spelled [the Aggie’s talented copy team would never miss such an obvious error!]) was, for their whole lifespan, apathetic. It’s in all of their music, in its nature: slow, vulgar, depressive and carrying an unapologetic air of jaded malice. For a band that played a part in setting the stage for a good chunk of our standard modern, isolated indie folk, they seemed to pride themselves on not caring in an unexpected way. Despite this energy, the band managed to deliver some absolutely stellar albums, like “Song About Leaving”—an introspective, muddled, comfortingly sad little nugget of indie from the early 2000s.

TV Show: “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” (1988)

The true accomplishment of “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” isn’t the show’s 110-episode run or the efficacy and deft skill with which it adapted its million-word, totally un-visual source material, but the fact that it manages to make forty hours of well-dressed military officers talking chastely in cramped rooms exciting. This is no small feat—and especially for a show that’s animated despite the dialogue-heavy, often actionless essence of the original novels. The two protagonists, Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li, embody lofty ideas and act out, in an elaborate manner, a battle between ideologies that does exactly what fiction should—contemplate and examine things far beyond the scope of the conflict. The show is  slow and heavy in a good way; the lamentable elevator pitch would be that it’s basically “Game of Thrones” in space but more reserved and with less of a juvenile edge. And the remake sucks—don’t watch it.

Written by: Jacob Anderson — arts@theaggie.org

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