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Friday, April 19, 2024

Culture Corner

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


By ANGIE CUMMINGS — arts@theaggie.org


Movie: “House of Gucci” dir. by Ridley Scott

I’ll preface this by saying this isn’t exactly a recommendation, but more an opportunity to discuss the faults of this film; after reading, you might just be intrigued to see them for yourself. This was perhaps one of the most memed movies of the year — before and after its release — so I can’t say it was a total loss. It’s not that this big-screen version of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” promised to be some beautiful and poetic piece of cinema, but I at least expected to be entertained. There were about four or five times throughout the film where I was sure it had to be nearing the end, but I was wrong — and when the end did come, there was a complete and utter lack of satisfaction. I left this movie with a couple of questions. First, why did they not cast any actual Italians for this movie about an Italian family in Italy?! Lady Gaga does not count (she’s Italian-American, and from New York), and no matter how much I love her as an artist, her accent was off and honestly throughout the entire movie I just saw Gaga walking around bossing Adam Driver around. The actor who played the patriarch of the Gucci family, Jeremy Irons, was fully speaking in his natural British accent with random hints of Italian-esque words — how did no one catch this? This brings us to my next question: Did the movie ever go through editing? Due to the huge oversight of the inconsistent accents, a complete lack of on-screen chemistry between the two main characters (played by Gaga and Driver) and the inclusion of so many useless scenes, I thoroughly believe the answer is no. If you have absolutely nothing to do for about 2 hours and 40 minutes, you could go watch this movie, just to see what all the fuss is about, and to see Gaga in the wedding scene where she is dressed exactly like the mouse in the wedding from “Zootopia.”


TV Show: “Succession” 

In all honesty, I started watching this show because I couldn’t avoid seeing tweets and TikToks about it almost every single day for the past few months. I gave in, and as so often happens with popular media, it ended up being really good. While I might not know half of what they’re talking about, since the premise of the show is a family running a massive media conglomerate, I still have a good time watching. It is important to note, for any remaining skeptics of this show’s entertainment value, that it is in fact a comedy-drama, emphasis on the comedy. Every single character is, at their core, a horrible person. They all exist in this elusive bubble of the upper-upper 1% of America, flying in helicopters from their highrises in NYC to their mansion in the Hamptons, going on restorative retreats in the desert and silencing everyone beneath them with thick manila envelopes of cash. I think the script for this show is what makes it so great, because it all seems just too believable, with many scenarios being pulled right from semi-recent headlines, and normal-seeming family dynamics surrounding some incredibly not-normal circumstances. We see three siblings with complicated and unhealthy relationships with both of their parents (and almost everyone in their lives) competing to see who will win their father’s affections (meaning who will take over his multi-billion dollar company). If not for the stellar writing and performances, give “Succession” a chance for the harmless, airhead cousin Greg, the only semi-likable outsider who found his way into the family’s inner circle.


Song: “Modern Love” by David Bowie (1983)

This is just a really great song regardless of how much or little you care about David Bowie. I personally only know about six of his songs, but for some reason, this five minute reflection on finding solace between love and religion in the modern age has stuck with me (and many others). I was recently rewatching one of my many guilty comfort movies, “Frances Ha” (2012) and noticed this song playing not once but twice during the film, making me think how great of an addition this song would be in so many soundtracks. Of course, I had to do my due diligence to see what this song has been included in, and I was not surprised to see it has been a part of some of some really solid pieces of media, from the season 1 soundtrack of the hit TV show “New Girl,” to off-kilter romcoms like “Adventureland” and “Sleeping with Other People.” I think the common thread is that this song is added to the soundtrack of narratives with highly dysfunctional and unlucky in love characters. All in all, this song is a great one to bounce around to with some friends, or to listen to on repeat in your headphones on a long walk (maybe you’ll feel like you’re a character in a movie who’s just about to discover the true meaning of love, or maybe you’ll just walk a little faster, on tempo with the song).


Album: “Whipped Cream & Other Delights” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (1965)

This word-free, upbeat jazz album is wholly enjoyable. As the title alludes to, each song is a composition according to different earthly delights; its two top songs being “The Taste of Honey” and “Ladyfingers.” I have racked up several-hundred streams of this album just by playing it on repeat while writing or studying, but I would argue it is pretty ubiquitous. Individual songs can be added to playlists as a nice intermission to all the lyrics while still perfectly blending in with a nice vibe. On a personal note, I can say for certain that the reason I even gave this jazz album a chance in the first place was because I judged it by its cover. To me, the hazy green album cover with a woman dressed in a mountain of whipped cream next to that classic 1960s typography is basically an American icon. Running at just 28 minutes, “Whipped Cream & Other Delights” is a quick and easily-consumable snack of an album.


Written by: Angie Cummings — arts@theaggie.org


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