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Monday, April 22, 2024

Culture Corner

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

By MARGO ROSENBAUM — arts@theaggie.org

Movie: “The French Dispatch” dir. by Wes Anderson (2021)

I love Wes Anderson movies for their odd, artful style and color. “The French Dispatch” is one of Anderon’s best, but I am biased — it is a journalism movie. Many journalism movies glorify the lives of reporters and follow a sensationalized adventure as the writers uncover a hot story, but this film focuses on the beauty of the stories themselves and provides an honest representation of the lives of journalists. Structured as a series of vignettes, the movie details the closure of a fictional American magazine set in a 20th century French city, bringing to life the narratives of the magazine’s final articles: an obituary for the editor, a brief travel guide and three feature articles. The audience is engulfed in the distinct world of each vignette: French neighborhoods, a prison, a college student revolution and the kitchen of a prized chef. Seemingly content in their thrilling but lonely jobs, the journalists appear as genuine representations of the artful, crafty people in the profession, who are dedicated to capturing the lives of others through photography or even just words on a page. The reporters themselves are beautifully ordinary people who are beautifully unordinary storytellers, as illustrated by the detail and imagery of the narration unfolding on the screen. “The French Dispatch” is a magnificent movie full of impeccable storytelling. 


TV Show: “The Book of Boba Fett”

As a big fan of Star Wars, I have high expectations for any new additions to the epic franchise. The show features Boba Fett: the feared crime lord and former bounty hunter. Set after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” the show follows Fett’s recent rise to power in Tatooine, which was once controlled by Jabba the Hutt. Featuring new characters in addition to those already introduced in the Star Wars universe, “The Book of Boba Fett” even features some beloved oldies from the earliest movies (hopefully, not too much of a spoiler). While I enjoy watching anything related to the Star Wars universe, so far I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of “The Book of Boba Fett.” While true Star Wars fans (including myself) might say “I have a bad feeling about this” and could pick apart how much of this show is a “Disneyfied” version of Star Wars, I still find myself staying up until midnight on Tuesday nights, when the show is released on Disney+. With classic scenes of the speeder races, the bar and the spice trade, Disney accurately captures much of the magic of the Star Wars universe. With more episodes to come, I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of this series pans out. 

Album: “Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast (2021)

Michelle Zauner, better known as Japanese Breakfast, has created some of her best work with the release of her third album, “Jubilee.” True to Zauner’s classically bright and bold style, the songs on this album are absolutely mystifying and transfer listeners to a place of insight and imagination. With her honest, authentic lyrics, she said the songs are about youthful optimism and the constant struggles to feel like ourselves. As she puts it, the album is about “fighting to feel.” Released in the midst of the pandemic, this album brought me joy when I was at my lowest over the last year. Anyone who listens to her music finds that each song holds a distinctive story and sound: Some are bold and bouncy, while others are soft and meditative. No matter how different each song may appear, the album is held together by Zauner’s strong, poetic voice, which shines through on each track. My favorites on this album include “Savage Good Boy,” “Tactics,” “Slide Tackle” and “Kokomo, In.” After following Zauner’s music for years, I saw her band perform at Ace of Spades last fall. Such energy and warmth showed through in her performance, as she boogied up against her bandmate’s back (who happens to be her husband) under the mirrors and lights of the stage.

Podcast: “Ologies with Alie Ward”

I have written about Ologies in the past for The California Aggie, but my love for this podcast bears repeating. Ologies is the perfect podcast for shameless nerds — like me — to learn about 120 minutes worth of information on a typically very random but absolutely awesome topic. Who knew I needed to learn about crow funerals, hagfish and space junk? Each week, “Ologies” listeners are treated to a new “ology,” a subject of study. The podcast covers classic science topics like wildlife ecology and mycology, as well as those that are not always thought of in a scientific manner, such as decluttering (oikology) and gratitude (awesomeology). Alie Ward, or “pod-dad,” as she calls herself, covers science in a comical yet accurate manner that all audiences can enjoy. As an aspiring science writer and communicator, I look up to Ward and her ability to have insightful conversations that are relevant and conscious of topics and struggles in the world today. Ward hosts a variety of amazing scientists and experts on the show and makes an effort to showcase diverse voices in the field of science. Even science celebrities have made appearances on certain episodes, such as those on science communication (pedagogology) with Bill Nye the Science Guy and TikTok (tiktokology) with Hank Green, a man who helped me and many others through biology. While it was hard to narrow down my favorite episodes, eating wild plants (foraging ecology), sharks (selachimorphology), trees (dendrology) and UFOs (ufology) have been some of my favorites. Combining humor with excellent interviewing skills, Ward’s delectable podcast equips listeners with a portfolio of facts on anything from “dancing spiders” to “very cool worms” (kinetic salticidology and planariology, respectively). 

Written by: Margo Rosenbaum — arts@theaggie.org


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