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Monday, April 15, 2024

Culture Corner

The Arts Desks’ weekly picks for movies, books, music and television shows 

By SIERRA JIMENEZ — arts@theaggie.org

Book: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (1954) by J. R. R. Tolkien 

We’ve all seen the film series “Lord of the Rings”, or at least have heard of the popular line, “You shall not pass” at least once in your life. If not, you must be living under a rock like Gollum… Oh wait, you wouldn’t know who that is. Looks like it’s time to pick up the original novel and immerse yourself into the alternative fantastical world of Middle-earth. The descriptive nature of the language engulfs the reader into this magical realm and makes it seem as if they were in the mystical world themselves. From the constructed language of Elvish with its own linguistic rules to the unusually detailed map, which charts out every nook and cranny of the different lands of Middle-earth, Tolkien is an absolute genius for putting together this story. Every word and every detail has a larger meaning. In a recent course I took, Literature of Fantasy & the Supernatural (COM 7) with Professor Michael Subialka (highly recommend by the way), we looked in-depth at the way Tolkien created this uncanny, almost-real alternate world that follows its own rules, which the reader must follow to partake in the journey of the ring. Simply by reading this book, one may not realize the amount of effort and attention to detail Tolkien spent to make this world a fantastical reality, allowing the reader to live alongside Frodo Baggins as he journeys out of the Shire. 

Movie: “Walk the Line” (2005) dir. James Mangold

With the resurgence of country music and fashion in mainstream culture, “Walk the Line” is a must-see. This classic country film beautifully captures the life of Johnny Cash. Renowned actor Joaquin Phoenix immaculately embodies Johnny Cash’s life and character with an effortlessly astounding performance, and Reese Witherspoon stars alongside him as June Carter. Both actors performed all the songs without being dubbed and learned how to play their respective instruments (guitar and auto-harp). If you listen to the soundtrack for this movie and the original songs, the resemblance is uncanny. Both Phoenix and Witherspoon incorporated the southern drawl and spunk from the original voices of Cash and Carter as if they had their vocal chords. The acting in the film evoked the passion, frustration and love Cash and Carter both had for each other — along with all the roadblocks in between. No matter how many times I watch the film, I am still in awe of Phoenix’s skillful performance of drug addiction and withdrawal, as well as the lengths he goes to to show the audience how the hurdles of addiction affect the things and ones you love. From the soundtrack to the phenomenal acting skills, this is a classic with a great history and story of American music culture. 

TV: “Workaholics” 

This raunchy, super random comedy may feel like too much for some people, but for me, the overexaggerated frat-boy energy is perfect for taking a break from reality and getting a good laugh in. This sitcom centers around three juvenile men who work at a telemarketer firm and reminds me of an even more explicit, amplified version of “The Office.” The characters Adam DeMamp, Blake Henderson and Anders Holmvik are spin-offs of the actor’s real names — Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson and Anders Holm as their absurd characterization of themselves. These goons are the epitome of adult children, slacking off at work and partying all night. If you’re like me and can’t get enough of this show, the inseparable bunch reconvened for a podcast called “This is Important”, (available on Spotify) where you get the same insane energy from the lads but in podcast form that is perfect for a nice road trip. I guarantee it will keep you awake. 

Song: “Test” by Swam

“Test” is Swam’s, a local Davis band, current hit song on Spotify — the single will most definitely swim through your head after one listen. Short and sweet, the song is only 1:48, and its soft, smooth melody gives off a calming energy despite the anxiety-ridden connotation of the word “test” for us college students. Perhaps the band’s name is subconsciously paralleling this thought, but this song in comparison to their other songs reminds me of free flowing, calm water. Creative and unique, the words ripple through your body, sending a sensation of ease. A nice break from the relentless go, go, go of university life, Swam is a breath of fresh air, giving students confidence that you can enjoy — a chance to take a break from constant studies to dabble with hobbies, holding enjoyment over success. Take a gander and support a local band composed of our fellow students!

Written by: Sierra Jimenez — arts@theaggie.org

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