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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Culture Corner

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

 

By ANJINI VENUGOPAL — arts@theaggie.org

 

Album: “Asha’s Awakening” by Raveena (2022)

In a word, Raveena’s concept album is ethereal. The album is from the perspective of a Punjabi space princess and, according to a post on Raveena’s Instagram, centers “FEELING ALIVE” in the quiet and loud. The first half of the album is dreamy and feels galactic, with Bollywood sounds mixed with powerful bass lines and R&B and light rock elements. Raveena credits Asha Puthli as a major inspiration, and Puthli joins her in “Asha’s Kiss,” a glorious, dreamy track. The second half of the album is meditative, with the album even ending on a 13-minute-long guided meditation. Some critics have said this is an unnecessary component of the album; I don’t mind it, though I do prefer some of the earlier tracks. The first time I listened through the album I was walking through the Arboretum — I may not have been floating through the universe among stars and magical aliens, but feeling grounded in nature seemed an oddly appropriate way to enjoy Raveena’s almost psychedelic tunes. Her earlier music was contemplative yet airy, and she has expanded beyond that in this album with some less mellow tracks. “Kismet” and “Secret,” for example, exude a confidence that is empowering to see from a young, female South Asian American artist. 

 

TV: “Russian Doll” (2019)

I’m not sure what’s more compelling about this show — Natasha Lyonne’s outfits and hair or her dry one-liners as she navigates the nonlinearity of life, time and grief. There are a few Netflix shows that have a better second season than the first (I’m looking at you, “Bridgerton”), but in my experience, a lot of second seasons of popular shows ever so slightly miss the mark. The second season of “Russian Doll” came out last Wednesday, and though it was not as good as the first season (which I would give five stars), it’s worth the three and a half hours it’ll take you to watch — if you don’t mind chaos. I overuse the word “chaos,” but there is quite the dose of chaos in this show. It’s so chaotic at points that it’s almost frustrating to watch Lyonne’s Nadia continually fail to internalize that she should maybe just slow down for a second. The first season involves time loops and arguably has more structure than the second season’s storylines centering time travel and body-switching. Season one is plenty existential on its own, but season two somehow makes it grittier, investigating generational (and other) trauma. It’s a lot, so be prepared. Anyway, as Nadia says, “Thursday. What a concept.” 

 

Book: “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner (2021)

Too many jokes have been made about crying in a bedroom or on a train while reading Zauner’s book already, but yes, I did in fact shed some tears reading this book. Zauner, who is the lead vocalist and songwriter for Japanese Breakfast, expanded her 2018 New Yorker essay into this powerful memoir, writing about growing up Korean American in Oregon, her relationship with her parents and the growing pains of feeling caught between cultures. The book opens with Zauner stating: “Ever since my mom died, I cry in H Mart.” After her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Zauner navigates her desire to reconnect to and reclaim the culture her mother tried to impart through food, language and more. Zauner’s mother’s death is not written into the book as a concluding point at the end; instead the unraveling and processing of grief is a core part of what makes the story so touching and painfully honest.

 

Movie: “Get a Clue” dir. Maggie Greenwald

The last time I wrote one of these, I hyped up the Lindsay Lohan version of “The Parent Trap” as a family favorite and the ideal comfort watch. To stay on brand, I would like to recommend the 2002 wonder that is “Get a Clue,” featuring a 16-year-old Lohan and 14-year-old Brenda Song (of Disney Channel fame). I recently watched this for the first time, and marveled at the age-appropriate casting of high schoolers and fantastic outfits. It may not be the peak of cinema, but there is a certain appeal to watching aspiring journalist Lexy (played by the one and only Lohan) run around trying to solve a mystery and seemingly learning that she is, in fact, a bit hoity toity — she takes the New York Subway for the first time with a friend, and it is quite the awakening for her that she can’t just call a car. There are plenty of other meaningful movies you could watch, but sometimes you need to put on a Disney Channel original movie (a DCOM, if you will) and sink into a couch for a couple hours — “Get a Clue” is a great option.

 

Written by: Anjini Venugopal — arts@theaggie.org

 

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