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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Culture Corner

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


By JACOB ANDERSON — arts@theaggie.org


Movie: “Bonnie and Clyde” dir. by Arthur Penn (1967)

Seen by many critics as the turning point of American independent cinema, “Bonnie and Clyde” was highly controversial at its release for both its frank depiction of violence and sexuality and its presentation of the eponymous criminals as proletarian heroes —- frustrated symbols of depression-era class hatred, loved by everyone except the police. Penn’s most famous film is also possibly his best: Bonnie and Clyde come across extremely well as a pair of misfits carving an idyll out of one of America’s most troubled periods by any means necessary. Beyond the fantastic performances and script, “Bonnie and Clyde” also carries one of the most explosive and memorable endings of any film from the decade. It’s thrilling and genuine in every frame — so check it out if you get the chance.


Book: “A Tomb for Boris Davidovich” by Danilo Kiš (1976)

“A Tomb for Boris Davidovich” is one of Yugoslav author Danilo Kiš’s best works. It’s a collection of stories about rebellion and death, all occurring under the omniscient, opaque, almost supernatural panopticon of Soviet bureaucracy. Each is reported by Kiš in his famously terse and perfect style, which injects poetry into simple sentences without fail. The world of “A Tomb for Boris Davidovich,” more than just a setting of dreary tyranny, manages to create something funny and wondrous out of the impossible plots, imprisonments and murders experienced by his menagerie of eastern-European thinkers and killers. Every page of this book is full of life, even when the characters within are chained or dead. Harold Bloom included this in his canon of 20th-century fiction for a reason — there’s very little else that approaches Kiš’s mastery. Plus, at a slim 140 pages, it shouldn’t be too hard to make the time to finish this. Couldn’t recommend it more.


Album: “Cull Ficle” by Asian Glow (2021)

Internet darling and prime representative of a recent explosion in emo-shoegaze-esque Bandcamp releases from South Korea, Asian Glow has quickly earned a name in the world of independent rock. “Cull Ficle” sounds a bit like if Indian Summer’s self-titled album and Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” were played at the same time — blown-out acoustic guitars and percussion blare over invisible, boyish vocals. Sometimes tracks halt and resume at different tempos or seem to dissipate completely into a wave of crushed noise. One of the most impressive things about this album is how adroitly it fuses the extremes of musical intensity: an ambient break can crackle and detonate in a way indistinguishable from the climax of another song. There’s not much — outside of the South Korean group Parannoul and a few western analogues like Weatherday — that sounds like Asian Glow, and despite some roughness in the production, “Cull Ficle” was without a doubt one of the best releases of last year.


TV Show: “Mythbusters” (2003)

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage’s notorious show is probably best known for its stunts. Every week, Hyneman, Savage and a crew test the veracity of various myths, and at their disposal is a huge workshop with all sorts of industrial machinery and heavy-duty explosives. Despite a relatively standard presentation and format, “Mythbusters” remains one of the most rewatchable and pleasant shows on television. It’s not quite as good nowadays, but the cast is eminently likable and the experiments are always distinct and interesting. If there’s one episode that deserves recognition among the others, it’s doubtless the 72nd, in which Savage nearly dies while testing whether a car door can open after falling into a body of water before it’s fully submerged. As it turns out, Savage could have easily died while filming.


Written by: Jacob Anderson — arts@theaggie.org



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