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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Culture Corner

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

By ANGIE CUMMINGS — arts@theaggie.org

TV Show: “The Night Manager” (2016)

With just one season, this show can be a quick weekend binge — you just need to devote about six hours to some serious (and very British) drama, romance, scandal and other spy-esque stuff. The main character is a hotel manager turned spy named Johnathan Pine (played by Tom Hiddleston) who must infiltrate the inner circle of an international arms dealer — during which he becomes well-acquainted with said arms dealer’s girlfriend, Jed Marshall (played by the effervescent Elizabeth Debicki). Sure, Hiddleston is a good actor and everything, all 6’1” of him, but the true gem of this whole cast is Debicki (all 6’3” of her). At this point I should divulge the way I discovered this show: it was way back in 2017 when I searched up Debicki’s filmography and found out that this whole show was available on Amazon Prime! Even if you’re not familiar with Debicki and her always-mesmerizing performances — whether it’s in a serious drama like this one or her stellar voice acting in “Peter Rabbit” — “The Night Manager” is a fun and exciting story with good chemistry and complex characters. 

Movie: “Vita & Virginia” dir. by Chanya Button (2018)

This slightly cheesy and seemingly low-budget film is nonetheless a beautiful retelling of the whirlwind romance between famed writer Virginia Woolf and socialite/less-famous author, Vita Sackville-West. Surprise! Virginia is played by none other than Elizabeth Debicki. To me, no performance of Virginia Woolf comes anywhere close to Debicki’s (apologies to Nicole Kidman and her prosthetic nose in “The Hours”). In addition to learning an incredibly important part of literary history, and honoring the creative prowess of Woolf while acknowledging her struggles, this movie might make you want to pick up a book and feel moved. Bonus: it’s a movie about women, and it’s directed and written by a woman, so even if it is a little cheesy, it’s never painful to watch. 

Book: “Orlando: A Biography” by Virginia Woolf (1928)

Can you guess why I read this book? Yes, I was heavily inspired after watching “Vita & Virginia.” One fun little thing this book does right off the bat is lie — this is, in fact, a fictitious novel and not a biography of a real person. Yet again, while the character of Orlando is technically made up by Woolf, the basis of the character comes entirely from her deep understanding and careful studying (and interviewing of) her lover Vita Sackville-West. It follows the life and adventures of Orlando, who reappears across the centuries as a man and a woman at different times in life. The book has been praised as a classic piece of feminist and queer literature, and having the (false) idea in your head that Elizabeth Debicki wrote the book only makes the reading experience that much better. 

Song: “Dear Angie” by Badfinger (1970)

Here, sadly, is where we depart from this Culture Corner’s theme… and move onto another topic (my own name). This is truly a great song about what one could only imagine is a truly stellar girl. Besides the obvious appeal of the name in the title of this song, it catches your ears with its smooth classic rock feel and keeps you engaged with a cute love letter. Give it a listen and consider finding yourself an Angie of your own to feel this strongly about. 

Written by: Angie Cummings — arts@theaggie.org

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