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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Culture Corner

The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for movies, TV, music and more 

By VIVI KIM — arts@theaggie.org

Album: “Tradition” by Monsune (2019)

This album, which is R&B singer-songwriter Monsune’s debut EP and latest release, is filled with an eclectic set of sounds ranging from soft acoustic to psychedelic guitar arrangements. It uses a variety of samples and draws inspiration from artists of several genres, including hip-hop and alternative pop. “Mountain,” one of my favorites of the five-track album, is an interesting blend of both soft, subdued vocals and a vibrant, distorted guitar instrumental, abruptly switching between the two throughout the song. In an interview with Ones to Watch, Monsune describes the album as embodying the chaotic transition from adolescence to adulthood, where just about anything can be pieced into a confusing yet novel combination of ideas. If you are looking for a versatile and collectively soulful set of indie tracks, I recommend giving this album a listen. 

 

Movie: “Weathering With You” by Makoto Shinkai (2019)

In honor and anticipation of Makoto Shinkai’s upcoming film, I recommend watching one of his past celebrated works, “Weathering With You,” a visually astounding animated fantasy that truly lives up to the name of the distinguished Japanese director. The film tells the story of Hodaka Morishima, a poor high school runaway, and Hina Amano, a young orphan with the miraculous ability to manipulate the weather. As Tokyo is flooded with unceasing rain and is in desperate need of a clear sky, the two meet and turn Hina’s gift into a traveling weather service. Shinkai builds an engaging story while also incorporating themes of old Japanese myth, culture and geography. Melancholic yet spirited and overall beautifully illustrated, this film is equally worth watching now or saving for a rainy day.

 

Book: “The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells (1895)

Considered a pioneering work of science fiction, H. G. Wells’s novel “The Time Machine” is a must-read for sci-fi enthusiasts and casual book lovers alike. The story is both an inspiring time travel classic and a social commentary on emerging concepts of the late 1800s. An anonymous scientist sends himself to the year 802,701 A.D., where he discovers two evolved species living in what was once 19th-century London. The Upperworld society of Eloi is depicted as a gentle and frail group of creatures, preyed upon by the grossly inhuman Underworld society of Morlocks. Wells uses these two groups to illustrate his views on class division, social degeneration, a world refined by natural selection and the impending dangers of human civilization. Despite the heavy themes, I’d say the novel is a fairly short read and definitely worthwhile.

 

TV Show: “Hellbound” (2021)

Endlessly thought-provoking, cynical and verging on philosophical, the fantasy horror drama “Hellbound” is perfect for those unafraid to explore darker genres. Through two compelling story arcs, it takes a strong jab at themes of mortality, religion, justice and corruption. To sum up the brutal exposition of this series in a single question: What would you do if death literally came knocking on your door? Or, rather, stampeding from the depths of hell and vigorously pummeling down your door? It’s a horrifying reality to imagine but entertaining nonetheless. What truly marveled me about the show is how it took this seemingly outlandish plot and formulated a narrative that was complex and full of conviction, speaking to audiences about the power of mass manipulation. Following the first episode is a disturbing plot twist and a tear-jerking cliffhanger as the season finale, both making the series worth a watch.

 

Written by: Vivi Kim — arts@theaggie.org