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Thursday, May 16, 2024

Culture Corner

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


By ANA BACH arts@theaggie.org


Book: “Women” by Charles Bukowski (1978)

This might be somewhat of a hot take, given the reputation of Charles Bukowski, but that’s what makes the book all the more fascinating. Bukowski writes a trilogy through the lens of his alter ego Henry Chinaski as a mode for communicating a lot of his own experiences in a semi-autobiographical format. “Women” is centered around the late moments of his life as a failed writer. His literary voice is one that is distinctive, with many of his written experiences surrounding his infatuation and ultimate objectification of women. Though unsettling, his pessimistic worldview stems from a harsh upbringing and a cruel father. Even though many of his stories communicate a rather vulgar inner monologue, it is hard not to feel pity for Bukowski’s character. He turns to writing as his last resort when the only other people who will listen to him are his peers sitting next to him at the bar. The trilogy overall is a really good glimpse into his mind and his outlook on love and loss.


Movie: “School of Rock” dir. by Richard Linklater (2003)

My dad showed me this film for the first time at a family friend’s house and ever since then, it’s been an annual watch in our household. Jack Black puts on an epic performance as Dewey Finn, a burnt-out guitarist, who ventures over to an elite private school in desperate need of work. In doing so, he teaches the kids the ways of rock music in the hopes that he can create a band out of the adolescents. The musical references, dialogue, setting and characters all contribute to the overall feeling of the 2000s. Music lovers from all generations can find a common ground in this film. The storyline also explores the lack of emphasis people place on the arts and outlets for expression that don’t fit an intellectual framework. Many of the children’s parents were against their kid’s talents and desires to pursue music until they saw them perform at the end of the Battle of the Bands competition. Black’s character manages to spot the talent in the classroom and the potential his students have in the music industry. There is no harm in being reminded of this every so often, as I’m sure many kids have dealt with a lack of support in pursuing their passions. The film reminds us that even through an unconventional route, there are still lessons to be learned and opportunities that await us outside of what is expected of us. 


T.V. Show: “Adventure Time” (2010)

Talk about nostalgia! Adventure Time was one of my favorite shows growing up and I make an effort to keep it on my watchlist today. The show follows best friends, Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, on their adventures in the Land of Ooo. They face evil, mainly from the wrath of the Ice King, and also interact with many of the show’s other characters like Princess Bubblegum and Marceline to name a few. The light but engaging plotline is a nice break from the harsh realities that a lot of live shows bring to life. The world that Pendelton Ward has created is an environment where fantasy elements are brought to life in a normalized way, due in part to the humor and dialogue. Even though Finn and Jake end up in extremely bizarre situations with strange creatures, they always learn lessons that are relevant in both worlds (the imaginary and the real). It’s extremely therapeutic to watch these shows that as a kid, were just visually stimulating. Having the ability to rewatch and take in the messages from the show is healing for the inner child. I have been protecting my piece by bringing this show. 


Song: “I am Free” by Tash Sultana (2021)

Tash Sultana approaches music with an experimental approach, layering sounds and instruments to create beautiful melodies. This song in particular is one of my favorites because the tune creates a state of relaxation for the listener. Strings layer onto sounds of ocean waves and in the main part of the chorus, all of the vocals sink with different pitches creating a song that sounds spiritual. The message also works in tandem with the instruments to evoke that feeling of how we oftentimes get wrapped up in the chaos that a lot of the world creates, but also how that wasn’t the original intention. Sultana writes, “..And you don’t need money to be happy, No, you can just be free. I am free.” It’s a simple, short, but sweet message to have buzzing in your ears. There is an acknowledgment of fame and wealth not so much being a source of happiness, but rather a pressure to achieve it. Once you realize that these pressures only bear more stress than fulfillment, you realize that true happiness lies in having the power to be an individual. In its entirety, the song is quite personal to me and I encourage you to give it a listen. 


Written By: Ana Bach arts@theaggie.org