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Thursday, May 16, 2024

Culture Corner

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


By ANNABEL MARSHALL — arts@theaggie.org


Album: “The Dreaming Room” by Laura Mvula (2016)

Look, there’s no point denying that 2016 was the best year for music ever. It was so good, someone wrote a book about it. That just makes it all the more impressive how vibrantly this album stands out. Written by classically-trained British singer Laura Mvula largely about her divorce, “The Dreaming Room” is a boldly vulnerable exploration of love after loss. Mvula masterfully combines Jamaican and Caribbean-influenced rhythms with her impressive vocals, all while being backed by the actual London Symphony Orchestra. Are you backed by the London Symphony Orchestra? I didn’t think so. Not only did it win her an Ivor for Album of the Year, but it also got her dropped from her record label (via email) for unspecified reasons! If “Show Me Love” doesn’t make you feel something, you might want to check your pulse.


Book: “The Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut (1959)

Look (again, still over here!), I’m never not going to recommend Vonnegut. It’s just who I am. I have zero qualms with “Slaughterhouse Five” or “Breakfast of Champions,” but while “The Sirens of Titan” might be just outside of your syllabus, it’s very much worth the read. Featuring names and phrases like “Malachi Constant” and the “Church of God the Utterly Indifferent,” you could honestly read it just to hear what it sounds like aloud. But it’s worth much more than that. What some term as comic science fiction is better described, in my opinion, as a narrative chess game Vonnegut is playing with himself to which patient, lucky readers bear witness. TLDR: I cried about a little alien guy.


Movie: “Submarine” (2010) dir. by Richard Ayoade

What happens when the chick from “The Shape of Water,” the nerdier nerd from “The IT Crowd,” some bit player from “House of the Dragon” and Ben Stiller combine? The best movie I’ll ever see in my life, that’s what. Adapted from Joe Dunthorne’s novel of the same name, this Welsh coming-of-age film is precisely why Richard Ayoade (the one from The IT Crowd) will always be my favorite director. Its genuine, unflinching portrayal of adolescence — accompanied by unmatched humor and love — is reminiscent of later works like Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” or Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird.” The cinematography makes you go, “Wow, someone really cared about how each frame of this movie was shot.” Oh yeah, and Ben Stiller was a producer for some reason.


TV Show: “Psych” (2006 – 2021)

Dulé Hill is, without a doubt, one of the most underrated sitcom actors of the last thirty years. After a glorious seven-season stint on critically-acclaimed “The West Wing,” he lodged himself into another comedy that would soon become an American staple. Psych! (No, actually. “Psych.”) A show about a fake psychic detective (Jame Roday Rodrigez) and his best friend (Dulé Hill). What more could you possibly want and also receive? What about the most complex, rewarding father-son relationship I have ever seen in a comedy? What about a romantic interest that slow-burns your cold, dead heart back to warmth? What about a musical version that was released in 2013 for no apparent reason? You got it. No one commits to a bit like protagonist Shawn Spencer, and that alone is enough to make “Psych” an infinitely re-watchable gem.

Written by: Annabel Marshall — arts@theaggie.org


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