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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Culture Corner

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


By ELIZABETH WOODHALL  — arts@theaggie.org


TV Show: “Yellowjackets” by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (2021) 


After being convinced by a few of my friends to check this show out, I thought I’d give it a shot. Who doesn’t like a survival show with lesbian characters? Set in New Jersey in 1996, a high school girl’s soccer team, who go by the Yellowjackets, have just placed in the national tournament. There’s some growing tension between the team members, as they will do anything to win this tournament — even if it means eliminating people from the team whom they deem a liability. On the way to the tournament, their jet crashes and leaves them stranded in the woods, forcing them to survive with nothing more than their naivety. As someone who isn’t a big fan of gore and thriller, this show does not shy away from it — at all. The first few seconds capture a girl running through the woods, anxiously escaping an eerie presence that follows her and dying moments later from wood spikes that pierce her body. Within the timeline of the show, the viewer is continuously displaced between the past and the present and even the future, 25 years after the crash. There’s a persistent feeling they never truly escaped whatever lured them deeper into the depravity for survival. 


Book: “Everyone in this Room will Someday be Dead” by Emily Austin (2021)


As if the title doesn’t tell you enough about this morbidly-but-weirdly-funny book, it’s one that leaves a reader with a sense of dread that’s gently wrapped in a warm blanket of laughter. Gilda is a 27-year-old lesbian who has recently gotten into an accident, leaving her with an injured arm and a heightened perception of inescapable death. She somehow finds herself as an administrative assistant at a Catholic church — not by choice, as she was only inquiring about a therapy group. Instead, she is confused for a new applicant when she finds out that the older receptionist passed away. The former receptionist left an open conversation with a friend on the work computer, and Gilda strikes up a conversation with her, seemingly too scared to break the news of the receptionist’s passing. We move from the past and present to illuminate the fragmented mind of Gilda, who struggles with depression and anxiety. The story encapsulates the intricate life of someone who obsessively thinks about death — the fear put there over time as she forces herself to live an unfulfilled life. As she navigates faith, her relationship and friendships with unlikely people, her concealed identity threatens to jeopardize everything she’s started to appreciate about life. 


Movie: “No Hard Feelings” by Gene Stupnitsky (2023)


Jennifer Lawrence makes her grand comeback to the big screen in this film alongside Andrew Feldman. It follows the summer of 32-year-old Maddie Barker, who is struggling to make ends meet and faces bankruptcy as her hometown of Montauk, New York, sees an influx of wealthy people that raise the cost of living. With no car to work as an Uber driver and the increasing property taxes of her mom’s house, she is looking for any opportunity to get quick cash. She notices a Craigslist posting that offers a Buick Regal in exchange for dating a 19-year-old guy, Percy, who is going off to Princeton and lacks any true life experience outside of the academic sphere. This movie is filled with awkward instances of misinterpretation as Maddie desperately attempts to seduce Percy, who is hesitant to open up and form a relationship with her, due in large part to the almost 13-year age gap between them. Even though he is incredibly smart, he is quirky and stupidly naive; she is confident and determined to get that Buick. This movie is labeled as a sex comedy, but there’s a true connection between these characters that surpasses just sexual desire and shows a greater appreciation for vulnerability and change. 


Album: “Cigarettes After Sex” by Cigarettes After Sex (2017)


Although this band has grown increasingly popular on TikTok, sitting down and listening to this album really proves to listeners that they deserve all the hype. There’s something melancholy about their sound that makes it the perfect album to listen to while walking around campus, shuffling through the crowd and catching the bus. This album explores themes of heartbreak and longing, which can most clearly be observed in the song “K,” as the narrator talks about an important, but now long-gone, person in his life — Kristen. Her absence is one that’s left him alone, longing for when she slips right “back in bed.” The slowness of falling in love is present in “Sunsetz,” but it’s one that’s shadowed by the loss, too: “Recurring visions of such sweet days.” The album is brightened by tracks like “Sweet,” showing the softness of mutual love and respect. This band is known for their simplistic yet powerful instrumentals, such as the electric guitar, bass and drums, that define their distinct sound as one that’s heart-wrenching and may require some tissues. 

Written by: Elizabeth Woodhall — arts@theaggie.org


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