If, like me, you spent your Thanksgiving break binging a show about serial killers instead of spending time with friends and family, Charles Manson’s recent death probably struck you as a “crazy” coincidence. See I’ve spent the last couple days watching one of Netflix’s newest original series, Mindhunter, which follows two late ’70s FBI Behavioral Science Unit agents as they attempt to delve into the psyches of the nation’s most heinous criminals. Produced by David Fincher and starring Jonathan Groff, whose voice who might recognize from Hamilton (King George) and Frozen (Kristoff), and Holt McCallany, who you’ll recognize from something or other, the series’ first season explores the depths of human depravity and the ripples it creates in the lives of those around the edge of the pit. The material this show covers is pretty inherently interesting. The team’s interviews with the killers are wonderfully chilling but it was seeing our “good guys” slowly start to change as a result of those interviews that was the icing on the cake for me.
Exit West takes readers on an imaginative story that tells a very contemporary reality. An unnamed city with an emotionally-charged refugee crisis exposes truths about the emotionality of the immigrant experience while the two protagonists, Nadia and Saeed, sort out their love story. Hamid weaves a novel regarding a pertinent topic with simple but poignant prose that is equally engaging and humbling.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
George Saunders’s first crack at a novel succeeded at spinning an engaging tale centered around the relationship between President Abraham Lincoln and his late son Willie. The emotional scenes between Lincoln and Willie are undercut by the comedic commentary of spirits reconciling their own deaths.
I’ve wanted to write about Christian media and “Christian” media for a long time. Of course, my strength is in animation, so for the most part I’ve stayed quiet. This past week though, we had the release of The Star, and I figured now was the best time for me to lay these feelings out there. I also want to clarify my background with all of this. I consider myself a fairly devout Catholic.
For the record, that’s not some clever title from me, that’s just the title of the movie. And, to be fair, why wouldn’t it be? That’s what the movie’s about: three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. Maybe it’s because lately I’ve only been seeing superhero movies, which I’ve been harshly informed are “the avatar of the dearth of creativity in American capitalism” (whatever that means), but Three Billboards really surprised me… in that it wasn’t called “Ebbing, Missouri: Age of Billboards” or “Billboard Battle.”
All jokes aside, I liked this movie and I’m surprised that I did because the title is just one of a couple things that make Three Billboards seem a little “Oscar-baity” on first glance. It’s small, it’s gritty and it tackles some extremely adult themes.
On his fourth studio album, Kendrick Lamar brings us back to the golden age of hip-hop with smooth flows and incredible musicianship. Over the course of fifty-five minutes, Lamar explores his struggles with sin and society and his place in a nation that often seems to be against him. Damn. dazzles and will soon prove to be a generation defining masterpiece.
In the wake of the recent war between the FARC, the military and para-military forces, the current administration is attempting to distance Colombia from its recent war-torn history. At the same time, narratives of indigenous culture are perpetuated by the continuation of resguardos, Colombian indigenous reservations, while the myriad changes in governing systems create a narrative of evolving political systems. As a result, indigenous people and their cultural traditions are characterized as “past” or “dead.” Moreover, through the divorce from the recent war with the FARC — a group which has its roots in the same regions where many of the indigenous resguardos are located — the administration frames indigenous culture as part of the violent past, while simultaneously engaging indigenous people in a system which is systemically oppressive to indigenous ontology. The hip-hop duo Linaje Originarios is creating a space for productive political inclusion and cultural promotion that resists hegemony through their online hip-hop music videos in and about their native Emberá. The two cousins Dario and Brayan Tascón, who form Linaje Originarios, come from a resguardo called Valparaíso in the western mountain ranges of Colombia, where they spend most of the year working in the fields. When they are not working, the pair spends their time writing and performing their music on the streets of their resguardo or in the city of Medellín.
Perhaps the most pervasive and noticeable facet of this song is the unapologetic delivery of Cardi B’s lyrics. The percussive nature of her articulation almost renders the background beat subservient to her artistic command. Supporting the lyrics is the repetition of a haunting melody which produces a sense of tension that despite being peripheral, is undeniably entrancing. Mesmerizing and captivating, Bodak Yellow is a beautifully hypnotic work. By Varun Biddanda
2) “Passionfruit” — Drake
“Passionfruit” is possibly the most confusing track on More Life.
It’s been a long year for animation. While we’ve had a couple good hits here and there, there’s been a lack of quality in many titles. So I really needed Coco. The film opened in Mexico last month, unusual since American studios tend to release their films domestically first. Coco ended up becoming the highest grossing movie of all time in Mexico, and rave reviews heralded an upcoming splendor.
When I heard that Sony Animation, the same studio that brought us The Emoji Movie, was going to be attempting a Biblical story, I prepared for the worst. I feared that it would only give us relentless pandering and cringe-worthy gags. I mean, the teaser has a bird shaking his butt at a couple of dogs, so I feel like I was justified in bracing myself. Finally The Star has hit theaters, and I find myself, thankfully, relieved. While it has several flaws, The Star manages to deliver its own take on the Nativity that feels sincere and has its own unique edges.