Movie: ‘In a World,’ dir. Lake Bell
Lately when I sit down to watch a ‘funny’ movie, I end up turning it off within ten minutes due to my inability to tolerate blatant sexist and racist jokes and stereotypes and propagations of rape culture. But “In a World” is a rom-com even a jaded Swattie can enjoy. Lake Bell directs and stars in this comedy following the daughter of a famous voice-over actor (Fred Melamed) in her dream of becoming a female voice-over actress. The depiction of the ‘man’s world’ of voice-over and Bell’s quest to break into it isn’t as oversimplified as one might expect, and the subplots following Bell’s sister and father are happily-ever-after while still poignant. The movie pokes fun at overdramatized film franchises like “Avatar” and “The Hunger Games,” though it also makes use of some annoying stereotypes about girls (Bell ends up being a voice coach for whiny sounding women to have more “professional” speech patterns in order to get ahead in their jobs.) Demitri Martin plays Bell’s awkward studio manager and ultimate romantic interest, and Ken Marino plays her douchey and misogynistic voice-over rival. Maybe I liked this movie because I identified so much with Bell’s character—seduced by the macho guy before realizing that she wants someone she can actually talk to, ambitious but still humanly insecure. She’s a strong female lead without being superwoman, which is much more realistic and relatable. “In a World” is a light, feel-good movie that’s still worth watching.
–Marina Martinez, Reporting Editor
Album: ‘Psycho Tropical Berlin’ by La Femme
By this point, La Femme has long since left Swarthmore, not that that’s a good reason to not talk about them. In what was probably one of the most popular concerts this year, La Femme played to a nearly-packed Olde Club and one of the most ill-advised mosh pits I have ever been in. Simply put, La Femme is incredible, and I am ashamed that it took until this year for me to discover their dark, majestic, beach rock aesthetic. “Psycho Tropical Berlin,” their first LP, is an incredible accomplishment. At times more overtly relaxed and at times more obviously frantic, the female singer, Clémence Quélennec, never goes entirely to one extreme or the other, giving the album a hard, tightly-controlled tone, even when everything else seems like it should be the perfect beach song (she also was the best on-stage dancer I’ve ever seen, hands down). The bass guitar is gorgeously intense. There’s a question that I asked while listening to the album: what’s with the lyrics? The opening song, “Antitaxi,” goes (in French) “Take the bus, take the bus! Antitaxi!” I don’t know. But for those of you who don’t speak French or don’t care about the lyrics, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about here, except that, no matter how good it is, it can’t be the same as seeing them live.
-Z.L. Zhou, Poetry Editor
Poetry: ‘She Had Some Horses’ by Jo Harjo
Joy Harjo’s “She Had Some Horses” is enthralling in its intimate depictions of desolate communities, dispossessed women, frantic, and scattered long-distance relationships, and self-imprisoned characters. Harjo slices open and exposes the rough, raw realities of a fallen people, of a woman hanging on to the edge of a windowsill. Ancestral histories are made present through bloodlines, and the individual dilemma is made universal, at times political. Dark undertones linger in most poems, but there is relief in Harjo’s vibrant works. For each emotion that cuts, there are tender, yet striking, images that soothe; there are always the horses.
-Victoria Stitt, Poetry Editor
Television: ‘Friday Night Lights,’ developed by Peter Berg
I was living in a devil town
Didn’t know it was a devil town
Oh Lord it really brings me down
About the devil town
-Tony Lucca, “Devil Town”
“Friday Night Lights” is a TV show based on a book and a movie about a town, a team, and a dream. On top of the book’s critique of high school football culture in West Texas and the movie’s capturing of the glory of the struggle, the show adds a third thing: a love for the people of fictional Dillon, Texas. A brilliant cast of teenagers backs the pairing of Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Eric and Tami Taylor, the coach and guidance counselor at Dillon High. A big theme in the show is growing up, especially in a messed up place—or a devil town, as the song says. If there is a better portrayal of adolescence and community on television, ever, I haven’t seen it. Texas forever. Oh, and one more thing: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
-Mike Lumetta, Poetry Editor