Hello, greeting, salutations. It certainly has been a month!
Having more time to write for this blog over the past few weeks has been a real treat. However, starting next week university will be resuming. This coming semester is looking outrageously busy (how am I mean to get a boyfriend with all this coursework???), and on top of that I’ve volunteered to cover not one, but two (virtual) film festivals for Film Daze. I am an idiot! But also… a cheeky festival breakdown post…?
The long short of the matter is this, the amount of time that can be dedicated to this blog is about to reduce severely. That in mind, I don’t want to go on full hiatus either—I like writing this blog, dammit!
Thus, I’m introducing this new monthly column where I pick my favourite bits culture consumed throughout the month.
That’s it! That’s all! Silly, nonsense culture recommendations for you, the valued reader.
Let’s jump in.
Whisper of the Heart
Of all the films to use ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ as a motif, this one is by far and away my favourite (possibly because they used the (superior) Olivia Newton-John cover, who’s to say). I’ve long said that I tend to respond to the Ghibli films that have more “grounded” elements as opposed to the fully “mystical” one’s—Castle in the Sky is the one major exception, there’s nothing grounded about it and yet *chefs kiss*.
Back to the matter at hand: this film is DELIGHTFUL. I was most struck by how it depicts the process of writing— something many films have tried and failed to do (see: Trumbo). Mostly, I think, this really captures the communal element of the process; so many films want to aggrandize the Kerouac-esque “loner behind the typewriter” but really, it’s about the people who surround, inspire, and support the whole thing. The scene where Shizuku and Seiji jam out with the old-man musicians is an all-time great, in my mind.
Are You Listening? & Bloom
Not one, but two queer graphic novels! They have absolutely nothing to do with each other, but I’m lumping them together because… I can? And you can’t stop me? Honestly, though, these two actually make very nice counterpoints to each other. In terms of plot, tone, genre, style, and themes they are completely disparate—opposite ends of the spectrum (don’t ask what spectrum, I don’t know). But they go nicely together because Are You Listening? deals with a lot of heavy shit and will make you deeply upset, and Bloom is the exact opposite, it’s very soft and lovely and will make you feel happy again.
You will find Are You Listening? deeply moving if you have one or more trauma. Tillie Walden is now two for two in terms of quality; I read On A Sunbeam earlier this year and lost my goddamn mind. While I think On A Sunbeam is ostensibly her better work, Are You Listening? is the Walden for me—I just can’t resist a road-trip story. It has a very Gaiman-esque tone, with a lot of the fantastical elements. These go totally unexplained. This really works for me, I think it’s designed to emotionally operate like a Rorschach test, where you transplant your own meaning onto the images. However, if you like explanation for your fantasy, then you will find this frustrating (possibly to the point of being unbearable, depending on how neurotic you are). Regardless, this can be appreciated on an aesthetic level alone; the colours on this one, delicious!
Speaking of delicious… Bloom! Are You Listening? is for the lesbians, Bloom is for the gays. It’s very soft and nice,the basic premise is kind of “what if the bakery portion of Kiki’s Delivery Service but with the themes of Moonstruck and the food imagery of Ratatouille”. Every character is really likeable and also the worst at the same time, especially the main character Ari, who just confirms that all bottoms are nightmares (we are). Yet, it’s very hard not to be taken by this one. Soft, light, and surprising poignant; baking is a metaphor for love, it takes hard work and patience, guys.
Yes, the volleyball anime. Full disclosure: I love a good sports anime. Live-action sport media? Take a hike. But make it anime? Now you have my attention. They are thoroughly silly; volleyball matches can last for seasons! There’s an entire episode dedicated to one character’s inner monologue as he goes to block the ball. A whole episode guys!
Part of my enjoyment for this program is nostalgia. I was hugely into this show throughout 2015-2016, in no small part due to the fact that it’s about a lot of ~cute anime boys~ who are all about Supporting Each Other and Being There To Catch Someone When They Fall. The two main characters—Hinata and Kageyama (who are a perfect case study of The Dynamic, by the by)—are literally so in-sync with each other that their bond unlocks a special volleyball move? Pretty much every dynamic can (and should) but read as homoerotic. And if that doesn’t interest you the show itself is still just an outrageous amount of fun, in the most silly-nonsense kind of way. Plus, the theme song slams.
I feel like the internet is already burnt out on folklore? It was such a surprise, and everyone was talking about it constantly for a few days, and then people were just like “that’s enough of that”. Well, that may have been enough for them, but not for me, because I’m still obsessed. OBSESSED.
Most of my thoughts and feels at this point can really only be properly described through incoherent screaming sounds—this album is really good! For the longest time I thought Speak Now was going to remain her career highpoint, and maybe it still is, but folklore feels like strong competition. I need to percolate on it a bit more to really make up my mind about, well anything. But at this point what I’ll say is:
- There’s no skips.
- That being said, ‘epiphany’ is the worst track, if only by virtue of coming before ‘betty’ and therefore being the one I’m most likely to skip.
- On that topic, the ‘cardigan’/‘august’/’betty’ trifecta is immaculate.
- “And then it was bought by me” is such a good plot twist, it makes me scream.
- I will make a coming-of-age movie so I can put ‘mirrorball’ on the soundtrack.
- This is her first album since Speak Now with no skips.
- Bon Iver makes an infinitely better duet partner than Ed Sheeran.
- Has Taylor read The Secret History? It feels like it.
- Also, she’s an A24/Criterion Channel fan, go off pretentious queen!
(A note from Lily: ‘epiphany’ is NOT the worst track. It’s obvious that ‘peace’ is the weakest track but this isn’t my article.)