Archives for category: Popular Culture

*also published on ScreenQueens*

Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate Behaviour follows the story of Shirin (played by Akhavan) as she attempts to deal with being what her parents want her to be but at the same time staying true to herself and what she believes in – all whilst dealing with being dumped by her girlfriend Maxine. It’s one of the realest films I have seen for a long long time and was such a refreshing experience, because the events that occur are, for the most part quite mundane; but to me that’s what makes Appropriate Behaviour so brilliant – because it’s about life; pure and simple. Shirin’s emotions throughout the film are extremely raw due to her heartbreak and sadness – she acts rashly in several scenes and regularly blows things out of proportion It is these aspects of her character, which are so cleverly crafted by Akhavan that make her so appealing and relatable to most people, because it’s very easy to see yourself within her.

What makes Appropriate Behaviour so important is that it is one of a small number of films that manage to not make a rom-com where the main character is not heterosexual, all about their sexuality. Instead, it is purely about love and its ups and downs; something that there desperately needs to be more of. Shirin’s struggle to come out to her somewhat traditional parents with their disapproval of other sexualities does not drown out the other themes within the film, instead it gives it more layers and provides a truthful view of what it’s like to be in that situation and the stress and uncertainty that hangs over such an action.

Combine a captivating plot and strong jokes with beautiful cinematography and I’m sold; and boy did Appropriate Behaviour deliver on that front. Most of the shots were to die for; one that sticks out in particular is when Shirin is dropping her stuff from her ex-girlfriends apartment into the bin. The shots alone manage to convey her mixed feelings over the situation, something that many films try to do and fail. Extra credit goes out to the amazing soundtrack that partners it – it weaves into each scene perfectly and elevates what you are watching to a hyper-emotional level. Another aspect of the film that sticks out to me is the one based around how we all create situations in our head and imagine how they will play out, but when faced with the reality are more often than not disappointed and left feeling pretty empty. The scene where Shirin agrees to have a threesome with a couple she met at a bar is a prime example of this. What starts out as exciting and novel rapidly becomes excruciatingly awkward and disjointed, culminating with her leaving before anything really happened. While amusing, scenes such as this serve as a reminder that life is often not what it is set up to be.

Appropriate Behaviour is an aesthetically pleasing piece of film, with the shots of Brooklyn making me wish I lived there even more than before. But it is not style over substance – Akhavan is paving the way for female directors and is one of a growing number that are the future of cinema, her film is inspiring in a low-key yet persistent way and interweaves love, hurt and the joys in life that quite often follow that bad times perfectly. It’s also great to have a film that isn’t dominated or led by the typical straight white characters that is sadly still to prevalent in the industry. I started watching with high expectations and was not disappointed. A must watch for everyone.

lion babe

Lion Babe is a duo made up of Jillian Hervey and Luca Goodman that hail from NYC and are my current obsession. I first heard their brilliantly catchy track “Jump Hi” around a month ago and was instantly hooked – if you’re looking for soulful vocals (courtesy of Jillian) and punchy beats then they are definitely for you. “Jump Hi” features Childish Gambino who happens to be one of my favourite rappers, which helped reel me in – although by the time he hits the track I was already more than impressed. Their self-titled EP really shows off their musical range, as you’re transported along a musical journey that includes a mesmerising slow-jam “Jungle Lady” and the super rad “Wonder Woman” which makes you feel like you can take on anything and be your baddest self. 

Their music is the perfect accompaniment to so many situations; laying in bed chilling, city living, getting ready to go out and most of all, summer. If you need something to listen to in the car with your friends or while you sunbathe as their minimalist yet super-catchy vibe makes them a great artist to listen to if you need to relax and un-busy your mind – because it’s impossible to feel tense when listening. Jillian’s voice is beautiful and really compliments the music, adding an extra layer of emotion to the songs, which takes them a to new levels perfection in my eyes. 

The two cover tracks that are on their SoundCloud page prove again how genius they are – their re-style of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” is pure genius. The barely there beat showcases Jillian’s vocals and forces you to focus on the lyrics and the inclusion of the chorus from Drake’s “Furthest Thing” makes it extra special and in my humble opinion; flawless. I can’t wait to see what they bless us with next because let’s face it; it will be on repeat for days on end.

I wanted to show my love of an up and coming queen in the music industry and tell you all why you should be listening to and loving her as well. After a session on Spotify’s discovery section I came across TĀLĀ, an Iranian/British singer and producer. It only took two songs for me to decide I had found my new musical love. Listening to her Alchemy EP is a haunting, magical experience that made me wishing I were in a retro independent film; eating at diners on the coast of California with my friends and having rad hair.

Her vocals alternate between being at the forefront of a track like in Unfinished Business, to being barely there and letting the pulsating electro beats do her talking, in songs like Serbia. I find this contrast between songs a unique aspect of her sound, as she seamlessly combines her talents in production and vocals, with a range of cross-cultural sounds to create a listening experience like no other. The Duchess and Unfinished Business are my favourites and to me represent her versatility within the electronic genre. The Duchess is a dark piece of music, with almost no vocals but a thrumming bass line that you feel right in your core. Whereas Unfinished Business is a fast-paced dance track that just makes me want to get up and move (even though I can’t to save my life; making my “moves” more of a flailing motion) with warbling vocals atop of it. Her love of M.I.A is certainly obvious as her tracks have the same in-your-face, unashamed bad girl vibe to them, just like M.IA’s do. TĀLĀ’s vocals also have a kind of FKA Twigs feel to them too, which once again adds to the otherworldly nature of her sound and brings another element into her  slick production.

Her amazing music combined with her lustworthy style makes her my number one UK based artist at the moment and I am not too embarrassed to divulge that when she favourited a tweet of mine I yelled a bit. So here’s to another kick ass lady who is sure to take the music industry by storm.

Popdunk

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This past weekend I binge-watched the show Broad City, getting through the entire first season and
the first two episodes of season two. I’ve finally found a show about young women living in a big city that I can actually relate to. The main characters Abbi and Ilana feel real, they live in okish apartments, with shit jobs that they hate and spend most of their lives broke; something most fresh out of uni people experience.

These aspects of young adulthood are often neglected by films and TV and it’s ridiculous. Take Girls for example, they are all in their early to mid twenties but live in gorgeous apartments, and even though mishaps occur, seem to have lives most twenty year olds can only dream of. TV has a long history of doing this as even seminal shows such as Friends (I still love you Friends, please forgive me) are incredibly unrealistic in terms of lifestyle etc.

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This is why broad city is so refreshing. As a nearly twenty year old I need to have a show that I can see myself in. As a student who is constantly scraping the barrel money-wise it’s almost a treat to find something that I can relate to on such a level. The scene where Abbi desperately searches for her fish bowl full of quarters is eerily reminiscent of myself one morning last week. The incidents and mishaps that occur within the show are not dissimilar to ones I have experienced with my friends. Making the characters friendship a good representation of what friends of that age get up to.

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 It also doesn’t skirt around the grimmer side of humour e.g. Ilana trying to tweeze her pubes in a Topshop changing room.
Most importantly though, it shows early adulthood in all it’s messy, sometimes disheartening but always funny glory. Team all of this with a banging soundtrack, brilliant storylines and solid, hilarious side characters (I’m talking about Lincoln here.The shows unsung hero) and you have yourself a show made inheaven. There’s a reason why Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 96%.

Broad City is exactly what comedy TV needs and what young women need as well, it’s fresh, funny and feminist. A combination not often seen in the media, however I feel this adds to its oddball charm. Seeing characters who are so fiercely feminist, even

if it takes a while to see it, is what society needs to see more of. And especially what other people my age need to see too. So I can safely say, hand on my heart, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer; I salute you.

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Thank you for making a show that I not only feel at one with, but one that makes me sometimes tear up with laughter whilst also making me feel empowered to be me.


Popdunk

When I first watched the trailer for “Chappie” I will admit I welled up, from less than 3 and a half minutes of footage I was already emotionally invested in the free-thinking, self-aware robot. The premise for the film is incredibly enticing, a kind of “E.T” meets “The Terminator” meets “District 9” premise. All of these films are brilliant and all of them are now classics, so in my opinion this film cannot go wrong.

On top of all this it is directed by none other than “District 9’s” hugely talented Neil Blomkamp. This fact alone means I will go and see it as the film mentioned above has had a truly profound effect on me. It is a modern day masterpiece that seamlessly combines a social commentary (on race relations in South Africa) and action, a combination that has regularly been attempted but in my eyes never been executed well, until “District 9”.

I am eagerly anticipating the release of “Chappie” and truly hope it lives up to my (admittedly very high) expectations. Hopefully it will be a box office smash and people who are not familiar with Blomkamp’s other works will discover “District 9” and learn from its powerful message and all round gloriousness.

Oh and I almost forgot. Another reason why I am so pumped for “Chappie” is because it features Yolandi Vi$$er and Ninja from Die Antwoord(AKA one of my favourite music groups!!) in their first film roles. YAY.