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Three tracks into Sufjan Stevens’ newest album, Javelin, he asks one of the most simple and honest questions that perhaps anybody can ask: “Will anybody ever love me? For good reasons, without grievance, not for sport?” He isn’t looking for forever, or for massive promises. He just wants someone to be able to “pledge allegiance to my burning heart.” The fittingly titled, “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” may be one of the best songs of Stevens’ long and varied career.
Music floats through the air: hyperpop remixes of Charli XCX, bubbly EDM, Beyoncé, Lizzo, pumping club beats. Around thirty people have just started an extremely energetic Cupid Shuffle, and even more are dancing around them. Pride flags, most of them in trans colors, swing through the air. Every so often, a chant ripples through the crowd: “Philly is a trans city! Philly is a Black city!” This is not your average rave.
Nothing can dominate pop culture forever. No matter how good the plot, how passionate the fandom, or how high the box office, eventually, all stories run their course. Westerns were once considered a permanent moneymaker. Then it was musicals. Star Wars was thought to be invulnerable to the public: now over six films and television shows have been sent back to development.
Writing about HBO’s new show The Idol is a trap. It wants desperately to be written about, packed to the brim with references to modern cultural debates and full of gratuitous sex and nudity. But for a show trying to satirize our modern landscape, The Idol is curiously stuck in the past.
Jane Lozada Foster doesn’t want to burn any bridges. She emphasizes this as we finish our conversation, which is chock full of the kindest and most generous evaluations of the times that Penn failed her or that she failed at Penn. When Jane’s roommates found out that Street wanted to profile stories of failure and successes this year, they both told her she was the ideal candidate. Most Penn students would be horrified to hear that their social circle sees failure as characteristic to them, but Jane just laughs when she tells this story. “I have failed a lot,” she says. “It doesn’t impact how I see myself.”
Two years ago, during the 20th anniversary of the stone–cold classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee pondered how his sweeping epic had come to be. He realized that when deciding between making an action movie or a drama, he chose both. “I wanted it all,” Lee told Entertainment Weekly. “I didn’t realize I was upgrading a B–movie to A.”
Titanic hasn’t aged a day since 1997. That’s not just because it still dominates cultural discourse (that damn door), or inspires popular parodies, or just became the third highest–grossing film ever (again!), but because it still somehow feels completely revolutionary. More than ever, it's the antithesis to “modern cinema,” which relishes in self–referential storytelling and superhuman power fantasies. Titanic may be big, but it displays a reverence for human emotion—and for human lives—that you’ll never find in a superhero movie. A restored version of the film in 3D has just returned to theaters, and it amplifies the ways in which Titanic was groundbreaking in the first place. It was Hollywood’s last completely inescapable original piece of drama, and there’s a reason it still resonates.
One of Spotify’s most popular playlists is the “sad girl starter pack.” This corporation–curated mix shuffles between 75–or–so songs that depict varying degrees of melancholy. The songs here range from the intellectually moody (“God Turn Me Into a Flower” by Weyes Blood describes the social alienation of modern society) to the objectively sweet (“Kissing Lessons” by Lucy Dacus is a song about first crushes, and duh, first kisses). The theme here isn’t a unifying emotion, but rather the sort of meditative, vaguely chill mood this brand of indie pop creates.
The Oscars are having an identity crisis.
Bones and All is impossible to turn away from. Grimy, gory, gross—absolutely. Swooningly romantic, gentle, and beautiful—also yes. Many viewers may be turned off by the premise of cannibals eating their way across America’s great plains and sprawling highways, but those who find their interest piqued will surely be rewarded. This is a film with a lot of meat on its bones.
The story of Penn's upcoming student–run and produced Bifocal Film Festival doesn’t start where you would expect it to—in Philadelphia. Rather, it begins in Kenya.
If there’s one thing The White Lotus is sure to make you ponder, it’s the number of murders that can be committed at a luxury resort before anybody steps in to explore.
Who is Lydia Tár?
When the first season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale premiered in the spring of 2017 to critical acclaim, pundits, critics, and journalists interpreted this dystopian tale through a frighteningly current lens. The show, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, follows June Osborne as she is forced into childbearing labor by an America consumed by religious extremism. Premiering a few weeks after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the show was backdropped by Trump’s presidency. The show’s villains were often compared to corrupt members of Trump’s cabinet, and even the show’s lead actress, Elisabeth Moss, and showrunner Bruce Miller were vocal on their belief that The Handmaid’s Tale was crucial to resisting the current political moment. The show quickly found its cultural niche as a narrative of feminist resistance. Yet even as much as it abhorred the Trump presidency, the show heavily leaned on the Trump administration and particularly its hard line on abortion for inspiration and relevance.
2022 may turn out to be a banner year for queer cinema. Not for melodramatic period dramas starring Harry Styles, but for films that celebrate joy and the pleasure of community. Bros, the first gay romcom from a major studio, hit theaters last week. Earlier this year, Fire Island was lauded for its portrayal of queer Asian American identity (as well as being hilarious). While it’s exciting to see how mainstream queer romcoms are finding their own identity, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my favorite movie of the genre. This honor goes to the utterly charming, trailblazing, and in–need–of–a–resurgence indie: Saving Face.