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Watch of the Week Edition 6: Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy

This week I’m changing things up a bit, so instead of reviewing a singular film that I highly recommend as a must watch. I’m instead going to write a reflection of sorts on a film trilogy. This particular trilogy has eluded me for a couple of years since I learned about it’s existence a while back. I’ve read many people sing its praises to the high heavens yet I never felt compelled enough to sink my mind into it. However, recently I finally experienced the cinematic world of Satyajit Ray’s, masterfully intimate,  Apu Trilogy. 

The trilogy follows the life of a boy named Apu. We witness his emotional, mental, and physical growth toil in grief, tragedy, happiness, selfishness, ambition, and love. However, as much as the films are about him they are also about the dynamics of parental relationships and responsibilities. These elements play a vital part in this symphony wherein it seems that Satyajit Ray is actively searching for the epiphany of life’s purpose. This ultimate purpose is, quite obviously, difficult to comprehend but in his effort I find solace that the search for unadulterated joy is the closest answer he could get to. 

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Watch of the Week Edition 5: Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue

Questioning reality is a seldom thought that pops up in one’s head very sparsely throughout life. From experiencing deja vu to experiencing extremely vivid dreams, or seeing things that you think you saw to genuine psychosis. The surreal nature of blurring the lines between reality and illusion is often a concept that is tackled in film, usually by absurd or imaginative means. However, in the case of Satoshi Kon’s directorial debut, Perfect Blue, this concept is conjured up in an atmosphere of terrified paranoia. 

On the surface level, Perfect Blue, serves to be a damning critique on the entertainment industry and its treatment of its stars. However, beyond that, the eye-opening commentary on the inherently misogynistic structure of media and entertainment seem to stand center stage. Blurred by deceit, confusion, and sinister motives; each meticulous cut grants us a terrifying entryway into the psychotic downfall of crisis in identity. This crisis is implicitly compounded by the patriarchal pressures and expectations that come along with the various “celebritized” roles famous women fulfill. Whether that be sexually motivated or monetarily motivated. Although, in the case for this film, it’s abundantly clear that sexual projections made from societal expectations create a bubble of uncertainty and downright maliciousness. 

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Roundtable: How far will the Mountaineers go?

The NCAA selection committee revealed the West Virginia Mountaineers as a number three seed on Selection Sunday. As always, ups and downs filled the regular season for West Virginia. The Mountaineers at one point won six-consecutive road games in the Big 12, but, on the other hand, the Mountaineers haven’t won against a ranked opponent in almost a month. U92 the Moose's Sports Staff picks how deep the team will go in the tourney, the MVP of the team, and more.

Before we jump into tournament talk, what was your favorite moment of the season?

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Watch of the Week Edition 4: Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides

Adolescent angst, misguided happiness, and faux maturity; these are just a few phrases that adequately detail this nostalgia driven coming of age monument from the wonderful Sofia Coppola. In her directorial debut, Coppola, establishes her mesmeric knack for storytelling through weaving perspectives, fitting needle drops, enchanting sequences, and by ultimately creating an aura of mystery and solace. It’s with these elements that set the stage for the plight of the five idelic daughters of the Lisbon family. As the title suggests, they all commit suicide, for reasons not entirely unknown yet not entirely too sure. Some could point to the set of rigid circumstances, enforced by their old fashioned, extremely strict religious parents. Or the pent up frustrations of hormone-fueled anxieties. Or possibly, it's the lack of understanding from their peers. Regardless of the source of their tragic and sudden end, The Virgin Suicides continues to prove to be a refreshing take on the “high school teen drama” flick twenty-two years later, nostalgia and all. 

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March 10: The 5 tracks we're following this week

1. St. Vincent - Pay Your Way in Pain

In one of St. Vincent’s most enthralling tracks yet, a spaghetti-western style piano riff leads off what quickly becomes an eclectic blend of 70’s funk and Bowie-esque glam. On this lead single to her upcoming record Daddy’s Home, Vincent (real name: Annie Clark) revisits much of the quirky electropop influence heard on her most recent record Masseduction; here mixing it with classic retro funk instrumentation and plenty of Prince-isms to boot. While Clark very much owns this track, delivering a powerful and layered vocal performance throughout, it is also a major standout for producer to the stars Jack Antonoff. Here Antonoff puts together one of his busiest, most complex,  and fully realized efforts yet. Proudly wearing her influences on her sleeve, on “Pay Your Way in Pain,” St. Vincent looks into rocks past to continue carving out it’s future. 

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Watch of the Week Edition 3: The Last Temptation of Christ

“The dual substance of Christ—the yearning, so human, so superhuman, of man to attain God... has always been a deep inscrutable mystery to me. My principle anguish and source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh... and my soul is the arena where these two armies have clashed and met.” - Nikos Kazantzakis. 

Christianity is a difficult trudge through the bog of tribulations, sin, temptation, hope, love, faith. It’s a personal imposition that is placed at either the hands of one self or at the hands of others. The mental and spiritual mechanisms are in constant motion, demanding attention, requiring a constant state of upkeep. Whenever one falters in its task, the path alters. However, this is true of living a life, regardless of whether or not one is religious, in this case a Christian, or not. 

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March 3: The 5 tracks we're following this week

1. Noname - Rainforest

Noname returns with her uniquely conscious, contemplative, and groovy rap styling on this boundary breaking new track. Though her music has always maintained a heady vibe, this is her first song that one could justifiably call revolutionary, a staunch but warm diatribe against the systemic injustices of capitalism. Her familiarly understated performance gives you everything you need; there’s a righteous anger here that can be felt, but she doesn’t succumb to the follies of rage. Vocally she maintains the even-temper of an educator, blending the political with the personal against the lusciously soulful instrumentation. She only really changes intonation once, during the last verse's final line, in which you can hear her smiling as she says “f**k a billionaire." Equal parts insightful and danceable, “Rainforest” is a perfect example of the all-to-rare joyful revolution song. 

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Watch of the Week Edition 2: Jon Bois’s The History of the Seattle Mariners

I remember stumbling upon Jon Bois’ work back in the early 2010's with his "Pretty Good" series on YouTube and being in such awe of his fascinating story telling ability through the use of Google earth, charts, graphs, jpeg images, and other nonsensical miscellaneous items that he got his hands on. 

Yet, with how insignificant each part seemed to be on its lonesome, together they contributed to this mystical awe-inspiring charm that is unmatched in the realm of YouTube content. See, Jon Bois as a sportswriter, as a storyteller, and ultimately as a documentarian has been unparalleled this past decade. However, it is within The History of the Seattle Mariners where Bois creates his titular moment to transcend beyond the nominal title of a “content creator” to a trailblazing artist. 

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February 24: The 5 tracks we're following this week

1. Cassandra Jenkins - Hard Drive

The lead single from Cassandra Jenkins stunning new album ‘An Overview on Phenomenal Nature’ begins with what sounds like a phone recording of an unnamed narrator telling us that the following are “real things that happened.” What follows are a series of kaleidoscopic vignettes that are just as lyrically and sonically intimate as that introduction suggests. The writing here doesn’t feel like verse, but rather private voice memos Jenkins is leaving herself that happen to coincide with a theme. She lilts into a melodic sigh toward the chorus but otherwise relays the lyrics in a droll almost sardonic voice. This performance only lends to the vulnerability of the words being relayed. Throughout the track Jenkins let’s us in on a series of conversations; the characters that speak to her are vast and complex, all lending different ideas and points of view to the singer as she attempts to ease her mind and accept the beauty around her even in such dour times. The final words of the track are a repeated mantra she learns from a psychic who had attempted to “put [her] heart back together.” As the lush sophisti-pop instrumental builds to a beautiful and jaw dropping climax, you get the feeling that the mantra may have worked after all.

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Watch of the Week Edition 1: Edward Yang’s Yi Yi

How can one begin to tackle the condition of living a life? What binds us together? Which observations do we make that affect our future? How could we live without sorrow? There are too many questions that can be asked about life and the purpose we should fulfill before our eventual end. Edward Yang, director, writer, and pioneer during the Taiwanese New Wave, poses these questions with such authentic grace and subtle care that they slip by our minds only to hit like a truck when we’re knocking on death's door. 

Yi Yi establishes itself as a humble family drama, beginning with a wedding and ending with a funeral. Brushing its characters like a Jackson Pollock painting; weaving in and out of events, both significant and insignificant, driven by an unseeable motive. And with the grandest canvas Yang crafts an intimate portrait of life with five characters. A keenly curious child, a teen seeking for a stable foundation, a middle-aged man caught in the energy-draining tedium of work, a middle-aged woman in search of happiness and purpose, and an old woman in a coma acting as a somber reminder of life’s end for our family. 

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