With another semester now in full swing, the writers at The Amherst Student’s Arts & Living section recommend some of the best pieces of media that they’ve had the opportunity to consume over the past six weeks. From classic video games to critically-acclaimed fiction to lo-fi indie rock to teen television shows, read on to catch up on some of the most engaging art currently out there.
Eren Levine ’24
I received a “100 Movies Bucket List” poster for the holidays, so I have recently been working through many of those movies. So far, I have watched “Goodwill Hunting,” “Fight Club,” “The Lion King” and “Dirty Dancing,” by recommendation of the poster. I am also watching new episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” as they come out weekly. I started reading “Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews over winter break, but I stopped to read a couple other books and am now back to slowly making my way through it.
Yasmin Hamilton ’24
Lately, I’ve been a little busy with school and midterms, so I’ve been watching shows that don’t require much brainpower. I started watching “Dawson’s Creek” back at home with my sister. It sounds uncharacteristic of me to those who know me, but I am a big fan of trashy teen television shows (never “Riverdale” though). Although it’s mostly vapid and sometimes problematic — there’s a teacher-student relationship — it’s cool to see what was on television in the ’90s and what people thought teens were like back then.
I’ve also watched some good movies with my neighbor group on campus, including “Thelma and Louise,” “Lingua Franca,” “Birds of Passage,” “500 Days of Summer,” “Frances Ha,” “The Headless Woman” and “Raw.” I’ve also been listening to “9” by WILLOW and SZA on repeat.
Alex Brandfonbrener ’23
When I’m not doing schoolwork and hanging out with friends, I enjoy playing “Minecraft” and “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” Both games came out years ago, but revisiting them has been rewarding and a blast. I have also been watching several early 2000s anime shows like “Samurai Champloo” and “Cowboy Bebop.” I recommend these highly. Finally, I live in a dorm with a pool table, so I often “hit the cue ball” with friends. I have not done a single minute of recreational reading.
Milo Leahy-Miller ’24
While I haven’t had too much time to sit down and enjoy a good album recently, thanks to the good ol’ Amherst workload, I have been able to sneak in a few new albums and a couple of old favorites over the break as well as in between work sessions.
“The Low End Theory” by A Tribe Called Quest is one of the original jazz rap albums, featuring crate digging beats and a smooth retro-like flow. The lyrics tackle serious issues, from date-rape to consumerism, as well as more fun songs featuring chest-thumping show-offiness.
“My Back is Killing Me Baby” by Car Seat Headrest is an angsty, lo-fi indie rock album that is good for a late night alone. The lyrics, instrumentals and production all work extremely well with one another and create a particular, slightly sad and nostalgic vibe that’s fun to sink into (as long as you don’t take it too seriously).
More recently, I re-listened to “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, which I personally think is his best album. Whenever the head for “Resolution” comes on, I feel chills run down my spine.
Apart from music, I just finished “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes stories about people finding themselves and their place in life. The writing is very lilting and descriptive, and I felt I could find so many aspects of my life and so many different people I know within the book and its characters.
Kaelyn Milby ’22
I’ve always found that comedies are the best source of entertainment during trying times. I’ve been catching up on seasons 1-3 of “Arrested Development,” and I’ve re-watched “Russian Doll” and “This Is Spinal Tap” countless times. When I was little, my dad and I would watch old episodes of “The Simpsons,” so lately, I’ve been happily falling back in love with “The Simpsons” golden age (specifically seasons 3-9). I’m always surprised by how well-written those early seasons are. The humor is well-timed and simple enough to make a nine-year-old laugh, and yet clever enough to stimulate the mind of an adult (albeit not a fully-formed one). One of the joys of re-watching this show is picking up on jokes and references that went over my head as a child and as a teenager. This era of “The Simpsons” is filled with heartwarming moments, slapstick humor (making the most of its animation) and hilarious satire, earning it a place among the best of American television (even if subsequent seasons failed to live up to these ones).
Ross Kilpatrick ’23
I’ve been reading and playing video games. Right now, I’m making my way through Robertson Davies’ two most famous series: The Deptford and Cornish trilogies. I’ve also been trying to read my prescribed dosage of leftist non-fiction, (e.g. “Debt” by David Graeber). And there’s always my weekly plunge into the New Yorker.
Besides books, I’ve been slowly chipping away at my backlog of haphazardly purchased video games. I’ve been finishing up “Fallout: New Vegas” and trying to convince myself to return to the lovingly imagined, if slightly hard to play, “The Longing.”
And of course, when books or video games won’t do, there’s always the bony algorithmic hands of YouTube, where I find comfort in an endless stream of video essays.
Noah John ’21
I am completing a history thesis that centers around jazz musicians, so naturally I have been listening to a lot of jazz, particularly Miles Davis’ album “Birth of the Cool.” I also have Playboi Carti’s “Whole Lotta Red” and Kali Uchis’ “Isolation” in frequent rotation right now. I have seen a good amount of films recently, including newer ones like “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (the former great, the latter not so much) and some classics including “Chinatown” and “Do the Right Thing” (both phenomenal).
Paige Reddington ’21
Lately, I’ve been trying to read ‘for fun’ more during the school year. I just finished the books “Milk Fed” by Melissa Broder and “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee, and I am now reading “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. I also recently finished the series” Normal People” on HBO and just watched the movie “Lady Bird.”