Sunday, July 3, 2022

Culture From The Couch: What to Watch, Read and Listen to Today

Want to expand your mind without having to change out of your tracksuit pants? No problem. Jut sit back, relax and enjoy our hot picks of what to watch, read and listen to from home today.

Movie

It’s crazy to think that the main centres and towns of New Zealand currently have a more vibrant theatre scene than New York. The city that never sleeps has been forced to take a long nap, with Broadway currently all boarded up until an effective Covid-19 vaccine has been developed. Since that time frame is still anyone’s guess, the chance of taking in a major production in the near future is pretty much zero. But fear not fans of big stage extravaganzas, you can now see the Tony Award winning hit Hamilton on Disney Plus and it’s just like being in the Big Apple but you can press pause and put the kettle on.

Threading urban hip hop into a traditional musical format is a masterstroke from its immensely talented creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and with a multiracial cast the whole thing is an exciting and welcome move away from the Andrew Lloyd Webber domination of yore.

The only warning I would issue is that the tunes are so catchy that they will definitely get trapped in your head and you will wake up singing about George Washington or some of the amendments to the constitution and almost, but not quite, regret ever watching it.

If you have already seen it and therefore this won’t spoil the plot for you, then I also recommend watching this excellent Hamilton takedown by comedienne Katherine Ryan.

TV

I May Destroy You is an extremely confronting but incredibly powerful new British series about sex and consent and assault. It is also about friendship and race and prejudice and social media and modern life and gender and the justice system. And we haven’t even seen the whole thing yet! New episodes are still dropping weekly on Neon each week. 

It is written by and stars the insanely talented Michaela Coel and you will feel awed and humbled by her bravery and her talent when you watch it. You will also be reminded of how much of real human existence never gets shown on TV because it might upset or mildly offend people and, as a result, it will also make everything else you’ve ever watched seem silly. I hope I’m not building it up too much for you. It’s definitely not comfortable viewing and you shouldn’t watch it with your mum and dad. But you should watch it.

Podcast

Boy do we need some beautiful voices of wit and wisdom right now so hallelujah for Michelle Obama launching her podcast this week and kicking it off with a chat with her husband. I would pay a lot of money to hear these two sitting in their living room just chewing the fat together so the fact that I don’t have to is truly a gift beyond measure. 

In this inaugural episode they talk about serving our communities and why we all benefit when we act in each other’s interest and for the greater good. No human is an island, is the overarching message and when we try to live that way we just make things harder for ourselves.

It goes without saying that the more we can hear from The Obamas right now the better.

Book

During Lockdown (a mere three months ago, even though it now seems like another lifetime!) we were all reeling from the speed of change and dealing daily with our fears about the future. In the midst of all that weirdness, one Auckland family decided to seize the moment to write a book that could help make sense of the confusion. Opening Little Boxes presents the different viewpoints of each member of a family confined at home together including the grandmother, parents, children – even the dog and cat. It’s a reminder that no one was exempt from wondering about what it all meant and even grown ups and experts had no template for this unlikeliest of scenarios.

While life may have largely returned to some form of normalcy here in Aotearoa, the questions raised during that period about how we chose to live our lives still linger. This book is a good reminder to see things through each other’s eyes and keep pondering and discussing ideas about what really matters.

The authors are donating 100% of their royalties to the Auckland City Mission and Lifewise.

Opening Little Boxes by Kees Lodder, Cathay Casey, Manuela Bertao, Alex Casey (Graduate Press). $20 from www.fivedogsbooks.com

Album

One of the happiest days of my life was taking my eight-year-old daughter to see Taylor Swift at Mt Smart. Well I mean the Mt Smart bit wasn’t great, but the gig itself was glorious. I think I can speak for us both when I say we came away feeling uplifted and excited and powerful and we bought merch and listened to the album on high rotation for weeks after. We agreed that we would go to all future Taylor Swift’s concerts thereafter until such time as I will no longer be invited to go with her. Well we didn’t say that last part out loud but i know that day is coming and so I have to maximise my opportunities while I have them. Sadly there are none right now. We did watch a live performance of the Lover album in Paris that Netflix hurriedly pushed out for clamouring fans but it wasn’t the same. Now Tay-Tay has made an album in isolation and it’s everything we need. I am always here for songs with names like Cardigan and Mad Woman sung by young women being soulful and angry, so the Folklore album is a resounding yes from us.

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