by Jill White, Faculty Advisor and Lucas Somma, Art and Culture Editor
Anne with an E
A beautifully shot adaptation of the Anne of Green Gables novels, this production brings a dark edge to the story of Anne Shirley (Irish import Amybeth McNulty) and her life on Prince Edward Island. Through flashbacks, we see glimpses of the abuse that Anne suffered in an orphanage and in various foster families; this makes her healing under the care of elderly siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert very moving. Though the dialogue occasionally slips into too-modern usages (“that’s messed up”), the cast is strong. In spite of the darker edge,\the series is profanity- and nudity-free so far.
Parks and Recreation
Though this offering from the creators of “The Office” gets off to a slow start, Amy Poehler eventually transforms Leslie Knope—deputy director of the Parks and Rec. department of a small Midwestern town—from a caricature to a fully-fleshed-out character. The addition of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe in the second season gives the series a shot in the arm, and Nick Offerman as libertarian Parks and Rec. boss Ron Swanson is a revelation (his scenes with real-life wife Megan Mullally are hysterical). There are off-color jokes aplenty, but this is from network TV, so it’s pretty clean overall.
A Bird of the Air
An odd little indie film that follows night-shift highway courtesy patrol driver Lyman (“Drop Dead Diva’s” Jackson Hurst) as he tries to find the owner of a parrot that flies into his trailer one morning. In this search he crosses paths with a nomadic librarian (Rachel Nichols), who is intrigued by Lyman’s solitary existence and tragic past. Though the narrative is marred by inexplicable voice-over narration from the waitress in the diner that he frequents, it is nonetheless worth watching for the way Lyman is slowly drawn out of his isolation. Hurst’s performance is subtle and affecting. There is some language, some mild traffic-accident-related gore, and a solidly PG-13 love scene.
Road to Your Heart (Pad na jou Hart)
This standard rom-com/road-trip film is intriguing for its setting (the South African countryside) and its language (Afrikaans). Oil company heir Basson (Ivan Botha) has five days to drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town to attend the funeral of his father, with whom he has had a strained relationship for many years. The will stipulates a series of tasks and sacrifices Basson must make during the trip in order to learn some posthumous life lessons from his dad. Along the way, he befriends Amory (Donnalee Roberts), an apparently carefree traveler with whom he hitches a ride. There is some salty language in the subtitles, some mild violence, no nudity.
“BoJack Horseman” follows an array of dysfunctional Hollywood residents, including the titular character, a B-list celebrity who struggles to find significance and wholeness two decades past stardom. To palliate his self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness—which undergirds his detrimental coping mechanisms—BoJack turns to booze, sex, drugs, and dysfunctional relationships.
Despite his astounding emotional baggage, he tirelessly labors to better himself and establish a sustaining legacy. Usually, this is without avail as he often falls prey to his self-sabotaging behaviors. Regarding this perpetual cycle of self-improvement undermined by destructive behavior BoJack says, “I’m responsible for my own happiness? I can’t even be responsible for my own breakfast.”
Undoubtedly, this show is for mature audiences. Sex and substance abuse are frequently alluded to and occasionally depicted. Profanity is commonplace in the dialogue. Yet, this is a cultural contribution worth engaging. Though the residents of Hollywood are American elitists, viewers watch as humanoids stumble towards the distinctly human task of self-actualization. BoJack Horseman—a character who searches for meaning but is bogged down by incessant nihilism, cripplingly low self-worth, and ghastly behaviors—reminds us of how dreadful the human experience can be.