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April 21, 2024

To watch and watch for: Week of Feb. 18

By TIMOTHY MCSHEA | February 18, 2024

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ARUSA MALIK / DESIGN AND LAYOUT EDITOR

This week’s picks include Avatar: The Last Airbender (live-action TV series),  A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal, Loss of Life by MGMT and “In The Stacks,” a live performance by Opera Baltimore at George Peabody Library.

We’re in store for a warmer week, and I thank the Lord that we are. I’m a native Baltimorean and even for me this past week was miserable — not because of Valentine’s Day, although that didn’t exactly help. Doesn’t it feel like the spring semester is zipping by? Then again, when doesn’t it feel like that?

I’m thrilled about this week for other reasons, though. One of my favorite directors/filmmakers, Ethan Coen, has a new film debuting on Feb. 23, titled Drive-Away Dolls, and I’m ecstatic. Even the cringe-worthy Southern accent in the recent trailer isn’t enough to damper my excitement. I’m a big fan of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, but this new live-action remake is incredibly depressing. Apparently, the people working on it haven’t watched the original in a while because some of the changes are simply ridiculous. If I wanted to see a serious, humorless child magician, I’d watch my little sister’s talent show.

I will also be listening to MGMT for the first time in a while (I have a lot to catch up on) as their new album, Loss of Life, is also releasing on Feb. 23. Their latest single, “Nothing to Declare,” which will be included in the album, was simply haunting. Hopefully the rest of the album is just as good.

I hope you all are staying warm, and I hope our latest picks brighten your week!

To watch…

Avatar: The Last Airbender (live-action TV series), developed by Albert Kim — Feb. 22

The latest adaptation of the original animated series has already gotten flak online for multiple changes to the original storyline, including a more serious Aang and a less misogynistic Sokka. As people have already discussed at length, these changes seem antithetical to the original series’ themes of maturity and personal growth. We’ll see how different this show truly is, and if it stands well enough on its own. 

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba - To the Hashira Training, directed by Haruo Sotozaki — Feb. 22

This film is an animated dark fantasy action film as part of the Demon Slayer universe, based on the “Swordsmith Village” and “Hashira Training” arc of the original manga series. The events of the film will follow directly after the third season of the anime, including footage from the last two episodes.

Drive-Away Dolls, directed by Ethan Coen — Feb. 23

Ethan Coen, co-director alongside his older brother Joel for classics such as The Big Lebowski, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Fargo, is now directing the comedy road film Drive-Away Dolls. The screenplay is co-written by Coen himself alongside his wife Tricia Cooke, following Jamie and her friend Marian on an impromptu trip to Tallahassee, which gets interrupted by a run-in with a group of criminals.

To read…

A Tempest of Tea, by Hafsah Faizal — Feb. 20

The New York Times bestselling author Hafsah Faizal starts off her new Blood and Tea duology with the first book, titled A Tempest of Tea. The story follows Arthie Casimir, who traverses the streets of White Roaring as a criminal mastermind, overseeing a tearoom that doubles as an underground illegal bloodhouse for vampires.

Heartless Hunter, by Kristen Ciccarelli — Feb. 20

In another romantic fantasy duology, titled The Crimson Moth, the first book, Heartless Hunter, follows Rune, a woman with a double life as the Crimson Moth, a witch vigilante. She spends her night rescuing other magical outcasts from being purged by the recently appointed, powerful rulers.

The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson, by Ellen Baker — Feb. 20

This historical fiction novel follows multiple generations from 1924 to 2015, Chicago to Minnesota, recounting a dangerous career in a traveling circus and family drama.

To listen…

Loss of Life, by MGMT — Feb. 23

The eclectic pop duo MGMT is coming out with their fifth studio album this Friday. Their latest single, “Nothing To Declare,” is a straightforward alt/indie rock track about the struggle for meaning in a free world. The instrumental of the track is Beatles-esque, with stereo acoustic guitar, tasteful instances of slide guitar and splashes of 8-bit synths. Past singles are more stereotypical pop rock, but it's safe to say the upcoming album will be a mixed bag of styles.

GLOOM DIVISION, by iDKHOW — Feb. 23

Indie-pop duo I DON'T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (iDKHOW) is surprisingly releasing a new album, although the group was initially intended to be a solo project. Judging from the first three tracks, “GLOOMTOWN BRATS,” “INFATUATION” and “WHAT LOVE?”, this LP will play with big band and funk-inspired instrumentals, enhanced by the unhinged vocal performances of lead vocalist Dallon Weekes.

I've Never Been Here Before, by Erick the Architect — Feb. 23

Brooklyn rapper-producer Erick the Architect, a.k.a. Erick Arc Elliott, has been on the scene for a while now, producing for Flatbush Zombies and releasing singles and various EPs since 2010. But I’ve Never Been Here Before, releasing this Friday, will be his debut album. His technical ability is more than adequate and paired with his extensive experience producing, it’s bound to be an interesting listen.

Live events…

“In The Stacks”: selected arias from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin at George Peabody Library — Feb. 21, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Performing at the George Peabody Library on the Mount Vernon campus alongside a display of vintage romance comic books from the Sheridan Libraries, Opera Baltimore will explore the themes of romance and heartbreak with several arias from Tchaicovsky’s classic opera Eugene Onegin. This event is free, and registration is required. 

An Enemy of the People: A Public Health Project, directed by Bryan Doerries at Hopkins Bloomberg Center and on Zoom — Feb. 22, 7-9:30 p.m.

Acclaimed actors, public health leaders, scientists, journalists, elected officials and local community members are all coming together to perform dramatic readings of scenes from Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play An Enemy of the People. In the drama, a doctor discovers a tannery has poisoned the local water supply of a small, rural town. In his efforts to warn the community, he is eventually ostracized and scapegoated for the environmental disaster that ensues.

Peabody Dance! Festival at Joe Byrd Hall — Feb. 25, 3-5 p.m.

In collaboration with Baltimore Black Dance Collective, the fourth year of the festival will include virtual performances, classes and workshops with the Peabody BFA Dance program. The annual festival is a space where dancers, choreographers, filmmakers, teachers and musicians can participate in a transformative artistic community. The performance will be live-streamed, and the event is free.


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