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The Nightingale Movie Review

Brutal 'Nightingale' Worth Listening To

Be wary of "The Nightingale," a powerful new movie worth seeking out should you choose to do so. It's a brutal and deeply upsetting film at almost every turn, but director Jennifer Kent ("The Babadook") handles the film's unsettling moments with purpose and conviction. Even so, be warned before entering the film.
Set in colonial Australia in 1825, Clare (Aisling Franciosi) has been enslaved by British commander Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) for seven years. She is treated as a servant by Hawkins and his men, serving them food and drinks and being subjected to their crude comments and gestures. She is referred to as a nightingale because she serenades them on command as they sit around and get drunk.

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Nathan Bajar - playroom Music Album Reviews


An artist known for his photographs turns his hand to music; his hazy, lo-fi productions strive for the analog warmth of his portraits, but they lack his pictures’ intimacy and empathy.

Nathan Bajar’s pictures evoke intimacy through haziness. Just take a look at the Brooklyn artist’s stunning portraits of Lakeith Stanfield, serpentwithfeet, or his own extended family in the Philippines, each imbued with soft, blurred lines and the warm tones of vintage film stock. With a delicate touch and apparent talent for bringing out the tenderness in people, Bajar casts his subjects in a nostalgic glow. His affinity for the warm and romantic extends to his lo-fi funk music, which he ornaments with tape hiss, soothing electric guitars, and weathered drum loops. This attention to detail is apparent in the psychedelic and sprawling production on his debut album, playroom. But it’s hard to know what he’s trying to get across besides just a dreamy vibe.

His taste and his craftsmanship are self-evident: playroom’s layered production is a pleasure to listen to, and it synthesizes a variety of influences. The reverb-washed guitars resembles those in Mac DeMarco’s slacker rock, the funky basslines recall Kali Uchis and Steve Lacy, and the woozy beats sound like they could have been made for the soul-sampling New York rappers MIKE and Medhane. There are also intriguing auxiliary moments sprinkled throughout the project, like the video-game bleeps and bloops in “playroom (lover’s paradise),” the Funkadelic-esque adlibs on “purple hearts,” and jagged saxophone solo and sweeping string parts of “camille.” It’s the kind of album that you could put on repeat and find something new with every listen, as little instrumental bits peek out from the swirling, nebulous tracks.

But Bajar’s lyrics aren’t nearly as evocative as his production. On “the view,” he tries to justify his wandering eye in the tritest of terms: “Wasn’t going to touch/Just enjoying the view.” Then there’s “silver surfer,” whose quasi-romantic lyrics might be found scrawled in a seventh grader’s notebook: “Are you riding/If you say no, girl/You’ll give me the blues.” “purple hearts,” which has a catchy hook and fun, off-beat ad-libs, never quite lives up to its potential because the vague lyrics fail to elucidate the story he’s trying to tell. “Didn’t mean to waste your time/Our love was war/Taking eye for eye,” Bajar sings, using tired language to describe a moth-eaten subject. Though Bajar’s low-key approach helps him achieve nuance in his photographs, it actually ends up doing the opposite in his music.

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A handful of songs on playroom are about Bajar’s late father, who passed away suddenly last summer. On “the table,” Bajar reflects on his death: “My father now lives in the sky/One last seat at the table,” he sings with a meandering melody and a thick layer of harmonies that partially obscures his diction. Though it’s a touching tribute, Bajar doesn’t give his words the space to be heard, and too many instruments clamor for attention. With all his experience masterfully capturing other people’s humanity, Bajar seems hesitant to sharpen the focus on his own.


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