November Staff Picks: Fleet Foxes, A24 Movies, Anime, and all things autumn!
Words By F(r)iction Staff
When autumn rolled around I found myself once again (let’s be real, at this point it’s a seasonal tradition) listening to Fleet Foxes nonstop. I celebrate their entire discography. But their self-titled debut has always been my favorite. I’ve had it on cassette for a few years now. But this season I went all in and acquired the First Collection 2006-2009. It’s a vinyl box set Sub Pup put out in 2018 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the band’s first album. The box set includes the self-title on 12” wax, plus three 10” EPs. The EPs include the band’s first long-out-of-print (also self-titled) EP, the Sun Giant EP that preceded their debut LP, and a collection of B-sides and rarities from that early era.
The whole thing is packaged in a gorgeous box with a magnetic seal. Inside is a book of photos depicting the early years of the band. This includes members of the band as teenagers rehearsing in their parents’ basements. By the end of the picture book, we see the band on tour and playing sold-out shows. Robin Pecknold, the group’s founder and primary songwriter, provides wonderful notes throughout the book. There are also a few old flyers and early sketches of lyrics mixed in between the ten inches. I also just love that the EPs are all 10″. In the last ten or so years, labels seem to have stopped putting out anything other than 12″ LPs. It’s a fun little novelty that just shows nothing was spared in putting this collection together. If you’re a big fan of this band and a record collector, you need the First Collection 2006-2009.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m always hunting for a weird, thought-provoking movie come October. When I saw that A24 Films intended to release a new film in the middle of the month, I knew it would likely check all the boxes. Lamb is weird. The kind of weird that I’ve come to anticipate from A24 “horror,” but also to a degree that I still haven’t figured out. It’s set in rural Iceland, which alone is kind of creepy, and then you add into some, um, unusual elements and you get a movie that I genuinely haven’t stopped thinking about for two weeks. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m unable to go into that much detail, but I promise it’s worth the watch.
Fruits Basket (2019 version) is this one anime series I keep going back to when I need to look for hope. Each of the characters have really emotionally turbulent lives but you also find them doing the best they can to keep moving ahead. Our lead character Tohru is very kind and nurturing and always knows the right things to say and even though she’s portrayed as a savior in the very beginning, you slowly see her coming to terms to all that she has lived through as well. Every episode has something to offer on the lines of friendship, resilience, family and when there is a multitude of characters with their own journeys to make, every one of them is given attention and every one of them is understood for the choices they made. When I watch Fruits Basket, as heartbreaking as some of the episodes are, it makes you want to live well and to believe that things can change, things can get better when you have good people around you. It emphasizes on the inherent goodness of people and how we all need each other and want to be there for one another even when we don’t know how. There is an underlying urge for compassion and empathy and forgiveness especially towards yourselves and how that can help you keep growing, keep living well even when it gets hard.
C. E. Janecek
I originally followed Xiran Jay Zhao for their kitten Kokochin, who struggled into this world and slowly won the hearts of Xiran’s cat-skeptical parents. Then, I found out that they made YouTube videos and Twitter threads that deep-dive into unraveling the historical (in)accuracy of Disney’s Mulan and that they recreate historical Chinese fashion. Turns out, all of this knowledge was accumulating research for their debut: Iron Widow, a cutthroat, Chinese-history inspired science fiction novel that I read in three days. Do you want a young woman protagonist who’s full of rage, vengeance, and a questioning of gender norms? Do you want a love triangle that concludes in a stunning and devastating polyamorous triad? Do you want giant, Pacific-Rim-esque mechas that function through a combination of spiritual power and acupuncture? Then get your butt to the bookstore!!
As spooky season drifts slowly back to the beyond for another year, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out Over the Garden Wall to keep your autumn weird going. The 2014, ten-part, animated mini-series—created by the folks who brought you Adventure Time—features the voices of Elijah Wood, Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Melanie Lynskey, and tells a spectacularly heartwarming, funny, quirky story about two boys who get lost in the woods. Plus, the original songs and fantastic score add lushness and flavor to an already remarkable fantasy-esque world. Each episode is only eleven minutes long, so binging the series is akin to watching one feature-length movie, but I suggest giving each watch a little time to sink in. Do not sleep on this autumn classic.
With SurrealEstate, it felt good to break the TV binging habit during the pandemic and have a Friday night show again to cap off the week. It’s about The Roman Agency, which assists in moving homes that have been on the housing market for too long due to supernatural disturbances. The show is put together by creators and actors who have worked on Wynonia Earp and Schitt’s Creek. SurrealEstate is more than a just “monster of the week” with each new investigated and sold property. The backstories of the diverse cast are all handled with care as we learn that the houses are not the only haunted things. I’m interested to see the show get a second season and watch these characters’ relationships continue to grow beyond the real-estate office and more into their real worlds.