March Staff Picks

Nate Ragolia

Poor Things

Released in December in the U.S., Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, Poor Things, might just be the best film of 2023. It’s a heartfelt, deeply feminist coming-of-age take on the literary classic Frankenstein that shows off Emma Stone’s awe-inspiring acting range, while getting some brilliant performances from Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe (among a stacked cast). It features a globe-hopping, eye-catching journey as protagonist Bella Baxter chases her young curiosity to find out who she really is, and who she really wants to be.

Fair warning, this film features a lot of sex and nudity, but does so while subverting the male gaze and bringing sincere, patriarchy-undermining humanity into every frame. It’s a stylish, strange, bold film that may rub some viewers the wrong way, even as it’s one of Lanthimos’ most accessibly human films. We all, ultimately, want to know who we are, what we’re made of, and why we’re here… and Poor Things hits every note in an undeniably unique and heartfelt way. Plus, there’s a chicken with a pig’s head in here, so if you’re into that kind of weird, this film is EVEN MORE for you.

Sara Santistevan

This is My Body: Poems by a Teen Trans Fem

It’s rare to find a teen poet confident in both their poetic voice and artistic mission. That’s why I was so excited to get my hands on Madeline Aliah’s debut chapbook This Is My Body: Poems by a Teen Trans Fem.

In the book’s forward, Aliah makes her goal clear: “This little book is an offering of 18 poems as candles for a birthday I didn’t expect to reach. I hope it’s a light for those who need it. I hope it helps the non-trans reader understand what it’s like to be someone like me.” Indeed, Aliah’s debut is a stunning example of how vulnerability can not only comfort those who identify with the speaker’s experience, but can also serve as a radical form of advocacy and education.

This book is thoughtfully divided into three sections (“The Body Counterfeit,” “The Body Politic,” and “The Body Manifest,”) which explore Aliah’s coming-of-age and relationship with her body. Some of my favorite lines beautifully capture the narrative arc that unfolds throughout these sections. Consider the shift in the speaker’s autonomy from the couplet in “I Woke Up Twice This Morning” to that of “The Pronoun Game,” respectively:

“My second morning body is an oven / My first morning body is a dove.”

“I/Me/Mine / are dangerous pronouns to choose / because choosing me makes me dangerous.”

The choice Aliah eventually makes, and the power she has to make that choice, is fully realized in one of the collection’s final poems, “Trans Risk.” Despite the title, Aliah sees no risk in her choice to become herself, and instead challenges the reader by asking “Does it bother you / that womanhood is a gift / worth dying for?”

I’m always stunned when I remember that Aliah had these revelations, and captured them so powerfully in her writing, as a teenager. If I were you, I’d be keeping an eye on Aliah’s future career as a poet (and bragging that I knew of her before she was famous)!

Marizel Malan

Prelude to Ecstasy

Though I’m a tad late, I have been absolutely obsessed with the band The Last Dinner Party, and their debut album, Prelude to Ecstasy. They’re currently touring, and I’m incredibly jealous of every single person who gets to experience them live.

The woman and nonbinary-led rock band has taken over every playlist I make. I’ve been listening to their album nonstop. Even though it was released in February, it’s a staple of my March listening habits. In fact, I’ve barely listened to anything else this month! This is one of those rare albums where I don’t want to skip a single song. The lyrics are incredible and they tell exceptional stories in each of their pieces. I am an absolute sucker for indie bands, and The Last Dinner Party is no exception. With the release of singles prior to the album, I was expecting some great music, but they completely surpassed all expectations. While I do have a soft spot for the single “My Lady of Mercy“—which sounds great in-between all the other songs on the album—”Beautiful Boy” has quickly become my favorite. If you enjoy unique rhythms, incredible voices, and gorgeous imagery, definitely check out The Last Dinner Party!

Dominic Loise

Resident Alien

To help get through the winter months and my seasonal depression, I’m rewatching the previous seasons of Resident Alien. The third season started dropping new weekly episodes on Valentine’s Day, and it was a better gift than a box of chocolates could ever be for me.

Resident Alien is a sci-fi action comedy on SyFy (streaming on Peacock and Netflix) about an extraterrestrial’s failed attempt to destroy Earth and become its protector. The show is also explores what it means to be human. Alien Harry struggles as he pretends to be an Earthing and learns to not be an outsider. He also learns that being human involves more than just our outer appearance as the show provides deep, complex layers to the citizens of fictitious Patience, CO.

I was familiar with the Dark Horse comic book series the TV show is based on, but the show has its own tone. That tone is built around the casting of Alan Tudyk as alien Harry. And, even though our interactions with the citizens of Patience, CO are filtered through the arrival of an alien, I find myself fully invested in each character’s presence and personality in this ensemble show and look forward to hanging out with everyone in town on my weekly viewing visits with Resident Alien.

The Body Eccentric

Bodies… we all have one. They are literally a part of each of us! (Yes, we went there.) We should, as the idiom goes, “know them like the backs of our hands.” And yet, the truth is that our bodies hold a whole mess of mysteries, and quite a few of them, we take for granted every single day. Let’s take a look at five baffling body enigmas: The Body…

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