Brats, dragons and supermodels – what to see and listen to this week

Brats, dragons and supermodels – what to see and listen to this week

In 2022, it was estimated that more than 4,200 cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women remained unsolved in the US. To make a film that explores this injustice with dignity and authenticity is no mean feat. To make a film that does so, and still has the joy of Native American culture shine through is a marvel. That’s what the team behind Apple TV’s Fancy Dance (which was written, directed and acted by a Native American cast) has achieved.

The film stars Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone as Jax, a Seneca Cayuga woman who finds herself the primary caregiver to her niece, Roki, after her sister goes missing. While battling the child protection agent who is threatening to hand Roki over to her semi-estranged white grandparents, Jax makes a promise that her mum will return by the next powwow – an event at the core of Indigenous life in the US.

As our reviewer, professor of American studies Jacqueline Fear-Segal explains, Fancy Dance is a powerful, disquieting film that allows culture, resilience, humour and love to take centre stage.

Read more:
Fancy Dance film review: heartbreaking but beautiful tale draws attention to the struggles of reservation life

The name Naomi Campbell is now synonymous with “supermodel”. One of the five models who defined the fashion scene of the 1990s (along with Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Cindy Crawford), she is a household name around the world.

Naomi In Fashion, now at the V&A, is the first exhibition of its kind, exploring Campbell’s career in a show produced in collaboration with the model herself. Our reviewer, fashion culture expert Tania Phipps-Rufus, was dazzled by the show, calling it “a testament to just how important the Black British model has been to wider culture and representation, in the fashion world and beyond”.

Read more:
Naomi in Fashion: groundbreaking V&A show highlights the career of a trailblazing model and activist

Elsewhere, it’s a big summer for female pop stars. Of the top ten records in the UK album chart this week, six are by women. One of the standouts is The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess by Chappell Roan. If you haven’t heard Roan’s music yet, you’re in for a treat. Think Kate Bush meets Cyndi Lauper meets drag queen icon Divine. Her songs are cheeky, poppy and, at times, utterly gut-wrenching.

She’s one of a new generation of queer women artists dominating the playlists at Pride celebrations and the stages at festivals this summer.

L. Holland, who is undertaking a PhD in queerness in popular music, describes Roan’s sound as “heady and atmospheric”, applauding her sexy lyricism and impressive vocal range.

Read more:
How Chappell Roan and Reneé Rapp’s star power is making 2024 the year of lesbian pop

Peaking at number two in the chart is Charli XCX’s new album, Brat. It’s the singer’s sixth album, and while she’s had a hardcore fan following for years, it feels like her first record to truly make the jump to the mainstream. And what an album it is. Danceable, with ultra-fun melodies, but marked by lyrics with a raw, depressive honesty. A year ago, Charli joked on Twitter that she was the voice of her generation – with this album she proves it.

For our reviewer, a long-time fan, this album is a work of imagist poetry that unapologetically reclaims “bratty” women’s art.

Read more:
Brat by Charli XCX is a work of contemporary imagist poetry – and a reclamation of ‘bratty’ women’s art

Elsewhere on streaming, House of the Dragon has returned to Sky and Now TV for its second season. It was always going to be hard to carve out a distinct voice for this series, which is a spin-off of one of the most successful TV franchises of all time – Game of Thrones. But with the second season it seems the writers have finally done it.

The second series is subtle, suspenseful and extremely bingeable, with cliffhangers sprinkled across the season and some breathtaking special effects. The dragons of the title in particular (which were one of the most popular elements of the Game of Thrones franchise) are used to great effect.

For Mark Lorch, professor of chemistry, they’re also the cause of serious curiosity. “If dragons existed,” he wonders in this article, “what real-world biological mechanisms and chemical reactions might they use?” The answer involves oils, exothermic reactions and … um … electric eels.

Read more:
House of the Dragon: if dragons were real, how might fire-breathing work?

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