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Monday, May 27, 2024

Culture Corner:

The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for television, movies, novels and music

Television: “Barry”

One of the greatest things to happen in recent years is the prolific rise of “Saturday Night Live” alum Bill Hader. On top of starring in the second installment of the “It” franchise, Hader created the hit HBO comedy “Barry” in 2018. Hader stars as the titular character of the show, an ex-Marine hitman from Ohio who accidentally joins an acting class and moves to Los Angeles, Calif. to pursue a career in theater. “Barry” is an incredibly dark comedy, blending ridiculous humor with impactful and poignant scenes. With a remarkable cast that includes Henry Winkler as Barry’s hilariously self-obsessed acting coach, it is no wonder that Hader’s creation has received over 30 Primetime Emmy Award nominations in just two seasons. 

Movie: “Booksmart” 

Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut “Booksmart” is a coming-of-age comedy that stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Denver. The film follows two high school seniors who decide to go to their first party the day before they graduate. “Booksmart” is quick-witted and intelligent — the chemistry between Feldstein and Denver is a joy to watch and the timing of their comedic banter is impeccable. The characters are relatable and quirky but in an effortless way. Essentially, “Booksmart” is the young, hip sister to the 2007 buddy comedy “Superbad,” balancing raunchy, ridiculous humor with genuine emotions and deeply loveable characters. 

Novel: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen 

Sara Gruen’s 2006 novel “Water for Elephants” tells the story of a veterinarian working for a circus during the Great Depression. Gruen’s writing is beautiful — she captures the vivid imagery of the circus and uses it to create a whimsical yet mysterious atmosphere. The novel locks readers in and transports them to the 1930s. Told through a series of flashbacks as the protagonist sits in his retirement home, the story conveys the pain of having regret and nostalgia for a past chapter in his life. “Water for Elephants” was on The New York Times Best Seller list and was adapted into a film in 2011 starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. 

Album: “The Kids are Coming” by Tones and I 

Australian singer-songwriter Toni Watson (who goes by the stage name Tones and I) is best known for her single “Dance Monkey,” which debuted in May earlier this year. The song rose to number one in 13 countries and is triple-platinum certified. Watson’s music is a refreshing blend of electronic pop and blues. She has a unique, raspy voice that is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse’s. “The Kids are Coming” is Watson’s debut EP and includes six fun and inventive tracks. The standout from the EP is “Never Seen the Rain,” a triumphant and uplifting ballad about taking risks and accepting failure. Only 19 years old, Watson is a breakout star to watch. 

Written By: Alyssa Ilsley — arts@theaggie.org


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