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Monday, May 27, 2024

Culture Corner

The Art Desk’s weekly picks for movies, music and more


By CHRIS PONCE arts@theaggie.org


Book: “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner (2021)

If you read my last Culture Corner, you won’t be surprised by the fact that I love memoirs. Whether you’ve heard the news of its coming movie adaptation or open casting call, or maybe just seen it displayed at a bookstore I’m sure you’ve heard of Michelle Zauner’s “Crying in H Mart.” This book is as powerful as it is popular. Throughout, Zauner writes about finding her place in life, her identity as a half-Korean/half-white woman and the grief she experiences after the death of her mother. The heart of the story is the relationship between Zauner and her mother, which explores themes of family and cultural identity in America. A powerful motif in the book is Zauner’s highly detailed descriptions of the food and meals she prepares, as she describes food as a way of staying connected to her mother and culture. A good friend of mine recommended it to me, and now I hope I can do the same for you.


Album: “Psychopomp” by Japanese Breakfast (2016)

Zauner is not only a popular author but also an acclaimed musical artist. Her band’s debut album, “Psychopomp,” also deals with the emotional journey Zauner experienced with the death of her mother. According to an interview with Zauner, the album name comes from the feeling she had of guiding her mother through the journey of her illness and how she would see her mother in her dreams following her death. “Psychopomp” is beautiful and each song flows straight into the next. I know nothing about music theory, but this album is an emotional journey and is worth a listen. 


TV Show: “Parks and Recreation” (2009-2015)

This show has been recommended to me by many great friends, including Editor-in-Chief of The Aggie Sophie Dewees. And even though everyone told me to “skip the first season” — something I consider to be a huge red flag in TV shows — Parks and Rec has quickly become one of my favorite sitcoms. The show develops all of its main cast throughout the seasons and while the show is a goofy portrayal of local government bureaucracy, it is also a beautiful story about friendship and how people unexpectedly come into our lives and change them forever. So before you think it is just another knock-off of “The Office,” give it a chance — once the show finds its footing, it’s truly something special. 


Movie: “Missing” (2023) 

“Missing” is a Jan. movie that would typically get swept under the rug. However, the spiritual sequel to “Searching” (2018) is just as thrilling and engaging as its popular predecessor. Also, the protagonist in the movie is an incoming UC Davis student, which can be seen from her notes app and open tabs on her computer. The computer-found-footage-style film follows a daughter attempting to locate her mother who mysteriously vanishes after a vacation. Similar to “Searching,” this movie kept me guessing as to what the next twist would be. If it feels like all movies are becoming predictable and repetitive, I recommend something like “Missing.” What might seem like an obvious twist is just another false lead in the story. Now that it’s on Netflix, this movie is definitely worth a watch. 


Written By: Chris Ponce arts@theaggie.org