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TV/Film Culture cheat sheet: Kristen Wiig, Lucy Dacus, and more

Mar. 16, 2021
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Watch: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (dir. Josh Greenbaum)

I’m living under the longest lockdown in the world, and at this point vacation movies are guaranteed to make me cry. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is the genre’s cream of the crop, a sunny absurdist daydream where there’s nothing the power of friendship can’t solve. I wish I could snort this movie.

With a screenplay by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who also play the titular characters, the film centers on two middle-agers whose sudden unemployment pushes them to go on vacation for the first time. Thus begins their self-actualization, triggered by an orgy with a soft yet brooding man named Edgar (Jamie Dornan, who was born to play a himbo). Soon they find themselves in the middle of an underground supervillain’s evil plot, and they don’t know it yet, but they’re the only ones who could possibly stop it. 

Barb and Star’s comedy may be grounded in this anything-goes ridiculousness, but the film is airtight and perfectly executed. It has brilliant payoffs: the jokes are funny because you’d think there’s no way all these random punchlines would all come together, but they do, and it’s amazing. Wiig plays both Star (which they say is “short for Starbara”) and the conniving antagonist Sharon Gordon Fisherman; the latter whom I didn’t even clock because her depiction of a Tilda Swinton-esque albino villainess is so preposterous. Both Wiig and Mumolo play their characters with such wholeheartedness and ease that it’s endearing to watch their hijinks unfold, and the characterization is realized to the point that the viewer would think, “Getting her labia pierced? Ugh, that’s so Barb,” and they would be so right.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is available on VOD.

Listen: by ROSÉ

Rosé, South Korean-Australian singer and member of iconic girl group BLACKPINK, is taking back control. She recently released R, her debut solo project, and reportedly had a lot of input regarding vital decisions like album art and songwriting. "Since our fans have waited for it for such a long time, I wanted it to be satisfying," she said in an online press conference. "I attended a lot of meetings to convey my opinions for the album.” Rosé is the second BLACKPINK member to launch a solo side project, after Jennie’s “Solo” in 2018. Since then, their label YG Entertainment revealed that the remaining members would soon follow behind. 

Major South Korean labels are notorious for having strict rules for their artists, including an extensive pre-debut period where groups train for years before going public. This process can sometimes limit what artists can do career-wise. “This album is about me,” Rosé asserted in the press conference. "This is my first introduction as a solo artist, so I wanted to put my most honest self into the album.” She added that in the process of making the two-song album, she got to look back on herself a lot, relearning that music is still how she heals.

This sentiment definitely reflects on the album. Lead single “On the Ground” is buzzy electropop, but still stripped of the different layers and textures of the usual BLACKPINK sound. The vocals are more melodic—the singer shared she wanted to try out different vocal techniques—and the lyrics show Rosé reflecting on her superstardom and realizing that she “worked my whole life just to get high / just to realize that everything I need is on the ground.” “Gone,” the album’s other half, which already premiered in BLACKPINK’s virtual concert THE SHOW last January, retains the same electricity, but is more powered down and serene. 

Rosé’s bandmates are incredibly supportive of the effort. Jisoo, the group’s oldest member, offered her advice: “She said, 'I hope you do everything your heart wishes this time,’” Rosé recounted. “‘Try to do everything you want.’”

Watch the music video for Rosé’s lead single “On the Ground” here.

Listen: “Thumbs” by Lucy Dacus

Lucy Dacus’ “Thumbs” has a cult following of mostly fans who have never listened to it. The singer started including it in live session setlists two years ago, and if you weren’t in attendance, you would only hear of this "legend of a ballad so perfectly devastating it couldn’t be contained in an Instagram story or YouTube clip" from audience retellings. “I started playing it live a month or so later during the boygenius tour after [bandmates] Phoebe [Bridgers] and Julien [Baker] encouraged me to. I knew I wanted a long time to get used to playing it since it made me feel shaky, so I ended sets with it for about half the shows I played in 2019,” the artist said in a press release. The song is about a day she had with a friend during their freshman year of college. “Like most songs I write, I wasn’t expecting it and it made me feel weird, almost sick,” she added.

In the song, Dacus accompanies a friend to meet up with their absent father. “Before I played it, I would ask the audience to please not record it, a request that seems to have been respected, which I’m grateful for,” she said of the song being a live favorite before even being released. In fact, a Twitter account called "Has Lucy released Thumbs yet?" was created in June 2020, concretizing fans’ longing for a studio version. Speculations shot up last month when she secretly mailed VHS tapes of the song to some of her fans. Last week, the “Thumbs” Twitter account finally posted “Yes!!!!!! Streaming everywhere right now!!!” after half a year of tweeting different varieties of “No”; and while this marks the end of the enigmatic ballad’s mystery for Dacus’ fanbase, its impact is only just starting to take form.

Stream “Thumbs” by Lucy Dacus on Spotify here.