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TV/Film Culture cheat sheet: Sofia Coppola, Harry Styles, and more

Nov. 9, 2020
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Watch: On the Rocks (2020, dir. Sofia Coppola)

Sofia Coppola’s forays into comedy have always been deadpan, especially with Bill Murray in the lead. Her newest feature On the Rocks is no different, except it’s unlike anything she’s done before (and not just because it has Black characters). With less moody silences and a relationship that actually stays intact throughout the runtime, perhaps this is the filmmaker’s take on the feel-good rom-com.

Rashida Jones is Laura, a writer struggling to balance her new book and taking her two kids to school and ballet classes every day. When she begins to doubt her husband’s faithfulness, she consults with her father Felix (Bill Murray, always perfectly cast as the kooky father) who, we find out as the movie goes on, is an adulterer himself. 

Felix, who is tolerated more than accepted, crafts hypotheses and stakeouts in the guise of helping Laura get to the bottom of things, when it’s apparent he just wants to eat caviar with her and take her to a resort in Mexico. Him going all out—having her husband followed, his credit card activity tracked—seems rational once we figure out this is the first time in a while he’s felt needed by his daughter. “If you want to spend time with me, just tell me,” Laura says to Felix once they reach the end of their father-daughter adventure.

On the Rocks is grown-up Coppola, soundtracked by jazz and Phoenix instrumentals. Her signature nostalgic lens is pointed at the familiar streets of New York. Because it isn’t as aesthetically distinct, the film is enriched instead by its emotional core. After all, the reason levelheaded Laura obliges to her father’s invitations in the first place is because the thought of infidelity triggers a slippery slope, causing her to question her life and career. That said, one can understand the disappointment audiences might feel upon finding out this isn’t an iconic Coppola—Indiewire published 800 words comparing this to her other films. But while On the Rocks isn’t autobiographical, critics may pick up a thing or two from the fact that the protagonist is not only dealing with a larger-than-life father, but also the shadow of her earlier successes. 

On the Rocks is streaming on Apple TV+.Listen: Playing Pretend in the Interim by Reese Lansangan

Anyone who gets close to indie singer-songwriter Reese Lansangan falls in love with her. As one of the forerunners of the Filipino indie music scene, Reese has enamored thousands with her soft-spoken music about space and online crushes and warm, thoughtfully made visuals. She is, after all, a singer-songwriter, visual artist, graphic and fashion designer, and published author, rolled into one convenient sushi. Despite her fluidity in medium, her style is distinct and recognizable, her penchant for things handwritten and handmade giving her body of work a DIY feel that makes it homely. 

She teased her latest EP through elaborate puzzles her listeners spent days deciphering—after releasing merely singles since her debut album in 2016, fans were more than eager for something more long-form. And it’s safe to say the wait was worth it, since Playing Pretend in the Interim is Reese’s most cohesive and conceptually-realized work yet. The influence of the pandemic is apparent in the record, bringing forth themes of isolation and abandonment: the introspective opener “Mall Rats” is about a girl examining her relationship with consumerism inside an empty mall, while “Ghosting” follows a ghost looking for a new home. 

This project feels especially homemade, as she wrote and produced the entire EP in quarantine—even crafting a song about trying to survive her city’s lockdown. "I want to invite you into this suspended time to play pretend and see the world through a different lens,” the artist said on Patreon, where members of her Secret Song Society enjoyed early access to the EP, a personalized ticket to “the interim,” and one-on-one fortune-telling sessions with her. "Immerse yourself in this mystical world of the interim like no one else could.”

Stream Playing Pretend in the Interim by Reese Lansangan on Spotify here.

Listen: “Golden” by Harry Styles

It’s been a joy to witness Harry Styles self-actualize after One Direction, and it seems the world is more receptive to him as a solo artist than as a boyband member. His previous single “Watermelon Sugar” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, his first chart-topper after going solo and something he never achieved even while being in the biggest boyband in the world. (Their highest-charting song, “Best Song Ever,” fell short at No. 2.)

“Golden” is his fifth single off his sophomore album, Fine Line, and while the track isn’t something I’d expect to be a single (“Sunflower Vol. 6” is right there), its contagious “da da da da’s” were made to be stuck in your head, and the lower register the singer adopts for the verses boasts that his voice is just that good. The video is set on a dreamy Italian coastline, perfect fuel for fantasizing about COVID-free summers and (the equally possible chance of) vacationing with Harry Styles himself. 

Watch the music video for “Golden” by Harry Styles here.