While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!
Movie: “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi
Look, this is by no means a perfect movie. But, being of the “prefer Star Trek anyways” mindset, lack of perfection in Star Wars is nothing new to me, and I’m just there for the fun characters and the sci-fi action. And this had plenty of both! I do think the movie was overly long and I questioned some of the decisions they made with some of the main character (hard to like Poe now; Finn’s storyline was functionally unnecessary). But I loved all of the parts of the story that, you know, actually focused on the Jedi. Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren’s arcs were all compelling and their performances were by far the strongest of the entire movie. In the end, I had a fun time watching it and am curious to see where things go next, and that’s pretty much all I ask of most movies.
TV Show: “Wallander”
I’ve always loved British crime dramas, but somehow had missed this one featuring the always-amazing Kenneth Branagh. And when I say “British,” I mean “British actors speaking with a British accent but pretending that they’re Swedish living in Sweden and speaking Swedish and all the written things you see are in Swedish, but please ignore that the actors are totally still speaking English in a British accent.” But once you get over the weirdness of that decision, the show’s pretty great! Wallander is definitely of the “brooding & brilliant” character type, so if you’re looking for a lot of jokes and pep, this might not be your thing. But if you like character-driven, beautifully shot, detailed crime dramas, than this might be for you!
Computer Game: “Civilization VI”
I remember playing the very first “Civilization” game when I was a kid with my sister and Dad back in the 90s. Really, my Dad played while we watched since we were still pretty little. And ever since, every few years or so, I’ll remember how much I love this game series and download the most recent version and disappear off the edge of the earth for a month or so. And now my poor husband is being exposed to his first round of this habit life-long habit. In the few weeks, I’ve literally spent entire days playing this and doing nothing else. Have to win a Cultural Victory! Now a Science Victory! Now I must conquer the world! It’s an obsession. But, as always, this newest iteration is as enjoyable as the first, and for those who like strategic games, “Civilization” is probably one of the biggest ones out there. Plus, they may have just released a new expansion. My poor husband…
Movie: “Call Me By Your Name”
With all the awards season buzz going on right now, “Call Me By Your Name” is getting tossed around as a serious contender, as it absolutely should be. I went to see it with my friend David, and we were absolutely blown away with how touching and moving it was. This coming of age romance about Elio and Oliver, his father’s grad student, is so beautifully filmed and told, with excellent performances by both Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Their romance is touching and bittersweet, and the vistas and scenes of Italy made me feel like I was there in the moment. You will absolutely get lost in this movie, as it’s imagery and locales are completely intoxicating. I will say that you should probably bring a box of tissues with you, however, as by the end I was basically sobbing into my hands I was so emotionally rung out. Just ask David, I was a total mess. But it was worth it.
Movie: “I, Tonya”
I was in fourth grade when the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan scandal happened, and totally remember the media frenzy surrounding it. Nancy Kerrigan was the injured ice princess, and Tonya Harding was the conniving bitch who arranged to have her knee cap broken. “I, Tonya” puts forth the notion that Harding was vilified unfairly in the media, ignorant to the means her husband and his friend went to. It addresses her horrific background of being a victim of classism from the skating community, and physical and emotional abuse from both her mother and her husband. Margot Robbie plays Harding with the perfect combination of defensive petulance and desperation, and Sebastian Stan plays her piece of shit husband Jeff to a T. But it’s Alison Janney, who plays her abusive mother with both the blackest of black humor and terrifying cruelty, who really stands out. It has made me rethink a lot of things about Tonya Harding and the trial by media she endured.
TV Show Rewatch: “Monk”
So about sixish years ago I went through a rough spell of getting a bad bad case of norovirus, and the show that I watched while wanting to die was the delightful detective dramedy “Monk”. It went off Netflix shortly thereafter, and I didn’t think much of it. But then near the holidays this past year I got a nasty case of the flu/maybe walking pneumonia(I think? I’ve had it before and boy was it similar), and was bedridden with no energy for a few days. So what did I find on Amazon Prime around that time? “Monk”! This series follows Adrian Monk, an OCD and highly anxious private investigator whose fabulous detective skills make him the best in the game, even if he’s emotionally a bit stunted. Tony Shalhoub is a gem as Monk, and the supporting cast is a real joy with lots of great chemistry. Namely, Ted “Buffalo Bill” Levine who plays police Captain Stottlemeyer, Monk’s best friend and colleague. True, it’s a bit dated now after being off the air for ten years, but I greatly enjoyed my rewatch.