Not Just Books: July 2019

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! 

Serena’s Picks

mv5bzgexyjqzntqtngnhmi00ymy1ltlhy2mtmtrjodg3mju4ytayxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkxnjuynq4040._v1_Netflix Show: “Stranger Things 3”

I think I speak for us all when I say that this show was a challenge: how long could you draw out those very few 8 episodes so as not to find yourself on the other side and left bereft once again waiting for the (hopefully, but surely, right??) next season. While I’ve loved all the seasons so far, I think this one out does season 2 in my estimation. I like that Eleven is now with the kids throughout the story instead of off on her own so much. The monsters were legitimately freaky and the body horror is ratcheted up quite a bit. There was also a surprise musical number that is sure to speak to the hearts of many in my generation! I give it maybe a month or two before I have to do a re-watch to tide myself over.

mv5bmgzlnty1zwutytmznc00zjuylwe0mjqtmtmxn2e3odyxmwvmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymdm2ndm2mq4040._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Movie: “Spider-Man: Far From Home” 

I’ve enjoyed the heck out of Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man. While I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Toby Maguire’s version, there’s also traumatic memories of emo dance numbers that do tend to taint my memories. Going in, I was a bit nervous about this film. This movie had a ton to do, not only needing to operate as a Spider-Man sequel in its own right, but also to take on the massive task of being the first MCU movie to follow the dramatic events of “Avengers: Endgame.” I think it succeeded perfectly at both! I love the fact that this movie continues to lean in on the “Spider-Man as a real teenager” angle, with all of the awkwardness and poor impulse control that comes with that. But it’s also much more creepy than some of the past movies. There’s one particular scene that I think is darker than almost anything we’ve seen before. And, of course, Holland is just pitch perfect throughout. If you enjoy superhero movies at all, this one is definitely worth checking out.

mv5bm2qynmzkntytzwqyzi00ndhhlwezmditymizy2u4zwvmownhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndg4njy5otq40._v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_Netflix Show: “Jessica Jones” season 3

Going into this season was a little sad as we already knew it would be the last. The systematic cancellation of all of the Netflix Marvel shows has been one of the biggest losses to the streaming platform ever, in my opinion. And, while I enjoyed the second season of this show, it didn’t grab me in the same way as the first. But, never fear, season three is back on top of its game. It even retroactively made season 2 better by taking its story in truly unexpected directions. One of the brilliant things about these shows has been the clever way they have adjusted the comic book versions of characters and made them their own. We see one of the biggest twists on a character in this season. And while it’s a complete 180 from the comic book version, it also fits in perfectly with what this show has built up for Jessica and her friends. I’m really sorry to see this show go.

Kate’s Picks

chernobyl_2019_miniseriesTV Show/Podcast: “Chernobyl”

I have the tendency to binge shows if they are bingeable. I definitely am an impatient person, and because of this I love just charging through content if it is there to charge through. This was a HUGE mistake with the HNO miniseries “Chernobyl”, as the existential crisis, horror, and anxiety it caused within me knocked me on my butt. This fantastic show explores (in a somewhat fictionalized way) the nuclear disaster in the Soviet Ukraine, shows the horrible damage it did to those who lived in the area, and shows how Soviet scientists tried to contain the disaster and get to the truth of it, while the Soviet Government tried to suppress and control the information that was being let out about it. The performances, specifically from the three leads Stellan Skarsgård, Jared Harris, and Emily Watson, are transcendent, and the frank but never exploitative depictions of the awful consequences (mostly in the form of radiation poisoning. GOOD LORD) set my teeth on edge and nearly sent me into panic attacks. As a bonus an official podcast was released alongside it to expand upon the stories that weren’t told, and to say what was real and what was dramatized for television, which admittedly DID happen but not as much as I thought. “Chernobyl” is the best TV of the year thus far. But steady yourself for something as devastating as it is terrifying.

mv5by2q0zgfiowetmwvkms00ngu0ltg2mmetzdkynzjmmzhkytfkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntm3mdmymdq40._v1_TV Show: “Schitt’s Creek”

Why did it take me so long to get on this delightful, Canadian train?!?!?! I mean, SERIOUSLY, it stars two people I absolutely LOVE (Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy), and has a fun send up of the spoiled rich facing a monetary free fall. Levy and O’Hara join Dan Levy and Annie Murphy as the Roses, a wealthy and self centered family whose sudden financial ruin makes them move into the small town of Schitt’s Creek, their final asset. Hilarity ensues as the out of touch Rose family has to deal with real life. Everyone is on point in their performances, and while Catherine O’Hara is the shining star of the cast, everyone, from the Rose family to the townsfolk, does a great job bringing life to their characters. What I like best about this show is that while the Rose family is absolutely out of touch and in a lot of ways incredibly selfish, they are also super, super endearing and relatable, and because of this the show is pretty darn feel good.

the_wicker_man_281973_film29_uk_posterFilm: “The Wicker Man” (1973)

I feel like a lot of people are talking about “Midsommer” right now, and while I will probably see it at some point I was more inclined to revisit the original “Wicker Man”. Both are folk horror, both have strange nature-y cults, but only “The Wicker Man” has Christopher Lee looking like he’s in full Cher cosplay. It’s the story of deeply religious Sergeant Howie, who is called to the isolated island community of Summerisle after he’s been tipped off about a missing girl. When he gets there he finds a strange town inhabited by carefree, albeit odd, pagans, who are getting ready for their annual May Day Celebration. As Howie searches for the missing girl, he starts to question how much the town knows about her disappearance. I’ve loved this movie since I saw it in college, and had the opportunity to see it on the big screen at the local Alamo Drafthouse. It’s still freaking amazing, y’all. No bees to be seen. If you are a horror fan and have yet to see it, you need to go out and do so ASAP, as the plot is still creepy and the ending is still genuinely upsetting.

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