Not Just Books: August 2020

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

mv5byjk0mtgzmmqtzmy2my00nme5lwexngutyjzknta3zdkymtjixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkxnjuynq4040._v1_uy268_cr00182268_al_Movie: “Palm Springs”

I’m a sucker for “Groundhogs Day” type stories, so this was movie was sure to appeal with its premise of two people caught up in a time loop at a wedding. The fact that it’s at a wedding makes it all the better, for, other than a few exceptions, weddings are often really crazy things. Some people are at their best, sure, but many others are often at their worst. So add in two messed up individuals who have literally nothing to lose and some pretty funny stuff is on hand. The movie also introduced a few different concepts that I hadn’t seen before in time loop stories, so that made it fun. There were moments where it erred a bit too far into the “stupid comedy” that I don’t usually like, but for the most part, it was a really funny, enjoyable time.

mv5bnza5mjkwyzmtngy2ms00ywrjlthkntktotnmmzdlzje3y2ixxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjkwmzmxodg40._v1_uy268_cr00182268_al_Netflix Show: “The Umbrella Academy” Season 2

This is one of those rare beasts where I think I ended up liking the second season even better than the first! I mean, the first was so wackadoo that it took a bit to really settle into what it was trying to be. This time, you’re prepared for all the ridiculousness and great soundtrack. Add in a new time period of the 1960s, a new set of Swedish assassins, and all of the usual family drama in a family made up of superheroes with serious daddy issues, and you’re in for a romp! I still think Ellen Page is probably the weakest link in this show, which is too bad because she also gets top billing. But overall, the cast is really great and all have excellent chemistry. Like the first season, though, it does end on a cliffhanger and as of now, there’s no word on whether Netflix has renewed it for a third season. Don’t you dare, Netflix…

mv5bntc1ytexn2ytzwq2ms00mwqzltkwmwqtmdy3odexndm2mgqwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzu3mtc5ote40._v1_uy268_cr40182268_al_TV Show: “Alone”

During a daze of post-long-day-with-a-toddler TV browsing, my husband and I found the 6th season of this survival reality show on TV. I think we both went into it fully expecting to mock the crap out of it for an episode or two and then turn it off never to be thought of again. Several days later…we’ve pretty much gone through the entire season and are on the lookout for ways to get our hands on the earlier seasons (side note: it’s so weird how Netflix randomly gets late seasons of shows like this instead of the first one, ugh). Both my husband and I love camping and consider ourselves fairly knowledgeable about the outdoors, but what makes this show fun is how clearly well-versed the contestants are in survival tactics. Unlike “Survivor,” this show really is only about people alone in the wilderness having to get by. You absolutely HAVE to know how to hunt/snare/fish and build a really good shelter. Plus, film yourself while doing it, since there are no camera people out there. If you like survival shows, this is definitely a fun one. Warning: there’s lots of hunting, so be prepared for that.

Kate’s Picks

mv5bmdllmwrjnwmtm2u3ny00yjawltlhntgtothjztc2ymi2zmrmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyodkzntgxmdg40._v1_TV Show: “Perry Mason”

Am I familiar with the original “Perry Mason” stories of yesteryear with Raymond Burr as the relentless and successful lawyer? Nope! Am I familiar with the fact that Matthew Rhys is a hottie and I also like courtroom dramas? Hell yes! My parents were the ones who told me to give the new “Perry Mason” on HBO a look, and boy am I glad I did. While some people think that the idea of giving Mason a gritty reboot was a bit silly, given that I have no reference point for the mythos it worked out just fine for me. Mason is working as a Private Detective in 1930s Los Angeles, and his friend, lawyer E.B. Jonathan (played by John Lithgow) hires him to help on the case of a kidnapped baby who ended up dead. As Mason investigates, he also has to deal with his own personal demons that have been brought on because of his time in WWI. As Mason digs, he finds connections to the local police, the wealthy grandfather, and an Evangelical Church, headed by a woman preacher named Alice who swears she can work miracles. To sweeten the deal of this show, Tatiana Maslany plays Alice, and boy oh boy is she excellent. This is a dark take on the classic character, but I, for one, was hooked.

220px-eurovision_song_contest-_the_story_of_fire_saga_posterNetflix Film: “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”

Sometimes you just need a fun, goofy, lighthearted movie to lift your spirits. And when my husband and I decided to give “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” a shot, we were very happy to realize that it was just what we needed. This earnest and cute comedy follows Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), two Icelandic musicians who have dreams of performing in Eurovision. When a twist of fate gets them a spot in the competition, their dreams are just within reach… but Lars’s desperate need to win makes him blind to Sigrit’s feelings for him. Ferrell is back to his classic comedic act, but it’s McAdams who really shines by bringing goofy charm, and some genuine pathos, to Sigrit. Plus, the music is awesome, AND look for Dan Stevens as a flamboyant Russian contestant who may be getting between Lars and Sigrit. If you want fluff with great music, check this one out!mv5bm2jiyzq0otatzjzhmy00mjixltgzmmitmdaxn2jhnzbmmjzmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymdm2ndm2mq4040._v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_

TV Show: “Why Women Kill”

Some of my fondest memories from college were when my friends Tom and Prerna would come over on Sundays to watch “Desperate Housewives” so we could get our trashy TV on. While the show eventually fell out of my favor (the time jump is where I can pinpoint it all going wrong), I did miss guilty pleasure TV. Well lucky for me, Marc Cherry has a new trashy show on CBS All Access called “Why Women Kill”! It follows three couples, all who live in the same house in different decades, and the secrets they keep, the lies they tell, and the eventual murders that one of the members of each couple may commit. While all of them have interesting storylines, it is Lucy Liu’s Simone whose story I love the most. In the 1980s she is the spoiled and sarcastic wife of a wealthy man…. and it turns out that he’s gay. Seeing her maneuver the secret along with trying to feel desirable again is quite fun… especially since she and Jack Davenport, who plays husband Karl, have delightfully bitchy banter. Soapy sudsy dialogue and an addictive mystery, it’s at the level “Desperate Housewives” was when it was at its best.

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