Not Just Books: November 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:

Movie: “The Aeronauts”

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary recently, and so we were looking for a good movie to watch on our “date night” at home (damn you Covid). This was one that I’d on my list for a while, and it seemed like a good fit. Inspired by a true story, it’s the tale of a scientist and an aeronaut who set out to study the patterns of the weather and attempt to rise to the highest elevation achieved in a balloon at the time. Of course, things don’t go to plan, and I can testify to this being a bit more stressful than I had anticipated. But it was also beautiful to look at an Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne are excellent in everything they’re in. It’s a lovely little movie, and one I highly recommend.

Netflix Show: “Away”

I really like movies and shows about space. They can be pretty hit and miss, but the ones that are good are often very good. This made it a no-brainer for me to check out “Away” when it dropped on Netflix. Telling the story of a group of astronauts setting off on the first mission to Mars, the show is a gripping tale of family, exploration, and the struggles we all bring with us, even out into space. The acting was all solid, and I really enjoyed Hillary Swank’s performance. Some of the space stuff…was, eh. I feel like there were times where the show definitely veered into the unnecessarily dramatic. Real astronauts are incredibly professional and put that above almost everything. Some of the early events of this show definitely had me raising my eyebrows. But, hey, it’s still a space show, so I enjoyed it overall.

TV Show: “Documentary Now!”

My husband and I are becoming more and more pathetic on our general bedtime. We can blame the kids, age, whatever, but it’s still a fact. It’s gotten to the point that if it’s even close to 9, we feel hesitant about starting up another 40-60 minute episode of whatever show we’re watching. But we also don’t want to be in bed before 9! What to do? Start watching a 20 minute parody show of course! I hadn’t heard of this show before, but Aaron had. It’s basically mocking our current obsession with documentaries and the different ways they’re filmed. We’ve only watched a handful at this point, but they’re pretty good. If you’ve seen the original documentary or documentary series that a particular episode is mocking, it’s all the better. I’ve particularly enjoyed the one about professional bowling and the one about a famous chef who is know for his beans and rice. If you’re looking for a way for fill 20 minutes or so, this is definitely worth checking out!

Kate’s Picks:

Video Game: “Blair Witch”

As someone who is a huge, HUGE fan of “The Blair Witch Project”, when I heard that they were coming out with a video game called “Blair Witch” I was super interested. Unfortunately it was right around the time I had my kid, and I didn’t have much time for video games. But this past Halloween season I was reminded that I still hadn’t tried this game, so I got it for my Switch. You play as Ellis, a man suffering from PTSD who is in a not so good place, and who joins a search party for a missing boy in the woods outside Burkitsville. Using your dog Bullet and various items, you find clues about the missing boy… but as the game goes on, you find yourself lost in the woods hunted by something. I wasn’t able to REALLY pick it up and concentrate until recently, and boy oh boy is it freaky.

Disney+ Show: “The Mandalorian”

If you asked me if I was a “Star Wars” fan, I’d probably say ‘kinda’. I like the original trilogy, as well as a few of the (previously canon and now non-canon) Expanded Universe books. I also don’t really like Westerns. So because of those, I held off on “The Mandalorian” for awhile, and now I’m regretting not diving in sooner. A nameless Mandalorian (bounty hunter group that Boba Fett belonged to as well) has adventures in bounty hunting across the galaxy, and after rescuing a baby from Yoda’s species (or Baby Yoda as he is called) he has found a new purpose. It’s a sci-fi meets wandering gunslinger tale, and it works really, really well. I’ve always liked the Mandalorian mythology, and this show is very ‘Mad Max’ in the sense that it’s also very much about the people he helps in each episode (and soooo many guest stars!). I’m hooked. And Season 2’s premiere ended with a HUGE moment that made me gasp.

Film/TV Franchise: “The Purge”

So my anxiety was off the charts going into Election Night at the beginning of the month, and for whatever reason I decided to alleviate those anxieties by watching a bunch of “The Purge” content. I watched “The Purge” TV show Season 2, I watched “The Purge: Election Year” (on Election Night itself!), and then as we waited for counts I watched “The First Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy”. While it may look like this franchise is another foray into torture porn horror or other splatter punk genres, it is also a deeply interesting satire of American society and the violence that runs deeply within it (and those who benefit from that violence, and are the main victims of it on a systemic level). And hey. It’s not too audacious to say that I see a LOT of similarities between the New Founding Fathers of America, the evil far right party in the “Purge” universe, and the current GOP. Sorry not sorry.

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