Not Just Books: March 2021

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

Documentary: “Murder Among the Mormons”

What can I say, sometimes I can definitely get on board Kate’s “true crime” binge fest! And apparently by bent leans towards…bombers? But more than the bombings themselves, this documentary explores the crazy world of the Mormon church and its ongoing reckoning with its own history. As a relatively new religion, the search for primary objects from the early days of the church is a profitable business, indeed. But what happens when the best of these profiteers may not be what he seems? I had never heard anything about this particular story, so it was incredibly interesting seeing how these events unfolded. Like I said, the bombings themselves are almost the least interesting aspect of the entire affair! If you enjoy true crime documentaries and want an inside look at some of the workings of the Mormon church, definitely check this one out!

Movie: “The Disaster Artist”

Apparently this was the month where I decided to just, I don’t know, become Kate?? She watched this movie right around when it came out and highlighted it then. For whatever reason, it took me until now to get on this bandwagon. I’d never actually seen “The Room,” but like everyone else, it seems, I knew a decent amount about it and could quote all of the pop-culturally required scenes. But man, what a whacky story it was watching it play out in this film! The Franco brothers are each incredible in bringing these two characters to life. I almost have to give more credit to Dave Franco for expertly playing the more straightforward of the two while bouncing off all the craziness that James Franco was bringing to his version of Tommy. It would be really easy to be lost in the background behind all of that, but Dave Franco does a great job of portraying why his character would tolerate and go along with some of Tommy’s more crazy plans. I really enjoyed this movie, though by the end, I still felt as confused as ever about how any of this actually happened in real life. But that’s probably the point!

Netflix Series: “Maniac”

Lastly, my husband and I just finished this series on Netflix. I’m…not even sure how to explain it? I think the best way to put it was as my husband said: it’s essentially “Inception” but on acid. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone really show their acting chops in this twisty, alternative reality that explores mental illness and grief. They each play a variety of different characters throughout, and Stone’s accent work is particularly impressive. I was confused about 90% of the time and still feel like I was missing some of the metaphors and parallels throughout. But it was still a great show to watch over a week (can’t have too many breaks between episodes or the confusion just escalates!). Fans of strange, sci-fi-y stories who like darker themes to their entertainment should definitely check it out.

Kate’s Picks

Film: “Freaky”

Given how much I love the “Happy Death Day” movies, when I heard that Blumhouse was releasing another horror comedy from the same director, I was automatically interested. This month I finally watched “Freaky”, a horror movie that’s part slasher gore fest, part “Freaky Friday” shenanigans. When an awkward teenage girl named Millie is attacked and stabbed by a notorious serial killer called the Blissfield Butcher, her escape is nothing short of a miracle. But the next morning, when she wakes up, she is in her attacker’s body! And on the flip side, the Butcher wakes up in her body. Now Millie, in the body of a hulking, wanted killer, has to figure out how to switch their bodies back before it’s permanent. And the Butcher is having fun in an innocent looking body to wreak havoc in (but also dealing with the misogyny that teenage girls have to face). It’s hilarious and gory, and not only is Vince Vaughn on point, Kathryn Newton is both relatable AND terrifying in her performances.

Podcast: “Some Place Under Neith”

I’ve been trying to expand my podcast listening beyond the general two that I religiously listen to. So when there was an advertisement for “Some Place Under Neith”, a new missing women podcast, before one of the old reliables, I was very interested to check it out. This brand new show (like only a couple eps have dropped thus far) that has a focus on women who have straight up gone missing and/or haven’t been seen in years. The circumstances can range from potential kidnappings, to off the grid activity, to cults or extremist sects (the first couple of episodes have focused on Scientology and Shelly Miscavige. Hosts Natalie Jean and Amber Nelson strike a good balance of wry comedy and genuine respect and concern for the potential victims, and make the content very easy to connect to. I’m very excited to see where this series goes and what stories it tells.

TV Show: “It’s a Sin”

If you want to be completely devastated by a mini series that is incredibly relevant, look no further than “It’s A Sin”, a show that kicked me in the emotions repeatedly. And repeatedly. And repeatedly. It’s the newest work by Russell T. Davies, the creator of “Queer as Folk”, and it is by far one of the best mini series I’ve seen in awhile. Taking place in London over a span of the early 1980s to the early 1990s, it follows a group of friends, many of them gay men, who are just starting to live their dreams as the AIDS pandemic starts to take hold. As those around them get sick, the denial, government negligence, misinformation, and bigotry makes facing reality hard for many of them. Until it’s too late. It’s stark, it’s emotional, and it is absolutely devastating. It is must watch TV that has amazing performances, nuanced characters, and ever relevant messages. And I spent the majority of it sobbing uncontrollably. So not exactly light viewing. But necessary viewing nonetheless.

4 thoughts on “Not Just Books: March 2021”

    1. Yeah, I need to check out “The Room” soon! I was super impressed, though, by the credits scenes where they matched the scenes from the original one with the versions in “The Disaster Artist.” The actor who played Lisa had it down pat! Like, the timing, inflection, everything was perfect. It was really neat. – S

      Liked by 1 person

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