Not Just Books: May 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

TV Show: “Victoria”

My love for romantic period pieces is ever-lasting. However, I had been long resisting checking this one out because, well, obviously the ending isn’t super happy. But in a moment of weakness, it being too long since my last period piece indulgence, I finally started it up a few weeks ago. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since! This is a beautiful show full of all the period touches that lovers of this genre look for. Gorgeous costumes! Excellent dialogue! Romance summed up in tension-filled dance sequences! It’s also gotten me down a number of historical rabbit holes as I’ve researched the real-life events the show incorporates. But I’ve still promised myself that I’m going to preview upcoming seasons/episodes so that I can “nope” right on out of there before getting to, you know…that part. Don’t judge me!

Amazon Show: “The World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji”

So, apparently this was a show from super early in the reality tv era, back in the 90s in fact! But these types of extreme races have taken place continuously since then and Amazon wisely read the room on reality competition shows and revived it. I had never heard of adventure racing before this, but man, it’s crazy. Essentially, teams of racers have to cover a massive course and have time limits on reaching certain mileposts along the way. I’m talking hundreds of miles over crazy terrain (hiking, biking, swimming, etc.) covered in a few days on very little sleep. It’s truly insane watching some of these teams go. It was also really interesting seeing teams from around the world and the various cultures and approaches they all brought to the race. If you enjoy reality competition shows, this is definitely one to check out.

Movie: “Prospect”

I’m probably in the huge minority for this opinion but…other than baby Yoda, I didn’t really like “The Mandalorian.” So much so that I haven’t even bothered to watch the second season. Part of my displeasure with it was the absolute waste of Pedro Pascal as the main character. He’s such an excellent actor, and losing the ability to watch his expressive face as he portrays a character is just such a shame. So I was really excited to check out a sci-fi movie where we get to better appreciate his skill! Add to that the intriguing, tension-filled concept of an odd-couple pair trying to escape a dangerous planet in order to catch the last ship going by. The world building was really interesting and both lead performances were phenomenal. Definitely check it out if you enjoy science fiction stories.

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “The Serpent”

In a moment that feels classic to my mother’s and my relationship, she texted me asking if I was going to watch “The Serpent” on Netflix because it sounded like I’d like it but would be ‘too dark for her’. I immediately looked it up, and on my viewing list it went. Surprisingly to me, I had never heard of French serial killer Charles Sobraj, who murdered backpackers in South Asia along the Hippie Trail. “The Serpent” is a dramatized mini-series about Sobraj, and the Dutch Embassy investigator Herman Knippenberg who is on his trail after two Dutch tourists go missing while in Thailand. Tahar Rahim plays Sobraj with cool malevolence, his demeanor incredibly calm as he does terrible things. But honestly, it was Jenna Coleman who really shined, as she plays Marie-Andree, the wife of Sobraj who is complicit in his crimes after falling madly in love with the killer and the lavish lifestyle he uses to lure in his victims. It’s suspenseful, disturbing, and addictive as we watch Sobraj kill, and Knippenberg pursue.

Film: “Nobody”

I have loved Bob Odenkirk since his time as Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad”. I’ve also had a not so subtle crush on him since about that time as well, which a few people have informed me is strange. So when the trailer dropped for “Nobody”, in which Odenkirk plays a former hitman and kicks a whole lot of ass and looks good while doing so, I pretty much yelled from the rooftops “WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, HUH?!” In “Nobody”, Odenkirk plays Hutch, a retired ‘auditor’ whose profession had taken out incredibly dangerous people that the Government couldn’t get otherwise. His retirement has made him feel soft and inadequate, and after his house is robbed and he doesn’t act, his frustration gets taken out on bad men with bad connections. Now Hutch has to save his family from an eccentric Russian mobster who loves karaoke. It’s a whole lot of fun, over the top, and Odenkirk looks damn good and puts in a fun performance.

Video Game: “New Pokémon Snap”

If it’s a new Pokémon game, I’m going to be on board, as relaxation and cuteness are two things that I like to indulge in from time to time. And this past month I was dealing with some frustrating medical issues (nothing dangerous, just inconvenient) that made me really want to be able to relax and relieve any kind of tension I was feeling. So I got myself “New Pokémon Snap”! Like the original game on the N64, the basic premise is that you go around taking pictures of Pokémon, and the better or more interesting the shot, the more points you get. Given that the original game only had the original 150, and this new game has ALL of them up until this point, this has a lot of potential for novelty (especially since I am not as familiar with a good chunk of the newer Pokes). It’s cute and chill and low stakes, and I love taking pictures of all these cute critters!

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