Not Just Books: March 2022

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

HBO Show: “Station Eleven”

I know Kate has read this book, but somehow I never got around to it. For one thing, I know I have a limited ability to read post-apocalypic fiction; if I read too much of it within too short of a time span, I just get depressed about humanity. I blame “The Road,” the most grim of all grim stories. So I went into this mini series a bit wary. But low and behold, I really enjoyed it! I do thing there were some fairly large plot holes regarding the villain of the story, but I loved the main character’s arch. The story jumps back and forth in time, and I think this style worked really well in tying together a lot of disparate storylines that came together in very cool ways throughout the series. I definitely recommend this one to fans of post-apocalyptic stories, especially those looking for stories with a bit more hope at the center of the story.

Netflix Show: “After Life”

Apparently, I was in a grim mood this month (though, like I said, “Station Eleven” was more hopeful than I had predicted it would be when I started it). This one, however, the story of a man grieving the loss of his wife, was definitely pretty dark at times. There ultimately, again, a message of hope at the end. But the story went into some pretty shockingly dark places before it got to that point. It was an odd mix of laughing out loud one second and being extremely uncomfortable the next. There’s a second season out for this show, but even with the hopeful ending, I still think I need a breather before getting to it. This was a great show, but people should definitely go in knowing that the story tackles dark subjects like suicide, drug use, and some fairly nihilistic thought paths.

Movie: “Chaos Walking”

I was a huge fan of the “Chaos Walking” book series. That being the case, I was skeptical about the success of a movie based on the story. There are several elements that would be particularly hard to bring to the screen. Then the movie released and garnered a pretty large number of negative critical reviews. And that’s when my inner contrarian struck, and I felt the need to actually watch the thing. And, all in all, I really enjoyed it! I think the movie came up with a really clever way of depicting the “Noise” (men’s thoughts that are projected outward for everyone to hear). And the casting all around was excellent. They had to change quite a bit of the story, knowing that it might have to stand alone as a film without the second two parts that the books have. So that being the case, the Mayor, the most complicated and interesting character in the books, had to be reduced down quite a bit and dealt with in a different way. That said, I still liked what they managed to do with him. Plus, Tom Holland’s sheer charm and charisma is enough to carry almost any movie for me at this point!

Kate’s Picks

Film: “Scream (2022)”

1996’s “Scream” was my foray into slasher movies, as I know that I saw that in middle school before I dipped my toes into the “Halloween”s, “Friday the 13th”s, and “Nightmare on Elm Street”s of the world. “Scream” remains one of my favorite horror movies. I even mostly like or at least appreciate all the sequels! When they announced that a fifth movie was coming out, I was hopeful but nervous. After all, it had been awhile, and we’d left the Golden Trio of Sidney Prescott, Dewey Riley, and Gale Weathers alive and well. But my horror movie club finally sat down to virtually watch “Scream 2022” (or “Scream 5” or “5cream”) after a few of us had passed on the theater experience due to Omicron…. And it was so damn fun! Set about twenty five years after the first movie, a new Ghostface has started targeting the teens of Woodsboro, the victims having some connection to the original killers and their friend group. When Samantha’s sister Tara is attacked, Samantha reaches out to Dewey for help in hopes of stopping the killer. And Dewey, in turn, reaches out to Gale and Sidney, who come back to town for one more showdown. With sly nods to the original, more subversions of the genre, and a really likable cast, I thought that “Scream 2022” was a good new installment!

Film: “The Runaways”

My love for punk music started in high school, my Discman having a healthy rotation of Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, Patti Smith, and others at the ready. One of those bands was The Runaways, the teenage girl punk group that launched the careers of the likes of Joan Jett, Lita Ford, and Cherie Currie. But oddly enough I had never seen the biopic “The Runaways”, which centers on Jett and Currie, and how the band rose and crashed. That is, until this month! And while I knew pretty much all the facts that it covered, it was still a really enjoyable, if at times difficult, watch. When teenage Joan Jett forms an all girls band called The Runaways, their manager Kim Fowley recruits Cherie Currie to be the lead singer. As the girls become popular and start touring, drugs, mayhem, and Fowley’s manipulations and exploitation starts to take tolls on all the girls, Currie in particular. Dakota Fanning is good as the unstable Currie, Kristen Stewart was BORN to play Joan Jett, and Michael Shannon brings the right levels of disgusting sleaziness and eccentricity to their piece of shit manager Fowley (I mean, after all, this is the guy who thought it was a GREAT idea to sexualize fifteen year old girls for profit). And the music, of course, rocks.

TV Show: “The Righteous Gemstones”

I’m always up for some good satire that takes on and takes down the hypocritical machinations of zealous religious organizations and the people who run them, so I don’t know why it took me so long to watch “The Righteous Gemstones”. Especially since I have a deep deep affection for John Goodman (it’s a damned crime that man has never even been NOMINATED for an Oscar!). But I finally started it this month, and hoo boy, it’s hilarious. It follows the Gemstones, a family of televangelists who have created an empire based on fire and brimstone theatrics. Goodman is Eli, the aging patriarch, whose adult kids are all aching for the fame and fortune that he has created as he mourns the death of his wife. But when oldest son Jesse (played perfectly obnoxiously by Danny McBride, who also wrote the show) finds himself the subject of blackmail, he enlists sister Judy and brother Kelvin to help keep the Gemstones family getting the money and attention they have become accustomed to. Every character is awful (outside of Keefe, a former Satanist who was ‘saved’ by Kelvin and is now his bestie), but all the actors play their roles VERY well. And the dark humor and take down of religious grifters is great! Oh and I have a not so tiny thing for Walton Goggins and he’s in it too, so bonus!

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