Not Just Books: May 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

Netflix Show: “Bridgerton” (season 2)

While I enjoyed the first season of “Bridgerton” well enough, I wasn’t head over heels in love with it like some other fans. To be fair, the first book in the “Bridgerton” series wasn’t my favorite to start with, so the show had an upwards battle to begin with. Combine that fact with the fact that the second book was one of my favorites in the series, I was very nervous going into this second season. What if they ruined one of my favorite couples in the series?? What if they messed up Kate, one of the best heroines in the series?? Thankfully, they nailed it! I mean, on one hand, that should have been more of a given seeing as I think this love story was more translatable to modern audiences than the other. But they also seemed to re-focus the story on the sort of romance that most historical romance fans expect to see. Where all the tension builds in the ball scenes, where the briefest flick of a finger towards one another is as hot as any more graphic scene, where the first kiss is delayed until the 6th episode, believe it or not! Honestly, I loved this season and will likely rewatch it again soon.

Disney+ Show: “What If…?”

For all that I enjoy comic book movies (though my preferred DC characters have been sadly done badly by recently), I rarely watch any of the animated shows or movies. I made an exception for “Into the Spiderverse” of course because by all accounts that was…exceptional. But I’m also hoping to go see the new Dr. Strange movie soon and I had heard that a dedicated viewer would be served well by watching this show before that. So, here we are! I will say, I enjoyed it more than I was expecting, especially at first. When they say “what if” they really mean it. There are some truly, truly bizarre versions of these stories and characters. But then the show made an unexpected turn towards the final third which really pulled it all together in a way that I wasn’t anticipating. Fans of the Marvel series, and especially fans of animated comics, should definitely check this one out!

Movie: “Operation Mincemeat”

My husband and I pretty much ended up watching this because the preview was the first thing that popped up on Netflix when we logged in. So, I guess props to their algorithm this time? The story is of a British spy operation that set out to mislead the German army during WWII. To do so, they set up an elaborate ploy using a washed up body to deliver false information. It was a really interesting story, and definitely one of those true stories that is hard to believe was real until it’s fully confirmed with the follow-up facts right before the credits role. There are also a bunch of well-known British actors involved, so the quality was high all around. Definitely check it out if you’re interested in historical movies.

Kate’s Picks

Film: “X”

I made a whole night of sitting down to watch “X”, the slasher homage art house horror movie from A24. My husband was out of town, so I put the kid to bed, ordered in a whole lot of Indian food, and settled in. I had been looking forward to “X”, and it did not disappoint. It’s 1980, and a crew of pornographic filmmakers and actors go on location in rural Texas in hopes of making a great adult film that brings artistic flair to the genre. They are using a shed and guest house that belongs to an elderly couple, who don’t know what the crew’s intentions are. Until the wife observes just what it is they are filming. From there, things get twisted, violent, and really really creepy. “X” has a lot of love and references for the grind house slashers of the day, with a lot of nods to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and the entire feel of it just oozes nostalgia while creating something that feels fairly modern in its sensibility. I especially liked Mia Goth as Maxine, the lead actress who has dreams of stardom, but fears that it’s just out of reach. As well as her turn in another less obvious role. Ti West always has some creative horror perspectives, and “X” was no exception.

TV Show: “The Flight Attendant”

I had thought that Season One of the HBOMax show “The Flight Attendant” was a standalone series, as there was only one book it was based upon and it wrapped up pretty well (outside of Rosie Perez’s character Megan going on the lam after inadvertently giving U.S. secrets to North Korea… oops). So when it was announced there would be a second season, I was a little skeptical, thinking there wasn’t much else that could be explored in Cassie’s life, post nearly being murdered after getting caught up in an international murder. But I was wrong! In Season 2, Cassie has tried to get her act together: she has moved to L.A., has a new boyfriend, and prides herself on being one year sober. She’s also now an asset for the CIA thanks to fellow flight attendant/CIA agent Shane. But when she witnesses a murder, and the murderer seems to be trying to take on her appearance, her precariously placed new life starts to unravel. Kaley Cuoco is still hilarious but heartbreaking as perpetual mess Cassie, and it’s great seeing Zosia Mamet back as her acerbic best friend Annie. The new plot is just as compelling as Season One, and Cuoco is given even more emotional meat to chew on. I’m hooked again.

TV Show: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

After not being as into Season 3 of this charming show, I wasn’t in a rush to start Season 4. But my husband, after waiting a month or so, was insistent we put it in the media rotation. I’m happy to report that “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has once again risen in quality, perhaps not as high as the first season, but certainly to levels I was happy about! Fresh off of being fired from a world tour with singer Shy Baldwin (I still contend she deserved it and the show probably needed to make it clear she deserved it), Midge and Susie are back to square one, and Midge decides she wants to stop being an opener and start headlining. Taking a job at an illegal burlesque show is clearly the jumping off point she’s looking for! I thought Midge got some good growth this season, I liked seeing more emotional sides to Susie, and Tony Shaloub continues to shine as Midge’s constantly exasperated father Abe. This season his leftist past is a bit more explored as he writes for the Village Voice and he may reveal too much about some of the things he participated in. Next season is the last season, and they’ve set up some interesting final storylines. Hopefully it’s not too long of a wait!

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