Not Just Books: July 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: “The Umbrella Academy” Season 3

This is such a weird, weird show. And I love it so much. It’s one of those shows where you literally can’t guess what’s going to happen. And even if you try, you’re probably off by several degrees of insanity. This season, however, also really hit towards all of the feelings. The crew has been through a lot, and when they find themselves in the middle of a third apocalypse in the same number of weeks, they all react in very different ways. On top of that, the new version of the world they are existing in never had an Umbrella Academy. Instead, they have an entirely new group of powered individuals called the Sparrow Academy. And they’re not fans of our time-travelling dysfunctional family. If you like wacky shows about crazy families, this is definitely one to give a shot!

Movie: “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”

We waited until this came out on Disney+ to get to it. And while I think that some of the more crazy action sequences would have benefitted from a big screen, for the most part, I think this was the right choice. Don’t get me wrong, this was a fun movie in and of itself. But there were also some story choices that I was bewildered and disappointed to see (I’m looking at Wanda’s entire arc here). And Dr. Strange seemed often like a side character in his own movie. I’m also starting to feel a bit confused and concerned about exactly where Marvel is heading with all of these stories. I feel like every single movie I’ve seen from them recently has ended with its own, unique cliffhanger that points to a different big bad and different overarching conflict. At least with Thanos, as long-heralded and slow-coming as he was, we knew where we were headed. Now? I mean, pick any one of the five bread crumb trails, and best of luck to you! That said, Marvel fans should probably check this out, just in case this is, in fact, a precursor of things to come!

Movie: “Encanto”

I’m rather behind my Disney/Pixar watching. I haven’t seen the last several, in fact, since “Frozen 2.” But my kids listen to Pandora Disney almost every day, so I pretty much had pieced together this movie’s story purely by the ability to sing all of the songs in entirety. But on the plane ride back from ALA 2022, this came up as one of the options. Plane rides are stressful at the best of times, so I figured that that was the time for a happy Disney movie is ever there was one. And this movie was everything I expected it to be: fun, funny, and full of great music. I do have to say that I’m a bit sad to not see any romantic storylines in the last several movies that Disney has put out, and I’m bit confused by the decision. But this was still an enchanting film about family and self-acceptance and it was a great way to pass the time on the plane.

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Only Murders in the Building”

Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez are back for more Upper West Side hijinks in this darkly funny and utterly charming show about murder and secrets in a snooty apartment building. I only recently picked up the end of Season 1 (for whatever reason I fell off even though I liked it so much), and it was just in time for Season 2! I wasn’t sure how they could believably make a Season 2 happen, but they did. Picking up immediately at the end of Season 1, Bunny, former head of the Arcadia Board, was found dead in Mable’s apartment, and she, Oliver, and Charles are the prime suspects. But once they were released with a warning, they decide that not only do they need to clear their names, they now have fodder for Season 2 of their podcast! Martin, Short, and Gomez continue to have great chemistry, and the show is suspenseful, funny, and still super bittersweet when it wants to be. And the new mystery is just as intriguing as Season 1, which is a bonus!

Film: “Compulsion”

This is an entry that isn’t new to me, but it had been a LONG time since watching it. When my favorite podcast did a series on the notorious murderers Leopold and Loeb, they mentioned this film, which I had once been super into because of a adolescent fascination with the case. For the unfamiliar, they were a pair of hyperintelligent teenage killers who murdered a fourteen year old boy just to prove they could, but were caught because one dropped his glasses at the scene of the crime. A media frenzy ensued. This is an adaptation of that story, and it is pretty well done. Not only are the two killers well portrayed (Dean Stockwell is the Leopold character and he’s intense!), but Orson Welles is their attorney, who is based on progressive lawyer extraordinaire Clarence Darrow, who defended the teenagers in real life. My friend Mark and I watched this on my patio and it held up after all the years I hadn’t watched it. And Welles gives a fantastic monologue about the hypocrisy of the death penalty that is SO damn good, which is very heavily based on Darrow’s actual closing arguments.

Film: “Last Night in SoHo”

So this is kind of funny as I had been looking forward to this one, but then I heard some not so great things about it and decided to hold off. And THEN my Terror Tuesday group wanted to watch it, so I figured why not, and ended up really enjoying it! Part mystery, part horror story, part coming of age, it follows Eloise, a young fashion design student who moves from her small town to London for her studies. When she seeks out independent lodging, she rents a run down flat, and as she dreams she starts having visions of a mysterious woman named Sandie. Sandie wants to be a star, but falls into an abusive relationship and starts being pimped out. And then is perhaps murdered. Eloise wants to solve what happened to Sandie, but the visions become more disturbing and more violent as other specters start to haunt her as well. I thought that the imagery was really striking, and while Eloise was a bit of a drip I really liked Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie. It’s unnerving and posh and creepy and supremely entertaining.

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