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!
Hulu Movie: “Rosaline”
This is not a particularly vibrant period of time for the romantic comedy. Sure, there have been a few hits here and there, but I grew up in the 90s where you could count out at least 3-5 brand new, very fun romantic comedies every summer, many of which I still re-watch. So my expectations weren’t high when I clicked on this movie (particularly after watching that absolute atrocity that was Netflix’s “Persuasion”…) But I thought this movie worked, especially in ways that “Persuasion” didn’t. There was a really nice mixture of modern language and sensibilities with the classic lines and story of the “Romeo and Juliet.” Much of it probably comes down to the fact that Kaitlyn Dever’s “Rosaline” is incredibly funny and likable. The story was also told in what felt like a very fresh way, from the perspective of a character who doesn’t even appear on the page of the original story. It’s funny, the love story is sweet, and it’s a perfect example of the type of romantic comedy that you just don’t see much of anymore.
TV Show: “Hell’s Kitchen”
My boys are at a rough age (3 and 2) and I spend waaaay too much of my time corralling little crazy-pants tyrants and, more often than I would like, losing my patience with them. So, I find it strangely gratifying to watch a show largely centered around Gordon Ramsey losing his mind over raw chicken and yelling at a bunch of chefs. There’s really not much more to my enjoyment of this show, honestly. I do like reality cooking shows, but this one rates fairly low, it seems, on actual creativity and skills with cooking and focuses more on the dynamics of a restaurant kitchen. Yeaaaah, no, it’s all about the yelling.
Video Game: “The Quarry”
This could technically be a shared one for both Kate and myself since we’re playing it together, but it was my idea so I’ll take the claim! We both like video games (though we also both get to them less often than we used to cuz…you know…toddlers) so it was about time that we joined our powers together! Plus, this one looked like it could be creepy, and I needed external support from my horror-loving friend to get me through it. We may (may!) be on our second play through due to a VERY poorly timed glitch in my controller, but we still haven’t got to the end even once to see how (or if) these poor teens get out of this death camp.
Film: “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”
I really liked the short story “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” in the Stephen King collection “If It Bleeds”, as I found it to be a story that felt like vintage King in its creepiness and its heart. And when I saw that there was a movie adaptation with Donald Sutherland as Mr. Harrigan, well, that was just fantastic news to me. I watched it during a virtual Terror Tuesday movie night with the usual suspects, and oh man. Was it an enjoyable viewing. Craig is a somewhat lonely teenage boy who is hired by local reclusive billionaire Mr. Harrigan to act as a reader to the elderly man during the afternoons after school. They strike up a friendship, which leads to Craig showing Mr. Harrigan how to use a smartphone. After Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig is devastated, and when he has a run in with a bully, he calls Mr. Harrigan’s phone to vent on his voicemail, missing his friend and his advice. When the bully ends up dead, Craig starts to wonder if maybe Mr. Harrigan isn’t really gone. True, it has its scary moments, but it’s really the emotional performances by Sutherland and Jaeden Martell that drive this movie. All of us Terror Tuesday people were crying by the end.
Film: “Halloween Ends”
Back in 2018 I saw the reboot/requel movie “Halloween”, where they erased basically all other “Halloween” canon after the first Carpenter film and started a new trilogy with Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role of Laurie Strode. I really liked “Halloween 2018”. I didn’t really like “Halloween Kills”, the sequel. I was on the fence about “Halloween Ends”, but when I saw people talking about how polarizing it was, I knew that I should give it a go. And I ended up really enjoying it. Laurie is trying to move on from Michael Myers. After he rampaged through Haddonfield and murdered her daughter Karen, his disappeared. Now Laurie and grand daughter Ally are trying to keep moving forward. But when Ally starts to get close to a local misfit named Corey, and Corey starts acting strange, Laurie thinks something is up. And someone is waiting in the sewers of Haddonfield, biding his time… This movie takes a huge shift that is, admittedly, jarring, so I can see why some people are frustrated. But I thought that it was a bold choice, and that it looks more about the traumas of not only one person, but that of a community, and how that trauma can cause a rot. I really enjoyed it.
TV Show: “The Midnight Club”
Okay, so I wasn’t a Christopher Pike reader back when I was a child consuming horror. I was an R.L. Stine girl, man, I had my loyalties! But I am, right now, a Mike Flanagan person, and I knew that I was going to devour his newest mini-series, “The Midnight Club”. Based on Christopher Pike’s YA horror novels from the 1990s, this is the story of Ilonka, a teenager girl who is about to go to Stanford… but is then diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As she researches her condition, she finds out about Brightcliffe Home, a hospice home for teens with cancer, in which a teenage girl in the 1960s attended, and mysteriously went into remission after being lost in the woods. When Ilonka gets there she joins The Midnight Club, where the teens get together late at night to tell ghost stories. And then strange things begin happening. Flanagan once again masters the scares and the emotional aspects of this story, and the cast is great. And while the teen characters are all wonderful (my favorite is Ruth Codd’s angry Anya), the slasher fan in me was more amped about Heather “Nightmare on Elm Street” Langenkamp as the doctor in charge. Also it takes place in the 90s, so NOSTALGIA ALERT!