Not Just Books: November 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

Amazon Prime Show: “The Rings of Power”

It took me a bit to get around to this show (I won’t lie, I was a bit concerned about the ambition of this project and also the fact that nothing can live up to Peter Jackson’s original three movies), but I’m really glad I finally did! Sure, I can nitpick on changes (one, in particular, kind of made me chuckle), but overall, I think it was a very enjoyable show. I thought it did very well capturing the same general tone as the original trilogy, especially with the emphasis on beautiful locations and an excellent score. The acting was all solid as well. There were a few storylines that I definitely cared less about than others, but nothing I actively disliked, and a lot that I really enjoyed!

Movie: “Don’t Worry Darling”

My husband almost talked me out of this one on movie night, listing all of the drama that went on on set and with the changes to casting. But I’ve also really loved Florence Pugh in everything I’ve seen her in, so I persevered. And I’m glad I did! I did think a few aspects of the plot were pretty familiar, but, like I said, Florence Pugh really carried it with her excellent portrayal of a young woman who begins to question her world and fear she is losing her mind. The music in this one was also very strange, which added to the building sense of unease and creepiness of the entire situation. While it’s covering a lot of familiar ground, there were a few notable deviations from previous stories of this kind. Overall, I really liked it!

Sports: Fifa World Cup 2022

Both Kate’s and my husband are very, very into soccer. We’re talking season tickets, front row seats for our local club sorts of “into” soccer. So, needless to say, soccer has been on my TV practically nonstop for the last week. Luckily, I enjoy most sports well enough, so I’ve not minded. Yes, I do find it harder to get invested in the outcome of, say, Japan vs. Costa Rica. But I also watched the abysmal performance of the US men’s team when they failed to qualify four years ago, so it’s been great watching them finally play on the world stage! And the big one is tomorrow! I have to admit, I am a bit stressed about it!

Kate’s Pick

TV Show: “Welcome to Chippendales”

This was one of my most anticipated shows of the Fall, which is probably not surprising to anyone who knows me. I mean, come on: true crime! Salacious scandal! 80s tackiness! SEEDINESS GALORE! I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the dark history of male dancer organization Chippendales, and this show is making it intriguing and trashy and you KNOW I was watching it while making food for Thanksgiving. Kumail Nanjiani plays Somen “Steve” Banerjee, an immigrant to America with dreams of making it big. He opens up the Chippendales club, a strip joint with male dancers, and thanks to his drive and the dance numbers choreographed by the flamboyant Nick de Noia it is a HUGE success. But with success comes greed and vice, and as Banerjee and de Noia butt heads, violence follows. I think Nanjiani is fantastic as Banerjee, Murray Bartlett is a stupendous de Noia, and I LOVE Juliette Lewis as brassy costume designer Denise. Also, look out for Dan Stevens, whose name in the credits made me go ‘oh!’ with anticipation… and then ‘oh no’ when I saw he was playing Paul Snider. If you know, you know.

TV Show: “Criminal Minds: Evolution”

A couple years ago I very belatedly got into “Criminal Minds” when it was available for streaming on Netflix. I didn’t do the whole run as the cast turnover started to get aggravating, but I liked it for what it was. When I saw that they had a reboot in the works, I was VERY interested, as a lot of the original cast was game to come back, and during some downtime during the holiday weekend I sat down and started it. It did not disappoint. The BAU is back, and continues to look into violent crimes and cases by serial killers or those who are budding to become serial killers. But when they find a strange connection between seemingly unrelated cases across the country, they start to realize that, due to isolation during the pandemic’s early days, a network of killers found each other online to swap tips. And now they have to try and bring down the ringleader. I’m very happy to see the likes of Prentiss and Garcia on my screen again, and I am very interested to see how this all unfolds.

Film: “The Menu”

Flashback: March 2020. I went to see “Emma” starring Anya Taylor-Joy at the local Alamo Drafthouse. Little did I know it would be the last movie I’d see in theaters for almost three years. But Thanksgiving weekend my husband said ‘I know you’re still nervous, but there’s this weird movie I’ve been hearing about that I think we should go see if you are comfortable’. And I decided that, mask and full vaccination record in tow, it was time. So I returned to the movie theater, seeing “The Menu” starring Anya Taylor-Joy at the local Alamo Drafthouse. It follows a young couple who are partaking in an exclusive foodie experience on a remote island with one of the world’s most touted chefs running the dinner. And as the courses keep coming, it becomes more and more clear that this isn’t any old dinner service, but the premise for something far darker. I REALLY enjoyed this horror-black comedy, as it’s a great send up of snooty foodie elitism combined with a slow burn dread. Taylor-Joy is great, of course, but Ralph Fiennes really stands out as the prodigious, albeit unhinged, chef.

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