Not Just Books: December 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

Movie: “Bullet Train”

My husband and I seem to go in strange phases where we watch a whole bunch of movies all at once that feature the same actor. Currently, we’re on a bit of a Brad Pitt binge. So it was a natural next step to check out “Bullet Train” on Netflix. And it didn’t disappoint! This is a bloody, violent, hilarious, action-packed spectacle from start to finish. Pitt is up to his usual standards, but the rest of the cast has no problem keeping up with their main star. There were also some excellent cameo appearances! Overall, this was a really fun, wacky movie. It takes a bit to figure out exactly what kind of movie you’re watching, but once you do it’s quite the ride. I’d liken it most closely to another Brad Pitt movie, “Snatch.”

Movie: “No Time to Die”

While I’m not a James Bond completist, like most of the rest of the general public, I’ve enjoyed Daniel Craig’s turn as the character. So of course eventually I had to get around to his last movie. And I really liked this one! I haven’t hated any of his Bond movies, but there have definitely been highs and lows to the series. But I think this one is pretty great all around. Good action, good character stuff, just the right amount of humor. Did I remember the love interest when she appeared on the screen? No I did not. Did I confused my Bond villains and my Mission Impossible villains for a hot minute? Yes, I did. But who cares! I got there in the end, and this was a satisfying conclusion all around. Now to wait and see who will be Bond next! I hear Henry Cavill suddenly has some time on his hands…

Movie: “Avatar: The Way of Water”

I am proud to say that my opinion of the first “Avatar” movie never changed. I thought it was a visual spectacle with a very average but inoffensive storyline (honestly, most blockbusters fall into a similar category for me). I also never jumped on the hatred bandwagon after the fact and quietly laughed at the number of people who held this opinion after viewing the original three times in the theater. All that to say, I had no problem feeling confident that this long-awaited sequel would be well worth a theater ticket, even if I didn’t have a lot of expectations on the story front. And it checked out for that! It was absolutely incredible to see this on a big screen, and I was honestly in awe of what movie magic was being used to make some of these scenes look the way they do. Yes, the story is still pretty straight-forward, but it also didn’t throw me out of the movie. If you like big, awe-inspiring movies, this is definitely one to check out in 3D at a theater.

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Wednesday”

I’m sure this was a given. While I don’t have a huge amount of nostalgia for the two “Addams Family” movies from my youth (I can’t even tell you why I didn’t obsess over these movies as a child! I like them a fair amount and they tick ALL MY BOXES!), I do love The Addams Family as pop culture figures (I kind of want to be Morticia). So of course I wanted to watch “Wednesday” when Tim Burton announced that he was making it for Netflix. In the series Wednesday has been sent to the Gothic private school for supernatural kids that her parents went to (as she was expelled from public school), and while there she finds herself caught up in a mystery surrounding a monster that is killing people in her orbit. Oh, and there may be some secrets regarding her father Gomez from his time at Nevermore Academy as well. I do like Tim Burton, and I also really like Jenna Ortega in her own right, as she has put in solid performances in “X”, “Scream 5”, and in the second season of “You”. And she was really the perfect casting for Wednesday, as she holds her own against the iconic performance by Christina Ricci while making Wednesday a new interpretation that works VERY well.

Film: “Midnight”

This one came out of nowhere, as it was a Terror Tuesday pick by a friend and I had never heard of it. But once it started, HOO BOY DID IT HAVE MY ATTENTION. Kim Kyung-mi is a Deaf woman who happens to stumble into the path of an escalating and sadistic serial killer (played by “Squid Game”‘s Wi Ha-joon), and after witnessing one of his victims she becomes a target. She and her mother spend a terror filled night playing cat and mouse as they try to escape him and his ire, as he manipulates people around him to seem harmless while these two women try to stay alive. The tension in this one is PALPABLE, and I was practically screaming by the end when it all comes to a head. It feels like “Hush”, “Wait Until Dark”, and “The Silence of the Lambs” all rolled into one, and if you are familiar with any of those you know how intense this movie is.

Film: “Violent Night”

You honestly had me at the concept of Santa Claus beating the absolute shit out of bad guys. But you throw in David Harbour, and maaaaan, I am even more game because WOOF. The plot seems pretty clear: after a girl and her family are taken hostage on Christmas Eve, she uses a toy walkie talkie her father gave her to ask Santa to save her and her loved ones. And then Santa starts kicking ass with lots of explosions and other violent nonsense, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. This was a fun theater excursion for the Terror Tuesday crew, and it certainly got me in the holiday spirit when the rest of the month has been stressful due to toddler illness and the holidays whipping everything into overdrive. Bonus points for John Leguizamo.

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