Not Just Books: February 2023

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

Film: “Leave No Trace”

Honestly, I wouldn’t have watched this if my husband hadn’t made me. I took one look at the preview on Netflix and knew that tears would be involved. On the other hand, Ben Foster is a massively talented actor and I don’t know if I’ve ever disliked a movie he was in. Well, indeed, this was a fairly sad movie, but not without hope. It follows the story of a war veteran with PTSD who is homeless and living in a park with his daughter. When they are discovered and brought in by social services, the two struggle to adapt to life in the real world. This movie tackles a lot of very complicated issues and why there are no easy answers to homelessness, support for veterans with PTSD, and what constitutes good care for a child. For all of the more grim aspects, the bound between father and daughter is so clearly at the center of the movie, that it’s impossible not to feel drawn in to their challenging situation.

Podcast: “The Office Ladies”

Needing something lighthearted here in the doldrums of winter, I turned to one of my favorite shows, “The Office,” for probably the millionth re-watch of my life. But this time I’ve went even further! About two seasons in to my re-watch, I suddenly remembered someone mentioning at Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer (Angela and Pam) had started up a re-watch podcast a bit ago. So now not only am I re-watching the show, but I’m listing to lengthy podcasts episodes about each episode of said show. It may be an unhealthy obsession, but it’s all so homely and nice.

Netflix Show: “Murderville”

I don’t know why we turned this one on when we did. Perhaps just lingering nostalgia for the heyday of “Arrested Developments” early seasons. But either way, we did and we had no idea what we were getting into. Essentially, Will Arnett plays a detective who must solve a mystery with some guest star. The catch is that the guest star is given no scrip. So what follows is a ridiculous series of events where Arnett is making the guest star (football players, comedians, actors, etc.) do increasingly embarrassing and ridiculous things and then at the end, the guest has to announce who committed the murder. There were definitely stronger episodes than others (it lived or died on the abilities of the guests), but there were several times where I was laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. Definitely been quite a while since I’ve had that happen! If you like kind wacky improv comedy, this is probably worth checking out!

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “The White Lotus Season 2”

I technically watched this back in January, just binged it over the course of a day. But I made my husband watch it with me this month, as we are going to the destination wedding of a childhood friend at an all inclusive resort in Mexico in March, and I know I will be making all the references and he needs to know what I’m talking about. I didn’t really like Season 1, but for whatever reason Season 2 really worked for me. It follows a week at the Sicily location of The White Lotus Resort, as sex, manipulations, scheming, and death befall a number of guests on their vacations. The cast is stuffed with a lot of people that I like, like F. Murray Abraham, Aubrey Plaza, and of COURSE Jennifer freaking Coolidge, and the dark humor and slow building suspense of something being wrong is a great combination. Watching it a second time knowing what is going on was VERY fun. And again, Jennifer FREAKING Coolidge. She’s just so funny. And godDAMN, that theme song is SO CATCHY.

Film: “Willow”

Somehow I got through my childhood and early adult life without ever seeing “Willow”, the 1980s fantasy film about a burgeoning sorcerer who is trying to protect a baby girl who is prophesied to be the downfall of an evil queen. When I told two of my good friends that I hadn’t seen it, it became top of the list for the next movie night. And I really, really loved it. As mentioned, Willow is a young man living with his family in a quiet community, hoping to become a sorcerer some day. One day a baby girl floats in a basket to their town, and it soon becomes clear that this baby is being pursued by evil forces who want to take her. Willow goes on a journey to get the baby, Elora Danan, to safety, and meets up with others who end up joining the quest. Warwick Davis is so sweet and noble as Willow, and I LOVED seeing a very young Val Kilmer as caddish mercenary Madmartigan. Next on the list for me is watching the follow up series on Disney+!

Podcast: “Dateline”

So this has a bit of a connection to “The White Lotus”, as one of the characters (oh I wish I had the same unbotheredness of Daphne!) made mention that she watched ‘a lot of “Dateline”.’ To which I said to myself ‘I should check out the “Dateline” podcast! And I’ve been enjoying it, as it is pretty much audio versions of various “Dateline” shows, which means that they are generally stand alone and have some audio clips outside of the narrator. The true crime podcasts I gravitate to mostly have a bit of a dark humor bent to them, but this one is definitely serious in nature. Though that said, that isn’t to say that it’s devoid of over the top and somewhat dramatic moments. Specifically when Keith Morrison is behind the voice. That said, it’s Dateline, so you know that the research is going to be pretty good. It’s just a nice change from the other podcasts I listen to, and it covers many cases that I’ve never even heard of, or in the moment cases. It’s just a nice one to add to my listening rotation when doing chores, school pick up and drop off, and errands.

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