June 29, 2024

Media Diet: May and June

A quick look at the movies, television shows, and books that have captured my attention over the past two months.

TV shows about father-daughter relationships will always have a cherished spot in my heart, and this one tugs at the heartstrings in all the right (and somewhat manipulative) ways. It isn’t a perfect show, but it is packed with laughs, great performances (Christa Miller and Ted McGinley are especially good), and some heartwarming moments that make it an enjoyable way to spend an evening.

How would you feel if you created something that could kill thousands of people in one fell swoop? That’s the question that I hoped Oppenheimer would answer, and while it did veer into that territory from time to time, it wasn’t the central premise, and that’s to its detriment. I never thought I’d be so enthralled by watching middle-aged white men doing science, however, so I remain a fan of the film, but there were some areas I think could have been further explored—specifically around the moral quandaries of the work—that would have benefitted the movie. The political intrigue was surprisingly more gripping than I expected it to be, and actually complemented the science-y narrative perfectly well. The standout of this film, however, is the sound. The score is perfectly used and I can still hear the movie run through my head all these days later.

Holler, Child
These are stories about family, about trauma, about the space we fill with those we love and the secrets we hold for them. Set mostly in West Texas, the short story collection grapples with themes like systemic racism, deep disappointment, and dysfunctional relationships, but amidst it all, there is also room for joy and love. A brilliant collection of stories of the Black experience with a steady voice and a strong point of view, and a reminder that we are not only borne of the choices we make, but of the world that forced us to make those choices.

Baby Reindeer
I may be the only person in the world that wasn’t completely ga-ga for this show. It was good—very good, in fact—but something about the pacing didn’t quite resonate with me. I’ll admit: I’ve never really seen something like it before, and the subject matter is riveting yet disturbing, but I don’t think the storytelling was as strong as it could have been. Would love to see the one-man show it is based on; I’m curious if the translation to television did it a disservice.

Girls5Eva, Season 3
The premise for the show is hilarious, and it mostly delivered on that hilarity in the first season. It has gone progressively downhill since, with this third season, while being entertaining, not quite hitting all the notes and missing quite a few punchlines. Still, a fun diversion; not sure if it needs, or can sustain, any more seasons after this one.

The Idea of You
Is this a good movie? Not at all. Does Anne Hathaway make any movie, even the bad ones, very watchable? Yes she does.

Hacks, Season 3
It’s rare to find a television show that gets better and better as the seasons go on, but Hacks is one of those shows. This season was packed with laughs, all balanced with poignancy and insight, and served as an incredible showcase of the delightful relationship between Deborah and Ava that is the heart of the series. The supporting cast is hilarious, but this season leans heavily into the story of the leads, and for that it is richer. Already eagerly anticipating the next season.

How Should A Person Be?
There are times when I read something and realize halfway through that I’m not smart enough, or cultured enough, to fully understand what the author is trying to do. It’s clear that Heti is trying to write an ugly” novel, but a lot of that intent seems to have passed me by. Mostly, I found this book to be a lot of words about art and friendship and self-questioning, without really saying much about all of them. The prose is heavy, but that is likely done in purpose; there were some beautiful moments in its leadenness, but overall it didn’t quite resonate. It’s probably a great book—I’m just not with it” enough to get it.

Fair Play
Selling this as an erotic thriller is a bit of a misnomer; sure, it’s a sexy movie, but a thriller it is not. Mainly, it’s an exploration of how jealousy, when coupled with toxic masculinity, can lead to disaster, and also why you should never sleep with anyone that you work with, either. The tension between the two main characters is believable, and makes the movie a good watch despite many holes in the plot.

Bridgerton, Season 3
A delightfully entertaining season, particularly when it came to side characters and plots that are not the central storyline. Hard to get over the fact that Colin is not an interesting character and doesn’t deserve the kind of adulation that Penelope gives him; this takes away from the central relationship, and all its drama, that drives the season. Still, a fun season and the side characters and plots were fun; will definitely watch the next one.

A few albums I’ve really been enjoying recently:

  • Lizzy McAlpine, Older: A haunting album that is heartbreakingly beautiful (even when the subject matter is uplifting) that is perfect for those evenings when you’re settled in with a cup of tea and thinking about the world.
  • Rosie Tucker, Utopia Now!: The easy thing to fall in love with in this album is the lyrics—there is a cheekiness deftly placed amongst the earnestness—so it’s easy to forget that this album is also musically fun, filled with real pop hits that stay with you over many listens. (Here’s a great interview with Rosie on Switched On Pop.)
  • Billie Eilish, Hit Me Hard and Soft: A moody album full of longing; perhaps my favorite of Eilish’s albums. So many tonal shifts that you’re never left bored and never really know what to expect—not just across songs, but within tracks as well. I’ll be listening to Lunch” all summer long.
  • Jahari Massamba Unit, YHWH Is Love: An incredible instrumental album that is more than just jazz, infused with vibrant funk and pulsating percussion that takes the music to almost a transcendent level. No note is wasted in creating these musical landscapes; this album isn’t background music, but songs to be engaged with fully.

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