Alright, we’ve done books and TV, now let’s dive into this random assortment of movies; there’s no rhyme or reason to this selection, other than it focuses on (mostly) recent films, so without further ado, here’s what I watched this summer:
Yes, I realise it’s been officially fall for a while now, but both the weather and my current location still scream summer to me, so I’m still operating in beach mode. And although it’s hasn’t been a conventionally productive period for me, it was quite relaxing, and exactly what I needed after a not so wonderful winter.
And it’s been somewhat productive in terms of pop-culture consumption. I enjoyed several books, movies and TV shows, and that’s exactly what this post is about: a handy list for me to keep track of everything I read and watched over the summer.
I must admit, I was reluctant to begin The Handmaid’s Tale, despite all the rave reviews and the positive comments from people whose taste in TV I trust completely. The subject matter felt a bit too heavy for summertime consumption, and, having skipped the Mad Men craze, I was never a huge fan of Elizabeth Moss and her perpetually sour expression.
Having binge-watched the entire first season in a matter of days, I’m the first to admit I was wrong, and so glad I soldiered on, in spite of my initial apprehension. I’ve had the book on my reading list for years and kept putting it off for the same reasons I kept avoiding the TV show: I tend to consume novels in the summer, and a tragic tale set in a post-apocalyptic patriarchy just doesn’t scream beach-appropriate reading material. Thus, aside from a general summary of the main plot line, I was largely unaware of the actual story, and went in not expecting what I was about to watch.
I wish I were one of those people who rush to see every new movie (or at least the ones who appeal to them) as soon as they hit the theater, or like those who check out every new show that looks promising. Binge-watching has spoiled me when it comes to TV, so aside from the few shows I follow regularly, lately I find myself preferring to just wait and binge on slightly older shows or just focus my attention on mini-series I can watch start-to-finish over a weekend.
As far as movies are concerned, I go through phases. Some weeks I don’t even have the attention span to sit through a whole movie; others I refuse to invest the time unless it’s a must-see. Over the past few months, the only “new” movie I saw was Nocturnal Animals (loved it).
Then there are times when I try to dig up a handful of movies of a certain genre and watch them back-to-back. So, given my recent disappointment in 13 Reasons Why, I figured I should get my teen drama/rom-com fix wherever I could get it, so I picked a few films off of random recommendations:
I would really, really like to meet the idiots who gave this movie such rave reviews and punch them in the face. Seriously, why do I fall into this IMDb trap every single time? If only I’d bothered to read the negative reviews before sitting down to watch this crapfest, I wouldn’t have wasted 105 minutes of my life.
Between all the hype around the newest Netflix offering and my affinity to teen dramas, giving 13 Reasons Why a shot was a no-brainer. And if you want to talk first impressions, the show seemed pretty good in the beginning: great opening titles, nice soundtrack, a clever premise that puts a different spin on an otherwise common theme, and I’ve loved Dylan Minette in everything I’ve seen him in.
And then I kept watching. And the more time I spent with these highschool kids, the more annoyed I became. General outrage from uptight “concerned parents” aside, I don’t see this as a show that “glamorizes” suicide – but that’s a while ‘nother kettle of fish. My main problem with the show is that it just wasn’t that good, and here’s a few reasons why:
I almost prefaced this with a disclaimer that I normally don’t go for this type of show (and by “this type of show” I mean the kind of family drama that loosely ties a mystery into the plot for added suspense, but mostly focuses on relationships). But then I thought wait, aren’t you the one who’s devoted plenty of posts on this blog discussing the merits of The Affair? So yeah, scratch that.
This was yet another movie suggested by several lists of films we missed in 2015, and although I don’t normally enjoy biopics, my watchlist is dwindling so I decided to give it a shot.
Now, a disclaimer: I haven’t read Infinite Jest, nor was I familiar with either David Foster Wallace or Dave Lipsky; I guess Wallace’s breakthrough novel never really acquired much notoriety in my country – plus my freshman year at university kept me plenty busy to take on a 1,000 page book for leisure. Similarly, Lipsky’s book on Wallace flew under my radar in 2008, and really would have held no interest for me anyway.
So I went in with no preconceptions or expectations, which turned out to be a good thing in this case.
While Stranger Things was unequivocally the sleeper hit of last summer, and deservedly so, there was another gem that garnered much critical praise. Though decidedly not a nostalgia-evoking easter-egg hunt, rife with pop culture references, or indeed a crowd-pleaser in terms of its subject matter, The Night Of not only lives up to the hype, but in my opinion, far surpasses it.
Everyone who watched the mini series talked about what an authentic piece of compelling drama The Night Of is, and boy, they weren’t lying. It’s captivating, right from the very first scene, all the way down to the last silent moments of the closing titles.