Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc. on an every other weekly basis!
Lauren’s Book Pick: Station Eleven – With the release of the HBO miniseries imminent, I could no longer put off the oft suggested Station Eleven during the worst possible time to read it: during a global pandemic. Good news: at least our pandemic didn’t take out 99% of the world’s population. Better news: Station Eleven manages to quickly push past my hesitancy at this lack of escapism. It’s weird though, I can’t quite put a finger on exactly why I was so moved by this story: the plot doesn’t rely on being engrossing with a push towards pre/post apocalypse survival epicness, it’s more about simply connecting with and feeling for this small collection of characters as they find meaning and purpose in existence. And just witnessing these characters’ lives feels so beautifully profound and poignant somehow, as we follow them and their interconnectedness that thankfully never feels contrived as so often is the case. It just feels magical and important.
Ben’s Movie Pick: The Beta Test – The latest directorial/writing/acting effort from Jim Cummings (in collaboration with PJ McCabe) is one of the most unique and memorable films of the year so far. The dialogue is razor sharp, the critique of Hollywood’s creeps is executed brilliantly, and Cummings is phenomenal in the lead role as Jordan, a sleazy agent on the verge of a mental breakdown born from his choice to engage in an extramarital sexual encounter. He’s the only actor that I know of who can make me simultaneously laugh out loud and cringe with anxiety. Also, Virginia Newcomb is amazing as Jordan’s wife Caroline, even if she doesn’t get as much to do as the film’s star. I also wouldn’t be surprised if The Beta Test gets even better on rewatches – like Cummings’ previous film, The Wolf of Snow Hollow. Looks like I need to move his other film, Thunder Road, even further up the queue on my watchlist.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Bone Tomahawk – Bone Tomahawk just rocks. It blends the horror and western genres together as it follows a town sheriff (Kurt Russell), an elder deputy (Richard Jenkins), a soldier (Matthew Fox), and a foreman (Patrick Wilson) on a mission to rescue fellow townsfolk who have been abducted by a deadly tribe of Native Americans. The entire cast is phenomenal from top to bottom, with Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins standing out thanks to what might be the best performances of their careers to date. The dialogue ranges from funny to heartfelt to bleak as Hell, and gives each character tons of depth, whether we learn to like them or not. The deliberately slow (yet never dull) pacing lets the movie build up tension as brilliantly as the makeshift posse it centers around. Then, just at the right moment, it sharply turns into a blood-soaked nightmare that’s bound to stay with you for a long, long time after it’s all over. It’s a great horror film, possibly my favorite western, and, if you can handle it, an experience like no other that I wholeheartedly recommend watching.
Lauren’s TV Pick: Arcane – Seeing as I know absolutely nothing about League of Legends, I had zero expectations going into Arcane, a show exploring the origins of some of the game’s champions. I definitely wasn’t expecting something that would quickly become one of my absolute favorite things to come out of 2021, that’s for sure. What immediately grabbed my attention was, to put it simply, some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen; like digitally painted concept art in motion of a vibrant, steampunk-leaning world of technological advancement and hints of magic that has me feeling a mighty need to play through the Dishonored game series again. Fortunately the story and it’s social inequality and corruption through lines hold the attention just as tightly as the visuals, but let’s face it, what we’re really here for are the relationships: from the friendship between the inventors, Jayce and Viktor, trying to make the world a better place, to the “just kiss already” tension between Vi and Caitlyn, to the heartbreaking schism growing between the sisters thanks to the trauma, pain, and actions that haunt Vi and Powder (all of which are giving me strong Adora and Catra vibes; if Catra had a bit more Harley Quinn, psychological breaking going on). With season 2 already announced, I’m putting a plea in now for happiness for everyone, kthx.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
And while you’re here, be sure to check some of the site’s other recent content:
- A review of Mad God from Ben, along with reviews for Love Hard and tick, tick…BOOM! from Lauren.
- A list of Ben’s Favorite Anime of 2021.