The Suggestion Box #72: Fantastical Forests, and Half-Elf Twins, and Returning Video Tapes, Oh My!

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.

Lauren’s Book Pick: Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin For fear that this supplemental reading could in no way live up to the unfathomably impressive, collaborative epic that is the Critical Role campaign, I’ll admit that this novel about my favorite half-elf twins, Vex and Vax, collected dust on my shelf for much longer than I intended. I’ll also admit that I am often a dumb dumb, as is the case here. Though it may be impossible to compete with the genius of Matthew Mercer and his best friends at the table, Marieke Nijkamp clearly knows what they are doing as both a writer and Critter alike, as they get to the heart of the twins by exploring the vulnerabilities of each and the events and people that shaped the badass characters that we eventually meet rolling dice at that Geek & Sundry table. It is both wonderful and heartbreaking to spend hundreds of pages plumbing the depths for new insight into who Vex and Vax are, what they mean to each other, and everything they’ve endured together; and though having full awareness of where these characters end up makes this book hit the reader in the feels even harder – from fully understanding the small moments of Vex searching for books on dragons to the many owners of a certain magical snake belt – Kith & Kin also makes a great starting point for people who have no idea what a Vox Machina is. That said, if you future Critters are still a bit unsure if this story of doing what is necessary to survive in a world that is far from black and white is for you, test the waters with The Legend of Vox Machina – everyone better be watching this! – and then come back to Kith & Kin.

Ben’s Movie Pick: American Psycho At first I wasn’t going to write up anything for American Psycho. Not because I don’t love it (I do, quite a lot), but because it has been reviewed, dissected, and interpreted in written format by many people much, much smarter than I. However, since it’s stayed in my head for weeks, as it does every time I watch it, I knew I had to say something. So yeah, this movie rules. It’s smart, as funny as it is creepy, and the cast is impeccable, with easily the best performance from Christian Bale that I’ve seen at its center. His turn as the film’s focus, Patrick Bateman, is comical, disturbing, and horrifying in equal measure, sometimes all of that at once; he’s a ruthless, sadistic monster in the guise of a human being, yet he’s such an interesting fellow to follow as he tells you what makes him tick and why he cares so little for other people so matter of factly. Whether he’s obsessing over (great) bands and artists, or giving into his desire to slaughter and maim, American Psycho never lets you leave Bateman’s head. It’s a crazy, violent, and crazy violent ride with a disarmingly charming, cold-blooded protagonist.

Ben’s TV Pick: Over the Garden Wall This Cartoon Network miniseries follows two brothers trying to find their way home and their adventures throughout a fantasy world full of wondrous creatures and people. At times it feels like a darker, more layered update of The Wizard of Oz. I love Oz, both the book and the film, and I also love stories with similar premises to beloved classics that subvert your expectations and flip some of their respective genre’s biggest tropes on their heads. On top of that, Over the Garden Wall’s story is perfectly paced, the voice cast is excellent, their characters are equally memorable and interesting, the world they inhabit is wholly unique and charming, and the modern fairytale animation style is outstanding. There’s all of that, and it has a soundtrack that’s somehow even better than everything else. Seriously, I spent the next few days after finishing the show listening to its musical tracks over and over. To sum it all up, Over the Garden Wall is a brilliant piece of animated storytelling, one that’s intricately woven, perfectly laid out, and beautifully presented visually, aurally, and thematically. I wish we had gotten specials on Cartoon Network like this when I was a kid, and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who enjoys a family-friendly fantasy tale.

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 Middle of the Row: The Podcast episode on Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.

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