Sunday, July 3, 2022

Culture From the Couch: What to Watch, Read and Listen to Today

Want to expand your mind without having to change out of your tracksuit pants? Got some downtime on your hands and keen for something truly entertaining to soak up? No problem. Jut sit back, relax and enjoy our hot picks of what to watch, read and listen to from home today.

PODCAST

As things get more interesting (and batshit crazy) by the day in the lead-up to the US general election, I’ve been listening to Pod Save America. It’s four guys having a “no bullshit conversation about politics”, but these four guys just happen to know what the heck they’re talking about.

You likely won’t recognise their names – Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor and Dan Pfeiffer – but they’ve all had hands on experience in helping a candidate run for President. They’ve held integral roles positions such as Director of Speechwriting, National Security Spokesperson and White House Press Secretary for the Obama administration. So yes, if you’re a MAGA supporter, it’s probably not your cup of tea, but otherwise, it’s full of interesting insights into strategies and what goes on behind the scenes. Oh, and they throw brilliantly crafted insults in Trump’s direction.

Pod Save America by Crooked Media, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or visit https://crooked.com/podcast-series/pod-save-america/

TV

Scrolling back through what I’ve watched recently, it’s all very dark – crime shows, thrillers… so when you combine that with the actual real life news stories I’m consuming, it’s a wonder I’m not heavily medicated by now. Which might be why I absolutely loved a little gem on Netflix called Speed Cubers. It’s pretty quick at a one-off 40 mins documentary, but it’s absolutely delightful.

It’s literally about speed cubers – the folks (mostly kids actually) who can solve cubes (like a Rubix cube – I guess there’s some trademarking issues there) the fastest.

I don’t want to give too much away because, but it centers around two young guys who are each facing their own struggles in life – and despite being in fierce competition with one another, there’s is a remarkable tale of friendship.

Speed Cubers, streaming now on Netflix

BOOK

If you were a fan of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Normal People, it’s worth putting this new book by Naoise Dolan – Exciting Times – on your list. I mean, it’s easy to see why so many comparisons are being drawn between the books – they’re both by wonderful Irish writers who write their lead characters with plenty of dry wit and deadpan humour.

Naoise’s novel follows Ava, a young 20-something as she flees Dublin in search of happiness, landing in Hong Kong where she flats in a cramped apartment, and tries to avoid her flatmates while she spends her days teaching rich kids in English for a tiny sum.

She soon befriends a witty British banker named Julian who treats her to glimpses of a more lavish lifestyle. Before long, despite her better instincts they begin a sexual relationship and Ava gradually moves in, only to find that Julian’s job demands he go back to London. Unsure where she stands, Ava stays in his apartment – which is when Edith, a striking Hong-Kong born lawyer arrives on the scene. Ava is in awe of Edith, and, finds herself falling for Edith. Which of course is when Julian announces he’s coming back to his apartment in Hong Kong… it’s one heck of a love triangle, and beautifully written.

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (Hachette RRP$38)

MOVIE

I’ll just start off by immediately telling you this is a Christmas movie, but hey – it’s September, so here we are. Also, time has no meaning in 2020 and this movie has everything you want/need. Last Holiday is movie that came out ages ago, but no matter – see above, re time. It is a perfect movie. It stars Queen Latifah, an absolute star who *dials up Hollywood* NEEDS MORE SCREEN TIME, and LL Cool J, who is very handsome. It’s a romantic comedy, very Nancy Meyers, but with a darker twist. Queen Latifah plays Georgia, a shy, quiet retail assistant who gets a knock to the head and finds out she has a terminal brain disease with only two weeks to live. So she decides to metaphorically blow up her life and literally cash in her chips so that she can spend her final fortnight in style. Georgia is a scrapbooker, you see, putting together books of what her ‘ideal’ life might look like. So she decides that with two weeks left, she’s going to make all her fancy-pants dreams come true. She flies to Europe, puts herself in the fanciest hotel suite and lives her best life – giving a lot of important lessons to rich idiots who need them. Yes, the whole thing can look a little bit like a capitalist fantasy at the beginning but actually – harmless spoiler – it turns out the real value comes from things money can’t buy, etc. This movie has everything: a makeover montage, a love story, poignant Christmas vibes, a daring ski scene, lushly shot Europe… and Gérard Depardieu giving the best answer to ‘what is the meaning of life?’ It is a lovely, lovely movie and if you’re worried about a sad ending… don’t be (i’ll say no more). It’s streaming now on Netflix.

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