As a lifelong pop culture connoisseur and enjoyer of all types of media, I LOVE talking to people about what shows we're watching, what we're reading, if Ben & J-Lo 2.0 are for real, etc!
As a concierge and connoisseur, I've decided to try out a new curated list of recommendations, my very own Pop (Culture) Drop - what I've been listening to, watching, and reading lately!
Here's the August edition - zip it, lock it, and put in
STREAMING / TV
NEVER HAVE I EVER (streaming on Netflix) - I am a sucker for a good high school comedy and this one so delivers with its quirkiness, adorability, and relatability. Now in season 2, the show follows a painfully relatable (at times!) Devi, a bright high schooler who has experienced the loss of her beloved father AND has to navigate the pitfalls of high school. At least she has wacky friends, a dear family, and some very cute love interests to get through it all! #TeamDevi
TELL ME YOUR SECRETS (streaming on Amazon) - This is like soap opera meets murder mystery meets the bayou and I am here for it. Or at least was compelled to watch all 10 episodes! The show features three main characters whose lives intertwine over the course of the show -- the former girlfriend (Lily Rabe) of a serial killer, the mother (Amy Brenneman) of one of the serial killer's potential victims, and the sexual offender (Hamish Linklater) the latter hires to help her track down the former. See... soap opera! Throw in Miss 2021 Summer Mean It Girl Chiara Aurelia from Cruel Summer and Fear Street: 1978 in a bizarre bayou murder mystery side-plot and well... this show is pretty much a guilty pleasure! Also - just a note that sometimes the music in the show is super interesting and effective!
STREAMING / MOVIES
OPHELIA (2018, Claire McCarthy / Streaming on Netflix) - I remember hearing about this when it came out and was like ehhh... BUT I'm glad it's on Netflix and that I found it! Honestly, this film features some of the most beautiful cinematography & imagery I've seen this year (okay, maybe outside of this summer's THE GREEN KNIGHT)!
OPHELIA stars Daisy Ridley as Shakespeare's tragic heroine - but with a twist, the story of Hamlet's and her "madness" is told from her point of view. Background: my mom and I watched Franco Zeffirelli's HAMLET many times in the early 1990's ("Now could I drink hot blood!"). I loved watching this version of the story as Ophelia would have experienced it - missing some of the sword fights, like "I'll just walk in when it's over."
The film is way more straightforward and less interior than it could have been or than I anticipated, but I think I really liked that about it - just a super watchable beautiful film! And I have to say 1917's (and many other project's including this film as Hamlet) George MacKay has just really grown on me!
THE EMPTY MAN (2020, d. David Prior / streaming on HBOMax) - Mismarketed as your average teen horror film (nothing wrong with that, but this film isn't one!), the film languished in distribution purgatory because of poor test ratings, poor timing in Disney's acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox, and uh, a pandemic.
The film now has a cult following - which is fitting because it features... a cult! In a nutshell, the film is about some kind of bogeyman that appears if you blow into an empty bottle on a bridge - and the sect that worships this bogeyman. The story spans from Bhutan to St. Louis, MO (a horror film set in St. Louis?! cool!) and stars the underrated James Badge Dale!
Looking ahead to another buzzworthy (pun intended) film of interest!! The upcoming CANDYMAN (d. Nia DaCosta) stars one of my current favorite actors, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II* as a survivor of 1992's CANDYMAN. Tony Todd is back as the vengeful titular baddie (but for goodie reason, I'd be out for vengeance if I were him!). Check for showtimes (and wear your mask!) starting August 27th.
While I'm at it, I'd hands down recommend HBO's brilliant WATCHMEN! Truth be told, I'm not much a comic book reader or film viewer, but the show (and especially TV couple Regina King and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) transcended the genre and made my brain spring a leak in the space time continuum. Let's talk about time as accordion next time ;)!
THE NICKEL BOYS (Available for purchase/order from almost any local bookstore!) - Anyone else struggling with reading books during the pandemic?! My mindfulness for reading has been super hit-or-miss especially these past months. Luckily, when a friend loaned me The Nickel Boys, I was in a space to read it quickly within a week.
I believe this is truly the work of a genius (that being Colson Whitehead who won his second Pulitzer for this work). It's a tough story told with empathy and truth - a fictionalized account of a real life Florida reform school and specifically two young Black men who are incarcerated there. The book explores the tension between idealism and just trying to survive and its outcome and the emotional aftermath sneak up on you.
In school, we had required reading. I wish there were required reading for adults. I would make this the first book on the list. That is all.
DLISTED: THE PODCAST - How fitting for my first pop culture podcast recommendation to literally be about pop culture... like literally - totally literally! I've been reading and loving this gossip site for over ten years and I was delighted when head Dlisted creator Michael K and co-writer Allison started this podcast in 2018. Dropping weekly on Wednesdays, the show covers the top gossip stories of the past week with goofy and self-effacing humor.
That's it for this round! Got any recommendations?!
Drop it in the comments or @CreamCityConcierge on Instagram!