Mixed Media: July 2019

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Summer is lazily flying by. How that happens, I’m not sure. But, if it is getting away from you, here are some ways to continue savoring the leisure and relaxation.


Several months back, Sophie shared about Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels on Mixed Media. After Sophie & Maria spent Sister Weekend discussing these novels, I couldn’t stand it anymore and got a copy of book one in the series, My Brilliant Friend. I read it in one week, and could have read it in a single day, but the language, the weaving of the storyline, the unfolding of characters is so perfect that I wanted to savor every page. Read it! (warning: contains adult content) — Sarah

If you haven’t discovered her yet, go find some of Patricia Polacco’s picture books for children. Daughter of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, she draws upon family traditions and culture for many of her stories. Each book is illustrated beautifully with plenty of captivating patterns and whimsical realism. Many stories include animals and scenes from the home and farm, which are likewise charming. The happy flounce captured in goat ears particularly stands out. Some of our favorites so far are: Babushka’s Doll, Babushka Baba Yaga, Mommies Say Shhh, The Keeping Quilt, Thunder Cake, and Rechenka’s Eggs. Thank You, Mr. Falker is another good one (also biographical), but perhaps not as engaging for younger children. Adults will certainly appreciate it, however, and perhaps even get misty eyed. — Sophie


People often fall into liking animated movies as (and for) adults or not. I fall into the first category. A pleasant surprise was the recent Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse (available on Netflix). Filmed in comic book style, it takes a few minutes to adjust to and get comfortable with it. Initially, the film seems chaotic. But the excellent capturing of comic book style on the screen along with a compelling and creative story make the film a very enjoyable one. If watching with kids, I’d recommend older ones as some scenes are on the scarier side, and the villains are frightening. — Sophie

For the first twenty minutes or so of The Big Sick (Amazon Prime), I just wasn’t sure about it. But that quickly changed and I ended up loving this charming, funny, heartfelt film. (It’s rated R though, so, you know, check the parents guide and use your own judgment.) — Sarah

I love Wes Anderson films so much. Finally got around to watching The Darjeeling Limited, and I don’t know how this gem escaped me until now! It quickly jumped up into my top favorite Anderson films. — Sarah

When it was being hyped up and played in theaters, I more than raised my eyebrow at Mary Poppins Returns (available on Netflix). Not only do we seem to be flooded with remakes and sequels, but of all movies, why try to do another Mary Poppins when the first was practically perfect in every way? (Don’t get me started on the slotted remake of West Side Story….!) But, as it is on Netflix and my daughter is getting into musicals (and she has watched the original a few times now, mind you), I figured I would give it a shot. It is not nearly as timeless as the original in the style of filming, the singable and memorable quality of songs, and the breathtaking wonder of imagination. BUT, I did like it more than I expected. I appreciated that while the movie mirrors the original almost entirely throughout, it had a distinct flavor of its own. Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins is notably different from the original. Julie Andrews’ performance is basically unbeatable, so it was wise to play a different take on Mary Poppins. Jack too doesn’t feel like a bad attempt at redoing Burt, but rather is a new and engaging character. Other character mirrors fall short and seem unnecessary, however, notably Meryl Streep as Mary Poppins’ distant relative. Overall, a fun and engaging movie, but on the forgettable side. — Sophie

Critics seem to be taking it for granted that Netflix’s Stranger Things 3 is better than Stranger Things 2. I’m not so sure. Character development is glaringly lacking, which is the series’ strongest suit. Several times throughout the season, conversations felt extremely out of place or uncharacteristic or outright boring. The mystery and unexpectedness of the monster drives the season, but just enough to eek it on. Plus, even that narrative turns far too much toward slasher horror with more gore than necessary as it isn’t creatively or effectively used to make the monster more terrifying. Here too one of the series’ strong suits - a horrific, unpredictable unknown - falls short. Disappointing, but plenty of priceless and perfect moments to keep hope alive. — Sophie


Radiolab is a fantastic podcast, if you haven’t found it yet. Bear with it for an episode or two as the style of voiceovers and cuts can be confusing at first. The stories, however, are so, so good and spark plenty of conversation. One we listened to on our Sister Weekend earlier this month was Playing God. A moral dilemma well detailed and hard to answer.

If you want a laugh, listen to This American Life’s podcast titled Fiasco! Or actually, listen to just two of the acts: the one about a Peter Pan play gone wrong and the one about the Squirrel and the Cop. — Sophie