What I Read, Watched, and Played in January 2019
Seeing as it’s nearly the end of February, I thought why not finally write this article I’ve been meaning to write for a MONTH. Every month, my goal is to recap with you all the different stories I read, played, and watched. This is something I’m challenging myself to do this 2019, per my resolutions.
Below, you can read about what I read, watched, and played this past January. And if you enjoy this, let me know and I’ll try to post my February list within the first week of March. (But no promises!)
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Rating: 4 stars
I picked up My Year of Rest and Relaxation for my work book club. I listened to most of this on audiobook while going on walks (trying to tackle my “make exercise a habit” lifestyle while also reading more resolution at the same time).
The unnamed protagonist of this story INFURIATED me. While it was obvious she struggled with various mental disorders, her self-obsession and vanity had me constantly irritated with her. She was the epitome of privileged, even in many other ways she was clearly suffering from the loss of her parents and isolation.
That said, despite having an anti-hero for a protagonist, Moshfegh did a great job building out each character to be real and believable. Reva, the unnamed protagonist’s best friend, continuing to return to support her for a full year, even when the protagonist was awful to her, was exactly how people behave. The entire novel is a cycle of people vying for companionship, only for it to be rejected over and over. Yet despite this, no matter how often they are rejected, the reality is people have a habit for self-destruction, and this story tells that tale with dark wit and surprising vulgarity.
In general, though I couldn’t stand the protagonist, I enjoyed the voice of Moshfegh. It’s not my favorite book I’ve read, but as someone in my book club mentioned, it reminds me of Chuck Palahniuk, whose voice I’ve loved even when I’ve been irritated by his work, and so the same goes for Moshfegh.
Rating: 3 stars
I saw Bird Box when the hype was all over the internet. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, which is always one of the best ways to start a story in my opinion. Yet while the film was enjoyable, I still felt like it was lacking some sort of resolution. Yes, the story comes to a conclusion about humanity, but in the end it reminded me of bad zombie apocalypse movies where the final note is just “survival” and nothing more complex. While along for the ride I enjoy these movies, in the end I forget them not long after, and so is the case for Bird Box.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Rating: 4 stars
The first thing that captivated me about If Beale Street Could Talk was the music. Nicholas Britell’s score sounded exactly what I imagined heartbreaking young love can offer, especially for Fonny and Tish. Though the plot brushes over some issues, this not without me recognizing how complex some topics in the film are when coupled with the main discussion of a black man being accused of a crime he did not commit. While I won’t delve into the details on this matter since it’s incredibly complex, I will say I think Barry Jenkins did a great job applying the source material to the screen.
That said, it’s a beautiful story and reminded me of how wonderful it is to fall in love with your best friend. Tish and Fonny have it much harder than I ever did, but their story was artfully portrayed by Jenkins.
Rating: 3 stars
I saw Green Book because it was nominated for the Best Picture award. As I write this, it has now won Best Picture, something I am completely unsatisfied with. I went into this movie with low expectations, and was admittedly surprised that I enjoyed it. However, as a film I felt like it was not offering anything innovative for storytelling. In many ways it felt like it was pandering to a white guilt audience, something I don’t say lightly, and while it had nuanced points, overall thought the focus was too heavily on Tony Lip’s character as the hero/savior.
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season One
Rating: 3.5 stars
I went into Mrs. Maisel with low expectations, and was absolutely hooked from the get go. The day before the new year, I binged half the first season, then wrapped it up this January. It’s like Mad Men + Gilmore Girls and I’m here for it. Sure, it’s not perfect and it isn’t as “deep” as other shows I love, but it’s a great easy show to put on that makes you smile. The women are wonderful, and even Joel has grown on me since the beginning. I’m currently in the second season now and loving it even more!
God of War
My goal for video games was to finish one a month, like I’m hoping to do for TV, books, and movies. However, the reality is that games can take forever, so as long as I’m playing them more often, I’m fine with this. (Is this a cop out? Maybe. But I did play the game for like 10+ hours so I feel like it counts okay.)
That said, so far God of War has been really fun. I love throwing my axe around and spinning around the Blades of Chaos, but overall I wish there was more environmental storytelling or NPCs I could interact with. The main story is wonderful though, especially as someone interested in Norse mythology. I’ve occasionally strayed the path to do a side quest, and recommend for future playthroughs that people ignore those side quests and just stick to the main quest, which is superb and should be followed tightly by the player.