Shows 'N Tunes: Movie, Music, and Game Reviews

Dectectorists

Why would someone create a show about amateur metal detectorists? I put aside my doubts and tuned in. These two oddball Englishmen travel all over the countryside hoping to uncover buried Saxon treasures! But it's a cutthroat hobby—who would have thought? I was hooked after the first episode of Detectorists. Share the lives, loves, and detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance. You never know what you will uncover.

Binge the whole series on Hoopla! The complete series (2014-2017) is available to watch instantly.


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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Do you have Animal Crossing: New Horizons FOMO? Fear not! Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is free from the App Store (Google or Apple). Join all your favorite villagers for the ultimate virtual camping trip. It's the same cute, colorful game you'd expect, without Tom Nook shaking you down for bells all the time. This version of the classic game has seasonal events that make logging in a treat. Go fishing, catch bugs, pick fruit, and decorate your very own campsite. The best part? You get to choose which villagers you host.


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GreedFall

GreedFall (Rated M) for the PlayStation and Xbox One is an RPG adventure that will appeal to players who enjoyed the Assassins Creed and Dragon Age series of games.  In the game, you are an ambassador for a congregation of merchants who are searching for a cure to the plague that has afflicted yours and other nations.  The hope is that an expedition to an island filled with magic and a native people who exalt the land will reveal a cure.  Once on the island, you may choose from many companions who will complement your play style—whether it be careful political intrigue, magical tactician, stealth advantage, or simply to use combat-based dominance.

Overall, the plot is intricate, borrowing from many historical events, such as the inquisition, colonialism, and westward expansion, to name a few.  The story drives the game forward and gameplay allows for all levels of players, including a mode that has easy combat and focuses on following the plot over the gameplay.  Do remember that the choices you make while playing will affect the world around you and that the available options for the game's ending will change based on your decisions.

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In the Aisles

In the Aisles (2018) tells the story of Christian, a new worker at a big box store in former East Germany.  Taken under the wing by his coworker Bruno, Christian becomes enamored of a fellow employee, Marion.  Check out this quiet leisurely-paced film full of charm and complex emotion.

In German with English subtitles.

So Weird. The Complete Series (1999-2001)

I have been finding that Disney+ is a great way to relive favorite shows of your childhood.  My latest binge was So Weird (TV-Y7), about Fiona, a teenager, on the road with a band for which her mom (Mackenzie Phillips) is the lead singer.  Fiona is drawn to everything strange and unusual, which she constantly stumbles upon, revealing more and more about her father's unexplained car accident when she was a baby.

While revolving around many supernatural occurrences, older kids and their families can enjoy this family adventure/mystery series together.  So Weird originally aired on The Disney Channel in the late 90s, but you can now stream the entire series on Disney+ via the library's Family Roku devices.

Blinded by the Light

What kind of world do we want to live in? From Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham, comes another feel-good film about coming of age and struggling with familial expectations.

Set in 1980s England, British Pakistani teen Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, inspiring him to change his life. Loosely based on the memoir of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the film Blinded by the Light (2019, PG-13) features Bruce Springsteen's words and music as a character.


Jojo Rabbit

During the final months of World War II, we follow Jojo, a lonely German boy struggling to fit in with the other Hitler Youths. Jojo spends his days trying to prove he is a worthy Nazi and is continually spurred on by his only friend, an incredibly doltish and flamboyant imaginary Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi).  After finding out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in the walls of their home, he is forced to choose between loyalty to his country and to his remaining family.

On the surface, Jojo Rabbit (2019, PG-13) seems absurd and insensitive.  In reality, while absolutely absurd, it tells an important story about indoctrination and breaking free of one's upbringing.  Jojo's growth is demonstrated throughout the movie and gives clear guidance to those who are afraid of "the others".

This movie moves between hilarious scenes and heart-shattering moments with a fluidity that will give you awe-inspiring whiplash.  Taika Waititi (who won the 2019 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay) is one of my favorite directors.  I am convinced nobody could make this movie as well as he did, delicately balancing between ridiculousness and respect.


Honeyland

Hatidze lives with her mother outside of Skopje, Macedonia, the only residents for miles.  She makes her living selling her honey in the city and practicing sustainable beekeeping according to old traditions.  Hatidze's life is forever changed when a Turkish family nearby decides to take up beekeeping, without any regard of her teachings.  With beautiful scenery, Honeyland (2019) is a documentary about how a simpler way of life still exists in today's society, even in the face of modern pressures.

Honeyland has been nominated for both Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature Film of the Year for this year's Oscars.

In Turkish with English subtitles.

Derry Girls. Seasons 1 and 2

Set in 1990s Londonderry (Derry), Ireland, during the conflict between Northern Ireland and Ireland, Derry Girls (2018-) follows the lives of four teenage girls.  This Irish sitcom includes a mix of teenage angst and modern political climate.

One of the girls' male Protestant cousins comes from London to live with them.  He is the sedate, responsible one who keeps getting dragged into the girls' antics.  The teens attend an all-girls Catholic school, which provides raucous and hilarious scenarios.

The first two seasons are available to stream on Netflix, which you can access by borrowing one of our Rokus.  English subtitles are available for those who have trouble understanding the Irish accents.  Rated TV-MA (includes swearing).



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5-Minute Marvel

Play the fast-paced 5-Minute Marvel game that puts you in the role of your favorite Marvel movie and comic book heroes.  The goal of the game is to defeat a horde of villains bent on destroying the universe.  The villains start easy and get harder as you eventually fight your way to Thanos to decide the fate of the world.  Each hero receives cards with special powers and abilities unique to their hero, which will help in the fight.

With each battle allowed only five minutes (a time gem would be helpful), you will have to be as fast as Quicksilver to win these battles.  The 5-minute clock makes this a quick game that is great for parties and short breaks. There is some reading involved, which makes 5-Minute Marvel (2016) perfect for ages 8 and up.

Lobby Baby

In his 2019 comedy special, Seth Meyers provides plenty of heart with his humor.  Named after the infamous incident of his wife giving birth in the lobby of their apartment building, Lobby Baby (TV-MA) features funny anecdotes mostly about family, relationships, and life.  If politics aren't your thing, Netflix even built in an option to skip over the political comedy.

Former head writer of Saturday Night Live and current host of Late Night with Seth Meyers, Meyers provides sweet and charming stories throughout this hour-long standup routine.  Check out one of our Rokus with Netflix to watch this special.

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The Witcher. Season 1

​Are you looking for something to fill the void after the disappointing final season of Game of Thrones?  The Witcher, a friend of humanity, is here to slay monsters, collect coin, and reignite our excitement in fantasy TV shows.

In The Witcher (2019, TV-MA), Geralt of Rivea is no ordinary man. Subjected to a deadly trial as a child, he became a Witcher, a mutant hunter used to rid the world of scum.  After accidentally invoking an ancient custom at a wedding, he finds his destiny tied with Cirilla, the young princess of Cintra.  After her kingdom is attacked, she must find Geralt to understand her future and her power. Follow Geralt as he tries to slay monsters, navigate relationships, play politics, and find Cirilla.

Henry Cavill is phenomenal as Geralt.  It was the role he was born to play.  The fighting choreography is stellar and will have you wanting to watch it over and over.  The monsters are unique and disgusting and don't hold back.  Be prepared to have the song, "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher" stuck in your head for an eternity.

I have a few small complaints: the writing can be cheesy at times but the actors do their best with what they are given.  In addition, because two of the main characters live extended lives, the timeline skips around and can be confusing.  Despite these flaws, I recommend this to any fantasy lover looking for a show that doesn't pull its punches.

To watch The Witcher. Season 1 check out one of the Rokus for access to Netflix.

 If you enjoy the TV series, check out the books by Andrzej Sapkowski.  And if you enjoy playing video games, look for Witcher III: The Wild Hunt for PS4 and Xbox One.

Tracks

In 1977, Robyn Davidson trekked across Australia, over 1700 miles, with camels that she had trained for the journey.  Tracks (2013, PG-13), starring Mia Wasikowska as Robyn and Adam Driver as National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, recounts Davidson's trip from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, with beautiful scenery and a sense of how isolating the Australian outback can be.  A real treat for those who love movies about independent women or travel.


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Lilies of the Field

Sidney Poitier won his first Academy Award for his performance as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963).  The Arizona desert is home to five German nuns who have come to America to farm and build a life for themselves and the migrant workers in the area.  Filmed in black and white, this movie is a simple story of an itinerant handyman who builds a chapel.

Funny, charming, and sentimental Homer Smith will not be forgotten.  His English classes for the young nuns are especially sweet.  Lilies of the Field is a classic and the entire cast is excellent.  The movie is uplifting, inspiring, and beautiful.


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Sleeping Queens

In Sleeping Queens, all of the world's queens have fallen under a spell forcing them to stay asleep. You will have to send your kings out to help the queens awaken, but be careful other players have knights and potions to steal your queens or to put them back to sleep.  You will have to be cunning to keep all your queens awake and safe.

One of my favorite things about Sleeping Queens (2015) is that an 8-year-old created it, and the fun way it plays shows that incredible passion a child has for games and silly happenstance.  This is a favorite game to play with my friends.  We all enjoy how quickly the game plays, and with simple rules, there are still some great play strategies.  The game is played with a single deck of cards and is quick to learn with no reading involved past the directions.  Some shape matching skills are needed to play; suitable for ages 6 and up.