Film: "Mommy Dead and Dearest" (Kirby)
This twisted story, about a Louisiana woman who claimed her daughter was suffering from numerous life-threatening diseases to gain public sympathy and charity money, first caught my attention with a 2016 BuzzFeed story. The documentary, directed by Erin Lee Carr, offers an even more intimate window into the fraught relationship between Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde, that culminated in Dee Dee's violent death.
Music: "The Man" by The Killers (Ceili)
The Killers' lead single from their new album, "Wonderful, Wonderful" (debuting Sept. 22), is a refreshing twist from their previous hits like "Mr. Brightside" or "When You Were Young" from their "Hot Fuss" and "Sam's Town" albums respectively. The opening notes conjure the image of a car engine revving up before a race. Brandon Flowers' lyrics' "I got gas in the tank/I got money in the bank/I got news for you baby you're looking at the man" appeal to the band's slick sound, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the new album.
Podcast: "It's Been a Minute" (Emily W.)
"Hey, ya'll." That familiar hello from NPR's Sam Sanders introduces every episode of "It's Been A Minute." Like that greeting, the podcast, which launched in June, is rooted in its relatability. Like Sanders says in the show's promo, with everything going on in the world nowadays, nothing feels real until you talk it out with your friends. And that's what the show's weekly Friday wrap-up feels like as Sanders talks about the week's top stories with fellow journalists. In the show's best segment, "Long Distance," Sanders calls a listener and asks them what's the news in their area, how it's affecting them and, to wrap it all up, what their plans are for the weekend.
TV: "The Leftovers" (Devon)
The season finale of Damon Lindelof's ("Lost") HBO drama technically aired this past spring (June 4), but I watched the entire series over the summer, so I feel justified in including it on this list. Not to mention, I simply can't resist the opportunity to write about this poignant and provocative show. The series exists in a world after "The Departure," an inexplicable event in which two percent of the population disappears. The show's brilliance stems from Lindelof's lack of preoccupation with discovering why they vanished -- rather, he focuses all of his energy on exploring the effects on those who remained. The result is a hauntingly beautiful examination of loss, death and grief.
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Podcast: "My Dad Wrote A Porno" (Jake)
The perfect long car ride podcast. Listen to a man (a prudish twenty-something from the UK) read and commentate his dad's recently written erotic novel. It's full of anatomical inaccuracies and, from my understanding, a gross mischaracterization of how sales are made in the wholesale cookware industry.
Film: "Dunkirk" (Alison)
The first thing to keep in mind about "Dunkirk" is that it's directed by Christopher Nolan, and therefore isn't excluded from the attentiveness that is usually required of his films. But once I understood the three intertwining stories and timelines depicting the World War II rescue effort, I was able to appreciate the film for the masterpiece I knew it would be. Nolan's stylistic choices carry the film, putting you in the middle of the action and on the edge of your seat. And while the anonymity of the characters bothered my family, I felt as though that was what made the film realistic and unlike other war dramas. As expected, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy give outstanding performances, but watch out for acting newcomers Harry Styles and Fionn Whitehead.