I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect going in when I saw Black Widow. I knew I'd more or less enjoy it since it's a Marvel movie. A solo movie for the character has been in demand with fans since they were introduced to her, so it sort of felt a little late.
I was lucky enough to see the movie in theaters when it opened. It was my first time back in the theaters since before shutdowns in 2020. And I'm glad to say, I'm happy it was my first.
The film does a great job at portraying grief and abuse in a realistic way (grounding some of the more comic book-y superhero action of the movie). You get a deep dive into the characters, understanding how they became who they are because of their background in the Widow program. The movie has a lot of relatable themes for women without hitting you over the head with any kind of fake female empowerment. Plus there's enough action and excitement that you come to expect with Marvel movies. It clocks in at just over 2 hours, but it really did not feel like it.
The standouts for me were Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova and David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian. Yelena is Natasha's sister and Alexei their dad, though none of them are related biologically. Florence does an amazing job at capturing the unapologetic determination of the character. There's a toughness but also a lot of empathy and vulnerability behind her. She also has a great sense of humor throughout. Within a few minutes on screen, she started becoming a favorite character. David Harbour is definitely more of a comedic relief, but he still brings some good but misguided fatherly intentions.
If you're a Marvel movie fan, I wouldn't miss this one. While it's more of a character study of a character no longer around in the franchise, it does set up some things. Namely Yelena's character going forward. Plus it's a lot of fun.
Book pick from Susan
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
"In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies."
Book pick from Martha
A Good Day for Chardonnay, by Darynda Jones.
It was great. I want to go back and re-read the 1st book, A Bad Day for Sunshine, just to get all the details of the original story. A very well-plotted mystery, plenty of side-stories and sub-plots, and some of the best characters I’ve ever encountered. Even her headings for each chapter are a hoot –
“If your housekeeping style is best described as “There appears to have been a struggle?” Let us help! – SIGN AT DEL SOL CLEANING SERVICE”
“If you refer to your librarian as your dealer, this is the place for you. – SIGN AT THE DEL SOL PUBLIC LIBRARY”
Book pick from Jan
Write My Name Across the Sky by Barbara O'Neal
"Life’s beautiful for seventy-something influencer Gloria Rose, in her Upper West Side loft with rooftop garden and scores of Instagram followers—until she gets word that her old flame has been arrested for art theft and forgery, and, knowing her own involvement in his misdeeds decades earlier, decides to flee. But that plan is complicated when the nieces she raised are thrown into crises of their own.
Willow, overshadowed by her notorious singer-songwriter mother, has come home to lick her wounds on the heels of a failed album and yet another disastrous relationship. Sam, prickly and fiercely independent, is on the verge of losing not only her beloved video game company but the man she loves, thanks to her inability to keep her always-simmering anger in check.
With the FBI closing in, Willow’s career in shambles, and Sam’s tribulations reaching a peak, each of the three woman will have to reckon with and reconcile their interwoven traumas, past loves, and the looming consequences that could either destroy their futures or bring them closer than ever."