Halfway through the year, we've been hit with a truckload of films, music and books to keep us revving for a while. Naturally, the RUSSH editors watched Barbie and Oppenheimer. We're not animals. But those culture-defining releases acted as scaffolding for the rest of our July watching, reading and listening habits. Some tuned into The Bear while others referred to re-runs of Mad Men. One editor is on a self-imposed book-buying ban, while another is grasping for something inspiring to read. As for the rest of our recommendations this month? Find everything the RUSSH editors have been watched, reading and listening to in July 2023, below.
Contributing Features Editor
Watch… Barbenheimer, of course. It was so cool to see such an incredible turnout for opening weekend of these films – and how hot pink central London was. I was laughing because I think if it didn’t come out the same day as Barbie, I probably wouldn’t have even seen Oppenheimer at all, let alone hours before another screening. As for the reviews? I found Oppenheimer interesting and visually stunning, but felt it could’ve been an hour shorter and the exact same movie. I was shuffling in my seat by the end and I don’t think it was solely to do with ADD. Also, where were the girlies? More Florence! More Emily! Thankfully, the girlies were most definitely in Barbie. I loved this film. It was fun, it was funny, it was camp, the acting was spot on, the soundtrack was fab. It’s also so brilliant for a women-led film with feminist message to be the biggest movie of the year. Some of the points they touched on and parts of the storyline may seem obvious and surface-level to us, but think about how many millions of young women and girls – and boys and men! – in all corners (or should we say middles) of the world it’s being watched by.
Read… Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. One of the classics I’ve gone my entire life without reading (and have felt endlessly guilty for it, which is silly). I’m currently working my way through a long list of the greats, but once I’ve finished this one, I’m going to quickly time travel back to 2023 for a brief second to read Emma Cline’s The Guest. I loved her 2016 novel, The Girls, and have heard great things, so I’m very excited to read this.
Listen… In LA (where I live) you’re constantly driving and I feel like there’s no better way to listen to music than in a car with the windows down and sun shining. My new favourite thing to do is add a few of my current favourite songs to a playlist and then let Spotify do its thing with the shuffle recommends function. Old school Nicki Minaj is coming up a lot and so is Charli XCX, likely due to my love of the Barbie soundtrack, and Amaarae’s new album is a current fave.
Watch… I recently decided to dive back into Mad Men (properly, this time) and have been really enjoying the steady pacing of each episode. It’s a modern classic for a reason, and has honestly convinced me that I need to add even more mid-century furniture to my life – if only to enjoy with an Old Fashioned in hand.
Read… In an attempt to curb my literary spending, I’ve made a hard rule for myself to not purchase any new books until I’ve finished the last. So while I finish up the final few chapters of last month’s read, I’m relegated to reading my emails and the occasional online essay.
Listen… Spotify’s algorithm has been good to me this month, suggesting I listen through Ben Howard’s latest release Is It? It’s an album that’s been on heavy rotation for me on commutes this month, alongside another recent-but-not-new discovery, Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest.
Creative Studio & Campaigns Manager
Watch… I’m late to the party that the other editors have been having about The Bear, but in lieu of the second season being released I figured it was about time I gave it a go. I love how snappy and fast paced the episodes are and I’m keen to really dive in further.
Read… I’ve also just started reading Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, and so far (50 pages in) I’m enjoying it! It’s becoming a bad habit of mine to start something and not finish it, apparently.
Listen… Ethel Cain. Her song American Teenager opened an Ethel Cain-flavoured can of worms and it’s all I’ve been listening to for weeks. Obsessed is an understatement…
Digital Strategy Director
Watch… Obviously I’ve been watching The Bear. Season two is incredible. If you haven’t started yet, you must. I’m also in the middle of David Attenborough’s Our Planet II. It’s very confronting but a wholly necessary watch.
Listen… I’ve been doing a deep dive into some cult 90s movies and it’s got me back into listening to soundtracks. I’ve had the Cruel Intentions soundtrack on repeat for about a week. It’s such a mood.
Watch… Barbie (obviously). I’m not usually one to get sucked into the hype but I LOVE going to the movies and this was a good excuse. Whilst the casting, costumes and set design were all phenomenal I found the storyline a little underwhelming. I’m aware I’m in the minority who didn’t love it so if you don’t want your bubble burst here are some more positive reviews from the Twitter-sphere (or whatever we’re calling it these days).
Read… I turned to my housemate for book recommendations this month as I’ve been struggling to find something inspiring. She suggested Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe with the disclaimer that it’s non-fiction but reads like you’re watching a movie. I’m only a few pages in but will report back.
Listen… With so many Splendour sideshows happening across the country I’ve been inspired to mix up my music taste this month. A friend offered me a ticket to Loyle Carner, and while I didn’t end up going he’s been my vibe for the past few days. Think Jorja Smith meets Stormzy? Kinda makes me want to move to the UK.
Arts & Culture Editor
Watch... I did the Barbenheimer double feature last Saturday. I think with all the anticipation and discourse around Barbie and few details on Oppenheimer, I enjoyed the latter more. So much in fact that I downloaded American Prometheus on Audible immediately afterwards. It was also a novelty seeing Einstein on screen and I loved Emily Blunt's cutting performance as her character is interrogated. Also, Cillian Murphy and Benny Safdie. So hot. Besides these two movies, I've been glued to the broadcasts of the FIFA Women's World Cup. When I'm not sitting in a stadium or pub, I'm smashing Takis and watching Alexandra Popp head in goals. It's my happy place.
Read... Two of four books I read this month centre on pianists; The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan and Deborah Levy's August Blue. I tore through both of them and enjoyed Dolan's intricate twist on the marriage plot with emphasis on guilt and obligation, while I loved travelling across Europe with Elsa Miracle Anderson and piecing together her worldview through other people's treatment of her. As for the other two? I just put down Caroline O'Donoghue's The Rachel Incident, a juicy immersion into early adulthood, and finally got around to reading Come As You Are by sex educator Emily Nagoski, which is just as practical as everyone says it is.
Listen... Dub at the Cup, a daily podcast covering the WWC. I warned you I am sick with football hype! Ever since Julia Jacklin released her cover of Shivers, I've gone down a rabbit hole of The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party. Australian classics.