This week is all about magic: “Light & Magic” on Disney+ takes us behind the scenes of Disney’s special effects unit; “The Swimmers” reminds us how magical life can be; and “Never Have I Ever,” Mindy Kaling’s Netflix comedy, invokes the magic of “Gilmore Girls,” but for Gen Z.
‘Never Have I Ever’
Mindy Kaling’s Netflix comedy “Never Have I Ever” is a bit like this Generation Z’s “Gilmore Girls”: It’s witty, sweet and acutely aware of what it means to grow up as a teenager today — which also means it’s more raunchy and a lot less white than Lorelai and Rory’s sheltered small-town world. The third season premieres on Netflix today, and if the critics are to be believed, it’s going to be brilliant.
A peek behind Disney’s magic
You won’t find any hard-hitting investigative journalism in “Light & Magic,” a six-part documentary about Disney’s special effects unit — Industrial Light & Magic — produced by Disney for Disney’s very own streaming service. Still, if you’re a “Star Wars” fan, VFX geek or even just interested in how some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters have been made, this is a great oral history about the most influential gang of movie magic wizards. Plus, watching the entire show gives you a great idea of how far Hollywood has come, all the way from the miniature models built for the first “Star Wars” to the virtual production sets of “The Mandalorian.”
Don’t give up on ‘The Swimmers’
Julie Otsuka’s “The Swimmers” is one of those novels that seems to be about nothing in particular, as it casually talks about the lives of a group of swimming pool attendees who have little in common but their shared love for laps. Then it zooms in on one of those swimmers and suddenly becomes about everything: life, aging, memories and the fragility of it all. I almost gave up on this book a few dozen pages in because it seemed too inconsequential, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. Because just like doing all those laps you set out to swim, it’s ultimately immensely rewarding.
FitXR is all fun and games — and exercise
Formerly known as BoxVR, FitXR has been a popular fitness app on the Quest for some time. Boxing is still a key part of the app’s workout regimen, but players can now also opt for dance or high-intensity interval training to get their blood pumping. This week, FitXR introduced a mobile companion app that helps you track and follow through on your workout goals, find new classes and even review detailed stats about past workouts. If that sounds like serious business, don’t worry: The VR workouts themselves are immersive and fun enough to make breaking a sweat feel like a game.
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