Having been quarantined at home for almost three weeks now, life has slowly gotten a bit dull. To curb some of this boredom, here are some movies and shows that I thought would interesting to the Amherst College community during these times:
One of my best new-to-Netflix recommendations, this fun and quirky comedy is NBC’s greatest show that most people have never watched live. Jam-packed with jokes, of which a commendable amount actually lands well, “Community” follows a group of students as they navigate the absolute trainwreck that is Greendale Community College. Although it stars a white man, the diversity of the show is admirable, and it informs much of the comedy in it. “Community”covers all of its bases in terms of comedic value, serving us typical setup-punchline sitcom humor alongside quirky character bits and an overall uplifting atmosphere. The episodes are short, easily-digestible and yet still hold together an interesting plot with extraordinary devotion to character development and world-building. Overall, it’s a hilarious show that is definitely deserving of a binge. Available on Netflix.
“God’s Own Country”
Overshadowed by “Call Me By Your Name” for the breakout queer film of 2017, “God’s Own Country” is the fictional account of two farmers finding romance in a literal pig sty. Set in the countryside of northern England, the film follows Johnny (Josh O’Connor), a bitter young man desperately trying to upkeep his handicapped father’s farm, and Georgie (Alec Secăreanu), a Romanian migrant farmer who is hired by the farm for two weeks of work. Despite Johnny’s initial resistance to their mutual attraction, the tension that builds between the two is palpable, and when finally unleashed, the film becomes an undeniable flurry of passion and emotion. If you’re looking for an emotional suckerpunch, this film, as gorgeous and brutal as the region it’s set in, will provide that and more. Available on Netflix.
Hailing from Senegal, this highbrow film deservedly took the Grand Prix at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2019. It begins with a young woman in a forbidden extramarital romance, and ends with spirit possession and an investigation into grand arson. Highlighting class inequality in Senegal alongside the clash between tradition and modernity in a postcolonial society, “Atlantics” is a love story unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Although the description sounds dramatic, the actual plot of the film feels very slow, and it doesn’t make a point of being easily digestible. Often, the film aims for atmosphere over grand gestures; there’s no overstated drama, no petty fights for the sake of entertainment. It remains resolute as a raw exploration into grief and the perseverance of an independent woman. “Atlantics” is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to love, all underscored by the ever-present crashing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean on the waterfront city of Dakar. Available on Netflix.
From “Killing Eve” to “Fleabag,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge is undoubtedly a powerhouse in television comedy at the moment. Her raunchy, dry humor balances a fine line of being so inherently British and yet so universally relatable at the same time, with “Crashing” serving as another example of that comedic sensibility. The show centers around an abandoned London hospital which has been converted to a poorly-run living quarters, putting a focus on the dysfunctional lives of the tenants. Each character has their moments, but it’s clear from the beginning that Lulu, played by Waller-Bridge herself, steals the show. A long lost friend of one of the tenants, Lulu unexpectedly shows up to live at the hospital and quickly upends almost every character dynamic in the show. Waller-Bridge’s derailed performance of the wild party girl, who in fact does have a heart underneath all the heavy drinking, clearly showcases the actress’s star quality, and from watching this show, which was her original television debut, it’s clear to see how her career took off. “Crashing,” while not as refined as “Fleabag,” is still absurd, weird and absolutely hilarious at moments you would never expect. Available on Netflix.
If you’re not already a fan of the show, now is the perfect time to invest yourself in this institution of reality television. For years, a friend of mine had been trying to get me to watch the show, and I resisted because I never wanted to commit to something that was already so established (and had 40 seasons). That being said, quarantine is the perfect opportunity to invest yourself in this behemoth of television. After getting through my first season in just three days, I can confidently say: “Survivor” is worth the hype. As a reality show, it’s so easy to invest yourself in the people, but it’s not all drama; the strategy behind the game is intriguing itself, despite the absurdity of some of the challenges they endure. Also, getting a bunch of starved, sleep-deprived people to live in the wilderness together for weeks brings about some of the most interesting dynamics I’ve seen on reality television. Easy, enjoyable and seemingly never-ending, “Survivor” could definitely fulfill your media diet for the next 6 months at least. Available on Amazon Prime Video.