Since entering lockdown back in March, my movie watching has taken a serious nosedive. I used to head off to my local cinema a few times a week and just switch off while watching the latest releases, before writing up my thoughts for CineChat. But remaining at home, trying to work, and just generally trying to maintain some kind of normality in life, has made that hard for me to continue. With everything going on in the world, my concentration and motivation for watching new movies has suffered, and I’ve even struggled to maintain interest in a lot of new TV shows that might otherwise have held my interest. There have been a few things that I’ve managed to stick with though, and inspired by recent quaranstream diary entries from Clare, I thought I’d put together my own.
Into the Night (Netflix)
This Belgian show is definitely one of those that managed to fly completely under my radar until I saw mention of it on another review site. The Netflix description tells you everything you need to know and was more than enough to draw me right in – “Passengers and crew aboard a hijacked overnight flight scramble to outrace the sun as a mysterious cosmic event wreaks havoc on the world below”. Things kick into gear pretty much straight away in episode 1, as NATO worker Terenzio storms the airport with a gun and boards a late night flight. He hijacks the plane, which is carrying a small group of passengers, and tells them that they must immediately head West in order to outrun the sun, which is killing everyone exposed to it when it rises. Into the Night is six, perfectly paced episodes, full of tension and conflict between those on board. Problems for them to deal with crop up regularly and each episode ends on a great cliff-hanger, urging you to watch another.
Trying (Apple TV)
Nikki (Esther Smith) and Jason (Rafe Spall) are a couple looking to have children. When they discover that they cannot conceive naturally, they begin looking into adoption. Trying is the kind of comedy drama that you’d expect to see on ITV at 9pm on a Monday, and I just found it really enjoyable. Nikki and Jason are both extremely likeable and you really feel yourself rooting for them as they experience the highs and lows of the adoption process, all the while questioning and tackling their own lives, individually and as a couple. There’s also a great supporting cast of friends and family to help them along the way and this is a show where I would gladly welcome a second series.
Normal People (BBC iPlayer)
Clare already covered Normal People on the last chapter of Quaranstream Diaries, but I just wanted to vouch for it as well. On paper, Normal People definitely isn’t the kind of show that I’d normally watch, but I thought this was extremely well done thanks to great writing and an impressive cast. It’s been highly praised for it’s natural, realistic sex scenes, of which there are plenty, but this is just a beautiful portrayal of the lives and loves of… well, normal people. The show meanders along, spanning a number of years as Connell and Marianne come together, drift apart and cross paths again and again, but I’d highly recommended this one.
Little Fires Everywhere (Amazon Prime)
Little Fires Everywhere is an adaptation of the 2017 book by the same name and is produced by Reese Witherspoon, who also stars in this 8 part TV series. The show opens in 1997 where we see the burning home of Elena Richardson (Witherspoon), her husband (Joshua Jackson) and their 4 children as they look on. We are then taken back 4 months to begin watching events unfold in the run up to the fire. Initial suspect is troubled daughter Izzy, but when artist Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) and her teenage daughter Pearl become tenants in the old home of Elena’s parents, issues arise between the two families, tensions mount and additional suspects are introduced. The show does suffer from some serious SED (Second Episode Drag), but soon manages to pick up the pace and drama once more.
Upload (Amazon Prime)
In 2033 it is now possible to upload your consciousness into a digital afterlife, something which can varies in it’s luxuriousness depending on how wealthy you were when alive. It’s also possible for these uploads to video call their loved ones, or even interact with them via sex/cuddle suits worn by the living person (they undergo an intense cleaning process when returned to the hire shop). They’re able to find out what’s going on in the real world and help and guidance is provided by your own “angel” – basically, a customer service rep from the company responsible for managing your afterlife. The show focuses on Nathan (Robbie Amell), a computer programmer who was killed in an automated car accident, as he adjusts to the afterlife and the possibility that he may have been murdered. The show isn’t exactly laugh out loud but is highly imaginative and fun in it’s portrayal of the interesting perks and quirks of a digital afterlife. For example, Nathan discovers early on that, no matter how hard he tries, it is impossible to miss the urinal when taking a pee!
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
If you’ve got Disney+, and have any kind of interest in Star Wars, you don’t need me to tell you about The Mandalorian. Even if you’ve managed to avoid the show up until now, you’ll no doubt be aware of the love, and subsequent abundance of merchandise, for one of it’s cute little stars. Following the adventures of a bounty hunter operating in the outer rim, The Mandalorian for me was just incredible and became essential weekly viewing. Heavily influenced, as was George Lucas when he initially conceived Star Wars, by Western and Samurai movie tropes, the whole show was just visually stunning and hugely enjoyable. Thankfully, season 2 AND season 3 are coming!
Featured image courtesy of Freepik