When the days in the calendar run out, people tend to reflect—though not in the way you may want, like becoming a literal a human mirror which would be awesome, but mentally and stuff. Personally, I am not opposed to a little deep thinking and searching through my email for GooglePlay receipts in order to sway what you watch this holiday season. I suppose that you might have thought at one point or another that I’m a pretty ratty human since I cannot seem to enjoy a single movie I see in theaters. I would like to dispel this perspective of me, as I watch many wonderful new shows and movies every year. It’s just that normally they are not new theatrical release films, which is what I write reviews for (though you can see what I thought about those movies here). I actually love raving about shows and movies and will proceed to do so right now. I’ll even tell you on what online steaming source you can watch it. Here’s what I spent my fall semester watching…
Girls (HBO Go)
I never had any intention of watching Girls. I honestly thought everyone hated Lena Dunham and assumed the show was trash. It took a very ardent recommendation from my editing professor to get me to click on Season 1 Episode 1. He called Girls “the most perfect first season of television.” I decided to give it a go. 10-episode seasons and the episodes are only 22 minutes? Count me in. I watched the pilot and was immediately hooked. From what I gather, most people do not like the show because it a) is too autobiographical to Dunham’s real life and b) has four main female characters who are just too unlikable. First off, yes the show is autobiographical but who cares. It’s such a well-crafted, hilarious show. Why should I care that Lena Dunham is playing herself? It’s not like I know her personally and am sick of seeing her personality too much. Secondly, I LOVE how at some point in the show, I despise every single character. Because Dunham wrote real women, they are horrible…a lot of the time…as most people can be. But they are also wonderful. Their conversations with each other are so true that during the first season I would fall over laughing because Dunham was spot on for how girls act in certain situations or talk to one another. It’s a relatively cliché free show. I love it. I am almost done with Season 5 and cannot wait for the sixth (and final) season to air in February. ***WATCH***
Black Mirror (Netflix)
I LOVE BLACK MIRROR SO MUCH AND I NEED TO CONVEY TO YOU, WEARY READER, THAT IT IS THE BEST THING YOU CAN WATCH FOR YOURSELF RIGHT NOW. I’m not a good enough writer yet to use eloquent yet subtle rhetoric to convince you that Black Mirror should be the top of your list for stuff to watch right now. Caps lock will have to do.
Black Mirror is a British show created by Charlie Brooker. There are three episodes in Season 1 and four in Season 2. Then Netlix bought the show and released a six episode Season 3.
Each episode is independent of one another. You do not (and in my opinion should not) watch the show from beginning to end. Skip around! Get together with friends and watch an episode. It’s the perfect show because there’s no pressure to keep up with others who watch the show.
Here’s what it’s about: Each episode of Black Mirror takes place in the not-so-distant future (except the pilot but I’ll get to that later) where there is some technology that seems sooo cool at first. Then the episode continues and you are left feeling empty and afraid of technology. Almost every episode has a very melancholy ending. Similar to Girls, Black Mirror does not confirm to traditional three-act storytelling. There is no nicely tied up ending. Again, that’s what makes it so brilliant. I think Black Mirror is an incredibly well-written, well-produced, well-acted, well-directed, well-everything’d show.
Watch it. But please heed my advice: Do not watch Season 1 Episode 1 “The National Anthem” first. Not only is the episode written differently (it does not take place in the future or feature a new technology) but it is highly disturbing. It messed me up. All my friends who have seen this episode agree. It’s really messed up. Just skip it. As I said, none of the episodes are connected, so just pick any episode except that one to start. My personal favorite episode is Season 2 Episode 4 “White Christmas” starring Jon Hamm. But again, I love every episode. Pick any of them. Thank me later. ***WATCH***
Mr. Robot (Amazon Video)
I watched the first season and LOVED it until the “twist” at the end. Then I started felt bored and didn’t bother to tune in for season two. Here’s some advice: Black Mirror is similar theme/better show. However, I do love the strange editing on Mr. Robot. And Rami Malek is pretty.
In one week I had two professors, teaching radically different classes, show clips from Portlandia starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. I remember laughing until my stomach hurt during both clips. Now I watch an episode of Portlandia every night before I fall asleep. It’s brilliant satire. ***WATCH***
Stranger Things (Netflix)
I watched this during the rage when it was oh so cool to be watching this super-neat, nostalgic television show. I enjoyed it. It didn’t make my heart beat faster with excitement to watch. But it was short enough to get through without getting annoyed at Nancy. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll watch season 2 or not…
25th Hour (dir. Spike Lee)
So my editing professor, Alex, made a list of 15 essential films to see of the last 15 years. These are mostly the movies I watch now. Since Alex was an assistant editor for Spike Lee for some time, it makes sense that he would put one of his movies on here. 25th Hour stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Rosario Dawson. Ed Norton’s character is caught with a whooolllle lot of drugs in his home. He has one day before he enters jail for 7 years. We follow what he does while thinking to ourselves, “What would I do with one day of freedom?” I recommend.
Margaret (dir. Kenneth Lonergan)
Kenneth Lonergan is the man of the hour with his new film Manchester by the Sea. Margaret was his last movie. Once again, it came recommended by my editing professor. Apparently Margaret was shot in 2005 but legal issues with editing caused it to be released in 2011. That’s why a lot of people did not see the movie. However, for the people who did see it, agree that it is a masterpiece. Anna Paquin plays an idealistic high school girl who witnesses a horrible car wreck, thinking it could be her fault. I won’t say anymore.
Short Term 12 (dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)
My editing professor said that Brie Larson really won her Oscar for this movie, not Room. He recommended this movie almost more than any movie out there. I watched it on Netflix (so you can too). I loved it. Brie Larson plays the director of a short-term housing space for troubled youths. The film is funny, heartbreaking, slow, and magical.
Memento (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Yes, Chris Nolan is one of, if not my absolute, favorite writer/directors. Yes, I loved this movie so so so much. Yes, I think everyone should watch it immediately.
(Disclaimer: I cannot remember everything I watched this semester, which is why this article is called ~some~ stuff I’ve been watching.)