Films & TV in quarantine (part 2)

Dec 2021

Possessor - A scifi horror that blends the ‘sleeve’ technology concept of Altered Carbon with the cosmic suspense of Black Mirror

The Trial of the Chicago 7 - A historical legal drama with director/writer Aaron Sorkin’s iconic fast-paced dialogues and an ensemble cast, including Succession’s Jeremy Strong (I didn’t even recognize him as Jerry Rubin!)

Primer - An indie scifi with an extremely low budget ($7K!), and showcases perhaps the most convoluted time travel plotline I have ever seen in film (had to watch it a few times to understand)

Nomadland - A beautiful drama filmed before the pandemic that somehow delicately captured America’s collective desire to travel during the pandemic (#vanlife)

Sound of Metal - A drama with a mesmerizing performance by lead actor Riz Ahmed + incredible sound design that lets the audience experience vicariously the initial confusion and pain of losing your hearing

The Outpost - A war film that doesn’t dwell on the glory of the battle, and shows the brutality of a fight that never seemed to end

Rivers and Roads: The Head & The Heart - A documentary-style film that captures the band’s performance at the place of their inception: Pike Place Market in Seattle. Filmed before the pandemic & released during the pandemic, it was a beautiful reminder of a time pre-covid

Minari - A drama that rightfully deserves its place as a nominee for Best Pictures, as there is nothing that better represents the American Dream than an immigrant family trying to make it in rural United States in the 1980s

Weathering with You - A romantic fantasy anime that shares some similarities with Your Name, but nevertheless ranks high as a coming-of-age story about love and friendship

See You Yesterday - A scifi that breaks the traditions of this genre, and grounds technological advancement with existing societal issues

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - A Marvel blockbuster that pays homage to the kung fu and martial arts genre films that came before it, but not without adding a bit too much CGI for my liking

Dune - An epic scifi directed by Denis Villeneuve that did the impossible: portrayed the Dune universe on the big screen with jaw-dropping cinematography by Greg Fraser, deafening score by Hans Zimmer (best experienced in theaters), and ensemble cast dedicated to the craft

Last Night in Soho - A psychological horror that plays on our collective desire for nostalgia, only to bring out the ugly side of history that many of us tend to forget

Memento - A mystery thriller from 2000, considered one of the best works from acclaimed director Christopher Nolan due to its nonlinear narrative, and often considered as the inception of Nolan’s obsession with time as a theme in his filmography

No Time to Die - A satisfying, action-packed conclusion to Daniel Craig’s James Bond, with full story arcs for many recurring characters from the franchise

Spiderman: No Way Home - An ambitious, bold MCU film that wraps up the Spiderman ‘Home’ trilogy with near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores from both critics and audiences. For fans of Spiderman and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film will give you joy

Don’t Look Up - While dystopian films mostly follow similar patterns, this black-comedy satire finds some unique angles based on relevant references to our current state of world

Arcane (Season 1) - A fantasy series based on the lore from League of Legends, with strong characters, story, action, & an animation style similar to acclaimed video game series Dishonored

The Expanse (Season 1 - 5) - An epic scifi series with well developed characters, multiple engaging storylines, and ultimately a story about the “tribal politics that divides us, and the common humanity that unites us”

Twin Peaks (Season 1 - 3) - A mystery-horror serial that effectively defined the cinematography that is now commonplace in today’s television dramas (Season 3, filmed & released 25 years later, garnered critical acclaim and is my favorite of the series)

Gilmore Girls (Season 1 - 7, Netflix Special) - A comedy-drama with witty dialogue from the two protagonists Lorelai & Rory, effective mix of humor and drama, and many, many pop-culture references to the early 2000s

The Queen’s Gambit - A coming-of-age period drama about a fictional chess prodigy, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, that brought a resurgence in chess interest during the pandemic

American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson - The “Trial of the Century” is brought back in dramatic detail with a star-studded cast that showcases the power of paparazzi media, and the challenges in removing bias on a high-profile case

True Detective (Season 1) - A crime drama with nonlinear storytelling, complex + imperfect characters, and themes of philosophical pessimism, masculinity, Christianity, and influences of weird cosmic horror. Easily the best mystery-thriller series I’ve seen

The Killing (Season 1 - 2) - A crime drama set in the grime, overcast winters of Seattle, an ideal setting for many mystery-thriller stories (e.g. Twin Peaks, Alan Wake)

The Night Of - A crime drama that offers a realistic, kafkaesque portrayal of the American justice system, and illustrates the grey areas between the ideals of “seeking justice” and the temptation to “just breeze through another day as an enforcer of the justice system”

Mare of Easttown - A crime drama that may initially seem duplicative (yet another series about a detective investigating a murder in a small town), but Kate Winslet’s spectacular performance + Brad Ingelsby’s authentic portrayal of suburban Philadelphia draws you in

Ted Lasso (Season 1 - 2) - A sports comedy-drama (with lead actor Jason Sudeikis at his best) that captured warm hearts (and happy tears) around the world during the pandemic, with sweeping Emmys nominations across the board

Sharp Objects - A psychological thriller with bizarre, surreal visuals that is borderline terrifying, and powerful performance from lead actress Amy Adams

The White Lotus - A black-comedy about dysfunctional families and staff at a vacation resort in Hawaii; oftentimes you’re not sure whether to laugh, cry, cringe, or be terrified

The Outsider - Another Stephen King novel adapted into a pysychological thriller horror crime drama that uses supernatural fiction to illustrate the despair of loss

Midnight Mass - A supernatural horror drama that showcases writer/director Mike Flanagan’s unique approach to the vampire genre by combining it with faith + religion, and how it affects a small, isolated community located on a remote island (perfect setting tbh)

Only Murders in the Building - A mystery-comedy (with the unlikely trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez!) that blends a mix of satire, drama, and humor towards the true crime fanbase

Squid Game - Following the success of 2019 South Korean film Parasite, Netflix took a bet on writer/director Hwang Dong-Hyuk’s story about the rich-vs-poor and the negative effects of capitalism; that investment paid off, as this series capture the world’s attention during the pandemic

Succession (Season 1 - 3) - A black-comedy-drama about the dysfunctional 0.1%, with an ensemble cast, impeccable writing, and a musical score that elevates prestige, glory, & power 1000x

The Wire (Season 1 - 3) - A crime drama that accurately portrays the balance between society, police, and politics, and offers commentary about the modern American city, how we as citizens live together, and how institutions have an effect on individuals