Dominic LeRose and Johnny Bildings are seniors at UW-Madison who are fanatics about all things entertainment. Their goal is to recommend their favorite movies, TV shows, books, music, documentaries and specials to make the dismal times of the current pandemic a little less sufferable.
Hulu continues its hot streak of acquired romantic comedies in 2020, this time bringing the classic Christmas spirit with a unique twist that still provides all the warm fuzzies you could want. Starring Mackenzie Davis (“Terminator Dark Fate”) as Harper Caldwell and Kristen Stewart as Abby Holland, “Happiest Season” tells the story of a lesbian couple traveling home for the holidays, whose relationship quickly encounters a bump in the road when Harper reveals she still hasn’t come out to her parents as a result of her small-town roots and conservative upbringing. With Abby aiming to impress Harper’s perfection-seeking parents, played by Mary Steenburgen (“Step Brothers”) and Victor Garber (any TV role ever), while not revealing the “big surprise” too soon - the usual series of holiday hijinks and life lessons follow, bringing some warm-hearted laughs that should serve as a good finals decompressor sometime over the next few weeks. Throw in everyone’s favorite “Schitt’s Creek” star Dan Levy as Abby’s best friend John, and it seems Hulu’s struck gold with another new recipe for their rom-com cookbook.
"You’re The Worst"
Sad people doing awful things, I stumbled upon “You’re The Worst” on Hulu in the midst of my quarantine sorrows last week and found myself pleasantly surprised by this virtually unheard of FX comedy-drama series. Revolving around the unlikely relationship between Chris Gere’s (“Detective Pikachu”) sullen British novelist Jimmy Overly and Aya Cash’s (“The Boys”) clinically depressed PR executive Gretchen Cutler, the show hammers home mental health discussions with an edgy yet profound sense of humor, and will leave anyone who sticks around past the opening episode with a good laugh and cry somewhere in the course of its first season. I say the first episode because the first 10 minutes will definitely tell you whether or not “Worst” is a good fit - do not, I repeat, do not watch this with your family members - but regardless, I feel like it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for a change of pace and a new set of comedy faces to enjoy.
"Children of Men"
Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 masterpiece isn’t only one of the smartest science fiction films ever made, it’s one of the greatest films of all time period. Set in a futuristic London in a world where all women are infertile, a former activist and bureaucrat suffering from depression and hopelessness (Clive Owen, in his finest performance) becomes the unlikely hero set to deliver a pregnant girl to a scientific sanctuary to protect her from danger and save humanity from the ongoing apocalyptic dystopia. This film is not only a brilliant examination of society and humanity but a visual poem. Cuarón’s direction is nothing short of spectacular, every scene hooking you into a surprisingly realistic nightmare while finding room for hope. Featuring one of what I would argue is the most riveting, visually arresting long takes in cinematic history and one of the most beautiful scenes ever filmed on screen, “Children of Men” is a perfect film for our times, not only due to us being in the Holiday season and the film having strong metaphors for the birth of Christ, but due to the hopeless times we’re living in.
My personal favorite romantic comedy (which may not be saying much considering my general distaste for the genre), “Love Actually” is a Christmas classic that casts a warm spell. Featuring several characters struggling with their love lives in London around Christmas time, “Love Actually” brings both humor and heart and shines a light on the beauty of love. An ultimate feel-good movie, this 2003 hit is a classic that, to this day, remains a romantic comedy that works on every level.
With winter on its way, escaping to the icy frozen poles of our planet is the perfect way to spend time on Netflix. BBC Earth’s “Frozen Planet,” narrated by the great David Attenborough, transports us to the coldest, most spectacular corners of the globe to document the lives of creatures such as penguins, polar bears, narwals, whales, arctic wolves and more in spectacular, state of the art footage. Any fan of nature documentaries can expect to be amazed by this series.
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