By Eleanor Kenny, Third Year, Film & TV
Whether your lockdown has been filled with the stress of impending deadlines or just a bit of extra time for rest and relaxation, sitting back in front of the TV (or laptop) is always a good way to unwind. Here are some of the best films and series to stream this lockdown.
Mad Men (2007-2015)
The noughties are rightly praised with producing some of the greatest TV shows in history, and Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men sits amongst the best. Mad Men chronicles the lives of those employed by an established advertising agency based in New York, delving into personal lives and working relationships adjacent to one of the most turbulent and change inducing decades in American history; the 1960s.
The show’s brilliance can be credited to Weiner’s acute attention to detail, be it through visual aesthetics (apparently even the weather is accurate to the day), or the ways in which each character exists within the show’s timeline.
Jon Hamm’s lead performance as Don Draper is deservedly acclaimed, offering a complex and morally challenging depiction of the American Dream and at what cost it can be achieved. So, cosy up and settle in for hours of slick sixties suave, or if you’re in need of making a night in quarantine a little more fun, you can always take a shot whenever someone lights up a cigarette.
Time (2020) dir. Garrett Bradley
I was lucky enough to catch Time as part of the BFI London Film Festival and was elated to see it has arrived on to Prime Video. I basked in adoration and appreciation of the film’s central message: one of unbreakable hope and perseverance, albeit the result of injustice that is familiar to too many families.
Time follows Sybil ‘Fox’ Richardson’s life span over 2 decades, raising and providing for a family and establishing herself as a respected entrepreneur, all while campaigning for the release of her husband.
Bradley’s ever sensitive hand serves to highlight the consequential realities for black families who experience the cruelty of the American Justice System first-hand. It offers an insight to how the Richardson family managed to progress under the weight of absence; of a husband, of a father, of privileges granted to white counterparts. The combination of stunning black and white home videos alongside Bradley’s own footage only make the story ever more visceral. Inspiring, eye-opening, and showcasing a new exemplary voice in cinema, I cannot think of a more essential viewing for this moment.
Below Deck (2013-)
I can wholeheartedly and without an ounce of shame say that Below Deck is one of my favourite things I have watched in quarantine, and one of the most binge-worthy pieces of television to grace streaming services all year.
A true gem in the never-ending pit of reality shows, Below Deck has mastered the recipe for justifiable trash. First airing in 2013, the show follows a group of young yachties making their living on a 100ft vessel, going above and beyond to appease millionaire guests, and the ever-high-strung Captain Lee.
A true gem in the never-ending pit of reality shows, Below Deck has mastered the recipe for justifiable trash
While the staff are a colourful mix of characters who will certainly extract a strong love or hate reaction from you, the insight into the heinous and mysterious behaviours of those with enough dosh in their pockets to regularly charter these extraordinary boats is a unique one.
Though that isn’t to say the staff aren’t responsible for the majority of the entertainment the show has to offer, as every season is laced with feuds, scandals, affairs and a surprising amount of concussions. It’s never plain sailing when a group of absurdly rich people are confined to a boat with overworked staff, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the chaos.
The Last Dance (2020)
If, like myself, you know nothing about sport, let alone 90s basketball, don’t be deterred from delving headfirst into The Last Dance, as you will embark into an exceptionally unique tale of a never-ending pursuit of greatness.
The Last Dance is Michael Jordan’s showcase, and as one of the most iconic sporting figures to ever exist, it feels appropriate that this series goes above and beyond to cover the highs and lows of the Chicago Bulls reign in the 1990s.
The Last Dance highlights deserved moments and personalities, as well as never before seen insight into the Bulls’ 1997-98 season, shot on stunning 16mm footage. You will be jumping for joy one second and glassy eyed the next, observing Jordan’s most personal moments a little too intimately at times.
It is difficult to believe that all of it actually happened, which is an ode to Jordan’s individuality as a player. But as with any journey to the top, it takes a village, and that village consists of fellow players, friends, rivals and coaches, each granted their own moment to reflect on the Bulls stamp on basketball history. I quite frankly envy anyone who gets to experience it all for the first time.
What's been your favourite lockdown watch?