DNX Picks: What to Watch under Quarantine

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Shit-posting. Trash talk.  Panay vs Negros. Conspiracy theories.  Memes. The glorious app called TikTok.

People have been coming up with increasingly creative ways to kill time, defeat boredom, fight cabin fever, and resist the urge to murder the next-door-neighbor who insists on warbling My Way beyond curfew.

DNX has decided to come up with a list of movies or TV series that could help while away the time while in isolation, under home quarantine, or just simply alone and single (with cats).

Note please, that the films we have curated are our own choices. You can have your own preferences, of course.  What we are sharing is not by any means the greatest of the great, nor art house flicks.  So you might find something that would fit your mood.

WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU ARE DEPRESSED

TV SERIES

F*R*I*E*N*D*S.  Hello Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Ross, Monica, and Phoebe (and Gunther).   Series has a massive iconic appeal thanks to good-looking cast’s chemistry. Is it the greatest in TV ever?  Hell, no.  But the humor and jokes are easily digestible and with 10 Seasons (with 22 episodes per season, except for the last one).  If you like F*R*I*E*N*D*S, you might also like:  Brooklyn Nine-Nine (ongoing series available on streaming sites), or How I Met your Mother (same format), or Big Bang Theory (like Friends but with nerds).  

MOVIES

For good ol’ nostalgic fun, our Sales head recommends The Gods Must Be Crazy; it is universally appealing, heartwarming, with a very loveable main character.  Our video unit head recommends Evan Almighty, the Steve Carrel starrer where the main character was told by God to create an ark.  The Executive Editor, a Stephen Chow Fan, recommends Kung Fu Hustle (“THE ONE!”), or Shaolin Soccer (with the lovely Vicki Zhao). For the old souls, there’s the Lemmon-Curtis classic Some Like it Hot (White Chicks but classier).  Quirky Dadaists can go for any of the two Monty Python Films:  Life of Brian, or Holy Grail.

If you like satire you might also like:  Zombieland, or Shaun of the Dead.  Or Hot Fuzz.

WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU WANT TO BREAK LAWS (BUT CAN’T)

TV SERIES

Breaking Bad.  “I am the danger.” “Say my name.” “Tread lightly.” The series about an over-qualified Chemistry teacher who perfected the formula for blue crystal has been held in high regard for its almost impeccable run (five seasons with each season bringing in acting and directing honors for the series).  Walter White, Skyler, Jesse Pinkman, Saul Goodman, Hank Shrader. And the mysterious Gus Fring.  What’s not to love?  If you like Breaking Bad, you might also like The Sopranos (unfortunately, you have to get a bootlegged copy for this one).  Failing that, there’s Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) “Bella ciao, ciao, ciao!”  Or Narcos(Season 1 is still best).

MOVIES

Channel your inner mobster with any of the mob movies directed by Martin Scorsese: Mean Streets, Casino, Goodfellas, or The Departed.  Or, if you want the movie that inspired The Departed, Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs.  Or the Filipino flick that was inspired by these films: OTJ by Erik Matti. A non-Scorsese film that has the same feel, and looks at the grey areas separating law and lawlessness is L.A. Confidential.  Note that these films are rather unflinching in their look of the criminal underbelly, and does not in any way glamourize crime. 

If you want a glossier feel, Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables (Ennio Morricone’s score! Armani’s suits! THE ODESSA STEPS TRIBUTE!), or any of the two The Godfather films (part three is unfortunately not as good). Coppola’s mafia films are so iconic, they remain memeable, quotable (“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”), and it created a slew of tropes that became the standard for mob films.

Wild card entry: If you like Goodfellas and lots of violence, you might also enjoy Brian de Palma’s Scarface.

IF YOU WANT TO FEEL OPTIMISTIC/HOPEFUL

TV SERIES

Band of BrothersWe know how WW2 ended and how Allied soldiers fought.  The series deals with the adventures of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, from the time they went training under Capt. Ross Geller, I mean, Sobel, to the time they captured the Eagle’s Nest.  Eagle-eyed viewers can see early performances by big stars like James McAvoy, Simon Pegg, Michael Fassbender, and a very skinny Tom Hardy.  Stranger Things would be for those who miss the 80s and are fans of Stephen King’s oeuvre (series pays homage to both).  And then there’s Sense8, from the Wachowski Sisters (the ones who gave us The Matrix franchise), about eight people who can bond mentally.  

Image from Netflix

MOVIES

Sometimes, there are films that you just simply have to watch to make you feel a little good about things especially when the situation gets too bleak.  Life is Wonderful fits the bill about a down-and-out family man who encountered a series of unfortunate events.  It’s saccharine, true. But we need all the saccharine right now.  Runner-up honors would go to Italy’s La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful), a story set in the WW2 Italy, about an Italian-Jew trying to shield his little boy from the horrors of war.  The managing editor’s personal pick is The Shawshank Redemption: beautiful pacing, beautiful acting from the main actors (Tim Robbin, and Morgan Freeman – what could go wrong?), and a crowd-pleasing ending.

“Last stand” movies – where humanity bands together against an outside menace – could also be welcome.  The Executive Editor’s pick is The Lord of the Rings franchise (12-hours plus of vicious battles; the crowning jewel is still the Battle of Helm’s Deep).  MCU’s Infinity War back-to-back with End Game is also quite welcome (crowd-pleasing moment: “On your left” onwards).  For fans of Chinese films, Red Cliff might also be revisited, or what many believed as its Korean counterpart, The Admiral. For fans of westerns, there’s The Magnificent Seven (the original, with Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner), or the film that inspired it (Seven Samurai) or its Pixar version (A Bug’s Life, because why not?).

Wild card:  If you have fantasies of killing a genocidal maniac, Inglorious Basterds would be a good bet.  Watch out for the basement scene.  Lovely.  Fans of mecha?  The first Pacific Rim is gloriously entertaining.

IF YOU WANT A GOOD SCARE

TV SERIES

Black Mirror is eerily prescient. DO NOT WATCH THEN WHEN DEPRESSED!  Each episode is a stand-alone story, all often set against a cold dystopian future.  Watch The National Anthem (first ep)and see how much it mirrors our society when said society breaks down and relies only on social media.  Kingdom is another original series from South Korea – watch how their leader tries to contain the virus from spreading, how the poor suffers from discrimination while the nobles can get around the law. It might be filed under fantasy but the issues just hit too close to home.

Image from Netflix

MOVIES

Cities under quarantine. A novel virus causing a pandemic in no time flat.  Patient 1 contracting virus after a layover.  Said virus originating from bats (in CHINA no less).  The CDC and the WHO frantically trying to find a cure.  Fears that virus could be a bioweapon.  Familiar? It’s the plot from Contagion, film by Steven Soderberg with a star-studded ensemble cast led by Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne.  The eerie similarities would be enough to make you paranoid.  28 Days Later would make a good companion piece to this. No ordinary zombie film.  About a rage-inducing virus that could be transmissible through body fluids and infected blood. Film actually answers the question:  What if society breaks down, and there are no rules? Managing Editor’s pick:  Toss-up between Us, and Get Out.  Some of us fear losing our sense of self, and identity, of losing control over our lives, of our consciousness being controlled by others. Both films directed by comedian Jordan Peele (guy is a friggin’ genius, who knew?).

Wild CardWorld War Z. Plague turns people to zombies.  Mayhem ensues. Brad Pitt fights for life and family.

IF YOU WANT TO MESS UP YOUR MIND

TV Series

Westworld. Robots. Enslavement. Revolution. Carnage. Westworld is about theme parks where androids are made to fulfill the (human) guests desires.  Until of course, some of them gained sentience.  You know from reading that sentence that nothing good would come out of it.  Answers the question: What happened to Jesse Pinkman after he was freed in Breaking Bad? Or maybe not. Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams isa 10-episode series with standalone episodes, each episode based off work from seminal sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. Watch Kill All Others and be disturbed at how it hews closely to real life.

Image from Sony Pictures Television

MOVIES

There’s weird.  Then there’s David Lynch weird.  If you want a good mindf*ck, go for Mulholland Dr. where viewers might even try to question reality and what influences it. Executive Editor’s picks are The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, That Obscure Object of Desire, and The Exterminating Angel from Spanish surrealist Luis Bunuel.  Watch two different actors playing the same character in That Obscure Object of Desire, for instance, and note Bunuel’s sharp commentary of the hypocrisy of the genteel bourgeois.  Managing Editor’s pick is Fight Club, but she cannot talk about it.

Image from Goodreads

Wild Card:   You cannot talk about weird without talking about Chris Nolan.  Managing Editor’s Picks are The Prestige, Inception, and Memento.  Special mention with Memento, a film told backwards with a head-slapping resolution towards the end.

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