Edited by Isabella Fatato
With the United Kingdom now over a month into lockdown, it comes as no surprise that Reel Talk’s editorial team are armed with a set of film and television recommendations from a variety of streaming services outlined in our recent guide. We hope that everyone can stay safe and relax with some of our picks, and if you feel inspired to write something of your own then all the information you need can be found at the bottom of the page. Happy viewing!
Charlotte Ammirato (Third Year) recommends…
Vikings (Michael Hurst, 2013 – 2020) – Available on Amazon Prime
With six seasons in its backlog and final episodes scheduled to air later this year, Vikings is the perfect show to binge, binge, binge! From Norway to Russia to Iceland, these Vikings fight and trade their way across the world, slaying any man or woman who stands in their path. Family troubles stew, as we follow Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons trying to establish their dynasty, to be remembered as the greatest Vikings of all. And of course, behind these men stand even stronger women: warrior shield-maidens showing some of the greatest on-screen bravery and battle TV has ever seen.
Isabella Fatato (Second Year) recommends…
Dark (Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, 2017 – ) – Available on Netflix
The mind-bending, hauntingly beautiful sci-fi thriller Dark, follows the lives of four families in the small ominously menacing German town of Winden. When two children mysteriously disappear from Winden, a catalyst of unfathomable events plunges the families against forces beyond their imagining. A show that is defiantly twisty and obsessed in its search for the complex truth, Dark allows the viewer to become engaged and intertwined with the splintering lives and relationships of its characters and the town’s sinful past. Marked by the supernatural, Netflix’s first German language TV series will leave you utterly confused, but utterly addicted to its intricate puzzles and its narratively fragmented explorations of fate and free will, rendered all the more compelling by its profound soundtrack, phenomenal cast and spectacularly poignant visuals. A definite must watch for this lockdown!
Harry Russell (First Year) recommends…
The Midnight Gospel (Pendleton Ward and Duncan Trussell, 2020 – ) – Available on Netflix
The new show from Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, based on Duncan Trussell’s podcast, The Midnight Gospel offers a unique viewing experience. Combining psychedelic imagery with interviews about people’s spiritual beliefs, the show is best watched without a “binge” mentality; each episode deserves time to digest and think about, and personally I ended up going back to the beginning and re-watching episodes as soon they were finished.
Despite mainly functioning as an interview show, it is still capable of offering an emotional punch, and I would say the final episode is perhaps one of my most affecting experiences of the year so far.
Matthew Smolenski (Second Year) recommends…
The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, 2018) – Available on Mubi (UK)
The busy streets, casual travel and pulsing landscapes that populate The Grand Bizarre cannot help but feel of another time when viewed during lockdown. Guided by a uniquely eccentric soundtrack, Mack’s 16mm camera documents the timeless joy of communal expression, conveyed through a collage of stop-motion animated textiles that alter and accentuate the myriad locations they share with anonymous passers-by. Penetrating a variety of cultural barriers, Mack’s positioning of art as a universal language does not, however, come without acknowledgement of the solitary lethargy required to converse in it. It is this poetic final touch that makes The Grand Bizarre essential, comforting and hopeful lockdown viewing.
Edie Straight (Second Year) recommends…
The Last Dance (Michael Tollin, 2020) – Available on Netflix
The Last Dance documents the Chicago Bulls’ sensational 1997-1998 basketball season, following Michael Jordan at the peak of his career whilst also exploring the tensions bubbling behind the scenes amongst the team’s management.
Incredibly exhaustive reels of archive game footage showcase slam dunks that dreams are made of. Meanwhile, interviews with the major players, coaches and journalists provide a riveting and intimate narrative to the Bulls’ journey – Barack Obama even makes an appearance to provide some commentary. The documentary also features side arcs following Scottie Pippin (the Robin to Jordan’s Batman) and Dennis Rodman (the wildcard bad-boy) that add emphasis to the true power of the team as a whole, and a phenomenal soundtrack: 90s beats that bring the era alive without feeling laboured.
If you’re familiar with the legend of the Bulls it’s a nostalgic revisit to one of the greatest teams basketball’s ever seen. If you’re not, then The Last Dance is one hell of an education.
Warwick Film & TV Undergraduates: If you have a recommendation of your own or a piece you’re interested in pitching, please get in touch with the Reel Talk representative for your year:
First Year – Harry Russell (Harry.Russell@warwick.ac.uk) Second Year – Edie Straight (Edie.Straight.@warwick.ac.uk) Third Year – Charlotte Ammirato (C.Ammirato@warwick.ac.uk)