10 Films to watch in Quarantine

Another British classic, a comedy this time a family adventure. Doug and Abby are separating but put on a united front at Doug’s father’s 75th birthday. The family with Lottie, Mickey and Jess drive up to Scotland for the big event. Gordie is dying of cancer but wants one more day with the children while his other son, Gavin organises the big event. Hilarity and family realness ensues. I love this film as it is really funny in a less obvious way. British comedy is often more subtle than other forms and the chemistry between all the characters along with off hand on-liners and the children’s knack for timing makes this film watchable again and again. I re-watched this film yesterday and while I remembered it being funny, I had forgotten the heart and grief that was present. Yes there is a sadness to the film but real life isn’t all fun and games. I have seen this film at least three times and would highly recommend for anyone looking for a laugh. The views of Scotland also are breathtaking. 10/10 as I see no faults with this one.

Hello readers,

Apologies for not having posted for awhile. I got very busy with university work and then the Coronavirus hit. As I now have more time on my hands due to the government-imposed quarantine, I thought I would recommend 10 films to watch if you need an escape from the situation happening around the world at this time. I have used a mix of genres and these are all films I feel provide an escape into the world of cinema with different settings and destinations that show some locations that aren’t accessible at the moment. I’ve included Hollywood and British films. I have enjoyed all the films below and would recommend if you need something to watch. As ever all the film I recommend are available either on Amazon Prime or Netflix UK.

Everest (2015)

You may not think of this film as a likely choice to distract from a global pandemic but I watched it recently and for the whole film I was completely wrapped up in the story and the fate of the group. The film as you can probably guess is about climbing Mount Everest but as I didn’t know, it is based on a true story about a group of climbers in the 1990s who did not have a happy ending. I thought the film had great realism and gave a real portrayal of the difficulty needed when climbing the highest mountain on Earth. The acting was good, featuring some famous faces: Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley and Naoko Mori. 8/10 because it was quite sad at the end.

About Time (2013)

I have not watched this film in years but it is a classic British rom-com that I will be definitely be revisiting in this time period. Richard Curtis always delivers and this film is no different. It was a breakout role for Domhnall Gleeson establishing him as a lead. The film is set in the real world with a fun twist. In the film when Tim (Gleeson) turns 21, his father tells him of a family secret: when every male reaches 21, they have the ability to time travel within their own lives. He uses this new power to improve his own life in small ways. A really touching film with some good old British nostalgia. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Margot Robbie, Vanessa Kirby and Tom Hollander. 9/10 again for sadness factor but overall it is uplifting with beautiful scenery.

Lion (2016)

This real story tells an emotional journey about a boy who gets separated from his family in India while travelling across the country by train. He is then adopted by an Australian couple and grows up there. Cut to 25 years later and Saroo goes back to try and find his family. This film may have a simple premise but is an amazing true story and contains great scenery of India. It includes great performances from Dev Patel – best of his career-; Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman. I have not seen this film for a couple of years but be prepared to cry. 8/10 a great story but not a 10/10 film.

Green Book (2018)

I happened to see this film after it won the Best Picture Oscar in 2019. When I heard it had won, I was annoyed that a film I hadn’t heard of won. This was before I saw it. One of my favourite films of last year. It was poignant, gentle, dramatic, socially aware. These are all qualities I look for in a good film. As a period piece, it held up with attitudes of the time particularly towards a black, gay man without being overly discriminatory. No main character was racist or homophobic towards Mahershala Ali’s character, Dr. Don Shirley. The films chronicles an Italian-American man acting as a security man for a classical pianist on his tour of the Southern States of the US. They face much backlash from establishments but form a strong bond that isn’t often seen between two older male characters, especially between those of different backgrounds and in the 1960s. I loved the vibe between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali and the fact that when Dr. Shirley is caught naked with another man, Tony (Mortensen) doesn’t so much as bat an eye lid. There could have been more female characters but there wasn’t really room for more than Linda Cardellini who played Tony’s wife, Dolores who stayed at home in New York. I give this film 10/10 as I did when I first watched it. I am really glad that it is available to watch online.

What We Did on Our Holiday (2014)

Another British classic, a comedy this time, a family adventure. Doug and Abby are separating but put on a united front at Doug’s father’s 75th birthday. The family with Lottie, Mickey and Jess drive up to Scotland for the big event. Gordie is dying of cancer but wants one more day with the children while his other son, Gavin organises the big event. Hilarity and family realness ensues. I love this film as it is really funny in a less obvious way. British comedy is often more subtle than other forms and the chemistry between all the characters along with off hand one-liners and the children’s knack for timing makes this film watchable again and again. I re-watched this film yesterday and while I remembered it being funny, I had forgotten the heart and grief that was present. Yes there is a sadness to the film but real life isn’t all fun and games. I have seen this film at least three times and would highly recommend for anyone looking for a laugh. The views of Scotland also are breathtaking. 10/10 as I see no faults with this one.

Long Shot (2019)

I wanted to put in an American rom com as well as British ones as the Americans also do comedy well. This film has elements of a stoner comedy as well as action and romance. Seth Rogen plays Fred who bumps into Charlotte, his babysitter and childhood crush. Charlotte is now big in politics and about to announce her candidacy for President. She hires Fred as a speech writer and the two set off on a round the world press tour and bond together. I thought this film was the right balance of comedy and drama with some very real danger but also heightened reality. I saw it in the cinema last year and will definitely be watching on Netflix again. 8/10 as some scenes are a little over the top but overall a good time with great female representation.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

I really love this film and have seen multiple times in both the cinema and on DVD. A fun way to update the Jumanji film from the 1990s featuring CGI and special effects as I’ve never seen before. The trope of body swapping has been newly revived with teenagers possessing the bodies of action heroes. The film starts by showing the game of Jumanji turning into a video game in 1996. A random boy gets sucked into the game. Cut to 2017 and group of kids find the video game in their school’s junk room while in detention. They then enter the game and must complete it to escape. A great mix of teenage angst mixed with action, comedy and the chemistry between Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. They are well-known friends and collaborators so seeing at as teenagers was fun. I would also recommend the second Jumanji film; Jumanji: The Next Level but it not on streaming platforms at the moment. I give this film 9/10 as it can sometimes feel a little bit of a boys world but the characters of Martha and Bethany do hold their own.

Chalet Girl (2009)

One of my favourite rom coms and again another British one. This time it’s a trip to Austria for a snow filled story. Kim, a skateboard star needs a job. She finds a position as a chalet girl for a rich family in Austria. She then decides to learn to snowboard using her skills from skateboarding. She begins to get out of her shell and have fun with her new friends. She also finds romance with Johnny, son of the family she caters for. Will he pick Kim over his girlfriend? Filled with an amazing cast of Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Bill Nighy, Tamsin Egerton, Sophia Bush, Bill Bailey and Brooke Shields. While this film is set in snow, it is not a Christmas one and I think is watchable any time of the year. 8/10 as the ending is a little rom com cheesy but feel good all the same.

We’re the Millers! (2015)

This film always makes me laugh and never disappoints. One for families with teenagers as features some risque scenes and bad language. Starring comedy geniuses Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, the Miller family take a family vacation to Mexico and road trip back. In reality, Mum, Dad and the two kids aren’t related and just happen to know each other. David deals weed and he is threatened by local drug lord to take a shipment over the US/Mexican border. He enlists Rose; his neighbour and stripper; Kenny; his other neighbour and naive teenager and Casey a local runaway girl that Kenny knows to become the Millers. So many hilarious moments occur particularly when they meet the Fitzgerald family made up of Kathryn Hahn; Nick Offerman and Molly Quinn. This film has some interesting scenery but for me is about the characters and their unlikely bond. 10/10 for the ability to make me laugh over and over.

21 & Over (2013)

I have only seen this film once but found it really funny. It features three college friends as one of them turns 21. His high school friends go and visit for a night of fun which quickly turns into a quest to get Jeff Chang to his medical school interview the next morning. Miller and Casey soon find themselves handling a very drunk friend while navigating parties, cops and how to get back to their friend’s dorm. While at heart, this film is a college frat boy comedy it contained many truths about friendship and the pressures one can feel to be a particular person. A progressive yet slightly left-wing approach to gayness. I enjoyed this film especially when Miller and Casey have to complete the party house levels to get to the top. 8/10 as some portrayals of women were a little mean and some jokes didn’t make the mark but overall a fun late night comedy. Again not so much the scenery but the adventure.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

My Top Netflix Picks

Hello readers,

I have recently got a Netflix account so this post will be listing what I have been watching on the popular streaming service. I know I haven’t posted in a while but I was busy as I’m sure you all were over the Christmas/New Year Period. Hope you all had a great festive/ holiday season.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015)

I am currently on Season 2 out of 3 of this show and so far I am really enjoying it. Each episode is only 25 – 30 minutes so it is easy to binge watch which I have been doing.

The premise of the show is that Kimmy Schmidt and three other women were trapped in a bunker for 15 years from 2000 to present day. They are set free to live the lives they were robbed of by their cult leader, the evil Reverend. Kimmy is 29 and decides to live in New York City and create her new adult life there away from Dunsville, Indiana where she was held captive. She meets Lillian, a crazy lady who hates what hipsters are doing to the neighbourhood and Titus Andromedon, someone who also moved to New York City to pursue a dream: to be in the Broadway show, The Lion King. They all help Kimmy readjust to the modern world of mobile phones, the Internet and dating. She also gets a job working for Mrs Jacqueline Voorhees, a rich woman who can’t seem to do anything for herself.

This sitcom is definitely funny in its own unique way. The characters always seem to have a crisis but that’s life! Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids) stars as Kimmy; Titus Burgess (30 Rock) as Titus Andromedon, Kimmy’s fabulous roommate; Carol Kane (Hester Street, Taxi, The Princess Bride) as Lillian, their wacky landlord and Jane Krakowski (30 Rock, Ally McBeal) as Jacqueline Voorhees, Kimmy’s self-centred boss.

This show is great if you are looking for something different and fun to binge watch as there are currently 3 seasons on Netflix. Also nominated for 16 Primetime Emmys and 4 SAG awards. The show is written by Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Robert Carlock (30 Rock, Friends).

Stranger Things (2016)

I know many people have seen this show, but I couldn’t not write about it. It is set in 1983 in the fictional mid-west small American town, Hawkins, Indiana. Four friends in middle school, Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will gather in Mike’s basement to play Dungeons and Dragons. On the way home, Mike disappears. In his place appears a strange girl, Eleven who can move things with her mind. Mike’s sister, Nancy also investigates her friend, Barb who goes missing just like Will. Chief Jim Hopper is on the case, he thinks Hawkins Lab has something to do with the disappearances.

The acting and aesthetic of this show is really outstanding. You really believe it is set in 1983. The creators, the Duffer Brothers took inspiration from many 80s films like the Goonies, ET,Ghostbusters and many more. Each episode is 40 – 55 minutes and there are currently two seasons out but this show is also very binge-worthy. I am re-watching it for the second time because it is that good.

The ensemble cast are: Winona Ryder (Little Women, The Age of Innocence) as Will’s mum, Joyce Byers; David Harbour (Revolutionary Road, Suicide Squad) as Chief Jim Hopper; Finn Wolfhard (IT) as Mike Wheeler, the leader of the party; Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, the goofy, knowledgeable one; Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, the practical one who brings the gadgets; Millie Bobby Brown as the mysterious Eleven; Natalia Dyer as Will’s sister, Nancy Wheeler; Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers, Will’s older brother; Joe Keery as Nancy’s boyfriend, Steve Harrington; Cara Buono as Mike’s mum, Karen Wheeler and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers.

Above are the main cast for Season 1, there are some added cast members in Season 2 but I don’t want to give anything away.

This show is a drama/mystery/horror and once you start watching you will be hooked. It has also been nominated for 4 Golden Globes (including one win by David Harbour), 18 Primetime Emmys (including 5 wins), 4 Sag awards (1 win by the ensemble cast) and 1 BAFTA nomination.

The Good Place (2016)

This sitcom style show has a different vibe to most TV programmes you see these days. Yes it is funny, with a certain amount of drama with some well developed characters but everyone in it is dead. It takes place in somewhere called The Good Place, somewhere everyone who was really kind and generous on Earth go after death to live out eternity, like paradise. Only those who have dedicated their lives to others go there. Everyone else goes to the Bad Place to be tortured.

Eleanor Shellstrop goes to the Good Place, at first she thinks she earned it but when she finds out the architect of the neighbourhood, Michael thinks she is someone else, she knows she is in the Good Place by mistake. When the neighbour experiences problems and Eleanor realises she is causing them, she decides to try and earn a spot in the Good Place through her ‘soulmate’ teaching her ethics. Chidi is meant to be Eleanor’s soulmate but due to an error, they realise they are only destined to be friends. She also befriends her neighbours, Tahani and Jianyu, who are soulmates or are they?

The show stars Kristen Bell (Frozen, Veronica Mars) as Eleanor; Ted Danson (Cheers, Becker) as Michael; William Jackson Harper (Paterson, High Maintenance) as Chidi; Jameela Jamil (The Republic of Telly and The Great Comic Relief Bake Off – herself) as Tahani, someone who Eleanor finds condescending and is the only one with an accent; D’Arcy Carden (Broad City, Other People) as Janet, a computer program who looks like a person, Janet contains all the knowledge in the universe and Manny Jacinto (The Romeo Section, Once Upon a Time) as Jianyu, a Buddhist monk who took a vow of silence aged 8.

This comedy is something different and I would recommend to ages 12 and up. I have seen season 1 as that is all there is on Netflix but there is also a season 2. Very easy to watch as each episode is about 23 minutes. It also won a Critics Choice award for Most Exciting New Series.

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father (2017)

This documentary starring Jack Whitehall (Bad Education, Fresh Meat) an actor and comedian and his uptight and middle class father, Michael. In this 6 part series, father and son go on the gap year Jack never had around South East Asia. They visit Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and go to many spots that only the locals know about. Jack takes his father along for some well needed bonding time as the two are like chalk and cheese. I find Jack Whitehall entertaining and the funny dynamic with his father makes this travel show different from the rest. Good to watch if you enjoy Jack’s humour from his TV series’ or stand up. The filming of the scenery is very good and you see this part of the world from a bird’s eye view and more.

Easy to watch as each episode is only half an hour. I binged this series in a couple of days. It is funny but also informative particularly of the history of Cambodia and the suffering the people have endured in the past, something which I was unaware of previous to watching the show. I would say it is suitable for 15 years and up due to the complex and often rude language used.

The Crown (2016)

This show tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the monarchy of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. It starts in 1947 when Elizabeth and Philip got married. It then depicts the history of the Crown from King George VI to it being passed down to his daughter. The show also features other members of the royal family from the 1950s, the Queen Mother, Queen Mary, Duke of Windsor, Princess Margaret and Prince Charles and Princess Anne as children. The show depicts the hardship and joys Elizabeth faced as a new queen whilst still trying to be a good wife and mother.

The audience is shown the emotions of the people behind the stories in the newspapers and how they dealt with each crisis. Many people view the Royal Family as having it easy, but there was a lot they weren’t allowed to do and they had virtually no privacy then.

Whilst the show portrays real life people and events that actually happened, we have no way of knowing if what the characters said to each other in private is correct or not. Nevertheless, I think that the show is excellent. The acting and set design make you believe that the actors actually are the people they are pretending to be.

Starring in the Crown created by Peter Morgan is Claire Foy (Breathe, Wolf Hall) as Queen Elizabeth II; Matt Smith (Doctor Who, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Prince Philip; Vanessa Kirby (About Time, Everest) as Princess Margaret; Victoria Hamilton (Doctor Foster, Scoop) as the Queen Mother; Pip Torrens (Pride and Prejudice, Star Wars: Episode VII) as Tommy Lascelles, Private Secretary to King George and Queen Elizabeth and John Lithgow (Cliffhanger, Interstellar) as Sir Winston Churchill.

The show has won 2 Golden Globes (1 for Claire Foy), been nominated for another 3 (1 for Claire Foy and 1 for John Lithgow), won 3 Primetime Emmys (1 for John Lithgow), nominated for another 9 (1 for Claire Foy), won 2 BAFTAs, nominated for another 10 (1 for Claire Foy, Jared Harris (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lincoln) who played King George VI briefly in Series 1; John Lithgow and Vanessa Kirby).

The Crown has also won 2 SAG awards (1 for Claire Foy and 1 for John Lithgow), been nominated for another 3 (1 for Claire Foy), won a Critics Choice TV award for Best Supporting Actor – John Lithgow and been nominated for 2 more (1 for Jared Harris).

Clearly, the show is a success for Netflix and one of their most popular shows. There are currently 2 series out, I am half way through series 2 and I really love it. I didn’t know half of what happened in the Royal Family at the time and the acting, costumes and set really transport you there. Each episode is about 1 hour long but it is definitely worth watching.

Grace & Frankie (2015)

The premise of the show is quite simple, Grace and Frankie are told by their husbands, Sol and Robert that they both want a divorce because they want to marry each other. Turns out both Grace and Frankie’s 40 year long marriage was only real for half that time. Robert and Sol, who are partners in a law firm have been secretly gay and in a relationship for the last 20 years and want to get married as it is now legal.

Grace and Frankie have known each other for those 40 years but they are far from friends. Grace ran her own beauty business and believes appearance is everything. Grace teaches art to former convicts and is also a hippy who likes to take drugs and live wild and free. After their husbands leave them, they share their co-owned beach house and gradually begin to get along. Both have two children, Grace has feisty Brianna who now runs her business and Mallory who has 2 kids and a husband of her own who is more conventional and generous. Frankie has 2 boys, both adopted, Bud who is practical and a lawyer like his dad and Coyote who is a recovering drug addict searching for his purpose in life.

Together both families navigate their new and unexpected dynamic with hilarity and drama along the way. Starring in the show are Jane Fonda (Barbarella, 9 to 5) as Grace, Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, Grandma) as Frankie, Sam Waterston (Law and Order, The Great Gatsby, 1974) as Sol, Martin Sheen (The West Wing, Apocalypse Now) as Robert, Brooklyn Decker (Just Go With It, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) as Mallory, June Diane Raphael (The Disaster Artist, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as Brianna, Ethan Embry (Sweet Home Alabama, That Thing You Do!) as Coyote and Baron Vaughn (Cloverfield, Black Dynamite) as Nwabudike ‘Bud’.

This comedy has been nominated for 1 Golden Globe for Lily Tomlin, 7 Primetime Emmys (2 for Lily Tomlin, 1 for Jane Fonda) and 4 SAG awards (2 for Lily Tomlin, 2 for Jane Fonda).

Each episode is around 25-30 minutes and there are currently 3 series with a fourth coming on Netflix very soon. I have just finished series 1 and I will definitely be continuing to watch it.

Recommendations I have received from friends are Gilmore Girls, Brooklyn 99, 13 Reasons Why, Black Mirror, How to Get Away with Murder and Orphan Black.

Hope any Netflix users find my review useful.

Happy Watching,

Robyn 🙂