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.
The Harry Potter Franchise
There’s no better time to escape into a magical world where we can both transcend into fantasy and yet at the same time relate to the burdens of reality. Written by mastermind J.K. Rowling, there isn’t a soul who’s paid attention to the entertainment world who isn’t at least somewhat familiar with this story. Each of Rowling’s seven books transports us into the magical wizarding world of magic with relatable, likable characters whose adventures lead us into exciting twists and turns while also exploring the nature of coming-of-age. While the eight Hollywood film adaptations are equally exciting, it’s Rowling’s brilliant words that burst off the page and into our hearts the most.
South Korean filmmaker Chang-dong Lee’s sensational miracle of a movie isn’t just one of the greatest foreign-language films ever made but one of the best films ever made period. Filled with rich symbolism and astute social commentary, “Burning” is a once in a lifetime masterpiece that tests the audience as few films do. Set in modern-day South Korea, a young loner falls for a girl whose new mysterious male friend leads him into a path of paranoia and intensity that he never expected. This is the kind of film that slowly erupts into chaos, each scene more gripping than the next as it pulls you in and refuses to let go. After viewing the film twice this year, I’m still thinking about the depth and glory this work of art possesses.
Dave Chappelle’s Stand-Up
We could all use a laugh these days. You won’t find anything funnier on any streaming platform today than comedic legend Dave Chappelle with his microphone on stage without filtering himself and spewing jokes more spot-on than the next. With a number of brilliant specials, Chappelle manages to make us laugh until it hurts due to his brutal honesty and confidence and for his spot-on social commentary that manages to artfully expose the madness of the times we’re living in.
Does it hold up better than “Friends? Yes. Is it a better show than “Friends”? Absolutely.
Thrust upon me by the constant recommendations of my roommates and other friends, I’ve given the Zooey Deschanel-led FOX sitcom a casual watch on Netflix over the past few weeks and have been presently surprised by what I’ve found. The writing from Elizabeth Meriwether is sharp and clever, the characters —Jake Johnson especially, shining in the role of endlessly sarcastic bartender Nick Miller — are genuinely intriguing, and character development across the board is something that definitely goes unrecognized when we talk about best sitcoms of the past few decades. If you haven’t seen it yet — need a new bingeable show to tackle once you finish your obligatory rewatch of “The Office” or “Parks” — give this under-appreciated gem a worthy shot.
From the lighthearted to the genuinely disturbing, award-winning filmmaker David Fincher’s 1995 film celebrates its 25th anniversary this week and warrants a watch for anyone looking to dive into Fincher’s filmography before “Mank” arrives on Netflix later this year. Featuring a breakout performance from young Brad Pitt and peak narrator-voice Morgan Freeman as a detective duo struggling to put the pieces together behind a series of gruesome crimes, “Se7en” blurs the lines between horror, thriller and noir unlike anything in recent memory — and you’ll find yourself gripping the edge of your seat in anticipation as the twists come and credits finally role. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart — nor is any Fincher, for that matter — but it should be the perfect primer to get you ready for a more socially-distanced “spooky season” come October.
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