Saturday, December 9, 2023

Movies and shows to have an emotional catharsis to this winter

February 1, 2022

Life is a bit drabbier in the winter. Not sure which is worse, the jolt of cold when you first get out of your bed or that numbing sensation in your body when you underdress for the weather. Looking out of the window at 5:30 p.m. only for the sky to be pitch black outside, it is easy to feel disconnected from the world, your sensation dulled. If anything this list hopes to achieve, though, is to make you feel the adrenaline rushing through your veins again, realizing that there are still things in life to look forward to.

Warning: The following text contains spoilers for the mentioned series

1. Euphoria Season 2 -- HBO Max

If you have logged in to your social media accounts once this month, you have probably seen the floodgate of Twitter opened during Euphoria’s Sunday release. The first episode of season 2 takes off during a New Year’s Eve party, granting us glimpses into budding relationships that either keeps us giggling or foaming at the mouth. In true Euphoria’s style, everything seeks to be of a certain symbolism and impact, from the hallucinations Nate experienced during his rush to the hospital, down to the minute details of nail shapes – all of which undoubtedly contributes to the success the show has enjoyed. All in all, the show is definitely something to look forward to and keep watching, even if all you end up doing is asking “Is that really necessary?” Cue Nate’s dad Cal Jacob’s scene in the second episode. 

2. Ozark -- Netflix

It is time for one last dance from Netflix’s critically acclaimed crime drama. What starts out as a large money laundering scheme for drug cartels is still exactly that, just with more entanglements and risks than ever. This season will give us the necessary closure we need from the Byrdes, crime-wise and drama-wise. Will the seemingly inevitable marriage solution happen? Will the family be able to escape Navarro's tight grip on them or will they surrender themselves to it. So many questions and just slightly more time to answer – with 14 episodes instead of 10 – effectively combining two seasons into one.

3. Abbott Elementary -- Hulu

One of the rare new series in this list, Abbott Elementary tells the story of a Title I, predominantly-black school in Philadelphia in the mockumentary style like The Office. This is the fruit of labor of Quinta Brunson, who has successfully capitalized on her viral video and gone on to write and produce for reputable media powerhouses such as: Buzzfeed, HBO, and now ABC. In Abbott Elementary, Quinta, also the show’s writer and executive producer, plays a bright-eyed Janine Teagues looking to give back to the public school system she grew up in. Alongside her, the cast delivers stellar performances, notably Tyler James Williams’ as the new substitute Gregory and Janelle James’ as the incompetent yet hilarious principal Ava Coleman. At just 25 minutes per episode, the show manages to encapsulate and intersect different story lines and relationships well, constantly reminding us of the state of public education with its teachers trying to give their students the best education while going into overdraft for small bagels. No lines or 4th wall breaks are wasted here. Consider your time well spent.

4. Our beloved summer -- Netflix

In the bleak Midwestern winter, why not turn to a Korean summer romance? When a documentary featuring them in high school went viral, a now grown- and broken-up couple reunited. Audiences who were only familiar with Korean media through “Squid Game”, ”Parasite” and “Train to Busan” would be in for a surprise simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking trip. The least familiar part would be the leads, as Choi Wooshik (in the role of Choi Ung) is widely known as the son in “Parasite” and Kim Dami (as Kook Yeon-soo)  is slowly building international recognition after her role in “Itaewon Class” . Like most other Korean dramas, “Our Beloved Summer” is exceptional at what is termed “the suspension of intimacy”. In this case, love is in the words that went unsaid, the longing glances that went unseen. Throughout the first half of the show, “I love you” is spoken once and once only. But that declaration is such a pivotal moment of the series, a triumphant mark that deserves all the celebration and “Finally!!!” it gets. 

5. In the mood for love

Tik Tok went crazy for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ring” for many reasons (Asian representation! Marvel! Simu Liu’s stock pictures!) A rightfully prominent one is Tony Leung for his role as the patriarch and villain of the movie. This is not the first time Tony Leung has entered the public consciousness, though, as the actor has already won a Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for “In the mood for love”. The movie is a culmination of many bests: Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung at their prime and Wong Kar-Wai’s insightful directing and editing. In the lane of the director’s signature style, not a lot happened plot-wise: two friends discovered their spouses are having an affair and spent time together. Two or three more sentences would have summarized the entire plot. What was not encapsulated though, is what immortalizes the film as one of the greatest movies of the 21st century: the engulfing loneliness in a cramped hotel, the nostalgia for a Hong Kong that is long gone, and so much more. We know so little about the two doomed lovers, not facing each other, Tony Leung’s face obscured and Maggie Cheung’s almost apathetic. But we are left haunted by every detail in the movie that we will watch over and over again to witness a love story that never comes to be, one so full of missed connections, as if fate is out to get them. And then we will probably go on a Wong Kar-Wai  or Hong Kong cinema binge, only to once again be heartbroken to learn of the power censorship can have over the arts.

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