Self-isolation is obviously very difficult and anxiety-inducing for many of us. However, in the down time we’re afforded by staying indoors, there can also be a good opportunity to catch up on lots of film and TV that until now, has perhaps passed you by or been too intimidating in terms of how much time and energy it requires.
Now is the time to finally sit down and watch The Sopranos/ The Wire/ West Wing/ The Irishman/ Citizen Kane/ Gone With the Wind… instead of just pretending you have. However, if you have already watched all the canonical series and films on your list then you’ll be ready for April’s new arrivals to the ‘flix – most of which arrive on the first of the month. Take a look below for this month’s releases.
The Breakfast Club
John Hughes has made some absolutely incredible classic films but this one has to be one of the most iconic. Starring the strongest possible Brat Pack cast and set in Hughes’ classic location of Shermer Highschool, Illinois which also features in a couple of their films on this list, The Breakfast Club is the most classic, most watchable, most referenced eighties teen movie. If you’ve not seen it, you absolutely must. It is Hughe’s seminal work.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Another of Hughes’ greatest films but for some reason this one doesn’t hit quite the same note as TBC. It is funnier, more zaney, more exciting but it’s lacking a specific quality that the Breakfast Club has to my mind. Anyway, don’t let that put you off- Ferris Bueller is in many ways and to many minds far better.
There is a classic Hughsian musical number (which isn’t as good as in Pretty in Pink but never mind) and plenty of eighties imagery plus the engaging fourth wall breaking straight talking direct to camera monologues that made the film so sharp in the first place. Essential viewing if you’re interested in eighties pop culture or teenmovies (although if you’re interested in those things then you’ve probably already seen it.)
In contrast, whilst this is another of Hughes’ brat pack movies (Molly Ringwald plays the protagonist) it really falls short of the mark. When I first watched The Breakfast Club, I became obsessed with Brat Pack movies and I bought and watched the lot: St Elmo’s Fire, Ferris, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink and… Sixteen Candles. To a modern audience there is some racist humour which is offensive and it’s just not engaging in the way the other Hughes films on this list are. However, it’s part of the Brat Pack collection so it’s worth a watch to complete the set.
Community series 1-5
Remember Community? With Baby Donald Glover, baby Allison Brie and baby Gillian Jacobs all being gorgeous and funny and clever? When it first started, Community managed to strike that balance between classic American Sitcom, bizzaro quirky humour and surreal stoner vibes (remember the pillow fort town thing?) and while as the series went on and Dan Harman’s rightful ejection from the writer’s team meant that the quality dropped ever so slightly, Community maintained a loyal and enthusiastic, well, community. Also, the episodes are only about 20 minutes long so it is the perfect series to jump in and out of or watch whilst you have dinner when you can’t think of anything else to put on.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Another of Studio Ghibli’s most well-loved animations. The film is about a flying castle — believe it or not — and a witch, a scarecrow, a curse and a milliner. It is director Miyazaki’s favourite of his creations: a true work of art. Don’t let the fact that it’s an animation fool you: the film contains strong anti-war sentiment and themes of compassion, old age and, typically for Miyazaki, flying and technology.
Circus of Books
This Netflix original series unveils another surprising story. You know how Netflix has a history of putting out docs that have plotlines that you’d genuinely not be able to make up? Well, this is one of those but instead of crazy, homicidal, big cat owners or cult leaders, Circus of Books is about a lowkey, straight edged Jewish couple who answer a work ad in the LA times in the mid seventies.
One thing leads to another and before they know it, they are running the biggest gay porn store in LA, allowing their shop to be an annex amid the AIDS crisis and fielding federal interest in their participation in obscenity. All the while, trying to keep this career separate from the rest of their lives. This doc basically tells us that story which is totally fascinating.
Afterlife series 2
Ricky Gervais is back with his heart wrenching, toe curling, dramady which proves that his writing prowess far surpasses the work he had done up to this point. Afterlife follows Tony in his grief following his wife, Lisa’s, death. Tony appears to go from a ‘nice guy’ to someone bitter, sad and frustrated with life. Try as Tony might to ‘not care’ he keeps finding himself sucked back into looking after people as his true character refuses to be stifled. This series promises to be as engaging and quietly brilliant as the first. I can’t wait.
A Secret Love
Another Netflix Original documentary which continues Netflix’s theme of pro LGBT content this month. A secret life follows a couple, one of whom, Terry Donaghue, was in the baseball team which inspired the film A League of Their Own (watch it if you’ve not already!) and her life partner, Pat Henschel. The film is about how they navigated being in a romantic samesex relationship at a time when it was dangerous, frankly, to be in one. Now in their late eighties and early nineties, the couple are able to discuss their relationship openly, and share their wisdom about how to navigate long term love. It is so important that we are able to see same sex relationships between older people and that they feel seen, heard and understood.
Brews Brothers (season 1)
The Innocence Files (Season 1)
Peaky Blinders (Season 5)
Leah is a literature graduate from Bristol. Likes: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, My So Called Life, Goodfellas, and Ally McBeal.