What we watched: The Film Beat's winter break
Netflix is an obvious go-to for any holiday movie-watching. But for me, the streaming service had an especially strong draw over winter break. It seemed like whenever I caught up with the latest Netflix release, a new one materialized the next day.
By the time I finally got around to watching “Bird Box,” my Twitter had already been flooded with its reliably funny memes — particularly Sandra Bullock blindfolded on a canoe — so by that point I didn’t so much care about the movie as I did about understanding the source of these quips. The movie itself, well, couldn’t have been much worse. It wasn’t even the best sensory horror creature feature of the year. It was little more than a breathless Bullock doing her best to enliven a laughably dull script.
Another Netflix disappointment was “Bandersnatch.” The latest installment in the “Black Mirror” anthology series is notable for its interactivity, allowing viewers to make decisions on characters’ actions throughout its duration. Naturally, the episode’s myriad outcomes — some far stranger than others — were a magnetic topic of discussion between my friends and me for days. The tediously self-aware experiment felt weighed down and at times just nonsensical.
However, December was not all let-downs for Netflix. Of course, there was “Roma”; though not a Netflix Original, the film was made available for streaming via the service and also released in theatres. Alfonso Cuaron’s evocative remembrance of his Mexico City upbringing immediately became not only one of my favorite films of the year, but some of the best work I have seen from the writer-director. “Roma” is saturated with beauty and meaningful symbolism. It’s Cuaron’s whole heart.
Break also provided ample time to rewatch a throng of other films, often with friends and family. Some highlights include “Rounders” (the best poker movie of all time), starring vintage Matt Damon and Ed Norton, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” another masterpiece of Cuaron’s and “School of Rock,” arguably one of the most quotable films ever.
Anish Tamhaney, Daily Arts Writer
Winter break is a time for recharging, relaxing, and for me, re-watching. Over the break, I re-watched several of my favorite films, from classics to guilty pleasures. Christmas came and went, and with it two beloved holiday rom-coms: “The Holiday” and “Love, Actually.” They are the kind of movies that make your insides feel like a nice hot cocoa, warm and sweet. One reminds you that romance is possible. The other that Jude Law is sexy.
To balance out the gushiness, I had to take some drastic measures. You guessed it: thriller time. Whenever I get dreary with the state of rom-coms, I like to drown myself in morgue-porn thrillers as a reminder that life is not only full of love, but also murder. I re-watched one of my favorites, “The Silence of the Lambs,” while practicing my Jodie Foster impression (it needs work). And I have to say, after seeing the film over 15 times, it really never gets old — does it, Clarice? I took on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” for the second time and I will not deny that Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is a snack and a half. So if you thought Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg in “You” was the first psychotic hottie, you are sorely mistaken.
To end the break on a high note, I spent the last few days re-watching a selection of my favorite comedies. After missing out on his one-man show on Broadway (“The New One”), I watched Mike Birbiglia’s ode to improv, “Don’t Think Twice.” It was the first time I’ve seen it since becoming an improviser myself and I must say, it hit much closer to home this time around. It is a heartfelt look at success and friendship, and the improv — even if it is scripted — is pretty great. Finally, I re-watched my absolute, all-time, number one, favorite McFavorite film, “Clueless.” I knew every burn, bang and bruise in the 1995 classic way before Iggy got biggy in her “Fancy” video or Dove Cameron starred in the off-Broadway musical of the same name.
Becky Portman, Daily Arts Writer