Video on demand, my friend: what have I been watching lately

Long hours indoor, welcome streaming services

We’re at the end of a long, tedious and for many sad period of time in ours lives, which we all hope we’ll not have to live again anytime soon. The weather occassionally is sunny and we’re spending a bit more time outdoor. Yet I feel I should acknowledge one of the things that kept me going in the last few months, and that is … binge watching!

Oh yes – no shame in that. While the toddler was occasionally (often) parked in front of Peter Rabbit, Robot Trains and Miraculous Lady Bug (truly), I longed for the evening downtime when I could put my headphones on and watch something that might take my mind off the crap that was happening all around us.

So behold Netflix, iPlayers, Amazon Prime and anything that streams on demand. What did I enjoy the most? Below my eclectic list of favourites in no particular order.

Unbelievable – Netflix

Image: Netflix

One of those things you don’t plan on watching but then it pops up on your feed and you decide to give it a go. Unbelievable is a tough-watching, beautifully acted drama inspired by a true story. Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever are exceptionally good in it. Dever’s character calls the police claiming to have been raped but then slowly is made to doubt herself of what actually happened; Collette and Wever are the two police officers who eventually find out the truth.

The story is mostly faithfully told and – particularly at the beginning – makes for uncomfortable watching.

The Nest – BBC

Image: BBC

I saw a post on Sophie Rundle‘s Instagram which made me take a look at her latest effort, the Nest, on BBC. Bleak looking, intriguing story of a wealthy couple trying to become parents and how life is turned upside down when they decide to opt for surrogacy.

Beautifully filmed in and around Glasgow (I had no idea it was such an attractive place), strong Scottish accents (I found them so challenging but never thought of switching on subtitles) and a really gripping storyline kept me watching into the late hours.

Homeland – Channel 4

Image: Channel 4

I have watched all seasons of Homeland and it’s been up and down. The first was so good, so different, I got hooked, then it became slow, then good again. Carrie has been through all sorts of life endangering terrorist threats variations, lovers, disasters and so forth. The final season aired recently and after the first episode I thought it was possibly the most boring, the most slow ever and almost stopped watching it, but I am glad I persevered because it actually improved so much.
The finale has a really cool (in my view of course) twist and an ‘open’ ending and made for a good watch.

Deadwater Fell – Channel 4

Wow! This was an intense series. I love Cush Jumbo since the Good Wife times and again, a post on her Instagram made me aware of her latest show – aptly named Deadwater Fell. Similarly, it is also set in Scotland (with much easier to understand accents for the italian in me). Stunning location too (it’s filmed in East Ayrshire), it’s a crime drama with a few twists and a truly terrifyind David Tennant. He’s so good playing his disturbing character that I am not sure anymore if I want to see him in his forthcoming West End play ‘Good’ (although I am sure I will).

18 presents – Netflix

Image: Netflix

An Italian movie for once: 18 Regali is based on a true story and stars gorgeous Benedetta Porcaroli whom I loved in Baby (also on Netflix). She plays a young woman who lost her mum when she was born. Each year until she turns 18, she received a present that her mum had bought for her while she was carrying her, knowing that her terminal cancer would have prevented her from being present at her daughter’s birthdays. The movie uses the real life events to tell a fantastical – if slighly odd – tale of mother-daughter relationship and maternal love.

The film has faults but it’s interesting although it’s quite sad overall when you consider the true story.

Schitts Creek

Image: Radio Times

After watching 18 Presents, I needed to switch my mind off so I thought I would pick something very silly that I would not keep watching, just for the purpose of distracting my brain before falling asleep. I opted for the awfully named Schitts Creek, thinking it would be something vulgar, stupid and crass. Little did I know that I had stumbled in one of the best comedy series of recent years, if not ever.

I like the wine and not the label

I fell in love immediately. Beyond the name, Schitts Creek is a tribute to life, family, friendship and love. It might sound cheesy, but it isn’t. It’s genuinely heartwarming, funny, witty. The dialogues are ace, it has none of the frills and forced background laughter that many sit coms have, and the characters are full of life and will stay with you for a while. Watching the 6th and final series was truly sad, and the final episode might have brought me to a little teary moment.

Everyone needs a bit of Schitts Creek in their life.

Private Lives – Netflix

Image: Netflix

Another film that deals with the delicate, personal subject of infertility and parenthood, Private Lives is perfectly interpreted by Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a 40something couple who’ve tried for a baby for years without success. The film is slow paced, intense, sad and funny at the same times and approaches the subject with sensitivity.

Probably not for everyone, I very much enjoyed it. The end is particularly poignant.

Hunters – Amazon Prime

Image: Amazon

I don’t use Amazon Prime much, I just can’t get on with it, but I had seen plenty of ads for this much talked about series starring Al Pacino and gave it ago. Very controversial due to the topics covered (concentration camps, nazi criminals and nazi hunters), I still really enjoyed Hunters thanks to a great cast and some fantastic photography and filmography which is reminiscent of Tarantino.

Soundtrack is great too (it’s set in the 70s New York) and has some real life aspects (from the nazi hunters to the CIA implications on bringing the nazi elite back to the USA in Operation Paperclip), but I appreciate its flaws and how it could have easily created outrage. Plus, the end is very disappointing!

Have you watched anything you can recommend? Here is what my friend Kirsty recommends on her blog. Let me know of any further recs in the comments!

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