3 Snakes (but really films) on a Plane

I spent most of July in the U.S. It was my first trip out of Europe & I wasn’t really expecting much. I stayed at a local university, our dorm located two blocks from the White House. I was blown away by the city. I don’t think I’ve ever loved travelling anywhere more. My three weeks in D.C. were brilliant.

But do you know what else is brilliant? VIRGIN AIRLINES. Holy shit. The farthest I’ve ever travelled is London to Athens, and while they had a big screen everyone could watch Spiderman’s Homecoming (fun because I absolutely loved it) on, nothing compares to having films straight out of the cinema in front of you. For a glorious 7 hours. It’s now over a month since that beautiful day but since I watched more films there than I had in 2018 combined, I figured I’d write down what I thought. Mind you, I’ve not read reviews of any of these.

The Greatest Showman

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We have the radio on in the office I’m interning in over summer, and all through June, every single hour, This is Me would come on. Sometimes twice. This type of prolonged exposure changes you. In the end, it became a part of me. The film itself — I loved it!! It felt like a fairytale. It was just a ton of fun, and drama, and singing, and what’s wrong with any of that!! When the notorious This is Me actually came on, it moved me to tears. The cast was so great throughout, even if the Zendaya/Zac Efron storyline (and Rewrite the Stars, another classic on rotation our office radio) were underwhelming. An absolute highlight was the scene with the laundry lines was incredible. All in all, I felt like I straight up needed this; something simply fun, heartwarming, and a little bit inspiring.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Holy SHIT. I’ve seen this on the top of everyone’s lists and Oscar buzz all around, but was still blown away. That’s how you tell a story. From the writing to the cast to the pacing to the visuals. . .take these f–king Oscars, all of them.1 (Mind you, I’d not checked this year’s Oscar winners — the farthest I got was reading up on Brittani’s predictions.) It reminds me this rare format I’ve encountered — where it feels less like a classic rollercoaster structure, but where things start to get better and just as your heart starts to heal, they tear you back down, and so on, breaking your heart and giving you hope, just to f–k it all up in five minutes. I can’t believe how funny they made it. Definitely the best film I’ve seen this year (not that it’s competing against many).

Black Panther

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Watching this after Infinity War was such a change of pace! Seeing Martin Freeman anywhere than Sherlocks f–ks me up. Everyone else in the cast killed. I’m definitely giving it a re-watch, but even my truncated view (I kept falling asleep because I’d been awake for about 30 hours by this point) showed that this was awesome — the ‘bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from ships because they knew death was better than bondage’ line haunts me because it wraps up Killmonger’s character — and a whole bigger phenomenon — in just one sentence. It’s not my favourite Marvel film but I don’t think that’s the point–the cultural significance of this is far greater. I’m also so thoroughly impressed how they let women take charge all throughout, even if T’Challa and Killmonger were men.

On the plane back, I was travelling Norwegian and the film selection was underwhelming on the whole — but they had The Shape of Water! I managed 10 minutes and fell asleep. I woke up as we landed. RIP. Anyway, what did you guys think?! (Would love it if you linked to your own reviews!)

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1 OK, I am of the belief Academy Awards don’t matter — theoretically. In practice, I’ve grown up with them, they’re still exciting, and ‘Oscar-worthy’ means something different to me than literally winning Oscars. So please bear with me as I try to resolve this internal conflict.

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Selma (2015)

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My dissertation’s thesis is that nonviolence is an overemphasised narrative in civil rights’ movements. About 8 weeks into my phenomenal American history module (the first I’d ever studied the U.S.!) in autumn last year, I emailed my professor to say ‘I always imagined people just became more aware of human rights and basic decency and that was why civil rights movements worked, but obviously that was not enough.’ (Reading back on my questions to lecturers is a mix of hilarious and deeply embarrassing, but I guess I’m here to learn.) And nonviolence is such an elegant fill-the-gap between segregation and the post-racial era — I just don’t think it’s enough. By attributing the victories to Dr King we do a disservice to the staggering courage and drive of the grassroots activists — and more dangerously, we think we do live in a post-racial world (or America), because the Civil Rights Movement finishes neatly in 1968, with King’s assassination and the second Civil Rights Act.

As I’ve been reading and learning more, I’m becoming more wary of what nonviolence really is, and what King did. I would never say he’s anything less than a visionary and a hero — the problem is portrayal. That’s why it’s taken me so long to watch Selma. The poster, King towering over a crowd, seemed like a tell-tale sign of another portrayal iconographic history that might be doing more harm than good.

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Four years later, I’ve made peace with HIMYM.

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Ted, rain dancing – maybe there really was something to him and Robin?

I’ve spoken before about getting obsessed easily – having grown up surrounded more books than people, I’ve grown really attached to fictional characters and situations. How I Met Your Mother is only one in the line of about ten Big Things. I know I started watching it around the time Season 7 was airing, as I was searching for something to fill the hole Two and a Half Men left in my heart.1 I’ve seen every episode more times than I dare count.2

Yet I went from watching at least a couple episodes a day to cold turkey a day or two after the finale. I felt betrayed (as I’ve previously expressed). Here it was – the show that taught me so much about the value of friendship throwing all of it away in 42 minutes. I was a lonely kid and always quite okay with that – until watching these five come through for each other, time and time again, slowly made me realise whatever you do in this life, it’s not legendary, unless your friends are there to see it.3

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Top 6 series I binged in 2017 (and top 6 I’m excited to binge in 2018)

(note: so WordPress is shrinking the gifs in this post—not sure why, but please bear with it while I try to figure this thing out!)

So after I finished Designated Survivor, I woke up to all ten seasons of Friends available on Netflix. I’ve never seen it from the beginning, but a ten-season show, 25 episodes a season? I like a challenge. It got me thinking—I love watching shows for hours on end, old and new, so here’s a much deliberated list of the best things I couldn’t stop watching last year.

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6 from 2017

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6. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad blew my mind when I first saw it, but I’ve not watched it again ever since it ended—watching individual episodes out of context felt awkward. So I took a week in November and rewatched it all. It’s still glorious. Was it always kind of. . .racist though?

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5. Sherlock

I had a lot of free time over the winter break and at one point, clicking ‘next episode’ every 22 minutes became too much of a struggle. I also love rewatching British series after moving here—it was so cool seeing them do their thing at places I’d been at before! (I know it sounds nerdy but it’s cool, I’m Estonian.)

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4. Stranger Things

I don’t know how anyone watches this without binging. I had a nice weekend day planned, made a nice breakfast and decided to enjoy it with an episode of Stranger Things. And eight hours later. . .no regrets. The first season was the journey of a lifetime.

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3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I’ve loved Andy Samberg since my crush from when I was 14-ish introduced me to the Lonely Island—but there’s so much more to love about this series! Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother as my whenever, wherever show. Only twenty (-two) minutes for lunch? Time to hate-watch Gina. Can’t sleep? Put it on, you’ve memorised every episode and it’s like a lullaby.

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2. Dear White People

I watched this over a weekend in the summer. I’d never thought about anything in that show. It’s so well-written, hilarious, and the episode-per-character format keeps it fresh (bingeable) throughout. And Logan Browning, the lead actress, is absolutely wonderful (even if I could’ve sworn she was Kat Graham from the Vampire Diaries over the first ep.)

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1. Master of None

I’M SO HAPPY AZIZ WON THE GOLDEN GLOBE!!! Master of None is one of the best series I’ve ever seen, and definitely the best one I saw last year. Parents, the second episode of the series, may be my favourite episode of any show. I feel like I had a whole spiritual awakening watching it—Aziz exudes enthusiasm, curiosity, honesty, hope—and in a world where Brexit has been evoked and Trump still has Twitter, I think we can all use Dev Shah. I only watched it because I finished rewatching Parks and Rec and I didn’t know what to do with myself but I’d never watched Master of None before because I just couldn’t see him leading a show. It’s an enormous pleasure to admit I was so wrong.

Honourable mentions: Parks and Rec, Rick & Morty, House of Cards, Modern Family, Bojack Horseman

6 for 2018 (I cheat a lot with this)

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6. Mad Men

5. Black Mirror

4. Blackish

3. The Handmaid’s Tale

2. The West Wing & Veep

1. The Sopranos & The Wire

Honourable mentions: Fargo, The Killing (Danish), The Honorable Woman

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What do you think? Any other recommendations for me? (There’s an insane amount of procrastination hours to fill for the reading I have ahead this term.)