Redeeming Your Quarantine Media Time
Redeeming Your Quarantine Media Time
If you’re stuck inside at home, you’re probably spending a lot more time in front of a screen than you normally do. You can either elevate your blood pressure watching a news channel, or go catatonic binging mindless shows and movies. Or you can redeem your time. Here are a few ways to do that:
Make your media consumption more social.
Get off your phone, and watch shows and movies on a bigger screen. Invite some people in your house to join you. Or use the Netflix Party extension for Chrome that allows you to watch movies and shows with friends across the island or across the ocean.
Make your media consumption more purposeful.
Brett McCracken has compiled lists at The Gospel Coalition of the best movies of the past few years. Check out his lists for 2017, 2018, and 2019. I excerpted a few of my favorites from his list:
Great films are unpredictable. They are wild rides, taking viewers on ups and downs, with ample twists and turns, like a thrilling rollercoaster. Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s rightly acclaimed new film offers literal ups and downs—it’s a film where the vertical class symbolism of “upstairs” and “downstairs” looms large. Like Knives Out, Parasite is an enjoyable blend of comedy, thrill, tragedy, mystery, and social commentary. Like Bong’s other films (including Okja, Snowpiercer, and The Host), Parasite is the epitome of smart-but-fun cinema. The filmmaking excellence means you’re glued to your seat while watching. The thoughtfulness means you’ll think about it long after you leave the theater. Rated R.
I have loved every Rian Johnson film: Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper, even The Last Jedi. But his latest, Knives Out, is easily my favorite. Not only does Johnson nail the “whodunit?” intrigue of the murder-mystery genre, but he does it in a joyful manner that infectiously delights in every actor, prop, and costume. In a film full of unexpected twists and turns, perhaps the most surprising is how much Knives Out ultimately turns out to be about the moral contours of human nature. We’re all polite and peaceful until we start losing our power and inherited privileges. Then the knives come out and the ugly, shady self-preservation begins. Few recent films have better illustrated how vice is rooted in self-interest while virtue stems from selfless love. Rated PG-13.
Peanut Butter Falcon
I smiled more in this film than in any other this year (with the exception, maybe, of 63 Up). It’s like a much-better-quality and more honest Hallmark movie, full of joy and truth and little moments of happy catharsis. Here’s what I said in my TGC review: “I don’t know whether the filmmakers (Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz) are Christians, but Falcon feels like a model for what a quality faith-based film could look like. The 98-minute movie has a confident grasp of goodness, a beautifully compassionate and dignifying way of looking at its characters, and an infectious joy grounded in its observations about the dynamics of friendship and family—observations that led me to ponder God and praise him.” Rated PG-13.
The Latin title of James Gray’s new film means “To the stars.” It’s fitting for any sci-fi, space-exploration story, but it feels especially apt for this excellent film—one of the most theologically interesting of the year. Even though gravity literally pushes us down to Earth, humans have always gravitated to the stars, insatiably curious about what (and who) is up there. Ad Astra is interested in how this orientation creates tension: between above and below, the far away and the right here, the lure of exploration and gratitude for home. Rated PG-13
Danny Boyle’s Yesterday may be my favorite movie of the year. In it Himesh Patel plays Jack, who discovers after a momentary global blackout that nobody has any idea who The Beatles are. Suddenly the struggling musician is able to draw on a deep reservoir of pop musical genius—if he can remember the lyrics—and catapult to stardom via the hard work of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, because nobody knows he’s plagiarizing the tunes. This is the wonder of the ongoing gospel recovery movement—we have reached an era where the foundational truth of Christianity is itself new, radical, unheard-of. Let’s play the song, brethren. Every week. Every day. Again and again. Those who’ve never heard will be amazed, and those who have forgotten will be refreshed. Rated PG-13
Three Identical Strangers
This documentary follows the incredible story of triplets separated at birth, raised in three separate families with no knowledge of one another, and then reunited in adulthood because of a chance encounter between two of the brothers who happened to attend the same college. With more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan film, Three Identical Strangers was perhaps my most engrossing moviegoing experience of 2018. It’s a film that starts as a “whoa, what are the odds?!” story and gradually becomes an unsettling, wide-ranging reflection on profound questions: nature versus nurture, the ethics of adoption, the roots of mental illness, the limits of science, and so on. It’s a great film to watch in a group and discuss afterward. Watch on Amazon. Rated PG-13.
This masterful World War II epic from Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception) is the best cinematic achievement of the year. Using image, sound, editing, and acting in a manner both classic and audaciously new, Nolan immerses viewers in the harrowing and inspirational story of the “Miracle of Dunkirk” in ways that put us in battle like few films ever have before. Nolan narrates the story from three intersecting perspectives (land, sea, air) that echo Winston Churchill’s famous “We Shall Fight” speech (“We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air . . . we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds”). The on-the-ground-combat counterpoint to the in-the-halls-of-power perspective of Darkest Hour (see #9 below), Dunkirk is a thrilling and timely film that celebrates bravery, sacrifice, survival, and solidarity in the face of encroaching darkness. Rated PG-13.