Assorted Weekend Binge: TheVibe Recos
The kind of content we consume as conscious and unconscious viewers has dynamically changed with the revolutionary debut of Over the Top platforms. In this era of Netflix; the range, genres, linguistic diversity, and the sheer quantity of productions available baffle our meek, overworked existence in the middle of the pandemic. At this point in time, we need an informed insight into a movie or show behind the fascinating minute long motion we derive as we hover on a random poster from the endless, all-encompassing Netflix world. We seek exhilaration, entertainment, perspective, and a fresh take from the content we watch and often end up getting stuck on predictable, age-old tropes with new faces. As producers, writers, and viewers are collectively moving towards a more sensible and innovative domain, cognizant of identities and tensions that surround human existence, we see the production of cinematic marvels.
We have collected a few of these gems, which range from bite-sized quirky episodes with a fresh take to integrated series building upon and invoking complex emotions to produce this diverse assortment of productions which have made a mark on the collective conscience of viewers.
Here is TheVibe’s weekend binge-watch recommendations!
°Haunting of the Bly Manor
Horror as a genre has been universally appealing because of curious elements like the supernatural, mystical, and the domain of the unknown. Second in the Haunting series, Bly Manor plays on the characteristic elements of a haunted house as a base to fuse themes like the non-linear nature of time, memory, repressed emotions, and the love-hate dichotomy. Structurally and thematically, the rejection of time as a neat linear series of experiences is what this nine-episode series rejects and brings a fresh take on time as an ever-pervasive, collective experience by multiple people, like that of living in a house at different points of time. The source of all that forms the ‘horror’ is planted within the narrative style which is an unconventional twist to the classic storytelling form. The characters, particularly those of Gardener, Peter, and Hannah have been defined to further the plot and are not typical and essential but extremely palpable to an audience. Finally at the heart of the story is a poignant, heart-warming tale of unadulterated love.
Queen’s Gambit is a coming- of- age series which traces the life of Beth, an orphaned girl whose journey begins in a Christian Orphanage where girls are sedated using tranquillizers which affect and determine an important chunk of her life. It is in the basement of this gloomy place literally and metaphorically that she discovers through Mr. Shaibel, what comes to define her existence- the game of Chess. In terms of its politics, Queens Gambit which derives its name from a chess move is a cinematic version of what reading a Charles Dickens’ bildungsroman would be. But it makes significant and radical changes by tracing a professional and ambitious journey of a woman as against the typical male hero of a bildungsroman. Chess is Beth’s hubris if she were the hero of a Greek Tragedy, it gives her a sense of control, meaning intrinsic to her, and yet her obsession with it needs to be addressed. Queen’s Gambit is a thrilling watch and a refreshing change on the screen.
°A Suitable Boy
Unlike most cinematic adaptations of literary works, this adaptation of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy is sheer beauty. The backdrop against which the plot plays including the picturesque cinematography, outfit styles in vogue, old mansions, courtyard houses, and representations of the urban town and countryside of India in the early 1950s, are extremely tangible and make you travel time to reach the social and historical moment it portrays. It derives its name from the endeavor of Lata’s mother to find her a suitable boy’ and marry her off but the idea of ‘a suitable boy’ applies to the multiple well-rounded characters and their individual journeys of love, political radicalism, and what was deemed as acceptable social behavior. Kabir Durrani, Maan Kapoor, Firoz Khan, and Begum Jaan are characters that stay with you. Even the ‘minor’ characters are equally rounded and based within the social moment and hence Rasheed’s tragic struggle with socialism in the countryside, Varun’s laid back path to attain a career in the civil services and even Waris’s role in the village add to the most crucial aspects of life in the newly decolonized India. And given its historical context, the religion debate that has already been ignited in India finds a central articulation. Amidst a complex social hierarchy and tension, friendship and conjugality play out in ways that touch the heart.
°Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Guernsey movie makes for a kind of binge that would quench the thirst for a sweet cliché romance and yet upon close analysis the elements of war, identity, class and value of humanity resurface throughout the movie. The plot is technically based on an unanticipated relationship through a letter connecting Dawsey and Juliet from Guernsey and London, in a post in a world that has lately seen the Second World War As we travel from the urban London with Juliet, we see Guernsey, a Nazi occupation during the War, through her eyes. The morbidity and silent lifelessness of Guernsey muffles multiple scars that the War has endowed upon it. We discover the experience War from the perspective of different characters to understand the nuances of it. Watching mindfully enhances the experience of this immensely entertaining, emotional, funny, and yet conscious story. Every time you see a Warplane being used as a luxury by the governing classes, a missing person made present through memories, you are reminded of what the war does to people.
°Never Have I Ever
Constructed with lighter tones in a quirky upbeat mood, Never Have I Ever functions on what has come to be called, the high school comedy-drama genre. What primarily makes sit offbeat and innovative is its choice of characters- with Paxton being half-Japanese, Ben being a Jew, Devi the protagonist being a second-generation Indian immigrant, and other characters of color. The high school teen comedies which often incorporate an all-White and American character pool, Never Have I Ever pioneers representation of multiple identities which are often put to the periphery in mainstream series. It is commendable, however, that the characters are not puppets put up for the sole purpose of representation as they usually are. Devi struggles to make sense of her Indian roots and American culture. With no exaggeration of stereotypes, Devi remains normalized as she makes her way through the everyday challenges of an ambitious teenager coping up with a loss.
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