Cultural survival kit: home entertainment to while away the hours

Coronavirus causing you to self-isolate? You may as well make the most of it. Here is a schedule of recent films, TV shows, albums and podcasts to tide you over


(2010) Amazon Prime Video

Taika Waititi’s semi-autobiographical, wholly magical 2010 comedy has recently become available to stream over here, and it is essential viewing, whichever side of the Jojo Rabbit debate you fall on. Set in 1984, it’s a boy’s-eye-view story of growing up in a New Zealand Maori community, while hero-worshipping Michael Jackson and pining after your absentee father.

For Sama
(2019) All4

Now is the time to catch up on some Oscar movies – not to mention news of ongoing world events – and this 2020 best documentary nominee offers both. Waad al-Kateab addresses her film to her baby daughter Sama, born in the midst of the Syrian conflict. It is a difficult watch, but be witness and you will discover a beautiful testament to hope and humanity.

Logan Lucky
(2017) Amazon Prime Video

Tired: speculating on who will be the next Bond. Wired: speculating on who Bond will be next. Universal’s decision to push back No Time to Die until China’s cinemas re-open provides an opportunity to remember the other Daniel Craig in Steven Soderbergh’s 2017 heist. And if OTT accents aren’t your bag, Craig’s five-star performance in 2000’s Some Voices is also available on Prime.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire
(2020) Curzon Home Cinema, £9.99 rental

Are you craving a trip to the local independent cinema, like a 18th century lesbian craves the touch of her lover? Then this is the choice for you. Curzon brings the arthouse into our homes with the great Céline Sciamma’s passionate film, a historical romance that asks burning questions about art and representation.

A Quiet Place
(2018) All4

If being indoors feels like hard work, imagine if you had to stay silent, too. That is the premise of this nerve-jangler, set in a world terrorised by sharp-eared aliens. It also takes credit for turning its married creator-stars, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, into the Richard & Judy of sci-fi horror.


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Now TV, five seasons

There is never a bad time for an ass-kicking pep talk from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. That is the core appeal of Ballers, in which the forklift-sized sweetheart plays a sports agent barking motivational advice at his coddled clients against an absurdly well-heeled backdrop. Even the appearance of Russell Brand can’t disrupt the deluxe sheen.

Dead Pixels
All4, one season

Struggling to stay in the same place for hours on end? Gamers have been managing to do it for years. That’s why E4’s byte-size sitcom about online gaming addicts serves as an invaluable primer on their world, as well as offering a concentrated blast of oddball characters and ribald gags. Time to stock up on Tunnock’s Tea Cakes and energy drinks.

Lost in Space
Netflix, two seasons

Crash-landing on an alluring but hostile alien planet with your mum and dad in tow sounds like the worst Center Parcs holiday ever. But Netflix’s handsome reboot of the creaky 1960s serial is an exhilarating and life-affirming marvel, forcing its dysfunctional space family, the Robinsons (starring Molly Parker and Toby Stephens as the parents), through exotic hazards and old-school cliffhangers that require brains, guts and non-snarky communication to overcome.

Race Across the World
iPlayer, one season

This enjoyably back-to-basics BBC Two reality show offers some vicarious street-level travel thrills via orienteering on a continental scale. Pairs of plucky pathfinders are tasked with navigating vast distances with meagre funds and no smartphones. Season one yomped from London to Singapore; the just-launched second season charts a course from Mexico to the tip of South America.

Amazon Prime Video, 13 seasons

This post-Buffy perennial stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as the hunky Winchester brothers, criss-crossing the US in a battered Chevy duffing up demons as they go. Since 2005, it has been beloved by fans and utterly overlooked by everyone else. But with the 14th season about to launch on E4, now seems like the perfect time to go back to the start, watch all 200-odd hours and learn, once and for all, which one is Sam and which one is Dean.


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Beatrice Dillon: Workaround

It doesn’t take long for a funk to descend indoors, so let a recent hot streak of ambient, instrumental records act as aural air freshener: the clarifying precision of Dillon’s Workaround and Aleksi Perälä’s Resonance, or Fatima Al Qadiri and Daniel Lopatin’s slightly more harrowing scores to, respectively, Atlantics and Uncut Gems.

Grimes: Miss Anthropocene

It’s easy to spiral when worrying about world events. But why not take a leaf out of Grimes’s book and flip the script? On her very good new album, she re-envisages the climate crisis as a vengeful goddess who has fun wreaking hell on Earth. Find creative potential and get world-building.

Pop Smoke: Meet the Woo Vol 2

Knock boredom away with this bassy, blown-out mixtape. Now, sadly, it stands as the last testament of the Brooklyn drill star-in-the-making Pop Smoke, who died last month on the cusp of becoming a superstar; his 2019 single Welcome to the Party will for ever rattle car windows in tribute to his curtailed genius.

Tame Impala: The Slow Rush

The best albums can transport you to another world. Tame Impala’s fourth record trips into psychedelic epics; if you’re after something peppier, Georgia’s Seeking Thrills is a time machine back to the Paradise Garage.

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana
(2020) Netflix

The challenge of life inside the fame bubble is something most of us rarely get a glimpse of. In her documentary, director Lana Wilson shows how narrow the parameters of superstar Taylor Swift’s life are: most things look pretty appealing compared to having to ask your dad for career advice.


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Desert Island Discs
Lauren Laverne’s Discs has washed up some classic episodes recently. Standouts include Zoe Ball’s affectionate look back at the 90s, Ian Wright’s emotional tribute to his old teacher, and Russell T Davies’s raw description of his love for his late husband. There’s also a back catalogue of hundreds of episodes to explore.

Make Me Over
Where did the myth that Mama Cass died choking on a ham sandwich come from? How did Esther Williams fuel the waterproof makeup boom? Fans of Karina Longworth’s podcast You Must Remember This will love this scandalous spin-off about the beauty industry’s pressure on 20th-century stars.

Making Beyoncé
Question! Have you listened to this three-part podcast yet, from the producers of Making Obama and Making Oprah? It’s the story of a shy girl with pushy parents who became the queen of everything, with anecdotes from those who spotted her talent.

The Other Latif
If you are at the point where you’re so bored you start Googling your own name, listen to what reporter Latif Nasser found when he did that. The other Latif is in Guantánamo Bay, after being accused of conspiring with Bin Laden, but is protesting his innocence. He has been cleared for release, so why is he still in detention? This five-parter investigates.

This City With Clara Amfo
Take a virtual wander around London with celebrities including Reggie Yates, Joy Crookes and Louis Theroux. Mo Gilligan is the dream guest, talking about spotting shoplifters in his retail job and flexing his labels on New Bond Street.



Ellen E Jones, Graeme Virtue, Laura Snapes and Hannah Verdier

The GuardianTramp

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