The Social Network (Film)
★ ★ ★ ★
This 2010 film chronicles Mark Zuckerberg’s path to creating Facebook, a journey which began in his college dorm. The film is primarily concerned with the enemies Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) created on his determined quest to make the website a success. The film cuts between the lawsuits Zuckerberg had to settle and the origin story of the ubiquitous social media platform. I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing in this film; there is a lot of witty dialogue and killer one liners. The now iconic opening scene between Rooney Mara and Jesse Eisenberg perfectly demonstrates the strength of the script. The relationships between the characters are wonderfully drawn, especially between Mark and Eduardo (Andrew Garfield). I am definitely somebody who believes The Social Network should have won best picture instead of The King’s Speech way back in 2011.
The Good Place (Series)
★ ★ ★
I think The Good Place is the most ambitious TV comedy out there. Kristen Bell plays Eleanor Shellstrop, who after her death finds herself in heaven (or the Good Place). In fact, she has been mistaken for a different person when instead Eleanor, a cruel and selfish person during her time on Earth, should be in hell. With the help of a fellow occupant and former ethics professor, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), she tries to become a better person who would be worthy of being in heaven. Most TV comedies are realistic and quite predictable, so I love how The Good Place is a high concept show that has many twists during every season. The ensemble cast is not only racially diverse, they are also a delight to watch. Now would be a perfect time to start watching too as the fourth and final season has only started airing.
A Simple Favour (Film)
★ ★ ★
This satirical thriller was not a huge theatrical hit but that does not mean it is not worth checking out on Netflix! The film stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding. Kendrick plays a virtuous and sheltered single mother called Stephanie. She befriends another mother, Emily (Lively) who is Stephanie’s complete opposite. She is confident, glamorous and reckless. One day she leaves her child under Stephanie’s care and vanishes. Stephanie does her best to unravel the mystery of her disappearance. The film was exciting from beginning to end because of the shocking twists, laugh out loud moments and the sexual intrigue. It is a loving satire of the thriller genre; it employs its tropes while poking fun at them. This is perfect to watch with friends because it is exciting, funny and not as scary as a traditional thriller could be.
Jane the Virgin (Series)
★ ★ ★ ★
Jane the Virgin is a satirical take on the telenovela genre, and it is perfect for anyone who loves rom coms. Jane, played wonderfully by Gina Rodriguez, is an aspiring writer in her twenties. She planned to save herself until marriage but in a spectacular turn of events, she manages to get accidentally artificially inseminated. While she remains dedicated to her long-term boyfriend Michael it happens that the biological father of her child is Rafael, with whom she shared her first kiss. What I appreciate most about this show is that while it is fun and absurd, it doesn’t stray from important, relevant topics. Some characters are undocumented immigrants and there are diagnoses of post-partum depression and cancer over the seasons. Jane the Virgin illustrates that it is perfectly possible to balance drama and comedy.
Brigid Molloy – Film & TV Editor