Your Name (5 stars)
This anime film took Japan by storm when it was released in 2016. Your Name has gone on to win many awards and it remains the highest grossing film of all time in Japan. I absolutely believe Your Name is worth all that hype. The film is about a girl in the countryside who inexplicably begins to switch bodies with a boy in the city. The two high school students have the opportunity to live vicariously through the other and this experience allows them to grow closer to each other. This film’s premise does suggest standard rom-com fare, but the added science fiction and thriller elements make the viewing experience a lot more exciting than one might expect. I can promise that there is not one boring moment in the film. Your Name is also worth a watch merely for the visuals as it is an undeniably beautifully animated film.
Disclosure (5 stars)
A documentary film about trans representation in Hollywood, which includes the voices of many trans creatives such as Laverne Cox and Lilly Wachowski. The film traces back the history of trans people within the American film industry, making it clear that almost since Hollywood’s inception, trans people have been a part of it. The trans thinkers interviewed throughout the documentary explain how harmful inaccurate representations of trans people in the media can be. A cis man playing a trans woman in a film can seem innocuous but Disclosure persuasively argues that this trend feeds into the transphobic narrative that trans women are merely men in dresses. On the flip side, the interviewees reveal how empowering and meaningful good trans representation in film and TV has been for them. Disclosure is an informative and engaging documentary that I personally found very educational.
Never Have I Ever (4 stars)
A hilarious coming of age comedy series with 30 minute episodes that are easy to binge. The show’s protagonist is a 15 year old Indian-American girl, Desi, who is determined to shake off old labels. She wants to get a boyfriend, go to wild parties and drink alcohol. After the death of her father and spending a year in a wheelchair, Desi believes if she does all these things she will finally become normal. Desi is a wonderfully flawed character who aptly reflects how teenage girls are actually like. The object of Desi’s affection, Paxton, is where the glaring flaw of the series lies. The 20 something actor who plays the heartthrob is entirely unconvincing as a teenage boy. The real joy of the show lies within the friendships and the familial dynamics. Never Have I Ever is also worth checking out for its celebration of Indian culture and its honesty about the Indian-American experience.
Chewing Gum (4 stars)
This Channel 4 comedy series starring Michaela Coel is the kind of gem that you might not even know is on Netflix. Coel plays Tracey, a 24 year old shop assistant who is determined to lose her virginity and break out of the constrained life she has led under her conservative, religious family. This series is fun, vulgar and will definitely make you cringe as well as burst out into laughter. Chewing Gum is not lacking in depth all the same: social commentary about the microaggressions Tracey experiences as a black, working class woman are frequently presented to the viewer, but always with a big dollop of humour. Any Fleabag fan who is craving another series similar to it should certainly check out this show. Chewing Gum is also a British comedy series with a female lead that breaks the fourth wall; albeit the tone of this show is never as bleak that Fleabag is at times.
Brigid Molloy, TV & Film Correspondent