Weekend Watchlist: Hidden gems

By The Pitt News Staff

Sometimes streaming service algorithms are good. They recommend content that’s so well-suited to us that we can’t think about it too hard or we’ll become uncomfortable. Other times, those algorithms bury the best content at the bottom of their catalogs. Our staff dug up their favorites.

Sing Street (Prime) // Maggie Young, Contributing Editor

If you’re in charge of choosing the movie night selection and want to impress your friends, “Sing Street” won’t disappoint. Set in 1980s Ireland, the movie follows a high school-aged Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who’s been forced by his parents to transfer to a cheaper school in hopes of saving money. On a brooding walk to his new school, Conor locks eyes with devastatingly gorgeous model Raphina (Lucy Boynton). In his attempt to impress the older woman, Conor tells Raphina he’s in a band. Because this is not true, Conor is forced to organize a few of his quirky and musically inclined classmates to form a band straight out of an ’80s punk-rock fever dream.

Though undeniably adorable in plot and performers, the movie’s soundtrack is what really won me over. Conor’s cool burnout older brother shows him the essential new wave groups from the time, like Duran Duran and the Cure, to inspire Conor and his bandmates during their songwriting. The band — appropriately dubbed Sing Street after the street address for the boys’ suffocatingly ordinary Christian school — comes out with some pretty popping tracks. The band writes a song and films the music video amid one of Conor’s episodic artist-inspired fads, and each track pays tribute to the brilliant creators. Of course, the adolescent new wave inspiration is not without charming adolescent angst, like Conor’s crush on Raphina or his parents’ divorce. Overall, “Sing Street” is fun, accessible and an absolute jam.

Explained (Netflix) // Anna Ligorio, For The Pitt News

As someone who loves a riveting documentary but struggles to find enough time in the day to sit through one for two long hours, the Netflix original series “Explained” is the perfect compromise for a busy college student. In the series, Netflix teams up with the news and media company Vox to create short, 20-minute-long episodes on a broad range of interesting, informational topics. Across two seasons, the show has discussed a wide array of subjects, with episodes on astrology, cults, K-pop, the racial wealth gap, weed, beauty and pirates. Each episode stars a guest narrator for each specific topic, with previous narrators ranging from Carly Rae Jepsen and Rachel McAdams to Jerry Springer and Nick Kroll. For example, the episode “Billionaires” features Bernie Sanders and Mark Cuban weighing in on how the mass accumulation of wealth directly affects the world, and “Cults” attempts to explain what exactly makes cults so alluring. Additionally, the show has branched out into two spin-offs — “The Mind: Explained” and “Sex: Explained,” each containing five episodes about their respective themes. “Explained” offers something for everyone and is guilt-free and informational binge-watching for anyone interested in the explanations of some of the most common phenomena in the world around us.

American Vandal (Netflix) // Megan Williams, Staff Writer

“American Vandal” — one of Netflix’s weirdest original creations — is a fictional comedy focused on documentary-duo Peter and Sam, two high school students determined to solve mysteries. Despite bragging about having investigative skills that rival Ronan Farrow’s, the cases they attempt to crack are much lower-stakes than those abilities might demand. In season one, the two attempt to clear the name of class clown Dylan Maxwell, who stands accused of spray-painting penises onto teachers’ cars. After their documentary episodes get uploaded to the internet, the two are sent pleas from high schools around the country to come solve crimes — many of them also genital-related. In season two, the pair moves to a more disgusting area of the body and attempts to solve the stinkiest question of all — who is the Turd Burglar? If you enjoy ridiculous content taken extremely seriously, the dissonance of “American Vandal” will delight you. Just don’t watch season two while you’re eating.

Snowpiercer (Netflix)// Diana Velasquez, Staff Writer

Directed and written by Bong Joon-ho, the mastermind behind 2019’s Oscar-nominated hit Korean flick “Parasite,” “Snowpiercer” is named for a train at the end of the world. The train’s passengers are all that remain of humanity after an experiment meant to stop the effects of climate change went wrong.

Chris Evans stars as the leader of the lower-class section of the train, who live in the tail section and spend their days in grime and filth, with only brown jelly-like protein bars for consumption. As Evans leads his band of followers up the train cars to take down the higher class, you are led through a masterpiece of Hong Kyung-pyo’s cinematography. Each new car is more quirky, colorful and horrifying than the last, showcasing the gluttonous habits of the more wealthy passengers. “Snowpierceris a movie that makes you think, makes you wonder and makes you uncomfortable. The film offers an alternative dystopia for those who enjoy the genre but are tired of “Hunger Games” copycats. It is a movie that many have forgotten, but in the future many will come back to and hold it up as one of the most innovative and thoughtful sci-fi flicks of all time.