Weekend Watchlist | Finals Free-For-All

By The Pitt News Staff

Finals are around the corner, and whether you’re furiously studying for exams or inundated with essays, we’re all getting worn out. So to take your minds off of the pressure a little, here are some of The Pitt News staff’s favorite movies and shows — no themes, just things we enjoy.

Assassination Classroom (Funimation) // Sinéad McDevitt, Digital Manager

Thinking about this show makes me feel old. I remember being a fresh-faced first-year in high school and tuning in every week with my brother. Now the show’s seven years old and all wrapped up, and it’s a little bittersweet.

“Assassination Classroom” is an anime about a group of unruly problem students who are tasked with killing their teacher — a yellow alien who just blew up the moon and threatens to do the same thing to the Earth if they can’t kill him in a year. You know, normal student troubles. Despite the dramatic and dire-sounding premise, “Assassination Classroom” is mostly a coming-of-age comedy about the alien teacher who the students dub “Koro-sensei.” Despite threatening to blow up the Earth, Koro-sensei is dedicated to helping these students who have largely been abandoned by the school system.

Koro-sensei is the best teacher. He’s calm, supportive and works to help students on their own terms, and it’s great to watch the kids grow as students, assassins and people. It doesn’t take long until you’re just as invested in how well they do on their exams or what schools they get into as whether or not the Earth gets blown up. “Assaination Classroom” is a great watch if you need a good laugh and maybe a good cry.

7 Prisoners (Netflix) // Lynnette Tibbott, Staff Writer

Human trafficking is alive in our world today. It’s often considered modern day slavery and can include kidnapping, forced labor or forced sexual encounters. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, regardless of age or gender, and it affects people from all over the world.

In 2021, Netflix released Alexandre Moratto’s movie “7 Prisoners.” The movie takes place in São Paulo, Brazil, where main character Mateus agrees to work at a junkyard to provide a better life for him and his family. Mateus and six others, all coming from situations of poverty and seeking a better future, soon realize that their new “job” is nothing short of human trafficking.

The torment starts small, with the promise of being able to leave once they’ve paid off the debts of their transportation, food and rent. But once the debts become insurmountable and the group is never paid, they realize their situation is more dire than they originally thought. 

After failed escape attempts met with violence, the workers realize they are now prisoners with no way to leave or contact their families. 

In order to reduce their debts, Mateus strikes a deal with the junkyard worker and dictator, Luca. Mateus soon realizes that leaving may not be so simple. As time in the junkyard passes, Mateus receives privileges from Luca in the form of extra money, safety and his own freedom. The group becomes distrustful and resentful of Mateus’ special treatment, and Mateus is forced to choose between his own survival and his morals. Mateus realizes he is completely alone and has no choice but to fend for himself — even if it means becoming just like the monsters who oppressed him.

Not only does this movie bring awareness to human trafficking, but it shows the gradual change of an individual’s struggle to choose what is right and their own personal freedom based on situations they cannot control. It emphasizes the vicious cycle of violence and human complexity. Although “7 Prisoners” is not based on a true story, we can find truth in it when we see the evil that humans are capable of.

tick, tick…BOOM! (Netflix) // Sinéad McDevitt, Digital Manager

Who knew Andrew Garfield could sing, huh? Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut is a treat for any theater kid. Not only does it cover the semi-autobiographical story of Jonathan Larson — the creator of “Rent” —  Miranda pulled out all the stops getting cameos from several Broadway vets and it’s a delight to see them.

It’s also really impressive seeing what is traditionally a show with a minimal cast and setting be translated into a feature film. It’s not easy to pull off, but Miranda’s understanding of the original stage show and what makes a musical number engrossing on the stage successfully translates it to the silver screen.

The film follows Jonathan (Andrew Garfield) as he prepares for the first read-through of his show and struggles with his relationships with his girlfriend and childhood best friend. Because the stage show usually only has three performers, several parts are different actors when they’re usually just one — which Miranda takes advantage of to give us the beautiful duet version of “Come To Your Senses” that still gives me chills.

If you’re a fan of musicals, you owe it to yourself to see this film.