During the coronavirus shutdown, we may be getting restless and bored with our choices of homebound entertainment. Below are picks from several Georgetowner staffers. We invite you to email your own to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Editor in Chief Robert Devaney
Movies: “Contagion,” because it could be worse. “1917,” because we always remember. “Citizen Kane,” because it’s really not about fake news.
TV: Anything zombie usually works. The Star Trek mythology continues with “Star Trek: Picard” on CBS All Access. And check out recent classics like “Seinfeld” and “The Sopranos.”
Music: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police, because we need to. “Yesterday,” by the Beatles, because sometimes we need to lament. “Love, Reign O’er Me,” by the Who (and Pearl Jam), because we all need some kind of salvation.
Books: “Metamorphoses” by Ovid, because we change, sometimes radically. “The Divine Comedy” by Dante, because, when you’re going through hell, keep moving. “Until the End of Time” by Brian Green, because reality is huge (Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé or Tupac Shakur notwithstanding).
From Writer Stephanie Green
Movies: “Pretty Woman,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month. We could all use some good laughs and sex appeal these days. I love the nostalgia of late eighties decadence and excess the film engenders. I also just downloaded “Sabrina” on YouTube the other day, and it’s the perfect light and charming comedy for now. Sorry, Hepburn and Bogart fans, but the 1995 version with Harrison Ford is way better.
TV: “Designing Women” and “The Golden Girls” on Hulu. In the doldrums of social distancing, we get by with a little help from our friends — or with shows about good friendships.
Music: I don’t think there’s a better song to bridge cross-cultural divides than “Let It Be” by the Beatles. The lyrics and melody are timelessly hopeful.
Books: A classic perfect for uncertain times is my personal favorite novel, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera, which charts the lives of lovers during communist upheaval. For new nonfiction for history buffs, I’m currently reading “The Cabinet,” about how George Washington, acting like a CEO, was the first leader to lean on a kitchen cabinet of advisors — many of whom hated each other’s guts — teasing out their strengths to strengthen our new country.
From Photographer Jeff Malet
Movies: “A Face in the Crowd” (1957) stars Andy Griffith as a demigogic character named Lonesome Rhodes who rises to great fame and influence on national television by appealing to the popular mood. “This whole country, just like my flock of sheep,” Rhodes exclaims at the height of his power. “They’re mine, I own them, they think like I do. Only they’re more stupid than I am, so I got to think for them.” “High Noon” (1952) is possibly the best western ever made, starring Gary Cooper, a film that spoke directly to the anti-communist hysteria and the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s, which still resonates today. It won four Oscars. “Dr. Zhivago” (1965), directed by David Lean, is based on Boris Pasternak’s novel about the Russian Revolution. They literally don’t make films like this anymore.
TV: “Car 54, Where Are You?” of 1961-63 is a comedy about two New York City police officers in the fictional 53rd Precinct in the Bronx. Starring Fred Gwynne (of “Munsters” fame) and Joe E. Ross, the series was created by Nat Hiken, who also created “The Phil Silvers Show.” Speaking of “The Phil Silvers Show,” this series of 1955-59, aka “Sgt. Bilko,” won three consecutive Emmys for best comedy series. Another classic: “The Jack Benny Program” of 1950-1965.
Music: “Summertime,” from “Porgy and Bess,” sung by Clamma Dale, music by George Gershwin. “Skylark,” sung by Dinah Shore, music by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer. “Always,” sung by Frank Sinatra, music by Irving Berlin.
Books: “I, Claudius” by Robert Graves, a novel that makes Roman history come alive. “Exodus” by Leon Uris, a gripping novel about the formation of Israel. “The Nightmare Years,” William Shirer’s firsthand account as an American broadcast journalist working in Nazi Germany.
From Senior Correspondent Peggy Sands
Movies: “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” with Tom Hanks. “The Paper” with Michael Keaton, Glenn Close and Robert Duvall, about a newspaper getting a crucial breaking story right. “The Man Who Invented Christmas” with Dan Stevens and all the Dickens characters from “A Christmas Carol,” about the agony and muses of a writer.
Music: “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland. “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. “Venice” and other albums by jazz trumpeter Chris Botti.
Books (fiction): “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish, a mystery novel that masterly entwines the lives of two women in London, one in the year 2000 and the other during the second half of the 17th century, during the plague. All of Jane Austen, but especially “Sense & Sensibility.” John Grisham’s latest, “The Guardian,” is one of his best, with a very poignant cause.
Books (nonfiction): Three books that help make sense of the politics of these times: “The Once and Future Liberal” by Mark Lilla, “The Madness of Crowds” by Douglas Murray and “Code Red” by E.J. Dionne.
From Contributor Linda Roth
Here’s what I’ve found valuable to my sanity in the time of COVID-19.
Streaming: “Schitt’s Creek” — comedy that is so well written I am now depressed that I reached the season finale.
Cable series: “Outlander” — an historical fiction fantasy I can get into as well as the soft porn between Claire and Jamie (who are married). “Killing Eve” — dynamic interaction between Sandra Oh and Jodi Comer yo-yos between tense, hilarious and sexy. “Homeland” — how can they write script so close to the real-life political scenarios a day or two before it actually happens? Hmmm, conspiracy theories abound.
Book: “A Brief History of Ufology” — short documented stories of sightings, abductions. Some we’ve heard about’ some are shocking. More conspiracy theories. Can pick up and put down in half-hour intervals. Spoiler alert: my brother, Barry Roth, is the author.
I have also ordered take-out from Ris in West End, Lapis in Adams Morgan, Bom in Adams Morgan, Pappe on 14th Street at Logan Circle and Lebanese Taverna in Arlington. Here’s to supporting our local restaurateurs.