Britain is all over the news at the moment, thanks to the precarious position that Prime Minister Boris Johnson finds himself in. Looks like his pandemic protocol-related indiscretions are being judged a lot more severely than anything else he has done in the past. And, of course, there's the COVID-19 situation there to watch out for.
The recommendations curated for livening up your weekend, therefore, have been influenced by this pervasive Britishness. Well, almost.
Your weekend deserves a bit of 'B'.
Burn Burn Burn (2015)
Two best friends on a road-trip to scatter their dead friend's ashes.
The one-line plot of this beautifully acted comedy—Chanya Button's directorial debut.
Burn Burn Burn is about Seph (Laura Carmichael), Alex (Chloe Perrie), and Dan (Jack Farthing) whom even death can not do part. Daniel, 29, has died of pancreatic cancer but not without recording a bunch of videos to ensure that his close friends Persephone and Alex have no moment of peace. (Poor Alex is already nursing a heartbreak as her girlfriend has cheated on her on the day of Dan's funeral.) This is in contrast with Ricky Gervais's show After Life where the dead spouse is ever so gentle. (Watch it on Netflix if you still have not!)
Dan, basically, blackmails his friends emotionally to do his bidding. As he says in his video, this road trip is going to be like Thelma and Louise with Casper the Friendly Ghost.
The self-referentiality of the film goes beyond its genre. There are reflections on the world of artists who, sadly, do not have 'it' to succeed. Encountering a bunch of hippies during the course of their journey, Seph has an epiphany—not of the kind inspired by pastiche folk rituals, though. Having spent a night at their seemingly harmless cult-like event, Seph lets out, "That’s what happens when you’re arty but essentially a bit shit".
Button knows her shit.
Burn Burn Burn is about immortality achieved through visual medium. But, it is also about the importance of the here and the now. Dan makes sure he's part of this journey. He also flings a mean "What's the point of you" at his friends. And this time, the point is not lost.
End your Friday with Burn Burn Burn.
Where to Watch: MUBI, Amazon Prime Videos (US)
Black Earth Rising (2018)
This BBC-Netflix co-production is a political thriller we all need. The pacy drama is about the prosecution of war criminals in the aftermath of the Rwandan civil war.
Kate Ashby, played by the Morgan Freeman-in-the-making Michaela Coel, is a British legal investigator of Rwandan origin. Her fraught relationship with her adoptive mother, Eve Ashby, an international prosecution barrister sets the tone for the show which is all about uncomfortable negotiations, secrets, planted narratives, identity, and the burdens of history.
This relationship also acts as a complex metaphor for the relationship between the African continent and the West.
The narrative moves back and forth in time, across geographical locations and even forms. Director Hugo Blick has used animations for flashbacks about Kate's personal history as well as Rwanda's bloody past. The Rwandan civil war saw around 1,000,000 deaths when the Hutu people began to attack the Tutsis in 1994.
Black Earth Rising works like a Bond film, with Kate very bit suave and strong like Fleming's God-like protagonist, but packs a lot more nuance and history. Kate's endeavour to bring clarity in her personal and professional lives keeps the viewer engaged till the very last episode. At the macro level of the plot, the political drama involving multiple countries across three continents gives Kate's story a grand backdrop.
The eight episodes of Black Earth Rising can easily make for a weekend binge. If you are really a couch potato, spend your entire Saturday on this.
Where to Watch: Netflix, BBC
The four seasons of this hilarious Swedish show are enough to put you off children, family, marriage, dating, relationships, and everything else that makes life life. Lisa (Vera Vitali) and Patrik (Erik Johansson) fall in love and want to start a life together. Only, they have been previously married to other people and have children from those marriages.
How the couple deal with the everyday trials and tribulations of their newly put together 'bonus family' that includes their children (keep counting them), former spouses, former spouses' current and ex-partners, parents, parents' partners, is what makes the show unique.
The show is set in Stockholm, and this could be a tongue-in-cheek nudge to the famous 'syndrome'. Do Lisa and Patrik really want to be in the situation that they are in? Or, have they convinced themselves as such?
Bonusfamiljen presents the perfect ordinariness of the lives of Lisa and Patrik as a couple. Their reality is similar to many bonus families across the world. Blending of two separate families is never easy and that has been depicted onscreen through raucous comedies like Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) Blended (2014), Step Brothers (2008), Yours, Mine & Ours (2005) and many more. In the Swedish show, however, there are no extravagant plot contrivances or events. There are only too many moving parts in the lives of the protagonists.
You find yourself identifying with the characters: frustrated, jubilant, exhausted, or even plain zoned out.
As you bring order to your life on Sunday, Lisa and Patrik—with their bonus family—shall keep you company.
Where to Watch: Netflix