Keen for a new on-the-screen series to binge-watch, or something to listen to on your phone during your daily commute? Here are some recommendations from EL editors and readers for TV shows, movie, podcast and Netflix Singapore.
Despite heavy prosthetics to transform her facial and body features, Dame Helen Mirren is still recognisable in this biographical dramatisation as Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel. The film focuses on what could possibly be the internal turmoil that Weir battled during the Yom Kippur War, while undergoing secret medical treatments for a life-threatening illness.
Putting aside the creative license taken for the conversations she had with key people – her personal assistant, Israeli government and military leaders, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – as well as the background to the war, it’s Mirren’s restrained portrayal of Weir that kept me watching to the end. That, and the imagery throughout the film – swirling cigarette smoke, a ceiling fan whirring, the claustrophobic confines of her abode and office.
Don’t expect a history lesson or answers on what actually caused the initial slow defence and Israeli losses, but do expect another sensational performance by Mirren.
Gran Turismo is a familiar name among video gamers – it ignited interest in simulation racing as well as dreams of real car racing. It actually led to the formation of the GT Academy, which was a driver discovery and development programme that turned sim-drivers into licensed professional race car drivers, competing in races worldwide. The movie is based on this and it follows the journey of Jann Mardenborough, the 2011 GT Academy winner.
There were some factual inaccuracies that didn’t sit well with me, a motorsports enthusiast. One is the notion that drivers aren’t familiar with the track condition or design until the actual race. In reality, all drivers have time to get to know the track through pre-race practices. I also felt that Archie Madekwe in the lead role gave a rather monotonous performance.
What did light the screen up, however, was the fast pacing of the storytelling. This was helped by the racing scenes, by David Harbour’s caustic remarks to trainees as their trainer and Orlando Bloom’s polished press responses as the marketing executive at Nissan UK.
It’s a fun, feel-good movie that could perhaps ignite your interest to try out simulation racing.
Beckham | Netflix
Full disclosure: I am not a football fan. I am, however, a pop culture fan, and I found it oddly interesting to watch how David Beckham’s life has played out. From his early childhood, this mini-series covers everything from his upbringing, to his relationship with Posh Spice, to being England’s captain.
I can’t even begin to comprehend having to experience such highs and lows on a regular basis but it makes for a great watch. It’s also an interesting look at how the public is quick to turn on their stars. The series is divided into four parts and has a long list of appearances from famous coaches, teammates and family members.
Who Killed Jill Dando? | Netflix
This was a crime committed before my time of reading the news, but I had heard of it. In 1999, Jill Dando, a well-known news reporter and star of the show Crimewatch, was shot while entering her Fulham home in London. The crime was famously described as an execution. Twenty years on, it still contains many mysteries, including the big questions: who and why.
The stuff I found interesting was the thought process behind the investigation and how sometimes having a high-profile case can do more harm than good. It also shows how far we’ve come with forensics.
Although it’s a story that might not have revealed all the details yet, it’s a good one for anyone who enjoys a crime documentary.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart | Prime Video
This seven-part series is dripping with mystery, cinematic shots and the threat of violence. So it’s no surprise that the complicated layers of abuse explored within the storyline were first fleshed out in a novel.
Adapted from Holly Ringland’s bestselling book, the series is set in regional Australia, mostly on a native flower farm. The storyline follows Alice Hart, a young girl living with her loving mother and abusive father. Without giving too much away, we watch her experience tragedy, grow up learning about flowers from her grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), find love, face abuse as a young woman and discover secrets from her childhood.
The show does well to include cycles of abuse that transcend generations. You can’t help but feel captivated watching Alice’s life unravel and take shape at the same time. The threat of toxic masculinity looms in every episode and the themes of sisterhood and the emotional scars of trauma leave you with a bittersweet final episode laced with hope.
Wandering (aka The Wandering Moon) | Netflix
This 150-minute movie begins on a rainy day in a park, where 19-year-old university student Fumi offers his umbrella to Sarasa, a nine-year-old girl. Fumi then asks Sarasa if she wants to go to his home. Sarasa agrees as she is not happy living with her aunt. They become friends and the girl stays with him voluntarily for two months, enjoying freedom, happiness and ice cream – until the police arrest Fumi for kidnapping.
Fifteen years later, Sarasa is living with her abusive boyfriend Ryo when she meets Fumi by chance and the two rekindle the time they had together. Their stories and dark secrets then slowly unfold, and the movie comes to an unexpected end, which leaves us with some questions and makes the audience contemplate on some mental issues.
Although there were a few slow-moving parts that the show could have done without (it took me two days to watch it), I found the storyline unique and interesting, and I’d love to read the book that the movie is based on. Superb acting, too! If you like Japanese dramas, this is a must!
The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies | BBC iPlayer
Having only watched the premiere last night, I am very excited about what this show will bring. The story focuses on a woman, Alice, whose husband Rob Chance ducked out to get a takeaway only to disappear – and then reappear 20 years later. This man had been responsible for scamming Alice and her parents and friends out of money, so when he returns and she discovers he’s up to a new scam, she’s out for revenge. Rob, meanwhile, has his sights set on best-selling fantasy author Cheryl.
Now, this might seem like a serious plot but it’s quirky and quite funny. Rob Chance is played by Alistair Petrie who was brilliant on Netflix’s Sex Education. On top of the good acting from costars Rebekah Staton (Alice) and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, the cinematography is great.
Fifteen-Love | Amazon Prime
This British drama starts with Justine Pierce, a former teen tennis prodigy, making accusations about her superstar ex-coach. Justine’s world had come crashing down earlier in her life when a career-ending tragedy struck at the French Open. Five years later, she’s picking up the pieces when her old coach returns. The series is filmed in such a clever way that it really makes you question the reality of the situation. The story slowly unravels until the viewers grasp what’s really happening. Although it’s about quite a dark theme, it’s enjoyable to watch – I managed to binge the entire season in three days!
Tales by Light | Netflix
Photographs can provide us with a unique glimpse into a moment, scene or culture. However, we don’t often have the opportunity to watch this process taking place and understand why a photo was snapped in the first place.
This documentary series follows world-class photographers around the globe to discover what happens behind the lens. Visit remote communities in Papua New Guinea and Australia, dive with manta rays, cuddle tiger sharks, learn about an ancient Indian funeral ceremony on the Ganges and go on a safari in Africa.
The episodes across the three seasons are not very long but they’ll make you feel outraged, inspired or in absolute awe of our world. Expect your perspective to be changed forever.
Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones | Netflix
This absorbing series is highly recommended to anyone who, like me, aspires to live a long, healthy and happy life.
Blue zones are simply areas that have more than their fair share of centenarians. The five “pockets of health” originally identified 20-plus years ago by National Geographic Fellow and author Dan Buettner are: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.
Dan has made it his life’s work to understand and to share the longevity-promoting lifestyle factors that these communities have in common. Based on his best-selling book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, this four-part Netflix series takes us on an entertaining journey around the world to meet some of these inspirational elders and see how they live.
Sadly, since Dan did his original research, many of these areas have been vanquished by Big Food and subjected to other damaging Western influences. With unhealthy changes to their previously nutritious diets, highly active habits, strong family connections, supportive community ethos and other lifestyle factors such as environmental degradation, most blue zones have either shrunk or disappeared.
On a happier note, Part 4 ends with a look at how the Singapore government is addressing the problem of our own ageing population, and getting it right in so many ways. Your heart may swell with pride!
The middle of 2023 proved a fantastic time for cinema lovers, as Oppenheimer and Barbie lent a much welcome break from the flood of superhero films that seem to have dominated the big screens over the past few years! I made a beeline for tickets to the former, the Christopher Nolandirected biopic about J Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist behind the atomic bomb’s development during World War II.
It didn’t disappoint. Vividly shot with sharp, rapid dialogues, the film blends science and politics with Oppenheimer’s personal struggles and questions about morality. Cillian Murphy gave an Oscar-worthy performance, and three hours flew by. It does cover a lot of ground, though, so non-history buffs would benefit from reading up on the physicist and the Manhattan Project before going to better follow along.
I’d heard mixed reviews about Barbie, so I didn’t have high expectations. As a fashion enthusiast, the film’s setup and stylistic choices immediately caught my attention, for both the Barbie and Ken characters. The vintage-style Barbie dream houses were also quite a visual treat throughout. While I initially found parts of the story too didactic for my liking – I prefer a more subtle approach – as it progressed there were uncomfortable parallels to the real world that struck an emotional chord with me. This is an ultimately fun ride of a movie that helps us embrace our inner Barbie or Ken, a celebration of femininity and what it means to be authentic in a messy world, whether you’re a man or a woman.
The Morning Show (Seasons 1 and 2) | Apple TV
Produced by and also starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show (titled Morning Wars in Australia and Indonesia) is all about the operations and machinations of a long-running morning show on fictional channel UBA. Steve Carrell plays the serially fornicating lead anchor, Aniston his long-time sidekick, and Witherspoon the rebellious newbie with something to prove.
The series explores some of the big issues of the day. Centring around sexual harassment in the workplace, it delves into the #MeToo movement, questions the prevailing cancel culture, highlights racism and flirts quite successfully with gender. Emmy Award-winning Season 1 rollicks along beautifully; only near the end of Season 2 was I a bit put off by an unnecessary amount of screaming and overacting that could not make up for weak dialogue. That said, the characters were generally well drawn, and the storyline engaging enough to keep us watching through a total of 20 episodes.
Now I’m looking forward to Season 3. And with the delectable Jon Hamm (Mad Men) coming on board, how could I not?
Endeavour | Apple TV, Amazon Prime
I’m honestly quite disappointed in myself that I haven’t thought to write about this earlier. I love this prequel to the Inspector Morse series, which ran from 1987 to 2000. Set in the 60s and 70s, it sees Oxford Police Constable Endeavour Morse solving crimes with DI Thursday. The writing is witty, clever and complex. The thought process that goes into the plots blows my mind – It feels so original, which, if you love a good crime show, you’ll know is becoming a rare thing.
The songs, time period and fashion are another bonus, but the real drawcard is the chemistry between Thursday, Strange and Morse. This show is also good at balancing the good and bad; it’s never overly dark, unlike some other crime shows.
There have been nine seasons of Endeavour since 2012, though this current season is said to be the final one. Unsurprisingly, it’s got a high 90 percent Rotten Tomato rating and an 8.6 IMDb score.
What We Did On Our Holiday | Prime Video
This is an oldie (2014) but a goodie, and it’s so nice to watch something a bit different. It’s thoughtful, funny and clever. Billy Connolly, David Tenant and Rosamund Pike are among the adults, but the three children are amazing actors too.
The Witcher, Season 3 | Netflix Singapore
This season of The Witcher is bittersweet for me, as the main star of the show Henry Cavill has opted to leave… as such, I’ve decided to treat it like it’s the last season, and many fans will probably do the same. There aren’t many things worse than recasting the main character three seasons in – especially when you have to replace Henry!
Despite this, this season so far has been great – the plot has stepped up a gear, along with the continued romance of Geralt and Yennefer. The focus this time is largely on the relationship between Ciri and Geralt, as Ciri comes into her power. Geralt continues to protect them from those who wish to harm her.
Unfortunately, the costumes and effects have felt cheap at times – some questionable CGI and caked-on makeup, for example, despite a budget of $35 million! Ratings have been mixed, too, though this may just be a backlash for Henry leaving – I’ve not yet finished it, so I’ll have to wait and see!
This story about the Dutton family who for a century has owned the biggest ranch in America has five seasons (the final episodes of Season 5 are expected to air around November this year). My favourite characters are Beth Dutton and her boyfriend/husband Rip, and it’s one of the best series I’ve watched.
Arnold | Netflix Singapore
Not that he’s been someone I’ve thought of much since, but I did enjoy watching Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies, Twins and even Terminator back in the day. Somehow, though, I’ve been on a bit of an “Arnie blitz” lately! First, I watched this entire three-part Netflix documentary on him. I wouldn’t say that you really end up knowing what kind of person he is, but it was interesting. Shortly after, I started watching Fubar, which he stars in – mostly for something to help me cope with jetlag, but I really enjoyed it. It didn’t take itself too seriously and there were enough different plots and storylines to make you want to see more.
This feel-good Australian series is an in-depth look into relationships at all stages in people’s lives. It delves into family dynamics, grief and, most of all, love. It follows three different family members as they find out what it means for them to find and be in love when they face all of what life has to throw at them.
My favourite thing about Love Me is that it brings in comedy in the most unsuspecting moments; it has me and my friends laughing and squealing at the TV! Definitely a binge-worthy show.
The Hardest Geezer | YouTube
I like a bit of a jog every now and then – a dozy amble around a park, or a kilometre or two along a beach on holiday. To employ the lingo of Russell Cook, that would make me “The Softest Geezer”.
Russell – nicknamed “The Hardest Geezer” – stars in a current YouTube series that’s documenting his attempt to run the entire length of Africa from south to north. The 26-year-old from Sussex is an unlikely looking ultra-runner (giant red beard, for starters), but boy can he tear up the tarmac. In 2022, he became the first person to run from Asia to London. This time, he’s tackling South Africa to Tunisia – around 13,000km.
It’s not the prettiest travel doco you’ll see. Russell gets up, emerges from the van he sleeps in with his support crew, then starts his stopwatch and heads off on another hot road, generally with the aim of running 60km a day (almost a marathon and a half). But as you start to get to know his teammates and hear their banter, it becomes kind of addictive.
Just as I’m writing this, Russell has encountered the biggest challenge of the mission to date – an incident that made news headlines back in his home country. But, as far as I can see, he’s just going to brush it off and continue on his perilous way north. Hardest Geezer? More like Maddest Geezer!
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story | Netflix Singapore
I’ve been a fan of screenwriter Shonda Rhimes since the first season of Grey’s Anatomy in 2005. I’m amazed at the storylines that come out of her! Obviously, I binged Season 1 and 2 of Bridgerton, and now comes Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
The new series comes on the back of the wonderful portrayal of Charlotte by Golda Rosheuvel in Bridgerton. Despite her limited screen time, she made a royal impression! Queen Charlotte is a historical drama based on actual historical figures. It tells the story of how a young Sophia Charlotte of MecklenburgStrelitz (portrayed by India Amarteifio) navigates her new marriage to King George III – their budding love, the intricacies of the English court and the king’s growing mental illness.
A side plot involves the back story of Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and her previously undiscovered link to Dowager Viscountess Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell).
It’s not a documentary, so it’s not an accurate historical account. What it is, though, is an hour of elaborate costumes, lavish balls and wonderful storytelling.
Blackpink: Light Up the Sky | Netflix Singapore
I’ve resisted the K-pop pull for many years. While names like Girls Generation, Big Bang, Super Junior, Mamamoo and BTS are familiar to many, I have no idea what their songs sound like and can’t tell one apart from the other.
What drew me to find out more about the group Blackpink was because they were appearing everywhere – from Coachella 2019 (the first time a K-pop girl group has performed on any of the festival’s stages), to ambassadors for luxury fashion brands (Cartier, Celine, Chanel and Tiffany & Co.) and appearances on international talk shows (James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon).
Blackpink: Light Up the Sky is a Netflix documentary that provides an introduction to the group’s hits, insights into each girl’s journey up to their musical debut, and a backstage look at their living and working environment and group dynamics. It’s heartwarming to see that Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rose each have individual strengths of character and performance skills that complement the others. Their multicultural background makes them relatable to fans around the world, which could explain their international popularity.
After watching this, you can’t help but feel that these hardworking ladies deserve all the recognition and success they’re enjoying now.
Citadel | Amazon Prime
First, a quick disclaimer: as I’m writing this, only two episodes of this series have been released – so if it takes a sudden nose dive on quality, forgive me! However, so far I’ve been impressed. This new spy thriller features a favourite for me, Stanley Tucci, along with Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
The series is about a global spy agency, Citadel, which has fallen – its agents have had their memories erased. Now, the powerful Manticore crime syndicate is filling the power vacuum. Eight years on, Bernard Orlick (Tucci) gets in touch with one of those Citadel agents (Madden) in an attempt to take down the Manticore group.
A Man Called Otto | Apple TV
Tom Hanks excels yet again in the lead role of this bittersweet comedy as a widower utterly consumed by grief. Otto takes out his anger on everyone with his cutting remarks, in between unsuccessful attempts to end it all.
Highly principled and organised, and full of disdain for modern life and the younger generation’s inefficiencies, Otto thinks everyone is an idiot. That is until new neighbours move in across the street.
It is the quick-witted Marisol who proves to be a match for Otto’s sharp wit. She soon sees through his salty demeanour at the pain he is in and they strike up an unexpected friendship. This wonderful film about a grump comes up trumps.
House of Hummingbird | Apple TV
For a long time, I’ve been looking for films that capture real life in its essence. Drama and exaggeration are common in cinema nowadays, but not the natural reflection of how things are, which to me is a lot more interesting and relatable.
I am, however, not disappointed by House of Hummingbird, a multiaward-winning Korean film about a quiet teenage girl’s coming-of-age experiences in 1994. From troubles at home from an abusive elder brother, to confusing dating experiences and a rapport formed with her teacher, the story is told with sincerity and great attention to detail. Like the protagonist, you will walk away feeling its emotional resonance.
Race Across the World | BBC iPlayer
I’ve just finished watching the first season of this BBC adventure series. Based on a similar idea to CBS’s The Amazing Race series, five pairs of “ordinary Brits” are challenged with travelling from the UK to Singapore without taking a single flight. Instead, they have the budget equivalent to the cost of a direct flight (£1,329) to find their way by land through Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia to Singapore, travelling a distance of 12,000 miles in 50 days.
The contestants face many difficult decisions and hurdles along the way as they try to navigate the best route to win them first place and the coveted prize of £20,000. Although it does feel a little staged at times, I enjoyed watching the relationships unfold and the journeys they choose to take through interesting countries. I’ll be tuning in to the next two seasons, which take place in South America and Canada.
Next in Fashion | Netflix Singapore
If you liked Project Runway, you’ll love Next in Fashion. While the first season was a flop, the competition has been revived on Netflix and all I can say is that I am totally here for season two!
In short, 12 no-name, up-and-coming designers and international professionals compete for a $250,000 prize fund. Plus, they get to launch a collection on e-commerce platform Rent the Runway. The show is hosted by Tan France from Queer Eye and model Gigi Hadid, so you can expect the commentary to be insightful, fresh and funny.
The designers are given unbelievably tight schedules – sometimes just eight hours. In this time, they must come up with a design based on a theme, find materials, create the look and tailor the outfit before sending it down the runway in front of a crowd – and, in one episode, Donatella Versace!
Some of the looks are very out there and follow a “fashion as art” mentality, rather than being something you might walk down the street in. However, the designs they create are phenomenal. If you’re a fashion lover, you cannot miss this! Besides, you may be seeing these designers’ names on Orchard Road in the near future.
Daisy Jones & The Six | Amazon Prime
I first came across this story in a book club a few years back so I was looking forward to seeing the TV series adaptation. It’s always a challenge seeing characters you’ve loved in books come to the screen but this was so refreshing.
It’s about a band in the 1970s who are at the peak of their fame until they play their last show to a sold-out arena in Chicago. The series is filmed like a documentary, in which the band members come together decades later to reveal the truth of what happened.
The story revolves around the two main characters, Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) and Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), and their tumultuous relationship. I won’t reveal any more of the plot – just watch it for the amazing 70s outfits and the crazy rock and roll lifestyle!
Fun fact: Riley Keough is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, which probably explains her outstanding stage presence.
A trio of thrillers | Various platforms
I think my blood pressure has been impacted over the past month, as I’ve been bingeing (just a little bit!) on intricate plots that have had me on the edge of my sofa. The first was a British series, Unforgotten, which has a fab cast including Nicole Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar. It delves into old crime cases that resurface, often through other newer crimes. It’s easy to become totally immersed in it.
Then I switched across to Netflix for some American intrigue in The Night Agent. The acting isn’t great, but the plot did hold me. You’re never quite sure who the baddies are until the end…
Next, after talking to myself sternly about not watching any more of these thrillers, I talked myself into watching Shetland on BBC. It’s set around a police team in the far north of Scotland and their personal lives – and, yes, a few murders (not sure how anyone is still alive up there!) and other unsavoury behaviour. The scenery is amazing and the cast is very relatable. Again, I like trying to figure out who done it, but I haven’t got many right – so far…
Alone (US), Season 8 | Various platforms
I was late to come to Alone. I’d mistaken it for Survivor – the one with the inane challenges and “tribal alliances”. But this is the real deal: individuals sent to a ridiculously inhospitable corner of the globe and left to survive with meagre equipment – and brutal minus temperatures and hungry grizzly bears to contend with.
I jumped in randomly at Season 8 of the US version (Season 9 recently aired), and I loved it. It’s set around Canada’s icy, wind-blown Chilko Lake. The ten contestants aren’t celebrities or city slickers; they’re hardened adventurers who all bring essential skills to the table, whether it’s hunting with a bow and arrow, or forging Stone Age-style tools. The winner is the one who can stay out in nature the longest. (Spoiler: it’s months and months!)
There are some real characters too. My favourite in Season 8 was Biko, a construction worker and singer in a heavy metal band whose strategy was to stack on 30kg before the show in an effort to stave off hunger. Chilko Lake is unforgiving, however, and those extra kilos didn’t last long.
The first season of the Australian version of Alone has just started screening, set on Tasmania’s rugged west coast. I can’t wait to see it. And while I’ll thankfully be surrounded by the comforts of an electricity-powered home, I will – very appropriately – be alone. (My wife hates this kind of show, so she’ll be off in another room watching Succession.)
Criminal Minds: Evolution | Disney Plus
I was a fan of Criminal Minds, so this new series came as a welcome surprise! In previous seasons, the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) solved various crimes across one or two episodes; Evolution, on the other hand, follows one case across the whole series, as the team unravels a network of serial killers built during the pandemic, and tracks down the person that started it all.
I was quickly hooked as I watched the team discover conflicting psyches behind the crimes that had been committed and eventually realise that something bigger was at play. Best of all, you can watch this without catching up on prior seasons – you’ll just miss some of the characters’ growth and their changing relationships with one another.
The Evolution series is also unlike other crime dramas as it explores the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns on serial killers. A detective in the show, David Rossi, describes it best: “They couldn’t move. They couldn’t hunt. So they started communicating, helping each other to become better predators.”
Who Do You Think You Are | YouTube
An American actress with lineage to an English aristocrat, British royalty and even a world-famous conqueror; a decorated English actress descended from a vice commander of Copenhagen; and an English former professional footballer with an ancestor who repeatedly served time in prison.
The common thread between these three? They’re all looking for answers about their ancestry – and that’s the premise of this documentary series. As someone who has questions about her own ancestry and lineage, I find it fascinating to watch these stories unfold, as famous people discover that they’re not merely English, Australian or Greek.
While full episodes are available, I prefer the “shorts”; these aren’t more than 10 minutes each and they get straight to the juicy bits and reveals, making them perfect for a quick break from work.
The Banshees of Inisherin
I was very excited to see the duo of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson pairing up again for this movie. The last time I watched them together was in In Bruges, and their chemistry in that movie was just seamless. No less could be said about their performance in The Banshees of Inisherin.
Set in 1923, the film’s plot is about a friendship gone wrong on a rural island off the coast of Ireland (stunning scenery, of course!). The sudden rejection of one of the two friends leads to despair and revenge.
Despite the setting of a century ago, the dialogue, interactions and characters still make the film so relatable to modern day as it touches on issues like depression, violence, loneliness and finding one’s purpose in life.
It’s such a refreshing change to be able to watch a movie without any CGI manipulation to appreciate fine acting with a stunning backdrop. And the rhythmic sounds of the language were a definite bonus for me too.
Limitless | Disney Plus
This is a good six-part series to watch with the man in your life. Star of the show is Chris Hemsworth, the Aussie celeb best known for playing superhero Thor – and for being one super-fit human! He’s on a mission to improve longevity, and with the help of a team of scientists, he tests mind and body to the max with six epic challenges.
This National Geographic production is beautifully shot, well researched and might just teach you a thing or two about how to live a longer and happier life.
Enola Holmes 2 | Netflix Singapore
Millie Bobby Brown returns as the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, the title character of the book series, The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer. This second film is inspired by the 1888 “matchgirls’ strike”, a famous episode of industrial action in London.
Now a bonafide detective, Enola is enlisted by a matchgirl (a worker at a match factory) to find her missing sister. Of course, her investigations are hampered by Superintendent Grail (brilliantly acted by David Thewlis), a murder, and romantic interest from Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge). She finds help from her brother, Sherlock, who’s investigating a perplexing mystery of missing funds that may be linked to her case.
Henry Cavill reprises his role as the famous English detective and the chemistry he shares with Brown is fun to watch. Definitely one for fans of detective fiction, especially Sherlock Holmes.
Nolly | ITV
You don’t need to have watched an episode of the famous British TV series Crossroads to appreciate this three episode series. As a bit of background, Crossroads was one of the longest-running soaps in the UK, behind Coronation Street and Emmerdale Farm, and at the centre of the show was Meg (Noele Gordon). Nolly is all about her, and she’s played brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter; the rest of the cast is also good. It’s a bit of a walk down memory lane to the days of the 70s and 80s too – especially the fashion! Definitely worth a watch.
Clarkson’s Farm Season 2 | Amazon Prime
Jeremy Clarkson returns to his Lamborghini tractor seat in Clarkson’s Farm Season 2. This series continues the humorous hopelessness of Clarkson trying to make his large Cotswold acreage profitable whilst highlighting the more serious struggle, and red tape, faced by modern-day British farmers. A good giggle.
Vikings Valhalla: Season 2 | Netflix Singapore
It’s back! I was eagerly waiting for the new season of this show and, although the storyline went in a completely different way than I expected, it was still great. It was more bloody and gory than Season 1 but definitely more focused on the characters’ development. I can see big things coming from the main characters in the next series – Leif, Harald and the heroine of the story, Freydis – it felt like it was setting the stage for the main event!
In particular, it will be interesting to see how shieldmaiden Freydis continues to battle with her fate as “keeper of the faith” of the pagans, while pursuing her relationship with Harald, a Christian prince.
For those who don’t know what the show is about, Vikings Valhalla is set in the 11th century and covers the final years of the Viking Age – well, loosely. It’s interesting in that it covers territorial fighting including the Viking rule of England, but also the fight between Christianity and paganism.
Women at War (Les Combattantes) | Netflix Singapore
Set in 1914, this series sees German troops advancing across France and four women grappling with the devastating consequences of war at home. The women include Marguerite, a mysterious prostitute; Caroline, propelled to the head of the family factory; Agnes, Mother Superior of a requisitioned convent; and Suzanne, a nurse on the run.
There were more twists and turns in Women at War than I can remember; you’ll be constantly on the edge of your seat. If you want brilliant sets, history and undeniable drama (with a bit of spice), this is for you!
The series is in French so if you aren’t a French speaker you can watch it dubbed in English or with subtitles – either way, it’s well worth the watch. It’s also a reminder of what we are all capable of achieving in difficult times.
The Glory | Netflix Singapore
This South Korean drama series has a masterfully written plot, centring around a high school student, Moon Dong-Eun, who becomes a victim of violence perpetrated by her fellow students who have the money to get away with it. As the violence escalates, she is forced to drop out of school to save her life. From that moment, Dong-Eun’s life is a series of calculated steps towards getting revenge on her tormentors and the bystanders that allowed it to happen. The highlight is when she becomes the homeroom teacher of the main bully’s child.
Actress Song Hye-Kyo successfully brings out the cunningness yet vulnerability of Moon Dong-Eun, showcasing her determination, rage and loneliness that reverberate through every moment; from her deadly blank expressions to the hysterical applause she gives to the woman who once tortured her, she captures the spectrum of grief that comes with trauma.
Singles Inferno | Netflix Singapore
Season two of this Korean reality dating series dropped in January. As in the first season, a group of attractive and chiselled single males and females are placed on an isolated island dubbed “Inferno” to find their potential partner. Without revealing their age or occupation, they have to use their natural charms to pair up and leave the island for a night in “Paradise”, which is a stay at a luxury hotel.
You’d think that being attractive makes things easier. However, there are awkward silences and laboured conversations; I could hear the gears in their heads cranking doubly hard to find ways to keep the conversation going. My takeaway from this is that, regardless of your looks, the inability to express yourself eloquently or hold a conversation can only get you so far. Whether it’s a reality show or app, it’s just an introduction to a potential date. Anything more has to be nurtured through shared interests, values and belief systems.
Drive My Car | HBO Max
This Japanese film by renowned director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and inspired by Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women is not your usual “romance” film. In fact, it starts off on a pretty grim note, with a stage actor and director first discovering his wife is cheating on him, and later having to cope with her passing. Brace yourself, as it gets more complicated, when he receives an offer to produce a show his late wife had scripted, starring one of the young actors who was the very man she had the affair with.
Things do get better eventually, not through the finding of a new flame, but in the man’s unlikely friendship with his chauffeur, who is contending with the loss of her mother. Themes like art as a way to process trauma, and grappling with secrets and regret in relationships are handled with nuance and elegance. Essentially, this film is about love, though not in the way you may expect.
Wednesday | Netflix Singapore
Any scepticism buzzing over Tim Burton’s new cast playing the iconic Addams Family was silenced when Wednesday was finally released on Netflix. Jenna Ortega brings Wednesday Addams into a whole new light – from playing the cello to “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones to the kooky dance routine to “Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps – all while maintaining Wednesday’s iconic stoic expression and deadpan demeanour.
The show sees Wednesday joining Nevermore Academy, a school for outcasts, where she investigates a murder mystery. While it was easy as a viewer to narrow down the culprits, the journey to their unveiling was still a rather satisfying one. The usually tired tropes of coming-of-age and high school cliques are seamlessly woven in, in a way that grips the interest. Oh, and did I mention that Christina Ricci (Wednesday in the original cast) stars too?
My Invisible Life | Gateway Arts (gatewayarts.sg)
When the lives of a high school student and migrant worker collide, there is no hiding from the longstanding societal prejudice and xenophobia surrounding them. This theatrical film made in Singapore builds towards a construction site chase scene with complications that pull at your heartstrings. Watch as Daniel must make the difficult choice to stand up and protect his new friend Sanjay.
My Invisible Life is perfectly targeted to young teens beginning to question the world. The storyline offers opportunities to discuss issues of xenophobia and social integration and, for older viewers, a reminder to always question your own privilege and prejudices.
Andor | Disney+
Yet another Star Wars offshoot, this time a prequel to the underrated movie Rogue One, this series follows Cassian Andor’s struggle to escape the clutches of the omnipresent evil Empire. This first season is a cleverly made, very watchable lead-in to the formative years of the rebels and their fight to restore freedom and justice to the galaxy. Highly recommended and suitable for all the family.
A Call to Spy | Netflix Movie
This thrilling historical film from 2019 is based on a real event. At the start of the war, Winston Churchill knew that a vital way to get information was to build a base of spies to link up with the resistance in France. This led to women being used as spies for the first time, as they were able to move under the radar more easily than men.
The main character is an American woman who was previously denied a diplomatic role on account of her gender and the fact she had an artificial leg. She is joined by the first Muslim spy used by British secret operations, a Sufi pacifist who risked her life along with the others. Without this infrastructure and the information the women were able to pass back to the Allied Forces, the outcome of the war may have been different.
It’s a great film to watch but pretty terrifying when you realise how easy it is for people to believe propaganda, and how others will do what they are told even though it’s not the right thing to do.
Operation Mincemeat | Netflix Movie
In the early years of WWII, a secret team was set up to pass false information to the Germans via various spies – and making it look like it was real information was the key. In order to make the Nazis think the Allied Forces were invading Greece rather than Sicily, an ingenious plan was concocted for a corpse carrying supposedly top secret information to wash ashore in Spain, in a location with known Nazi sympathisers.
As a viewer, you’re left with the question: if the information gets into the hands of the Nazis, would they believe it, or would they know that it’s a diversion? Like A Call to Spy, this is based on a true story, and it features a stellar cast including Colin Firth and Penelope Wilton.
Bald and Bankrupt | YouTube
Continuing my shout-outs for various travel-themed YouTube channels, this time I’m giving props to “Bald”, which is the nickname of British travel blogger Benjamin Rich. In his two channels (“Bald and Bankrupt” and “Daily Bald”), he ventures into the sketchier corners of countries that many would consider not particularly travel-friendly, and invariably manages to smash any preconceived notions by meeting and interacting with wonderful people at every turn.
Bald isn’t for everyone; he’s a quintessential “lad” – the videos where he’s travelling alone rather than with his rogue mates are easily the best. But it’s hard to deny the strength of his series of vlogs filmed in the post-Soviet states – and Ukraine, in particular (filmed shortly before the start of the war). You’ll have a laugh, shake a head at his courage, and perhaps even develop an appreciation for old Soviet mosaics!
The Capture (Series 1 & 2) | BBC
In this mystery-thriller series set in London, a young detective comes across a government strategy that can alter video footage, plant people as spies, as well as make them disappear – all in the name of justice… This was gripping and probably a bit too close to the truth for comfort, but cleverly done, and with a great cast. Highly recommended.