With New Mexico’s stay-at-home order, many of us are struggling with boredom and trying to stay upbeat. Thankfully, there are great movies, television shows, books and songs to help keep us entertained between the moments we spend pursuing creative projects, getting outdoors and finishing up the school year online. Sometimes, the greatest escape from this somewhat scary reality is a compelling story — whether read on pages of a novel or watched on a screen — and a rad playlist of relatable lyrics.
What movies we’re watching
Clueless (1995): Perhaps one of the most classic coming-of-age “chick flicks” ever made, this movie is one we love to watch over and over. The story follows the affluent and popular Beverly Hills character Cher as she gives a socially awkward and unstylish student a makeover. With lots of comedic relief, this is a ’90s hit that both guys and girls can laugh about — and who couldn’t use some laughter right about now?
This Is Spinal Tap (1984): Holding a microscope to the world of ’80s metal music, the satirical This Is Spinal Tap digs into the turbulent lifestyle of what it means to be a rockstar. The film follows the fictional English band Spinal Tap in its attempt to make a comeback through a tour across the U.S. — a venture packed with crisis, chaos and a bit of inspiration. If you like rock ’n’ roll, British accents, ’80s mullets — and are looking for a good laugh — this one’s for you. This Is Spinal Tap is one of the more unusual and brilliant films we’ve seen recently, as it executes humor in a uniquely creative way.
Macbeth (2015): There are plenty of film adaptations of this classic Shakespearean tale, but the 2015 version is our favorite — mostly because of the absolute beauty of this film, and the way that the director chose to represent the play within this adaptation is astounding. While the straining monologues of Shakespearean literature might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the unique way this particular Macbeth represents the scene keeps viewers interested in the film’s entirety.
If you aren’t familiar with the Macbeth storyline, it’s basically about a man named Macbeth who murders the king, Duncan, and then seizes the throne. After doing so, however, Macbeth doesn’t feel much like a king; instead, he wrestles feelings of guilt and shame as Scotland’s tyrannical ruler. On a normal Friday night, this might not be a go-to, but hey, we’re in quarantine. Since so many high schoolers are required to read this book, why not also check out the movie?
The Unknown Soldier (2017): Perhaps one of the best war movies ever made, The Unknown Soldier tells the relatively untold story of the continuation war between Finland and the Soviet Union. The story follows the story of a Finnish unit fighting to recapture and hold territory lost to the Soviet Union during the winter war of 1939. With stunning visuals, including a dynamic use of the frog’s perspective, and spot-on historical accuracy, this is a dark but intriguing story — one much different than other war movies we’ve seen.
Angel Has Fallen (2019): If you’re looking for a movie to keep you on the edge of your seat, this action-packed film might do the trick. The movie follows Secret Service agent Mike Banning into custody for the failed assassination of a president. After escaping, Banning must run from his own agency to discover what the real threat to society could be and put an end to it — ultimately saving others’ lives, as well as his own. The movie made it on Netflix’s Top 10 list, so you know it’s a good one. How could it not be with acting from Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman?
— Compiled by Ben Timm and Valeria Ramirez/Generation Next
What books we’re reading
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez: Tying romance with murder, this is one of the most enrapturing stories we’ve ever read. Set in a small town in Colombia, Chronicle of a Death Foretold revisits the killing of Santiago Nasar, which continues to alter the town in mysterious ways nearly 30 years later. The book’s multidimensional characters — all of whom played a part in the murder — are explored through tangential storylines with which the author teases the reader. While the plot is brilliantly conceived, the highlight of this book is the writing itself, which is so meticulously crafted that each sentence deserves to be reread.
In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché: This book of poems, which was published in mid-May, has been essential to our introspection amid quarantine. Now is a time for self-reflection and a reminder that the world needs unity — and we feel this book speaks to these themes in a lyrically relatable and relevant way. Through her poems, Forché reports on the conditions the world faces, such as the massive island of trash that has accumulated in the Pacific Ocean and the brutality of mankind, genocide and war. Through accounts of individuals, as well as parables of migration and the impacts the natural world is forced to endure, Forché resolutely digs into critical issues through the powerful medium of poetry.
Stones from the River by Ursula Heigi: Set in a small fictional German town between 1910 and the late 1950s, this novel follows the life of Trudi Montag, a woman who has dwarfism. Unlike other stories from the World War II era, this book interestingly doesn’t explicitly focus on the rise of Nazi Germany. Rather, it gradually manifests through Trudi’s personal life — her relationships and how she deals with being different. Though there are several depressing scenes, they add to the novel’s authentic, sometimes harsh tone. Trudi’s thoughts and memories are so compelling that it’s hard not to read the entire book in one sitting.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: This historical fiction novel is an enthralling read that follows the journey of Chiyo, a poor girl who is born in a desolate fishing town on the coast of Japan in the 1920s. Due to the rare color of her blue-gray eyes, Chiyo is strung along a chain of fateful events that eventually leads her to becoming a renowned geisha — a woman paid to perform dance or song for a male, while wearing a traditional kimono and oshiroi makeup. This empowering story of a heroine’s journey provides a much-needed haven from the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic. Equally impressive as the plotline, Golden’s prowess as a writer puts readers under the illusion that Memoirs of a Geisha was perhaps autobiographical.
Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, Nelson Mandela by Ndaba Mandela: Few people knew Nelson Mandela better than his grandson. In this book, Nbada Mandela recounts what it was like to be raised by such a beloved figure, painting the celebrity in a more intimate, domestic light. What we like most is that the book is written in a casual, friendly voice. (Nbada visited Santa Fe last year, and the book reminds us of listening to him in person.) Touching on the harsh reality of apartheid and the AIDS crisis, this is a book that shows how Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid leadership made a difference in the world. Ultimately, it serves as a reminder that we all have the power to stir change.
— Compiled by Niveditha Bala and Aviva Nathan/Generation Next
What shows we’re bingeing
Tiger King: One of the hottest documentaries out right now, this miniseries brings light to the world of big cat breeding and privately owned zoos. There’s greed, secrecy, revenge — even the desire to murder! The crazy lifestyle displayed in the series, along with the complex dynamics between breeders and wildlife activists, is reason enough to enjoy it. Tiger King is short — there are only seven episodes — but it’s undoubtedly a must-watch show. It doesn’t get much more unbelievable than this!
On My Block: This coming-of-age show follows four lifelong friends — Monse, Ruby, Jamal and Cesar — as they navigate their life’s purpose out in the gang-filled world of the fictional Freeridge neighborhood of Los Angeles. The show tackles complex topics, like drug use, violence, and how what you’re born into can affect who you become and your perception of the world around you. From the pilot to the final episode of the third season, the show keeps you on your toes, with entertaining plot twists and an ability to play with your emotions.
All American: Based on the true story of former NFL player Spencer Paysinger, All American follows fictional character Spencer James’ journey to become a football star. Originally from Los Angeles’ Crenshaw neighborhood, Spencer moves to Beverly Hills with the head coach of the high school football team to gain the opportunity for a better life. All American touches on family dynamics and economic struggles, racism and racial violence, and even murder. Filled with constant surprises and subliminal inspiration to follow your dreams, this is a show sports fans and non-sports enthusiasts will both enjoy.
Never Have I Ever: This compelling Netflix series follows high schooler Devi Vishwakumar, who struggles to be a “normal” high school girl. After a horrible freshman year, in which Devi lost her father and suddenly became paralyzed, she decides she’s going to completely change her reputation her sophomore year. The show tackles subjects such as death, mental illness, sex, alcohol, complicated families and immigrant — mainly Indian — culture. The show does a great job of relating to the lives of real-life teens in a can’t-stop-watching form of entertainment.
Elite: We think this is one of the most binge-worthy shows out there right now. Set in Spain, this teen drama follows the lives of three teens as they enroll in an upscale private school after the murder of one of their friends. The appeal of the show is its deep-rooted mystery and diverse cast of characters. Don’t be intimidated that the show is in Spanish, as subtitles are available and an English version is available.
— Compiled by Ian Hernandez Rojas and Luke Bineguessner-Chavez/Generation Next
What songs we’re listening to
“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
“Dear Friend” by Chelsea
“Eres Tú” by Carla Morrison
“3 Nights” by Dominic Fike
“PDLIF” by Bon Iver
“It’s Alright” by Mother Mother
“Talk a Lot” by SALES
“Angie” by The Rolling Stones
“Heather” by Conan Gray
“No Te Vayas” by Carlos Vives
“C U Girl” by Steve Lacy
“In Your Eyes” by The Weeknd
“If I Ever Feel Better” by Phoenix
“Sweet Virginia” by The Rolling Stones
“Sunshine” by JMSN
“Level of Concern” by Twenty One Pilots
“Anybody Else” by Dom Fera
“Black Swan” by BTS
“Night and Morning” by Alina Baraz
“Besos en Guerra” by Morat, featuring Juanes
“Dog Years” by Maggie Rogers
“Banana Clip” by Miguel
“Cheesin’ ” by multiple artists (Cautious Clay, Remi Wolf, Sophie Meiers, Still Woozy, Claud)
“Something for Your M.I.N.D.” by Superorganism
“comethru” by Jeremy Zucker
— Compiled by Generation Next staff