The year 2020 ushered a sudden change in our day-to-day lives. With social distancing and staying at home becoming our new normal, it’s unsurprising that this pandemic has taken a toll on people’s emotional and mental health. The GadgetMatch team may be used to working remotely, but we’re experiencing this crisis, too. Here’s what’s Now Playing and what’s keeping us sane during the lockdown!
Games to play
Rodneil: There were so many things that could have gone wrong for a title that was so hotly anticipated. Instead, what we got is a thoughtful expansion on a game and story so dear to many gamers’ hearts. FF7R is not perfect, but it does more than enough to quench the thirst built up over five years (since it was confirmed to be in development) while also making us want more.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Leez: At this point, who wouldn’t want to escape the impending doom of millions of people dying across the globe by going on a small island getaway, making it your own, and socializing with friends? Animal Crossing: New Horizons is addictive with more customizable features for you and your island to make every detail your own. This game is definitely one to add to the list of games and reasons you should get a Nintendo Switch if you don’t have one by now.
Luigi: If you’re a fan of the life simulator genre (à la The Sims or Animal Crossing), then you’ve heard of Stardew Valley before. Released in 2016, this cozy farm simulator is one of the best companions when you’re stuck at home in quarantine. With tons of things to do and villagers to warm up to, Stardew Valley can keep you entertained for hours on end.
Resident Evil 3 (Remake)
Kenrick: Capcom just can’t get enough of Resident Evil remakes. Last year, fans of the beloved action-horror game were treated to a glorious remake of Resident Evil 2. This year, Resident Evil 3 becomes the latest installment to be remade. The remake will surely please fans as it sticks to the story of the original. There’s just so much to love about this game as it breathes new life to the characters of Jill, Carlos, and the dreaded Nemesis.
Shows to binge-watch
MJ: When life throws you a curve ball, that’s the universe’s way of redirecting you to a new path — it’s a lesson I gleefully accept. Community reminded me of my younger days. I remember an unexpected disaster that threw me to a bunch of misfits who I now call friends. The hit sitcom finally found its way to Netflix where you can binge-watch its six seasons, giving you real good laughs and serious life lessons in every episode.
What We Do in the Shadows
Luigi: In the month or so that we’ve been under quarantine, you might’ve found yourself stuck with the quirkiest of housemates. Nothing gets stranger, however, than the weird vampire (and vampire wannabe) quintet of What We Do in the Shadows. Inspired by Taika Waititi’s 2014 eponymous film, FX’s mockumentary comedy series follows the adventures of the most dysfunctional housemates: a 757-year old vampire and his familiar, an overtly sexual vampire and his wife, and an energy vampire.
The Last Dance
Rodneil: The Last Dance is a 10-episode documentary detailing the last 6th and final championship run of the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson Chicago Bulls. Seeing as live sports is currently postponed until further notice, the documentary is a much-needed dose of entertainment for basketball fans who badly miss the game.
2gether: The Series
Vincenz: Tine (aka Mr. Chic) is a playboy who’s desperately looking for a girlfriend to replace his ex. But here’s the catch: a guy named Green likes him so much and follows him around to the point that Green looks like a leech attached to its host. The only way to get him out of the way is to beg Sarawat, a campus hottie, to become his fake boyfriend. He saw Sarawat as his savior to get away from an obsessed gay admirer. Little did he know, Sarawat was already head over heels for him long before they agreed on a pretend relationship.
Carol: A closer look at the lives of Hasidic Jews in New York and a young woman’s struggle when she finds out the world she’s always known isn’t really for her. The story takes viewers from a secretive part of New York to the freedoms of Berlin. A poignant story spread out in four episodes based on the life of writer Deborah Feldman. It’s so good, you’ll end up wishing for a second season.
Chay: Unorthodox is a short but profound story about self-discovery and questioning what happiness truly is — is it one that you find for yourself or that which your circumstances dictate? The only bad thing about the series is it doesn’t have enough episodes!
TWICE: Seize The Light
Rodneil: This is a YouTube Originals documentary following K-Pop girl group TWICE during their TWICELIGHTS world tour. It also dives deep into their time as trainees and how they overcame hardships together as a nine-member group. It’ll surely be an emotional roller coaster for ONCEs — their devoted fans.
Why R U?
Vincenz: BL (Boys’ Love) series are common in Thailand, and these are based on fan novels. In Why R U, Zon has a younger sister (named Zol) who became popular because of the BL novel she published online. The characters were named after him and Saifah (the person he hates the most). Other than them, Fighter and Tor are also part of the novel (and they both consider each other as enemies). What if one day, you suddenly realize that you and the person you hate are already falling for each other? Would you still think it’s a curse that’s why you fell into the world of a BL novel? Or would you believe that homosexual love is the reality all along?
Chay: Award-winning chef David Chang takes us on a culinary trip around the world; watching this felt like traveling while in self-isolation. Not only does the show combine two things I love, it also tackles racism, history, and what the future of regional cuisines as we know it might be like.
Movies to see
Kenrick: A timely movie to watch? While the fictional virus in this movie is much more intense than the current COVID-19 pandemic, the story itself remains faithful to how society will respond to a health crisis. While the movie is almost nine years old, the current situation has revived interest in it as people try to understand just how a pandemic will affect the global society.
Rodneil: This feels like a very unique attack on Godzilla/Kaiju movies. Instead of having the protagonist be a regular citizen with some ties to people researching the creature, the film focuses on how the government responds to its emergence. That seems mundane at first glance but the pacing will keep you engaged. It does a good job of maintaining tension with well-timed reminders that ordinary people are dealing with a threat that can end mankind.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
Human. :||: Nature. By Nightwish
Luigi: I’ve always been a huge fan of the hard rock and metal genres coming out of the “it’s just a phase, mom” era. If you want a taste away from the ordinary fare, Nightwish, a paragon of symphonic metal, brings together brutal guitar riffs, operatic vocals, and a full orchestra. Their latest album, “Human. :||: Nature.” comes in two discs: one, a masterpiece of melodic metal; and, the other, a full orchestral arrangement thematically highlighting the human journey of art and discovery. Listen here.
Chay: A daily podcast from The Atlantic tries to make sense of the grim reality that we’re living in. Journalist and physician James Hamblin answers executive producer for podcasts Katherine Wells’ questions about the pandemic and its consequences. Listen here.
Foam and Flotsam
MJ: Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Chelsea Peretti (known as Gina Linetti) may not be in the popular sitcom anymore, but she knows how to keep us entertained with her humor. The artist dropped “Foam and Flotsam”, a concept comedy album about coffee. These coffee-centric tracks may give you laughs while jamming due to its lyrics, but the songs tackle the complexity of human emotions, only told through coffee. Listen here.
“Easily” by Bruno Major
Rodneil: It’s a song from 2017 but I only chanced upon it recently. The lyrics suggest it’s a song about taking a chance on a relationship. While the thought has crossed my mind, I just really flow with the song’s melancholic but soothing vibe. Listen here.
Redraftables by The Ringer
Rodneil: With the NBA postponed indefinitely, Bill Simmons of The Ringer decided to do an NBA redraft. The rules are simple: How would we rank the players in a certain draft class knowing what we know now. They start with the notable 1996 draft that featured the likes of the late but great Kobe Bryant, and cultural icon Allen Iverson.
Oh My God by (G)I-DLE
Vincenz: A powerful love song with an unusual concept talking about how one woman is going crazy over another. Homosexuality in South Korea (and several parts of the world), is still a taboo. The music video depicts how same-sex love is considered a sin/crime while the lyrics suggest real intimacy and attraction between the two people. Soyeon, the member who’s responsible for writing the lyrics of the song, said it’s open to interpretation.
Doors by Ben&Ben
Vincenz: Just like anyone, we “open our secret doors” to people who we fully trust. This is an empowering song that tells us not to be afraid of opening up ourselves to those we hold dear. At the end of the day, people who truly love and care for you will be there in your darkest times. Listen here.
Chay: The Internet’s agony aunt Cheryl Strayed seeks wisdom and advice from writers like Margaret Atwood, Pico Iyer, and George Saunders. The reassuring podcast comes at a time when nothing makes sense and the future seems more uncertain than ever. Listen here.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
Netflix confirms one-weekend free trials
Called a StreamFest
Throughout the year, Netflix has released its exclusive content for absolutely free. Back in September, the streaming platform launched a “watch free” page with a few of its well-known titles for the unsubscribed. Now, the company is branching out even further with one-weekend free trials.
Officially called a StreamFest, the one-weekend event will make the entire platform absolutely free for non-subscribers. As a free trial should work, users don’t need to input the payment details to access the content.
Though officially unannounced, Protocol spotted the upcoming event in the Android app’s coding. According to the code, the StreamFest is scheduled for December 4 in India.
Immediately after the event, Netflix confirmed the plans as a way to “attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience.” Unfortunately, the Netflix spokesperson did not share anything beyond the confirmation.
However, the leaked code is enough to reveal the event’s payment-free system. Additionally, it might be a ticketed event. Or, at the very least, an event that will limit participants. A line in the code informs users that “Netflix StreamFest is at capacity.”
Other than that, not much else is known. Besides making the entire library free, the platform can also launch exclusive content during the event, creating a teaser for any potential customers.
After India, Netflix might bring the event to other countries, especially to new or saturated markets. With everyone still stuck at home, the streaming platform is facing a huge potential market for growing its subscriber base.
TWICE will feature in K/DA’s comeback EP
On the track called ‘I’ll Show You’
TWICE will be featured in the track “I’ll Show You” along with Bekuh Boom, and Anika Wells). A representative from Riot Games confirmed to Polygon that all nine members of TWICE participated in the track. The other tracks in the album are as follows:
- The Baddest (featuring Soyeon and Miyeon of (G)I-dle, Bea Miller, Wolftyla)
- More (featuring Madison Beer, Soyeon and Miyeon of (G)I-dle, Lexie Liu, Jaira Burns, Seraphine)
- Villain (featuring Madison Beer, Kim Petras)
- Drum Go Dum (featuring Aluna, Wolftyla, Bekuh Boom)
K/DA is a virtual girl group that debuted in 2018. The group is composed of four themed versions of League of Legends heroes Ahri, Akali, Evelynn, and Kai’Sa.
American singers Madison Beer and Jaira Burns voiced Evelynn and Kai’Sa during their debut. They were replaced by Bea Miller and Wolftyla in 2020. Meanwhile, Ahri and Akali are voiced by Miyeon and Soyeon who are members of K-Pop girl group (G)I-dle.
TWICE is a K-Pop girl group that debuted in 2016 with the title track “Like OOH-AAH” and have since released hit after hit after their first comeback track “Cheer Up.” The group is preparing to release their second full album titled Eyes Wide Open on October 26 with the title track “I Can’t Stop Me.”
Netflix faces charges for sexualizing children
Over controversial film “Cuties”
Contrary to what you might expect, Netflix’s most controversial film this year is not The Social Dilemma. Released on Netflix this year, Cuties, a French film about 11-year old girls, sparked a larger wave of controversy since its release. Now, Netflix faces charges for sexualizing children.
A grand jury in Texas recently indicted Netflix for showing Cuties on its platform. According to Texas Representative Matt Schaefer, the film “depicts lewd exhibition of [the] pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age which appeals to the prurient interest of sex.”
Netflix, Inc. indicted by grand jury in Tyler Co., Tx for promoting material in Cuties film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex #Cuties #txlege pic.twitter.com/UJ1hY8XJ2l
— Matt Schaefer (@RepMattSchaefer) October 6, 2020
Texas’s allegations stem from the film’s poster controversy back in August. To promote the film, Netflix used a poster depicting the child actresses posing like a sexualized pop band. Notably, the film’s original French poster was more innocuous, lacking Netflix’s sexual overtones.
The film itself is “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” as explained by Netflix in a statement to Reuters. “This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”
For its part, the platform took down their poster and apologized for the blunder. Regardless, numerous pundits and governments across the globe have rallied against and banned the film from showing. Before the poster controversy in August, the film won an award during its premiere at January’s Sundance Film Festival.
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