Movie Night Goes Virtual
With the Texas summer heat setting in and a lot of uncertainty still hanging over in-person gatherings, friends are finding ways to spend their down time together: hosting virtual watch parties.
These “watch parties” take different forms. Some participate in Netflix Party, an extension for the Google Chrome browser that allows you to watch with friends. This add-on allows one person to control the screen, so everyone’s play and pause is in sync, and it comes with a chat function. If you prefer talking over typing though, one trick is to have a Zoom call at the same time and put that window over the chat box.
Others open two tabs on their computer, one for their choice movie-watching platform (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others) and the other for Zoom. By shrinking Zoom and dragging the live webcam to the top corner of their screens, viewers can observe their friends’ reactions while watching. Finally, there is always the “old school” technique, the technique frequently used pre-coronavirus: calling via FaceTime on our phones, propping it up against a pillow, and counting down “3, 2, 1” to press “play” on your laptop.
Some high school and college students go beyond hosting the standard “movie night.” With virtual classes finally over, and the middle of summer rolling in fast - maybe they’ve already baked every variation of banana bread found online - teens and young adults have created film-watching groups, more formally known as AV clubs. Within these “clubs,” one “facilitator” creates a shared document of preliminary questions about the film that members can view prior to watching. After their set watching time, group members can add more questions about the film they would like to address on the document in preparation for their group discussion and film analysis through Zoom.
Elif Dundar, a UT student originally from Bellaire, said her friends started their movie club after corona hit, as a way for them to stay connected.
“We watched The Biggest Little Farm (2018; PG) and The Little Prince (2015; PG) back-to-back one day. We stayed up for hours afterwards discussing big ideas from the movies and how they made us feel,” said Elif. “Establishing a post movie night discussion was a way for us to challenge ourselves to think critically together. It honestly was a nice form of escape from the beginnings of what has become a new reality.”
We recommend trying any combination of the three techniques in your spare time. Coordinate with friends, pop some popcorn, maybe even create a shared document, and consult the below lists for movies, television shows, documentaries and comedy specials we’ve provided as suggestions.
Movies we’ve been watching recently:
- Saving Mr. Banks (2013; PG-13): This is the fictional retelling of Walt Disney’s 20-year quest to obtain the movie rights for Mary Poppins from the story’s creator P.L. Travers.
- Yesterday (2019; PG-13): In a British pseudo-reality, Jack Malik wakes from a comma as the only one who remembers the Beatles and their music. He then rises to fame himself by performing their songs.
- The Intern (2015; PG-13): Bored of retirement, 70-year-old Ben Whittaker goes back to work as an intern at an online fashion retailer, and quickly forms a friendship with millennial and company founder Jules Ostin.
- The Social Network (2010; PG-13): This biopic of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg details his time as a Harvard undergrad and the two subsequent lawsuits filed against him.
- Yes Man (2008; PG-13): Determined to turn his negative life around, Carl Allen finds that saying “yes” has the power to change everything for him.
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008; PG-13): Benjamin Button’s unusual life begins when he comes into this world as an elderly man, and then continues as he ages backwards, getting younger with time.
- Moonlight (2016; R): This award-winning film shows the journey of Chiron, a black, gay man growing up in Miami, at three different points in his life.
- Booksmart (2019; R): In this coming-of-age story, two recent high school graduates try to make up for the four years of fun that they realized they missed, all in one wild night.
- The Florida Project (2017; R): In a world adjacent to the Disney amusement park, six-year-old Moonee and her two best friends find adventure during their summer break, alongside her mother and a kind motel manager.
- The King (2019; R): Based on a collection of plays by Shakespeare, this historical drama recounts the rise of young Henry V to the King of England in the 15th century.
- 1917 (2019; R): Two World War I soldiers receive special and time sensitive orders to cross over into enemy territory and save over a thousand of their fellow soldiers.
- A Serious Man (2009; R): As a struggling physics professor in the 1960s, Larry Gopnik questions his Jewish faith as he looks for a way out of his many hardships.
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