In the first lockdown, we decided to share some of the ways we were passing the time. Well... we've done them all. And now, like I'm sure everyone else in Melbourne feels right now, we're out of ideas. So, in the interests of sparking some new fiery passion for reading autobiographies or escaping into a Disney re-watch, we thought we'd share some of the things we've been reading, watching and listening to lately. Hopefully, you find something new to keep the next couple of weeks loaded with great content.
Nicola Dowse, arts editor, Melbourne
About a month ago my partner and I started working our way through the 100 Best Movies of All Time, if only so we have a better understanding of cultural references. However, with Melbourne becoming progressively grimmer, that cerebral pursuit has been replaced by binge-watching Parks and Recreation on Stan. My lockdown persona is definitely more April Ludgate than Leslie Knope mind you.
Delima Shanti, audience development manager, Australia
I’m listening (and re-listening) to this excellent Triple J show that’s all about music to soothe your frayed nerves and features Enya, ambient electronic music from Four Tet’s soothing new album. Also weirdly, listening to a radio host talk right now is really helping the loneliness. After work, I’ve been rewatching old episodes of Broad City and laugh-crying with Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. God, I want them to be my friends.
Nick Dent, associate publisher, Australia
I have three books on the go right now. I’m not an Elton John fan per se but I was gifted his autobiography, Me, for Christmas and it’s so funny and honest that it just makes me love the guy. His anecdotes about his friendship with Rod Stewart make it worth the price of admission. I was an Agatha Christie virgin but I picked up Evil Under the Sun from a street library and I soon found myself hooked. It’s pure plot, pure escapism. Finally, I’m re-reading Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, which I read at uni but had always wanted to go back to. Conrad’s prose is exquisite, which is weird considering he was Polish and writing in a foreign language. This story of colonial rapacity was retooled into the screenplay of Vietnam movie Apocalypse Now, which retains the incredible mood of existential dread.
Cass Knowlton, editorial director, Australia
I’ve just started season two of Succession, and although it certainly isn’t championing the resilience of the human spirit, it is gripping and just dark enough for these times. When I couldn’t take the news anymore I watched Big Hero Six, which is just a damn delight and a bit of an undiscovered gem. I’m reading The Last Day, which is by Andrew Hunter Murray, one of the QI elves. It’s beautifully written, but I started it in the Beforetime, when dystopian novels were more fun than they seem now. When I’ve had enough of darkness I’ll listen to a bit of No Such Thing as a Fish, for pure silliness.
Maxim Boon, Sydney editor
This is the golden age of streaming, with a seemingly inexhaustible source of telly triumphs at our fingertips. But spare a thought for a lesser genre of TV I have unexpectedly fallen in love with: the terrible true-crime documentary. Amazon Prime is a heady mix of top-shelf original content and bargain bin, not-even-straight-to-DVD true crime docos that are so bad they’re actually extremely good, particularly when it comes to chronicling the lives of serial killers. One of my favourite good-cos-it’s-bad series is Fred Dinage Murder Casebook, which is replete with cringingly terrible dramatic recreations of infamous murders. It also features a lot of talking head interviews in which presenter Fred Dinage sits uncomfortably close to his expert guest – pretty much on their lap – for no discernible reason.
Divya Venkataraman, staff writer, Sydney
Understandably, I’ve been leaning heavily into escapism at the moment. Andre Aciman’s memoir Out of Egypt tracks his eccentric family’s lush travels – if I can’t be in Alexandria or eating flaky pastries in bohemian Paris, well, at least I can read about it. In terms of films, I’ve been revisiting nostalgic, romantic favourites which hark back to a simpler time: the Before trilogy by my main man, Richard Linklater, but also moodier ones like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Never Let Me Go. I’d watch the latter for Keira Knightley’s cheekbones alone.
Alannah Maher, editorial assistant, Australia
I relocated to my parents' house in Newcastle for a little while, so it’s been a nice opportunity to tuck into some quality screen time with the ‘rents. We’ve been making our way through Stateless on ABC iView, which has prompted some interesting conversations about Australia’s immigration policy, how there’s some really good Aussie shows out there, how bloody good of an actor our Cate Blanchett is, and “hey, isn’t that Serena from The Handmaid’s Tale?” I can’t wait to subject them to the too-close-to-home British dramatic brilliance of Years and Years on SBS on Demand.
Claire Finneran, branded content editor, Australia
It’s a great time to be a feminist sci-fi fiction fan, amirite? I just finished Elvia Wilk’s Oval, a deeply cynical story about a near-future Berlin where artists are consultants for Big Pharma and corporate developers – think, party drugs that make you generous to rough sleepers and housing made out of fungal cartilage, it’s wild but rooted so realistically in the creative expat insufferability. Now I’m on to Severance by Ling Ma. I can’t tell if this is a great idea or the very definition of a bad idea – it’s about Millennials who survive an apocalypse from a population-wiping fever (uh-oh). It’s so addictively funny and has such sharp observations about white privilege and overconsumption, I can’t stop reading it!
Rebecca Russo, Melbourne editor
After years of being an infrequent, lazy reader, my high school reading obsession has returned with a vengeance during lockdown 2.0. It all started after falling into "BookTok" on TikTok (the corner of TikTok 's algorithm where people – usually teen girls – chat about YA novels) I was persuaded to read Sarah J Maas' Court of Thorns and Roses series. It's super trashy and a lot less intelligent than some of the other recs on this list, but who cares. I read all four books in about a week and it was all-consuming and a great way to escape lockdown reality. And not even kidding, I've been crying a lot and listening to Phoebe Bridgers' new album Punisher. It's really cathartic.