Whether you’re stuck at home remote working, or sitting on the couch working the remote, here are some great recommendations for fab films, tantalising TV shows, bingeworthy boxsets and more, courtesy of the staff of The Southern Star
Sean Mahon managing director
The award-winning Godfather trilogy follows the Corleone mafia family from their routes in Sicily in the early 1900s through to the 1980s in New York and stars Marlon Brandon, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and others and is movie gold – if you like scenes of Sicily, New York, mafia families, Italian weddings, skullduggery, romance, corruption, plus a fair bit of violence! If you liked Goodfellas, this is for you. Settle down and watch all three over a few days.
Tiger King - Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Tiger King is proving to be the weirdly addictive coronavirus lockdown Netflix documentary of choice and is taking the streaming service by storm on both sides of the Atlantic. Last week it was No 1 in Ireland. It’s the incredible, bizarre and true story of Joe Exotic, a private zoo owner who spirals out of control amid a cast of eccentric characters in this ‘murder for hire’ story from the underworld of big cat breeding. For viewers self-isolating at home, it’s a reminder that the world was weird in so many varied and wonderful ways before coronavirus ... and will one day get a chance to be weird again!
Con Downing editor
I loved Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Dale Cooper leading the investigation into the murder of teenager Laura Palmer in this detective drama, set in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, which had – to say the very least – more than its fair share of quirky characters per head of population. At some stage early in the second series, I gave up on it as it had got too weird, even for me, and it was always one of my regrets that I never saw it through. There’s some irony in the fact that my interest has been piqued (no pun intended) by a pandemic.
The World Cup Finals 1970
My second choice is not a boxset as such, but a compilation of the matches involving the 16 teams in the final stages of World Cup 1970 played in Mexico. Fifty years on, the excitement and exuberance of the occasion is still palpable, thanks mainly to a Brazilian team that could not defend for nuts, but always scored more goals than they let in. They included the legendary Pele, the free-scoring Jairzinho and ace free-taker Rivelino, playing with glorious abandon as they coasted to World Cup success with victory over Italy in the final. The tournament also included English goalkeeper Gordon Banks’ point-blank miracle save from a Pele header. It was the epitome of the so-called Beautiful Game.
Irene Paradisi designer, Southern Star Creative
This British science fiction TV series, created by Charlie Brooker, is about the use of new technologies and their unexpected consequences on individuals and modern society. Each episode is a self-contained story set in the near future or an alternative present. Why should you watch it? It’s intriguing and original! There are unexpected plots and scenarios, different tones, sometimes dark, often satirical, but also moving. It’s ideal for binge-watching.
Monty Don’s Italian and French Gardens
In these two series the UK’s leading garden writer and broadcaster Monty Don will take you on a trip around Italy and France to explore some of their most famous traditional gardens. It’s relaxing and inspiring, but my advice is to keep away from garden centres for a while. Monty’s long strides will lead you to beautiful botanical displays while providing interesting details about the historical events and people who inspired and influenced these gardens, also some curious stories about those who commissioned them.
Siobhan Cronin news editor
Curb Your Enthusiasm
We all need a good laugh now and there’s no better laugh on TV at the moment than watching California’s answer to Victor Meldrew - Larry David - get up everyone’s noses and put his foot in his mouth at every opportunity. If you can’t catch it on TV, there are plenty of great clips on YouTube.
(Sky, Now TV)
Queen of the South
This South American series about a drug dealer with a heart has largely gone under the radar in Europe but it’s a brilliant five-season fast-paced look at the horrors of the drugs trade, with excellent performances from a relatively unknown cast. Alice Braga is the stunning young dealer Teresa Mendoza and Peter Gadiot is her handsome side-kick James.
Kieran McCarthy sports editor
The Office (UK)
David Brent is both the greatest and cringiest character in TV history, all rolled into one middle-aged fat man who is the regional manager of a paper company in Slough. This mockumentary is brilliantly funny, following the day-to-day going-ons in the office. Brent (played by Ricky Gervais) is the main character, a bumbling boss who tries to be his employees’ best friend. There were only two series made, plus two Christmas specials, and that adds to its legend. The producers left us wanting more David Brent. I wonder what he’d make of what’s going on in the world right now ....
(Netflix, Amazon, Now TV)
Game of Thrones Series 1-7
Okay, Series 8 was a let-down, but that’s life, you don’t always get what you want. Series 1 to 7, however, are sensational. It’s just the escape from reality that we all need right now. First off, it’s an epic fantasy, so it’s not real. Game of Thrones, however, has everything you need, from brilliant storylines to engaging characters, from beheadings to weddings, from White Walkers to dragons, from incredible plot twists to oh-why-the-f**k-did-they-do-that moments. I, for one, am going to go right back to the start, back to Series 1, to treat myself again. And to those GOT sceptics, give it a chance: love at first sight is rare, just ask your other half.
Niall O’Driscoll manager, Southern Star Creative
The Get Down
This is a musical drama series on Netflix. Set in the South Bronx region of New York in the late 1970s and created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis, it tells the story of the ‘Get Down Brothers’ in typically flamboyant-yet-gritty Luhrmann style (think Moulin Rouge, Romeo & Juliet). The heroes, and sometimes anti-heroes, of this very stylised piece pursue their dreams at the birth of rap and hip-hop music against the poverty-stricken and dangerous 1970s Bronx. Highly recommended!
20 Feet from Stardom
This is an oscar-winning documentary about the lives and work of professional background singers and highlights the truly incredible contribution they have made, and continue to make, to some of the world’s favourite music (The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Sting – the list is endless). The film follows the behind-the-scenes experiences of artists including Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, and Jo Lawry, among many others. Who are they, you might ask? Just watch this compelling documentary and you will be amazed to find out that you’ve been listening to, and loving, their work for years, you just didn’t know it.
Brian McCarthy advertising executive
Band of Brothers
This is a 2001 American war drama based on historian Stephen E Ambrose’s 1992 non-fiction book. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks who had collaborated on the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan. The series dramatises the history of Easy Company 2nd Battalion and of the 101st Airborne Division, from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe, up until Japan’s capitulation and the end of World War II. The events are based on Ambrose’s research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans. The characters portrayed are based on members of Easy Company. Some of the men were recorded in contemporary interviews, which viewers see as preludes to several episodes, with the men’s real identities revealed in the finale.
Pirates Of The Carribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean is a series of fantasy swashbuckler films. The stories follow the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). The films take place in a fictionalised historical setting; a world ruled by the British Empire with pirates representing freedom from the ruling powers. The film series started in 2003 with Pirates of the Carribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl which received positive reviews from critics and grossed $654m worldwide. Dead Mans Chest was released three years later in 2006; the sequel proved successful, breaking financial records worldwide the day of its premiere. At Worlds End came out in 2007.
Jack McCarron digital manager
This absurd Netflix original about a former sitcom star attempting a comeback while also dealing with addiction and depression has to be considered on a par with the Simpsons and South Park in the pantheon of great animated TV series. Set in an alternate world where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side by side, it has been lauded for its realistic take on dealing with depression, trauma, addiction, self-destructive behaviour, racism, sexism, sexuality, and the human condition. It’s also hilarious and boasts a stellar cast including Will Arnett and Aaron Paul.
The latest in a long line of prestige HBO dramas, Succession is based on the fictional Roy family, the dysfunctional owners of a global media and hospitality empire who are fighting for control of the company amidst uncertainty about the health of the family’s patriarch, Logan Roy (Brian Cox).
Emma Connolly Life editor
Don’t be put off by the naff title, or the first episode or two which has way too many cliched breast feeding gags, this is really laugh out loud stuff and is extremely addictive. It’s a Canadian sitcom based on the friendship of four different working mothers, whose lives are way more interesting than the average working mother (mine anyway). It’s funny, but not comedic if you get me. Best of all, episodes are only around half an hour long, so if like me and you’ve no self control, you can binge on a few at a time and still get to bed at a reasonable hour to face your own ‘workin mom’ demands the next day. There’s three series on Netflix with a fourth on its way soon. Sit back and enjoy. You can thank me later.
If you haven’t already seen this Netflix series, I’m so envious. It will consume you - in a good way. Written by Hans Rosenfeldt of the equally brilliant Swedish/Danish series The Bridge, it stars Anna Friel stars in the lead role of Marcella Backland, a British police detective working in London. It’s up there with Line of Duty (falling just short of it in places, but I’d rate it well ahead of the slightly similar Luther), and while the story line gets very complicated in places (especially if you might be enjoying it with a glass of wine) it’s compelling. There’s two series (16 episodes) on Netflix to devour. Be warned though, it’s gruesome and even a little disturbing. Expect some strange dreams if it’s your pre-bedtime viewing.
Muireann Brady designer, Southern Star Creative
Parks & Recreation
This is all about the absurd antics of an Indiana town’s public officials as they pursue sundry projects to make their city a better place. Why should you watch it? Because of Ron Swanson, Leslie Knope, Galentines,’Treat Yo Self’, Lil Sebastian and 7 seasons, making it very bingeworthy.
Set in West Baltimore (US, not Cork!), this is no ordinary cop show. It’s also former President Obama’s favourite series. He described it as: ‘One of the greatest — not just television shows — but pieces of art in the last couple of decades.’
Anne Kelleher advertising executive
Follow James St Patrick, a wealthy New York nightclub owner who is living a double life as a drugs kingpin, rubbing shoulders with the rich and infamous (the underworld of the international drug trade).
This is a British psychological drama starring Iris Elba and Ruth Wilson. Police detective Luther’s life and work have merged into one and he is consumed in hunting down London’s most depraved criminals including serial killers where he is known to get inside the mind of the perpetrator. However, his methods, personality and troubled life often get him into trouble with his superiors.
Marie Wiseman Freelance project manager
A brilliant insight into the New Jersey mob – the characters and acting is superb. James Gandolfini, in particular, is immense as Tony Soprano. I’m late to it and currently half way through series 3.
(Sky Boxsets on Demand)
Brothers & Sisters
Pretty much the exact opposite of The Sopranos. IMDB describes it as the story of the drama surrounding a family’s adult siblings. It has a big cast including Calista Flockhart, Sally Field and Rob Lowe, and in the main it’s lighthearted and fun, though the storylines really step up in series 3 and 4.
(Sky Boxsets on Demand)