Pillbox

Streaming Picks of the Week

Movies

Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey (Amazon Prime)

I recently rewatched this movie after acquiring a theremin of my own — and boy, did it make me feel guilty about the feeble squeals I made it produce. This documentary features the theremin in contexts that are in the popular imagination, namely, making goofy space sound effects in the back of sci-fi movies, but it centers the origins of the theremin, and the story of its creator, Léon Theremin. It features performances by theremin virtuoso and Theremin friend Clara Rockmore, and lengthy interviews with Robert Moog. Theremin was obsessed with the capacity to weave music, it seemed, out of thin air using subtle contortions of the human body that manipulated an electromagnetic field. He married one of the dancers who played his instruments by standing on it. The marriage came to an abrupt end when he was forcibly taken back to the USSR, and I won't spoil what happens because they build up a gorgeous suspense in the documentary, but I will say they have incredible contemporaneous footage of a certain someone who was still alive when the documentary was made in 1993.

Zodiac

This is one of David Fincher's most underrated films. If the title didn't already give it away, the film follows a journalist as he tries to piece together the identity of the Zodiac killer. It's an incredibly intense and fascinating film that follows each of these characters as they obsess over who the Zodiac killer is. This is probably the best film about a factual serial killer to be made. The 60s and 70s era of San Francisco is recreated beautifully and with an incredible attention to detail that is common for all Fincher films, right down to the detail of the clothing of the murder victims. The script is also incredibly tight, with the sequence of events being very cleanly followed and the passage of time being convincing and not forced. It's so tightly edited too, and never once do I feel the runtime of the film, and it is nearly three hours long. The film has a very great way of getting inside your head too. You follow these characters as they obsess over this case, and you yourself get wrapped up in the chaos of it all and start getting paranoid, trying to piece together what is happening. I highly recommend Zodiac to everyone. It's a very underrated and overlooked film, and it's a masterpiece.

TV Shows

Daria (MTV's website and Hulu)

This show is, by no means, a new discovery. This late 90s classic emerged from MTV's iconic show Beavis and Butt-head, where Daria Morgendorffer was a featured character who moved away during her sophomore year of high school. Daria picks up where the title character's story left off, following her journey at her new high school, Lawndale High School. Despite having been out for over two decades, viewers can find the show's take on topics like race, gender, societal pressures, and — of course — millennial cynicism relatable. In addition to its excellent incorporation of dry humor approach with social commentary, the show demonstrates excellent character development. Watching Daria evolve from a disenchanted and misanthropic sophomore to a more understanding and matured high school graduate is rewarding, and never seems to lose its appeal regardless of how many times I re-watch the series. Even if life appears pessimistic at best, even the most gloomy "misery chick" can look back and say that "there is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can't be improved with pizza."

The 100 (Netflix)

The 100 debuted on The CW in 2014, two years after The Hunger Games was released and made a lot of money and all the other young adult series with post-apocalyptic premises were snatched and turned into movies (Divergent) and TV shows. The 100 takes place 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse killed all life on Earth, and the last remaining survivors of the human race live in space on the Ark. A hundred detained delinquents, including Clarke (Eliza Taylor), are sent down to the Earth to see if it is survivable. Not only is there fresh air and green life and sparkling streams, the teenagers soon find out that they are not alone. The show has five seasons on Netflix, my favorite being the second one. It takes a couple episodes in the first season for the show to find its identity and move beyond being a typical CW show of teen angst and gorgeous people. Once it finds its footing, it’s a stellar series that burns through the plot and lets its characters drive the story. The 100 is great science fiction, and has production values and actions sequences nearly as good as Game of Thrones with a small fraction of the budget and prestige. If you like science fiction, horror, action, political drama, or even just great characters, I can’t recommend The 100 enough.