The Atlantic Daily: What an Oscar-winning Filmmaker Is Watching

Great cinema is easy escapism. Today, we send you into the weekend with some fresh picks.

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Today, we send you into the weekend with:

  • Three quarantine film recommendations, selected by the Moonlight director Barry Jenkins;

  • Three new TV shows to consider, as reviewed by our writers;

  • Three short documentaries, available to stream on our site right now.

(If you prefer the page to the screen, browse our weekly Books Briefing.)


Barry Jenkins’s Quarantine Film List

The Oscar-winning director, best known for Moonlight, was wrapping an upcoming television project when the stay-at-home orders arrived. Since then, it’s all Mondays. “I feel like we’ve been home for three Mondays, and nothing else,” Jenkins told our staff writer David Sims. “It’s just been one continuous Monday.”

To reclaim that Friday-at-the-movies feeling, try one of these Jenkins-approved picks:


The film: This light Italian comedy-drama follows a man who starts caring for his neighbors’ elderly relatives during the busy holiday season as a way to pay off his debts.

Jenkins’s notes: “I’ve been [thinking] about Italy during this crisis, and this was a tiny film I’d seen years ago. It’s the most amazing little film, the directorial debut of the writer of the Italian film Gomorrah. It’s 75 minutes, it’s on Amazon Prime, and it’s just delightful.”

Watch it on: Amazon Prime


The film: A zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in South Korea, ensnaring the passengers of a train on the way to the city of Busan.

Jenkins’s notes: “This was [Jenkins’s partner, the writer and the director Lulu Wang’s] recommendation. I hadn’t seen it, but it’s really awesome—I was in the back room where we watched, screaming and shouting. It transported us, in a way! We turned the lights off, enjoyed the jump scares.”

Watch it on: Netflix

STALKER (1979)

The film: Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi masterwork sees a strange figure called the “Stalker” leading a writer and a professor into the forbidden and desolate “zone,” where a room supposedly exists that can fulfill any desire.

Jenkins’s notes: “It’s the kind of movie that sits in the back of your head.”

Watch it on: Criterion Channel

You can find more details about Jenkins’s choices—along with five additional picks—on our site.


Three New TV Shows, Reviewed


“The Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney’s hit novel ushers an addictive, messily human portrayal of young love to the small screen.”


“The show is clearly trying to cover the bases [the book’s author, Celeste Ng,] couldn’t get to herself, and it’s admirable to see an adaptation try to improve upon its source material and write toward a savvy audience mindful of social and racial issues. Yet in some ways, it can feel like the show is being pulled in too many directions at once.”


Mrs. America is maybe the first great television series of 2020, a project that manages to capture the complicated essence of real characters while telling a story at both micro and macro levels.”

Rishi Chandna

Three Bite-Size Documentaries

Step aside, Tiger King. I asked my colleague Emily Buder, who curates our Atlantic Selects documentary series, to pick three bite-size videos worth the watch. This week, she explores the connection between animal and man through three films (all of which are shorter than 15 minutes and can be watched on our site).


The quirky story of a family who rescued a menagerie of variously sick, deformed, or otherwise unconventional creatures


The unforgettable tragicomedy about a family living in a cramped Mumbai apartment with a “chicken from hell”


A poetic ode to the communion between an Ethiopian man and the beloved hyenas that roam his ancient city

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