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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Spice up your watchlist with these newer hidden-gem movies and television shows

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STILL VIA IFC FILMS

During your quest to see every blockbuster of 2023, there are many lesser-known movies and television shows you may have missed but are definitely worth the watch.

From a movie that’s a combo leftist environmental manifesto and heist thriller to a comedy series that tackles petty high school drama amid an apocalypse, this year is ripe with hidden media gems. Here are our picks for the best movies and TV shows from the first half of 2023 to add to your watchlist:

“BlackBerry”

This year has been the year of the ripped-from-the-headlines movie, between Ben Affleck’s star-studded “Air” telling the story of Nike signing Michael Jordan to a shoe contract, the almost entirely false “Flamin’ Hot” about the origins of flamin’ hot Cheetos and “Tetris” starring Taron Egerton. But none of these movies reach the heights of “BlackBerry,” director Matthew Johnson’s film chronicling the rise and fall of the titular cellphone.

“BlackBerry” gives viewers the predictable setup of an eccentric, brilliant group that develops the next big idea — in this case, the mobile smartphone — and, despite doubters, makes it into a massive success. While this part of the story is far from original, what makes the movie so engaging is the comedy — Glenn Howerton provides a borderline deranged, yelling-heavy performance as investor Jim Balsillie which provides plenty of laughs as he rants about everything from corporate culture to self-serving promotions.

What elevates “BlackBerry” is the movie’s depiction of the downfall of the brand, showing why you’d be hard pressed to find someone clicking away on their BlackBerry phone today, as opposed to someone wearing Air Jordans or eating Cheetos. The movie is cynical, hilarious and acts as the spiritual successor to 2010’s “The Social Network.”

“BlackBerry” is available to rent on VOD for $6.99.

“Class of ‘07”

Missing wringing your hands in your lap as you helplessly watched your favorite characters narrowly cheat death week after week in “The Last of Us”? Then check out the binge-worthy apocalypse show, “Class of ‘07.” Instead of an infectious virus, this dark comedy series centers around a group of women who return to their high school for their 10-year reunion only for life as they know it to be turned on its head as a massive tidal wave engulfs the planet. 

Surrounded by water, the graduating class of ‘07 is trapped on the grounds of their alma mater and must forge alliances and get past old feuds in order to survive. In spite of the end-of-the-world circumstances this show is firmly a comedy thanks to the unbelievably petty dynamics between these frontier’s women.

At a time when every day seems more unprecedented than last, the humor these women manage to incorporate into the actual end of their world is a welcome reminder that hilarity can come from anywhere.

“Class of ‘07” is available on Amazon Prime Video.

“Extraordinary”

Take a break from complicated multiverses and instead check out “Extraordinary,” an inverted take on the superhero genre. Rather than an elite few granted with powers, this comedy takes place in a world where almost everyone gets magical abilities on their 18th birthday, except for lead Jen, an aimless, 25-year-old costume saleswoman.

Desperate to uncover some sort of superabilities she enlists the help of her roommate Carrie, who communes with the dead, Kash, Carrie’s vigilante boyfriend who can rewind time, and a stray cat Jen adopts. Hilarity and chaos ensues at every turn from Carrie falling in love with a deceased royal she communes with to Jen’s cat transforming into an amnesiac man who holds a petty grudge against a Pomeranian.

Though unhinged in nature, “Extraordinary” stays relatable, following several twenty-somethings constantly screwing up as they unravel what they want out of life. Suckers for coming-of-age sagas will appreciate this take of the genre as the show expertly walks the line between comedic and sappy.

“Extraordinary” is available on Hulu.

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline”

Despite what its title suggests, this film is not an instructive documentary about radical environmental activism — instead, it’s one of the best developed and most tense heist thrillers to hit the big screen in years. The movie follows a group of environmental activists who meet in Texas to, well, blow up an oil pipeline.

Nearly every moment of “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is laced with tension through pulsating music and close-up shaky camera work, as characters try to mix just the right amount of chemicals to create a makeshift bomb without blowing themselves up. The movie features flashbacks examining the motivations of the pipeline bombers, from hopeless terminally ill people who believe they have nothing to lose to those who have a personal stake in the pipeline’s destruction. The contrast between these viewpoints reminiscent of contemporary politics debates and genuine thrills of the adventure make “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” a worthwhile, harrowing, watch.

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is available to rent on VOD for $6.99

“Rye Lane”

In a year of blockbuster romances with star-studded casts, from “Ghosted” to “Love Again,” this cheeky British rom-com largely slid under the radar. A chance meet-cute in a unisex bathroom at an art gallery in South London sparks an unlikely friendship between neurotic accountant Dom and spontaneous costume designer Yas.

This “opposites attract” pair do have something in common—a recent broken heart. As they traverse gorgeous greenery and markets, the pair discuss their painful breakups, dramatically shifting between flashbacks and the present. Dom and Yas ultimately help each other exact revenge on their exes and gain confidence in themselves, from calling out Yas’s ex for cheating on her to overcoming Dom’s shyness by rapping Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop” together during a karaoke competition.

The cinematography feels intimate with wide lens close-up shots making every quick look the performers share visible. The chemistry between Dom and Yas leaps off the screen as they constantly spare shy glances at one another, making hapless viewers want to scream at the performers to “just kiss already!”

“Rye Lane” is available on Hulu.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Baer, Contributing Culture Editor
Jenna, a senior majoring in creative writing, is the the 2023-24 contributing culture editor. She previously worked as a staff writer and cartoonist. She is a Houston, Texas girl through and through.
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