What to watch, read, and tune into when you’re stuck at home

  • Manager Josh Bean, left, and Assistant Manger Roger Knight at the Turn It Up location in Northampton. PHOTO BY BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer
Published: 4/3/2020 2:19:39 PM

NORTHAMPTON — As social distancing and self-quarantining become the new norm, residents are heeding the guidance of public health professionals to stay at home as much as possible.

In case you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, we asked some people around town for their best tips on what to watch, read, and tune into during lockdown.

For 25 years, City Councilor William Dwight was a clerk at the late Pleasant Street Video, and he remains an ardent lover of film.

“You want to stay away from things like ‘Contagion’ and ‘The Odessa File,’” said Dwight,  referring to the 2011 Steven Soderbergh film about a pandemic and the 1974 movie about a Nazi conspiracy that features bioweapons.

He also urged viewers to not watch “28 Days Later,” which centers on a zombie plague.

Instead, Dwight suggested people take a cue from Americans in the Great Depression and enjoy some lighter fare, specifically musicals.

“Anything with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney,” said Dwight. Something along the lines of, say, 1939’s “Babes in Arms.”

He also suggested the comedic classics of the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton.

“Now you have plenty of time to watch them,” Dwight said. “Here’s an opportunity to explore those movies.”

If reading is more your speed, Shannon Ramsey, co-owner of Amherst Books, had a number of suggestions from herself and her staff.

One of her recommendations is anything by author Sally Rooney, whom she said writes literary fiction about friendships and relationships featuring millennial characters. “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People” are among her books.

Another recommendation: “The Night Watchman,” by Louise Erdrich, which tells the story of Native Americans trying to prevent their land from being taken away by the U.S. government in the 1950s. Erdrich based the main character — a night watchman in a factory and a member of the Chippewa Council who leads the effort to preserve the treaty the U.S. government has with the tribe — on her Native American grandfather.

“It doesn’t leave you depressed,” said Ramsey. “Ultimately, it’s hopeful.” 

For younger readers of the middle-grade level, Ramsey recommends the Aru Shah series, by Roshani Chokshi, which draws inspiration from traditions and figures in Hinduism.

Matt Swift, the store manager for Newbury Comics in Northampton, recommended the ongoing comics series “Die,” written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Stephanie Hans. The title is a pun on dice, and Swift said that it has a similar premise to “Jumanji,” in which a group of kids are sucked into a tabletop role-playing game. Those who come out of the game go about their lives, before they get sucked back in again as adults.

“It’s a really neat take on that sort of story,” said Swift.

He also recommended “Paper Girls,” a series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang about a group of newspaper delivery girls in 1988 who become time travelers, and the classic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel “Watchmen.”

“Especially if you’ve been watching the show,” he said, referring to the sequel series “Watchmen” on HBO.

Before Gov. Charlie Baker issued his order closing nonessential businesses, Roger Knight, the assistant manager at Northampton’s Turn It Up, which sells music and movies, said that the shop had been seeing an uptick in DVD sales.

Asked what to watch or listen to in isolation, Knight suggested “loading up on some of your favorite artists.”

If he were in such a position, he said he would explore the discography of The Who, his favorite band. He also suggested getting into television shows with long seasons.

Josh Bean, the manager of Turn It Up, recommended the David Lynch series “Twin Peaks,” including the latest season.

“I think it’s the best thing David Lynch has done,” Bean said of the new season.

Both Bean and Knight also recommended the long-running animated comedy “South Park.”

Jon Carroll is a Grammy-award winning musician who lives in Easthampton who also happens to be a passionate cinephile.

He suggested watching “The Wizard of Oz.”

Carroll said that even if you’ve seen the film multiple times, “You’ll see something that you didn’t see the last time.”

He also said he didn’t want to see a disaster movie or dystopian science fiction at the moment.

“We are in it,” he said. “This is real life right now.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.






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