Stuff Suggests: your weekly entertainment fix (07/04/2020)

The essential books, films, games, music and podcasts to get you through the week

We’re beset by choice in media these days, and just picking out something to play, listen to, read or watch on any particular evening can turn into a Herculean task.

That’s why we’ve started Stuff Suggests, a new weekly article that aims to open your eyes to films, games, books, albums and more that you might have otherwise missed. With the current circumstances confining most of us to our homes for the foreseeable future, we’re all in need of ways to escape not only boredom but our immediate surroundings – and we think these suggestions will be just the ticket.

Remember to check back each week for a whole new raft of hidden gems, must-experience classics and more.

Words by James Day.

Film: Contagion (2011)

We’re not sure how the cinematic release of Contagion passed us by nine years ago, but perhaps the idea of watching a hypothetical global pandemic unfold on the big screen put us off our popcorn… and nachos… or attending the flicks at all, because there would be, you know, people.

Then last week, co-star Kate Winslet called on the scientific knowledge she garnered during the filming of Steven Soderbergh’s thriller to record a video detailing how to stay safe during the coronavirus, and the wise old owls at Netflix stuck Contagion on its recommendations list.

Fair warning: the movie makes for uncomfortable viewing from the off and the unfolding storyline has terrifying similarities to the Covid-19 outbreak, so if your plan is to sleep soundly afterwards it’s perhaps best avoided. However, if seeing the lives of half the cast from festive rom com The Holiday torn apart brings you some sort of closure, stay glued.

Watch Contagion on Netflix 

Podcast: Gossipmongers

In a world dominated by unfounded rumour and fake news, what we all need right now is a podcast built entirely on those pillars. Gossipmongers, presented by David Earl, Joe Wilkinson and Poppy Hillstead, takes casual, unconstrained, sometimes innocent, but often harrowing playground conversation emailed in by members of the public, and releases it into the wild, with side-splitting effect.

Wilkinson and co. proceed to read out a piece of gossip to listeners, segwayed by some genius synthesised musical interludes, before picking a winner and instructing poor Poppy to shout said gossip out of the nearest window to the unsuspecting public below, thus spreading the rumour even further.

Seriously, and we can’t implore this nearly enough, do not listen to Gossipmongers when exercising or whilst handling hot food or drink, because it won’t end well.

Listen to Gossipmongers here.

Book: The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr

When Will Storr wanted to write a novel, he did what most of us would do and cheated, buying books by best-selling authors passing on their top tips for what makes a good story.

During his research he began to spot a connection between spinning a good yarn and how our brains work, and that perhaps he should be listening to psychologists and neuroscientists instead. And so ‘The Science of Storytelling’ starts out as a self-help book for aspiring authors that, like all good tales, descends down rabbit holes and takes a number of unsuspecting twists.

No spoilers, but you’ll find the explanation for the difference in narratives between Eastern and Western storytelling fascinating, as is how humans went from ‘lone wolf’ muscular hunters to a species adept in mind manipulation, and why this impacts on the fictional best-seller you’ve just read.

The Science of Storytelling is available from Foyles

Or on audiobook at Audible

Album: It Is What It Is by Thundercat

The amount of quality music being released right now is frankly incredible, and perhaps it’s one advantage of the lockdown that releases have been brought forward or gained greater prominence because we’re a more captive audience.

With the upturn in the weather, one thing sorely missing was a garden/balcony soundtrack, but that’s now been addressed and thoroughly nailed by Thundercat and his aptly named album ‘It Is What It Is’. Be prepared to enter the grief-stricken daydreams of LA jazz bassist Stephen Burner, with the follow up to 2017’s lauded ‘Drunk’, on a 15-track LP featuring a supporting cast of Flying Lotus, BadBadNotGood, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil B and Childish Gambino.

We’re not The Guardian, so don’t expect us to be music critics picking holes in his work, instead sit back, crack open a cold one, and enjoy Thundercat for the exceptional oddball that he is. You’ll soon be reaching for a bass guitar and a Fender Play subscription, it’s that infectious.

Listen to Thundercat It Is What It Is here

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