Despite spring rolling in, most of us find ourselves spending more time indoors than ever before. Hollywood is aware: Blockbuster movies are suddenly available to rent, streaming services are throwing free trials at the board, and everyone on the planet has suddenly watched Tiger King.
Feeling the need to meet customers where they are, HBO announced this week that a nearly 500 hours of content on the HBO Now and Go services would be free for anyone to view through April 30 as part of the “Stay Home” initiative. Those who’ve never had access to the premium cable channel can now watch shows like The Sopranos, Barry, Six Feet Under, Veep, Succession, Silicon Valley, True Blood, and The Wire for free, right now.
But maybe you used to be a subscriber and have the HBO classics under your belt. Or maybe you don’t have time for eight seasons of a prestige drama. What movies and TV shows should you watch on HBO if you need instant gratification? Here are five picks that should do the trick.
Blinded by the Light
Bruce Springsteen gave his stamp of approval to this feel-good British dramedy, which stars newcomer Viveik Kalra as a teenager who retreats to rock and roll to deal with the restricting traditions of his Pakistani immigrant family and the racism of his hometown. The dramatic lows are low in Blinded by the Light, but the sounds of The Boss, infused with Kalra’s exhilarating expression, make the film a total burst of joy.
I Love You, Now Die
Erin Lee Carr, director of HBO’s Mommy Dead and Dearest, Netflix’s new How to Fix a Drug Scandal, and one of the premiere documentarians working today, delivered this two-part court drama focused on the trial of Michelle Carter, whose boyfriend died by suicide in July 2014, shortly after receiving texts from Carter urging him to do so. While the media had a field day with Carter’s case, Carr examines every side of the saga, and raises essential questions about the law, mental health, and life on the internet. Yes, it’s true crime, but it’s nothing like what you expect from the genre.
Before Jaume Collet-Serra signed on for a jungle cruise with The Rock, the Spanish director made a name for himself as something of a B-movie thriller auteur. Movies like Non-Stop, Run All Night, The Shallows, and The Commuter are pulpy, Hitchcockian, and slick as hell, and the run really began with this 2011 cinematic pageturner. Liam Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, a major voice in biotech who, after getting knocked unconscious in a car accident, wakes up to discover that his wife, colleagues, and everyone else in his orbit has no clue who he is. What happened? His character doesn’t have a “special set of skills,” but still, no one can play a frenzied, mystery-solving ass-kicker quite like Neeson.
If you need a solid binge-watch, cue up HBO’s other new docuseries, the six-part chronicle of how a shadowy figure — we won’t spoil — rigged the results of McDonald’s Monopoly game for an entire decade. The early episodes set the table, revealing wacky FBI agents, bizarre leads in the investigation, and secret corporate politics. The whole thing feels like a story concocted by the Coen brothers. But it all really happened, and it all gets weirder as it goes along.
If you’re a fan of preposterously budgeted blockbusters that found little to no audience when they were released and rightfully earn the underrated badge (and we most definitely are), then you must carve out two hours for Pan. Directed by Joe Wright (Anna Karenina, Hanna), the reimagined Peter Pan origin story finds Peter (Levi Miller) and James Hook (Garret Hedlund) teaming up against a fairy dust-huffing Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Full of splashy visuals and odd detailing, the movie is a pure vision — and one that couldn’t sell itself in the Disney-fied marketplace. At one point, Jackman and his fellow pirates sing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Team Spirit.” That’s really all you need to know.
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