“Hey! Let’s go to Johor this weekend!”
“Umm… That’s not really a good idea with the Covid-19 situation though…”
“Never mind la – it’ll be alright!”
So, you’re now stuck at home for 14 days and you’ve got nothing to do. Except study, finish your readings and catch up on the lessons you missed. Well, ignoring all those important tasks, you’ve got 14 long days away from school, your social circle and wider society so you’re bound to have a little spare time. To help you spend your SHN period in the most meaningful way, I’ve prepared a list of things you can do to stay meaningfully occupied.
First, you might start climbing up the walls if you don’t move your body while you’re cooped up at home. Here are some videos which might give you some ideas.
This one by Jordan Yeoh is pretty beginner-friendly. Since it’s a circuit-type workout, you’ll burn some fat and get sweaty >:D I’d do this every other day (one day break in between) or every day (if I’m not feeling sore).
This one’s by Scott Herman, who’s one of the bigger (and in my opinion, more credible) fitness YouTubers around. I found this workout a little challenging to get through, as with Scott’s other circuit-style workouts. I’d do this every other day (one day break in between).
Athlean X is another famous YouTube fitness personality. His workouts are by far the toughest I’ve attempted and they’re good for even advanced fitness levels. That said, if you’re not that strong yet, you could still try this because there are different exercise options for you to swap out. I think this type of training is good for building muscle, even if you don’t have equipment. I’d follow the plan laid out by Jeff in the video.
Another YouTube channel I really like is the Buff Dudes (this one is a separate channel run by the same guys). They’re usually more focused on bodybuilder-type training but this one should be doable even if you’re not that strong yet. I’d do this every other day (one day break in between) or every day (if I’m not feeling sore).
Here’s another idea, just for fun. While you’re watching a show, do 10 repetitions of an exercise every minute. So, if you’re focusing on squats, do 10 squats every minute and keep the timer running, repeating the 10 squats when the next minute comes, until 20 minutes are up. You’ll have done a total of 200 reps of an exercise, which is no mean feat! I think doing something like push-ups or squats should be doable for a beginner, but feel free to rest a little longer if you need to. If you’re really tough, try doing 10 burpees every minute — 200 burpees is a real killer!
I have a lot of movies I want to cover in future articles, so I’ll just throw out 14 to keep you occupied for the duration of your homestay. I’ve noted down those that are on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. As for the others, particularly the Japanese and Korean movies, I strongly encourage that you buy or rent a copy because I 100% disapprove of pirating them from the many well-known streaming websites that have them.
“Healing” movies to make you feel good
1. Kiki’s Delivery Service (available on Netflix)
My favourite Ghibli movie: a young witch moves to a seaside town to live among the people and master her skills. It’s the most pleasant movie I’ve seen (more than My Neighbour Totoro, which always gives me a bad vibe for some reason) and I’ve always felt that the “problem” in the movie spoke to me on a personal level about “creative block” or other kinds of emotional obstacles.
2. Linda Linda Linda
A high school band has to put together a performance in less than three days for the school concert but the guitarist hasn’t learnt the song and the singer is a Korean exchange student who can barely speak Japanese (an early role for Bae Doona). It’s not especially funny or inspiring, but it’s one of the most “rock” movies I’ve seen (in fact, that’s a topic I’d like to cover in a future article) and it always puts me in a good mood.
3. The Princess Bride
The movie is about an old man (Peter Falk, who you might know as Lt Columbo from the 70s mystery TV series) telling his grandson (Fred Savage, from The Wonder Years) a fairytale. So you’re watching the movie, which is showing you the fairytale that’s being told. It’s a little weird when I type it out… It borders between a straight-up fantasy-fairytale-swashbuckling-romance-adventure and a loving spoof of the genre. It’s chockfull of memorable characters and quotable lines. “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Mystery/thrillers/action to get you pumped up
1. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (available on Netflix)
I don’t really know how to describe this movie other than a crime adventure through LA. Stars Robert Downey Junior in one of his best performances, Val Kilmer and the beautiful Michelle Monaghan. It’s a little like Pulp Fiction, which I also recommend. It’s very funny and very stylishly-shot. However, I do think Shane Black (the director) tries a little too hard and the film suffers slightly for it. Fun fact, Shane Black played one of the soldiers in Predator!
2. The Devotion of Suspect X
This is based on a Keigo Higoshima novel, which was the inspiration for a popular TV series which had a few characters based on the books. Fukuyama Masaharu (who’s a pretty good singer, if you’re inclined to check him out) is a physics professor who helps the police investigate cases with inexplicable phenomena. This movie features one such case involving a genius mathematician, the professor’s friend. It’s one of the most complex mysteries I’ve seen in a movie and it’s beautifully shot. There’s another movie out, A Midsummer’s Equation, which features a bit more science, which is pretty cool too.
3. Accidental Detective
A fan of mystery stories (Kwon Sang Woo *swoons*) teams up with a gruff police detective to solve a series of murders. It’s a buddy “cop” mystery with your standard action and chase sequences expected in a Korean action blockbuster, but it’s held together especially well by the two main leads. The older policeman, Sung Dong-Il, played a similar role in The Chase, which is also pretty good.
4. Confession of Murder
Make sure you watch the KOREAN movie, not the crappy Japanese remake! Past the statute of limitations for a series of brutal murders, a killer releases a tell-all book about his crimes and taunts the victims, the public and the police officer who almost arrested him.
5. Die Hard
Bruce Willis stuck in a tower taken over by terrorists led by Alan Rickman. Gunfights, an excellently matched hero and villain and memorable one-liners — not much to say other than that John McTiernan is a great director. Die Hard 2 and 3 are really good as well (3 is my favourite), but I couldn’t recommend watching either of those without recommending the first movie.
Horror movies to give you the chills
1. Dog Soldiers
Army unit on a training exercise in Scotland runs into Werewolves. It’s more action than horror, but I did get scared a few times. The cast is full of famous UK actors, some of whom you’d recognize from Game of Thrones. It’s action-packed, pretty scary, but it’s also a little funny and there are quite a few memorable lines. “COME AND HAVE A GO IF YOU THINK YOU’RE HARD ENOUGH!”
2. Predator (available on Netflix)
John McTiernan directed this too! A special forces unit led by Arnold Schwarzenegger gets sent in to rescue hostages in the jungle but runs into a superior foe. To be honest, it’s closer to action than horror but it’s a little like a slasher movie in the jungle. I really like Predator (1987), but I also recommend Predator 2 (1990), which is a similar set-up in crime-ridden Los Angeles starring Danny Glover. The effects are extremely good and they hold up even today. You can’t beat Stan Winston when it comes to practical effects.
3. John Carpenter’s The Thing
One of two John Carpenter movies on the list. I’d say this is basically a creature-feature, but the creature’s really, really, really scary. Isolated science outpost in the snow has to contend with scary alien that can assimilate and mimic ANYONE. The creature effects are the star of the show, but they’re elevated by the mystery-thriller as you’ll keep guessing which of the cast is human and which has been taken over by THE THING.
4. The Exorcist (1973)
Little girl gets possessed by a demon. Exorcists come in. Scares and spooks galore. It’s really scary, but it’s not like the run-of-the-mill crap you get today. Just give it a watch — you’ll get why it was nominated for Best Picture.
Comedies to lift your mood
1. Big Trouble in Little China
An arrogant trucker stumbles onto an ancient struggle in Chinatown. John Carpenter and Kurt Russel are one of the greatest Hollywood director-actor duos. It’s really funny, mainly because Kurt Russel plays an asshole really well. The special effects are cheesy but the movie holds up because it’s made with a lot of heart. “It’s all in the reflexes.”
2. Hot Fuzz (available on Amazon Prime Video)
A super-cop from London has to get used to being a policeman in a small English town. A great spoof of action movies! Edgar Wright is a great director and the visual gags are very clever.
I don’t really watch that many TV series, so I’ll just recommend a few that I do watch. These are all on Netflix.
1. Line of Duty
London Metropolitan Police “internal affairs” unit that investigates crooked cops.
2. The Valhalla Murders
Depressing Iceland murder mystery with a strong, sympathetic female lead. I’m not sure how it ends yet, but I’ve enjoyed it up to episode 3.
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation; Deep Space 9; Voyager
Sci-fi classics. I’m watching Voyager now and loving it. It’s a little cheesy, but sometimes the sci-fi elements are really interesting!
London Metropolitan Police PR unit. Scathing insight (and satire?) of politics within the civil service and the media.
5. IT Crowd
A computer-illiterate woman gets hired as the department head and has to lead her two socially-inept IT technicians. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY FUNNY.
Japanese detective gets injured and starts being able to talk to murder victims, an ability he uses to solve many crimes.
Sleazy Australian barrister Cleaver Green gets into trouble, sleazes his way out and steps back into it. It’s pretty funny, although sometimes depressing. Since they’re also a common law jurisdiction, some of the jokes will be a little relatable.
Swedish spoof of Norwegian crime dramas. A timid English detective teams up with a hotheaded Swedish policewoman to solve a series of murders. It’s pretty funny, especially if you read Ian Mankell or Jo Nesbo mystery books. “I’ll shoot him in his vastus lateralis!” (Watch it — you’ll get the joke!)
9. Locke & Key
Kids move into their father’s family home and discover supernatural elements. It gets a little spooky but it’s always more “fantasy” than “horror”. It’s a pretty nice family and friends vs evil kind of thing. It’s based on one of my favourite comics and the cast was extremely good. No, I’m not saying that just because the main actress is really pretty. Although it is a contributing factor.
(No poster because they’ve got no decent promotional material, for some reason.)
I know I said my suggestions would help you spend your SHN term meaningfully – and they will! It depends on how you define “meaningful”: I find a lot of meaning in consuming escapist media and having a fine time! On a more serious note, stay safe, stay clean and always wash your hands!