Culture Trip Week One: Escape Exams

Our recommendations to help you escape from reality and deny the upcoming summer exams

Welcome back home, everyone! Here’s to a term of summer weather – or a term of staring longingly out of your library window.  Appreciate those brief lunch breaks on King’s Parade before you have to return to the library, and the deafening silence of stressed students (If you say that you can work in the sun outside, you are lying). As my own panic seems quite clear right now, my reliance on escapism has reached a dangerous level. Below are my top recommendations for getting out of that escapist lull and back into the swing of Cambridge reality.

Film – Fresh (Disney +)

You could describe this movie as a fresh take on romantic comedy. However, balancing dark comedy with psychological thriller, this high stakes, high tension watch will keep you guessing at every twist and have you jumping up on a bed, hugging your friends, and screaming at the screen (true story). Having now turned two of my fellow watchers vegetarian, this isn’t for the faint-hearted. This show is packed to the gills with carefully crafted characters, and the story is excitingly driven by smart, independent female leads with realistic levels of judgement. (Finally!)  

The fear you will have of meeting strangers in Mainsbury’s (image credits: Author’s own screenshot via Fresh on Disney+)

Subtlety is key to this show’s clever script. I recommend testing your own ability to pick up on red flags while you watch this show (Great practice for real life). If you find everything normal, you might want to rethink some life choices. I have to admit, although this recommendation stems from a deep love for Sebastian Stan, it is undeniable that the performances and set designs too are inspiring, yet terrifying – amazing for a two-hour distraction from revision. 

TV Show – Moonknight (Disney +)

Despite its Marvel connection, this new addition to the cinematic universe stands on its own as a new, mind-bending show. With no previous links to prior movies or series, this 6-episode character study delicately explores mental health, trauma and abuse, all against a stunning Egyptian background. 

I will never trust a mirror again (image credits: Author’s own screenshot via Moonknight on Disney+)

Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) works at the gift shop of the British Museum, and believes he has a sleeping disorder: he can’t tell the difference between waking life and dreams. Despite strapping himself into bed every night, a spiral of strange events lead Steven to discover that he has DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). As he wakes up in new places, always caught in the middle of action, the voices that haunt his mind include the mysterious moon deity, Khonsu. Did Steven create the alter-ego Marc Spector, or did Marc create Steven? Is Khonsu real? Is the story even real? Multiple times, reality is put into question, and all will be revealed in the finale next week. 

Giving me something to focus on after C-Sunday this weekend, this gripping yet heartbreaking story will push your hungover self through the week. 

Music – Whiplash Soundtrack 

After a dissociative experience from watching the above, I’d recommend a grounding, relaxing and finally, work-inducing album. A masterful compilation of jazz music, Whiplash makes perfect background noise for powering through work, while also appreciating the musical talent involved in the making of this incredible soundtrack. 

The soundtrack will make you become a drummer on the table (image credits: Author’s own screenshot of the Spotify cover of Whiplash)

Though the movie itself gave me some frightening flashbacks to that one music teacher who was a little too intense while you struggled through grade 1 recorder, the songs are still snappy and easy to listen to. My personal favourites include “Overture” and “Caravan”. 

Book – Equinox by Michael White 

A murder mystery spanning three hundred years. A conspiracy dating all the way back to Sir Isaac Newton’s time. A brutal serial killer’s MO continues, and a police photographer and their estranged lover become intertwined in the investigation. A great story to take your mind off upcoming stress, while also giving you the chance to see some Cambridge icons in the mix. 

Feature image credits: Author’s own

Related articles recommended by this author: