Weekend Watchlist: What to Watch According to Richard Dresser

Aisha Amin
December 13, 2022

In this series, we catch up with Columbia Film Professors and ask them to dish on what they're watching right now, which movies and shows blew them away or didn't live up to expectations, and what it's like to watch through a filmmaker's eyes.   


Adjunct Assistant Professor Richard Dresser is this week’s guest and is here to share what has been inspiring him lately.

Here are the things he’s watching right now and why he recommends them.


The Bear

The Bear is an American comedy-drama television series created by Christopher Storer. It premiered on Hulu on June 23, 2022,] and stars Jeremy Allen White (Shameless). The series follows a young chef from the fine dining world who comes home to Chicago to run his family sandwich shop after a heartbreaking death in his family. 

Where to Watch it: 


Why Professor Dresser recommends it: 

“What really distinguishes this show for me is the fact that the storytelling is terrific, because it gives the audience a lot of credit for picking up on what is happening. Without clunky exposition, you're suddenly in the kitchen and it is so crazy and stressful and it's like cooking as a blood sport and the camerawork is kinetic. It's everywhere. And it takes you.”


Richard’s Takeaway:

“For me, it’s important to trust the audience and just plunge into the story. In this show, the characters are terrific and grab you pretty much from the start. I love that. Also, I find it really funny; and part of why it's funny is that the jokes are not underlined at all.”



Severance is an American science fiction psychological thriller series created by Dan Erickson and directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle. Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives; when a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs. 

Where to Watch it: 

 Apple TV+

Why Professor Dresser recommends it: 

“I have to say that I watched the first three or four episodes and then didn't watch any more, and then I came back to it. When I came back to it, I can't remember exactly which episode, but it became infinitely more engaging and satisfying early on. The show is very repetitive until it isn't. It didn't seem as if we were going deeper, and it seemed like things had a very self-conscious oddness to it. But then when the pieces started to connect, there was a bigger story and I think a really worthwhile story. The premise of surgically separating work memories from personal memories is great because that's kind of the world that we live in—where we're expected to be obsessed with work and not let personal life intrude. For anyone who is attracted to a paranoid notion of the world that we live in, this really delivers. There is a story that is lingering just out of reach.”

Richard’s Takeaway:

“I love the way it was shot; and I love the world which at first seemed almost darkly cartoonish. After a while, those long hallways felt real and unsettling. It was drab, and then it became life or death. I liked all the actors and I thought that there were so many scenes that were so unsettling. I'm really attracted to shows where there is a bigger story just outside the character's reach; and I felt like this really delivered on that.


Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a 2022 feature-length biographical documentary created by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine. The film is an exploration of the life of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned song, 'Hallelujah'.

Where to Watch it: 

Amazon Prime

Why Professor Dresser recommends it: 

“I'm a huge Leonard Cohen fan. I think this is one of the best music biographies I’ve seen in a long time. It was incredibly moving by the end and it made me think about the last Beatles documentary I watched, where we’re seeing how they worked together and that magic alchemy of a great collaboration.”

Richard's Takeaway:

“I watch a lot of documentaries and I think it's important for film students to see documentaries. It's all storytelling. You can learn about structure and storytelling from a documentary as much as you can from a fictional film. Even though we're working in a narrative program, [watching a documentary] is really like a masterclass in storytelling, I think.”

Richard Dresser is an award winning playwright, screenwriter, and television writer. His many plays, including Below the Belt and Rounding Third, have been produced throughout New York, Europe, and leading regional theaters. He is president and a founding member of the Writers Guild Initiative, which conducts writing workshops all over the country with the mission of giving a voice to populations who are not being heard. He lives in New York.