With movie theaters being closed during these complex times, I will not have many new reviews to post. I hope to post reviews as normal for the things that would have been in theaters, but are on VOD instead.
In the meantime, here are some recommendations for things to watch during your time at home.
Life Imitating Art:
Contagion – This is the one most people are revisiting right now and for good reason. It plays like a documentary of the moment but it was made in 2011. It’s terrifyingly prescient, right from the opening sequence, showing lots of close ups of people touching things. It has a stellar cast and it’s classic Soderbergh in terms of direction. Highly recommend, if you think you can handle it, but if you’re too stressed by life right now, don’t try to be a hero.
10 Cloverfield Lane – The main thrust of the story here involves sheltering in place and not going outside due to a deadly poison in the air… so, yea. All the performances are top notch, as well as the atmosphere the lighting and direction creates. But the real highlight is the script, particularly the arc of Winstead’s character. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again looking for that nuance now that you won’t be as surprised by the plot developments.
New Planet of the Apes Trilogy – The end credits of Rise of the Planet of the Apes follow the ‘simian flu’ as it is carried by a pilot all over the world. The opening credits of Dawn includes follow up to the spread of the disease, including phony news footage that might as well have been shot this week. Dawn is the best of the bunch and most relatable to today’s circumstances, but the whole trilogy is worth a watch.
War of the Worlds – The 2005 Spielberg version of the classic story still works. The effects still hold up (for the most part) and nothing has dampened the intensity of the imagery. There are so many set pieces and sequences in this film that would be the climax of any other film, but instead they are all just strung together for a harrowing two straight hours. It’s a must watch for those that never got around to it and a must re-visit for those that haven’t seen it in a while.
More options: Signs, Children of Men, I am Legend
Escapist cinema refers to movies that help you ‘escape,’ mentally, emotionally etc. They create a world that is so engrossing and fully developed that you escape into it and leave your own. The most obvious of these are Star Wars and Star Trek, but that’s well worn territory. Here are a few other suggestions:
Wes Anderson and Tim Burton’s entire catalogues – These two directors are pros when it comes to creating worlds you can escape into. My personal picks would be Grand Budapest Hotel for Anderson and Edward Scissorhands for Burton. But check out their IMDBs and you’ll find something of interest I’m sure.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe – With essentially everyone now signed up for Disney+, you should be able to fairly easily access all of the MCU. If you missed any of it, now is a good time to catch up or binge or revisit. Every time I watch The Winter Soldier, I love it all the more.
James Bond – There are 20+ Bond movies to pick from and all will help you get away from your home and visit exotic locales. My personal favorites are Casino Royale, Skyfall, and Goldeneye.
Top Picks By Service: (I tried to keep with fairly recent releases. There are a zillion classics I could list but most people know what they are. So hoping to give you stuff you may have missed.)
Netflix – Inception, Ex Machina, Zodiac, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, There Will Be Blood, Moonlight, Hell or High Water, Drive, Snowpiercer, Marriage Story, Green Room, Black Mirror (whole series)
HBOGO / HBONOW – Black Swan, Casino Royale, The Favourite, Gangs of New York, Glengarry Glen Ross, Happy Death Day, Isn’t It Romantic, John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum, Match Point, A Star is Born, The Town, Unbreakable, Upgrade, Us, War of the Worlds (see above)