The Quarantine Film Festival: Streaming Through the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Streaming Guide Amazon Prime / The Criterion Channel / Netflix / Shudder / Disney+ / Hulu

A comprehensive guide to the films you should watch as you practice social distancing.

This weekend marks the end of the first week of America’s self-isolation in the wake of COVID-19; businesses are closed, people are working from home (and some aren’t working at all), and major cities are beginning ‘shelter in place’ orders that will basically keep us cooped up in our homes for a good long while — at least several weeks, if not months.

Throw a rock at a pop culture site, and you’ll hit a ‘what to watch on streaming now that the coronavirus has turned us all into shut-ins’ guide, and rightly so; we need something to get us through this chaos. This is The Spool’s attempt at the same, the First (And Only) Annual Quarantine Film Festival — a grab bag of major favorites and under-the-radar masterpieces that will either let you escape the horrors of the world or confront them head-on. Stay safe and stay glued to that couch — with any luck, the following selections should help us all weather the storm just fine. [Clint Worthington, editor-in-chief]

Netflix

coronavirus quarantine streaming

American Honey

Andrea Arnold’s three-hour opus isn’t the type of thing with mainstream appeal, and it knows it. Its characters are often trashy; their decisions can be morally ambiguous at best. The difference between this film and, say, the work of Larry Clark, however, is that American Honey has a constant push and pull between cynicism and idealism. From Krystal’s (Riley Keough) confederate flag bikini to the van full of appropriative white kids, this is an America defined by embracing what isn’t one’s own. It’s also the type of world where no one securely within the middle class would ever give a cent to anyone else despite what their Lord and Savior says. But this capitalist coalmine happens to squeeze out some perseverance from magazine salesman Jake (Shia LeBeouf) and the wide-eyed Star (Sasha Lane). It’s teeming with life. Whether that life is good or bad is beside the point. They’re stuck with it, so they might as well make the best of it. [Matt Cipolla]

The Bling Ring

While it received a lukewarm reception upon its release in 2013, Sofia Coppola’s fifth feature is one of her best works yet. Based on the true story of a group of Calabasas kids who broke into celebrities’ homes in the late aughts, The Bling Ring has retroactively framed itself as a predictive look at today’s Insta-culture and brand lifestyle. Yes, the cinematography from Harris Savides and Christopher Blauvelt is lusciously sun-drenched. Yes, the valley girl performances are fun to laugh at. But Coppola’s determination to both turn her style up to 11 and mute it until it feels bare makes for a siren of a picture. It’s tempting until it isn’t. It’s fun and infectious until it’s downright crass and its characters, while borderline sociopathic, capture today’s tentative morality of being successful—but not too successful. Once “Super Rich Kids” by Frank Ocean plays over the end credits, its shallowness takes on a sense of depth. [Matt Cipolla]

The Breadwinner

Nora Twomey’s intense, emotionally layered work of animation follows a young girl who survives in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in 2001 by impersonating a boy so she can support her family. Political without being polemic, fantastical while not losing its sense of immediacy, it’s a gorgeously-animated testament to the power of a girl’s courage in the face of outright tyranny. It may not be the sunniest animated film you could watch, but it will definitely make you weep. [Clint Worthington]

Candyman

Make sure to refresh on this chiller in time for Nia DeCosta’s reboot/sequel (assuming that one doesn’t also get pushed back). Bernard Rose’s Clive Barker adaptation works as a straightforward chiller, but it’s also a deeply layered look at racial and economic privilege. It’s also a great Chicago movie through-and-through, alluding to and delving into the city’s history. That Philip Glass score, that Tony Todd voice, that Ted Raimi cameo at the beginning—it all makes for something so of its time. It’s its skewering of the white savior and their latent racism, though, that makes it all the more timeless. [Matt Cipolla]

The Endless

Justin Benson and Aaron Morehead’s loosely-connected series of low-budget sci-fi horror pastiches have always played with fascinating notions about time and narrative, and their most recently-available one (apart from Synchronic, which hasn’t screened outside of a few festivals) feels like the filmmakers fully coming into their own. It starts intriguingly — the story of two escaped cultists who are called back to the doomsday commune from which they escaped as teens — before wrapping itself up in Lovecraftian ideas of unknowable presences and looping dimensions. It even manages to work its way into the filmmakers’ previous works; find and watch Resolution before you watch this one, if you can. [Clint Worthington]

Good Time

Those who went justifiably apeshit over Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems would do well to check out Josh and Benny Safdie’s previous film, which contains the same gonzo combo of culturally-specific New York characters and a sustained high-wire tension act. The tale of a petty criminal (Robert Pattinson) who schemes to bust his injured, mentally-challenged brother (Benny Safdie) out of the hospital where he’s being treated, Good Time starts at a 10 and just goes up from there. All the neon-soaked inevitability and of Uncut Gems is there, plus you get R-Patz in bleach-blonde hair and Barkhad Abdi in a pivotal late-film role as an amusement park security guard. [Clint Worthington]

Hell or High Water

One of the best neo-Westerns of the last few years, it’d be criminal to ignore Taylor Sheridan’s gritty plea for class consciousness amid a dusty post-recession West Texas landscape. Jeff Bridges is his superlative best as a world-weary sheriff on his way out the door, as is Chris Pine and Ben Foster as a pair of down-on-their-luck bank robbers enacting frontier justice on the big banks who are putting Texans out of their homes. Not only is it a thrilling Western in its own right, it’s a remarkably potent discussion of capitalism’s stranglehold on working-class America. [Clint Worthington]

Jupiter Ascending

Sometimes, you just need to watch a movie where Channing Tatum plays a dog-man warrior with space rollerblades, and a shirtless Eddie Redmayne whisper-shouts all of his dialogue. The Wachowskis’ sci-fi opus from a few years back may not be the most sophisticated cinema of the last century, but boy howdy does it buzz (much like the bees that can sense royalty) with gee-whiz enthusiasm. Even if the brain-dead script doesn’t pummel you into giddy submission, you’ll marvel at Michael Giacchino’s bombastic score and the incredible production design that makes every single frame look like the front of a ’90s paperback sci-fi novel. [Clint Worthington]

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Before Edgar Wright went full-on mainstream with Baby Driver, his journey into the American studio system yielded a rarity. That something is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. A perfect balance of honest and self-effacing irony, Wright makes something that’s so unpretentiously in love with its own craft that its emotional and technical exaggerations feel like a reflection of hipster culture unto itself. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels provided the starting point. Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss’s editing, Bill Pope’s use of symmetry, and a who’s who soundtrack played off virtually everyone in young Hollywood flesh it out. When something this underground goes into the mainstream and still retains its luster, that’s a sign of something special. [Matt Cipolla]

Swiss Army Man

Harry Potter as a farting corpse: that should be all you need to know. But if you need more convincing, here you go: Daniels’ off-kilter, deeply strange film about a suicidal chump (Paul Dano) who fights his way back to civilization with the help of a gassy corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) he imagines to be his magical best friend. If you’ve got little tolerance for indie quirk, maybe pass this one by: but if you’ve got the stomach for it, you’ll find a charming little exploration of loneliness presented with heaps of creativity and a semi-diegetic score by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell that’ll make you want to clap your hands. Oh, and Radcliffe’s physical performance as a not-quite-dead guy is a must-see. [Clint Worthington]

Tremors

Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a good old creature feature, though; if so, Tremors has got you covered. Cian Tsang just wrote about this modest masterpiece for The Spool, but Ron Underwood’s lo-fi thriller about a small Nevada town besieged by giant worms that can sense vibration features incredible creature designs, an air-tight script (seriously, they should teach classes about Tremors‘ economy of storytelling) and some of the most endearing characters in ’80s/’90s cinema. Oh, and Netflix also has five or so sequels, if you absolutely need to keep feeding your Graboid fix. [Clint Worthington]

Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s loose adaptation of Michel Faber’s novel marks the high point of the 2010s in film. Yes, it’s abstruse. Yes, it’s icy enough to freeze over the screen. It’s more than a little unforgiving at points as well in its pacing choices, but with all of that comes transcendence, the true feeling of having seen the world through brand new eyes at once empowering and dehumanizing. As a reversal of the male gaze, it’s a brilliant examination of gender roles. As a work of science fiction, it builds upon Andrei Tarkovsky’s refusal to lean into techno-babble as much as it implements the widened intimacy of a David Lean film. As a look at rape culture, it’s as incisive as it gets—the inside looking at the outside until it all billows into the wind. It’s a perfect movie. [Matt Cipolla]

The Witch

Robert Eggers’ slow-burn horror about a 17th-century family that falls prey to a witch’s curse isn’t to all tastes, but if you prefer your escapism to be of the cold fingers slowly moving up your spine variety, The Witch will suit your needs nicely. It also marks the feature film debut of Emma’s Anya Taylor-Joy, and the strange, slightly otherworldly energy she brings to her performances. Eggers’ sophomore effort, 2019’s The Lighthouse, is more in keeping with the cabin fever the entire globe will soon be experiencing, but The Witch is like disappearing for a little while into the most absorbing, menacing kind of fairy tale. [Gena Radcliffe]

The Wicker Man

Speaking of escaping, why not take a trip to the picturesque Summersisle, a remote island where the crops are plentiful, the folk songs are catchy, and the people just have sex right out in the open without a care in the world? Sounds pretty great, right? Not so much for the pious Sergeant Howie, who travels to Summersisle to investigate the disappearance of a child and soon discovers he’s been brought there under false pretenses. Despite its bleak, cynical ending, The Wicker Man is weird, wild and a lot of fun, and would make an excellent double feature with Midsommar, which it clearly influenced. Avoid at all costs the 2006 remake, which drained every drop of “fun” out of it.  [Gena Radcliffe]

De Palma

Few major directors have such a vastly varied filmography as Brian De Palma, where the misses are as interesting, if not more so than the hits. De Palma, co-directed by critic Kent Jones and Noah Baumbach, is a fascinating look at De Palma’s career, starting as far back as his art films of the 1960s (some of which starred an adorably baby-faced Robert DeNiro). De Palma himself is the sole source of insight into his films and directorial style, and he’s funny, humble and pragmatic about both his successes and his failures. Watch this, and then watch Blow Out, one of his best, and currently available on Amazon Prime.  [Gena Radcliffe]

A Serious Man

Perhaps it’s not the right time to watch a movie that asks the eternal question “Why me, God?” (a question that goes unanswered), but on the other hand, there’s never a wrong time to watch the Coen Brothers’ best movie, in which a hapless college professor (Michael Stuhlbarg, in the most underrated performance of the 00s), is stricken with a series of both minor and major disasters, starting with the news that his wife is leaving him for another man, and only going downhill from there. Stuhlbarg’s character is so deeply relatable that it’s painful to see him put through the wringer, but it’s in service of a film that’s both bleak, and oddly beautiful. [Gena Radcliffe]

Amazon Prime Video

coronavirus quarantine streaming

Annihilation

For many of us in self-isolation, nature will soon start to feel foreign to us — alien, malevolent. If you need to process those feelings, as well as our lingering existential paranoia that we are not ourselves, Alex Garland’s eco-fantasy is a great place to do that. Natalie Portman and a team of scientists investigate a mysterious alien presence that’s infected a forest and threatens to subsume the rest of humanity; the results are moody, terrifying, and strangely beautiful. The lines between creation and destruction have hardly ever been more blurry, and it’s a great primer for Garland’s deeply thoughtful, Tarkovsky-esque approach to science fiction. [Clint Worthington]

Climax

Just in case you thought being holed up at your place was bad, Gaspar Noé’s exercise in the dance macabre might make you happy to not have human contact for a while. Following a troupe of dancers (led by Sofia Boutella) who gather for an after party, the two-dozen turn hellish when they learn their sangria has been dosed with copious amounts of LSD. The first half crosscuts through a swath of characters with a swiftness that makes it seem as if the movie itself has had more than a few drinks, but the second half… That’s when we see the result of everyone being blackout drunk and unintentionally tripped out—with more than a little cocaine blowing around. It’s a look at tribalism that somehow holds onto its human core throughout, and the dancing is phenomenal. [Matt Cipolla]

Clue (1985)

Maybe you just want some comfort food instead, and, in that case, you can’t go wrong with the endlessly quotable Clue. A rare ’80s comedy that you can watch without cringing now, it features iconic performances from Tim Curry and Madeline Kahn (God rest her soul) and a fun, zippy mystery. With only the slightest bit of off-color humor, it’s a perfect film for grade school-age kids and adults alike. Wrap it around your entire family like a Snuggie. [Gena Radcliffe]

Fast Color

If you’re sick of watching the same Marvel movies over and over again, may I suggest a superhero film with a much more emotional underpinning (and some sorely-needed representation)? Julia Hart’s criminally-underseen indie follows Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint and Saniyya Sidney as a family of strong, resolute black women, each with hereditary superpowers, who must band together and work through their respective traumas in order to survive a government that’s chasing them. Unlike the crash-boom of most superhero flicks, Fast Color is intimate, sensitive, and richly textured; you’ll be greatly rewarded for giving it a look. [Clint Worthington]

Ghost World

Watching this one, who would have thought that Scarlett Johansson would have a bigger career than Thora Birch? Terry Zwigoff’s look at teen cynicism isn’t just a great use of its cast, though; it’s a devilishly funny look at one mindset that gradually diverges into two. On one hand is Enid (Birch), insistent on rejecting the world around her. On the other is her best friend, Rebecca (Johansson), who’s actually trying to assimilate to adult life. But despite its turn-of-the-millennium satire and Gen X humor, it’s more different than the obligatory Daria comparisons make it out as. Ghost World is hilarious, yes, but it’s also brutal, a cautionary tale of how apathy can only get you so far. [Matt Cipolla]

The Handmaiden

Now that America is in the grip of K-cinema fever thanks to Parasite, it might be worth it to check out Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, which itself functions as a thematic companion to this year’s Best Picture winner. A Korean-adapted version of the Sarah Waters novel “The Fingersmith,” The Handmaiden is a crackling erotic thriller in its own right, aided deeply by its grander discussions about class and Korean history and some of the most scintillating sex scenes in cinema. It’s disturbing and darkly funny just like Director Bong’s works, and it’s well worth the watch. [Clint Worthington]

Invitation to Hell

Or maybe you’d rather enjoy some made for TV trash, like Wes Craven’s Invitation to Hell, in which Susan Lucci, with MTV video vixen hair and blue eyeshadow, plays the Devil herself. The owner of a country club that’s really the gateway to Hell, Lucci sets her sights for hunky suburban dad Robert Urich, who plays it completely straight, to wonderfully cheesy results. It’s perfect viewing if you want to arrange an MST3K-style online group with equally trash-oriented pals. [Gena Radcliffe]

A Simple Favor

Paul Feig dipped his toes into the world of Hitchcock with this surprisingly-effective thriller about obsession and identity, as a mousy stay at home mom (Anna Kendrick) becomes infatuated with the confident, effortlessly stylish Blake Lively, only to obsess over the latter’s mysterious disappearance. Both leads are great, the laughs give way to an unexpectedly clever script, and ugh, gosh, Blake Lively’s power suits though. Also, Henry Golding’s in it, and there are worse ways to spend two hours than staring at Henry Golding. [Clint Worthington]

Under the Silver Lake

The best movie of 2019 is also one of the year’s most polarizing, so don’t get mad at me if you hate it. In fact, writer/director David Robert Mitchell seems intent on that reaction at points with his a monumental piss-take at filmbro culture at the turn of the 2010s. Its antihero is Sam (Andrew Garfield), a leering, entitled, and altogether repulsive conspiracy theorist who falls for his new neighbor, Sarah (Riley Keough). When she disappears, he makes it his fruitless mission to find her, insistent that Los Angeles is hiding clues in plain sight? Are they really? Well, to put it simply, absolutely not. It’s ambiguous as to how much of it all is in Sam’s head, but by the time its (in)conclusion rolls around, Under the Silver Lake leaves a half-forgotten quality that’s hard to shake. [Matt Cipolla]

Hulu

coronavirus quarantine streaming

Booksmart

Olivia Wilde’s whip-smart, energetic 2019 comedy made more of a splash with critics than it did at the box office, but its giddy energy and deep investment in its characters deserve your attention. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever have crackling comic chemistry as two overachieving high schoolers who realize that they need to let loose and have fun their last night of senior year. But amongst the sight gags and Billie Lourd popping into every scene like a strange party sprite, Booksmart also manages to take its characters’ anxieties seriously, which is the hallmark of any good comedy. [Clint Worthington]

Daria

If Ghost World leaves you feeling a bit down but you still want that sort of acerbic humor, there are five seasons of it in MTV’s classic animated sitcom. Originally featured as a supporting character in Beavis and Butthead, Daria is technically a spinoff of Mike Judge’s show, but its different creative team makes for something totally different. It’s also totally ahead of its time in how it touches on feminism, race, and class. Add in how the show understands the difference between apathy and cynicism, and we get a protagonist whose no-bullshit moral core sets her apart from just being a sass-master. Of course, she isn’t perfect, and that’s what makes the characters around her all the better. They actually get to call her out when she’s wrong, which, needless to say, is more than once. [Matt Cipolla]

Ingrid Goes West

Since we’re all going to be interacting through screens for the foreseeable future, it might be best to check out Ingrid Goes West as a cautionary tale against getting too attached to that influencer you wish could be your best friend. Aubrey Plaza is at her cagey best as an unstable woman who manipulates her way into the inner circle of her favorite Instagram influencer (Elizabeth Olsen), digging into the empty feedback loop of parasocial relationships in a way we might not have been ready for when it came out. But how can you say no to the infectious charms of O’Shea Jackson Jr. as the world’s biggest Batman fan? [Clint Worthington]

Sorry to Bother You

My pick for best movie of 2018, if you haven’t seen Boots Riley’s riotous anti-capitalism comedy yet, and don’t know what happens in it, I implore you, do not spoil yourself before watching it. You’ll never predict the baffling third act twist that amps up the magical realism undertones of the film to 11 on the dial. Lakeith Stanfield is the straight man to off-the-wall supporting performances from Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, and, unexpectedly, Armie Hammer, giving it his all as a loathsome tech bro. It’s required viewing for anyone who’s ever been forced to take a job in a call center, where you’re only as good as the numbers you bring in. [Gena Radcliffe]

Life Itself

Not to be confused with the embarrassing Dan Fogelman film of the same name, this touching look at the life of Roger Ebert, based on his memoir, will leave you sobbing at the end, while also wishing it was another two years longer. Ebert, a film writer whose unbiased approach to all genres of film remains unmatched, reflects on his childhood, career, occasionally prickly friendship with Gene Siskel, and marriage to Chaz Ebert with characteristic warmth, insight, and humor. Despite spending the last few years of it in pain and disfigured from cancer surgery, Ebert shows gratitude for his life in a way that’s both inspiring and deeply touching. Some folks wish that George Carlin was still around so they could hear what he had to say about the state of the world. Not me, I wish Roger Ebert was. [Gena Radcliffe]

The Sisters Brothers

Have you seen The Sisters Brothers? That’s okay, not many people have, it was briefly released in theaters and just as quickly yanked from them, without virtually no promotion. Most films that end up buried by their distributors deserve it, but not this weird, oddly moving Western starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as a pair of outlaw gunfighters hired to kill a man. Their journey forces them to confront grizzly bears, a poisonous snake, and a special, possibly magic formula that helps in gold mining. Meandering at times but always watchable, it touches on contemporary issues like alcoholism and childhood trauma with a deft and sensitive hand. Not exactly lighthearted viewing, but a must-see all the same. [Gena Radcliffe]

Shudder

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Mandy

Speaking of not exactly lighthearted viewings (but, boy, will it take you out of your own problems for a little while), Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy redefined revenge horror, giving it a neon-lit nightmarish edge that you’ll never forget. Nicolas Cage, in a career-best performance, plays a traumatized war veteran who goes on a rampage after his wife is murdered by a failed folk singer turned cult leader. Outrageously gory, and yet unbearably sad and tragically romantic at the same time, Mandy almost dares you to stick with it to the very end – and then dares you to push the images in it out of your mind. [Gena Radcliffe]

Escape From New York

If you’re one of those folks who genuinely feels better by looking at the state of the world and thinking “Well, things could be worse,” then you may enjoy Escape From New York, which takes place in the far-off year of 1997, when all of New York City has been turned into a maximum-security prison and–you know, on second thought, maybe this is a little too on the nose for current events. Try to ignore the parallels in favor of Kurt Russell’s fantastic hair, and the Mad Max-style adventure he goes on to rescue President Donald Pleasence, who’s less than grateful for his efforts. [Gena Radcliffe]

Chopping Mall

I’m not going to tell you that Chopping Mall is great. I’m not even going to tell you that Chopping Mall is good. I am, however, going to tell you that Chopping Mall (a) has one of the best horror movie titles of all time (though its original title Killbots is even better), and (b) is perfect viewing for a social distancing group watch. Its plot can be described in one sentence: “teenagers get trapped in a mall with a killer robot,” and in these trying times that’s all you need. You don’t have to feel obligated to use this time to catch up all the AFI movies, or even last year’s Oscar nominees. Sometimes you just need nonsense to kill a couple hours, and Chopping Mall is more than up to the task. [Gena Radcliffe]

Disney+

coronavirus quarantine streaming

Forky Asks a Question

You could easily watch every episode of Forky Asks a Question in less than 25 minutes, and I promise you they’ll give a charmingly silly boost to your day. These bite-sized (no more than 5 minutes each) shorts feature Toy Story 4’s breakaway character Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) asking questions about everything from money to the meaning of love to what cheese is, and then proceeds to not pay attention to the answers. Featuring guest voices from Mel Brooks, Kristen Schaal, Bonnie Hunt, and more, Forky Asks a Question is simple enough for little ones to understand, and funny enough for grownups to enjoy.

It’s also worth mentioning that most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are available, enough that you could watch one a day for over two weeks straight (or three, if you just watch Thor: Ragnarok five days in a row). [Gena Radcliffe]

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Sure, you could watch The Mandalorian a millionth time, but I’m sure you’ve already thought of that. If you’ve got kids to entertain, and you’ve already run through the MCU and the Disney Vault, this Disney+ Original is actually more interesting than it looks. Directed by (of all people) Spotlight‘s Tom McCarthy, Timmy Failure is an adaptation of the children’s books about a precocious, imaginative Portland kid who fancies himself a detective (his sidekick? A giant polar bear named Total Failure, of course). It’s no great shakes, but if deadpan comedy is your thing, you’ll find a lot to charm you in Timmy’s steadfast, almost toxic dedication to the bit. Curl up with the kids and turn this on: chances are, you’ll both be entertained. [Clint Worthington]

The Criterion Channel

coronavirus quarantine streaming

“Apu Trilogy”

Both emulating the Italian neorealism of the mid-twentieth century and influencing the works of Scorsese, Kurosawa, and Anderson, Satyajit Ray’s coming-of-age trilogy remains curiously contained to academic discourse. It’s odd too—it’s far too accessible for that. That doesn’t make the story of Apurba’s life any less meaningful, though. From Apu’s childhood in Pather Panchali to his adolescence in Aparajito, there’s a gentle realization of life’s injustices that his innocence patches together. By the time he reaches adulthood in Apur Sansar, that innocence has birthed not nostalgia but recognition—of his upbringing, of spirituality, of work reigning over all. Three different actors (Subir Banerjee, Smaran Ghosal, and Soumitra Chatterjee) play Apu through each respective entry, but it’s Ray’s callbacks and attention to detail that thread three lives into one. [Matt Cipolla]

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Chantal Akerman’s 1975 drama has always and will always be salient. Perhaps watching it again while isolated will make it sting a little bit more. Delphine Seyrig plays the title character, a single mother confined to her domestic routine who dabbles in sex work to provide for her son (Jan Decorte). Freshly cooked meal or 100-franc orgasm, there’s no pleasure here. Everything is a quota and none of it is for her. Then it all begins to unspool day after day in which Akerman guides the viewer through almost three-and-a-half hours of irascibility bubbling to the service, and while it’s a long sit, it’s far too methodical for it to ever be an issue. [Matt Cipolla]

Late Autumn

While Setsuko Hara is better known for her previous collaboration with Yasijurō Ozu, Late Autumn is something of an unsung gem when it comes to the pair’s collaborations. It feels odd to say that—it, like Late Spring, Tokyo Story, and more is acclaimed and canonical to Japanese cinema. And yet, his 1960 story of young Ayako’s (Yoko Tsukasa) pressure to get married is a thematic continuation of Ozu’s previous films. The young woman’s dilemma comes not just from her own dilemma, but also from the fear of leaving her widowed mother (Hara) alone, making for a textured look at the freedom of womanhood and the safety of family. The end result is one of the most affecting final shots in memory.  [Matt Cipolla]

Safe

Todd Haynes’ dark fable about a housewife (Julianne Moore) becoming convinced the chemicals of the world are going to make her sick feels pretty bleakly accurate right now. Haynes’ paranoid, stylized approach is a particular window into the stifling nature of American gender roles, and Moore’s wild-eyed performance is one for the books. It may not be the easiest watch in a world where we’re all trapped inside and terrified of catching a virus, but its particular brand of unsettling might just be what we need to process our own uncertainties. [Clint Worthington]

Solaris

No, not the Steven Soderbergh remake. Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi opus is a cavern of whites and greys to rival 2001: A Space Odyssey, and his ability to tether it all to the most mundane of human memories makes it just as trippy. Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) is a psychologist called aboard to a space station to study the effects put out by the title planet’s atmosphere. But slowly, surely, he falls into its spell, in which his mind’s recesses personify themselves as his dead wife, Hari (Natalya Bondarchuk). It’s all but inevitable that Kelvin will fall to the same catatonic fate as the scientists he’s come to investigate, but therein lies the fatalism of it all—and the empathy. [Matt Cipolla]

To Be or Not to Be

For all his spicy comedy, Ernst Lubitsch’s movies are too light to be specifically considered “black comedy.” For most filmmakers, this would mark something of a lack of ambition. For Lubitsch, it points to his wonderful balance of tone, his endless ability to see the absurd and the dark as one and the same. It’s not so much as a comedy as much as it is a thriller. It just happens to be hilarious one, with an acting troupe getting tangled up in a soldier’s attempt to pinpoint and capture a German who may or may not be a Nazi. But this tale also has a dripping sense of horniness, fake beards, costume play, and enough dirty looks from just about everyone. What’s not to like? [Matt Cipolla]

Basically Everything Else

Where can we even begin? If you’re a movie lover and you don’t have the Criterion Channel yet, I don’t even know what to tell you. It’s film school for just $10, and the selection of world and art cinema it offers is nothing short of astonishing. Just a quick look at the home page shows collections devoted to the late Max Von Sydow, Agnes Varda, black filmmaking pioneers, and Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project. For $10 a month!

I know I just said above about Chopping Mall that you don’t have to feel obligated to watch something good while stuck at home, but you have to enrich your brain every now and then, and it starts here, for the money you’re saving not being able to buy coffee at the cafe near your office. Silver linings…? [Gena Radcliffe]

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