Life under quarantine: Movies in the time of pandemic

Movies as an escape from pandemic

Hello! I'm at a theater, because it's empty, 'cause they all are. Which is my subject. You're at home, climbing the walls, and you can't go out to the movies.

The good news is, when I was a kid you had six channels, and one was all "Candlepins for Cash"; now, you can screen ANYTHING on demand.  People I know are watching pandemic movies. "Contagion." "Outbreak."  Don't. Just, don't! You should've watched them in January when you could have done something, maybe. Now you're just torturing yourself.

But this does raise an issue, which is, "Do you want to escape the world, or use this occasion, when you've have time and "social distance," to learn a little more about how the world actually is?"

Yeah, me too, I want to escape, but there's only so many times I can watch "Stepbrothers."

So, I watch Turner Classic Movies (TCM).  And I got a subscription to The Criterion Channel. Gorgeously-restored world classics. Fellini. Chaplin's "City Lights." Or Ingmar Bergman's little-known masterpiece "Shame" with Liv Ullmann and the great Max Von Sydow (who just left us) which shows how war and its terrors can make us less than human, so we'll try so much harder to be more.

shame-max-von-sydow-liv-ullmann-lopert-pictures-corp-620.jpg
Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann in Ingmar Bergman's "Shame" (1968).  Lopert Pictures Corp.

You can binge, of course. Catch up on "Better Call Saul" or "Star Trek: Picard," which I love to bits, though Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc has gotten a tad mushy in his old age. It's on CBS All Access, which I pay for, by the way, like you do. And it's a lot every month for Amazon Prime and Hulu and Netflix; I've had to switch to cheaper brands of booze. But what I get to watch is so much more exciting! 

I love seeing films like "Lost Girls" on Netflix, about the messed-up investigation of a Long Island serial killer, with Amy Ryan exceptionally fine as the desperate mother of a vanished young woman.

LOST GIRLS | Official Trailer | Netflix by Netflix on YouTube

What about the big, fast-food franchise movies? Postponed. Theatres that were supposed to show "A Quiet Place 2," they'll be really quiet!  But more and more smaller, maybe worthier first-run films will soon be streamable.

This week, Universal put out three: "The Invisible Man," "The Hunt," and one that's actually worth it, "Emma." Jane Austen's 19th-century heroine is played by the marvelous Anya Taylor-Joy, whose wide-apart eyes make it look as if her thoughts are traveling across hemispheres – perfect for a young woman who knows everything until she realizes she knows nothing.

She learns empathy, which we all need right now, and we will find, perhaps with the help of works of art like these. We will come out wiser, more human and, yes, more neurotic.

EMMA. - Official Trailer [HD] - In Theaters February 21 by Focus Features on YouTube

The other day I swear I was watching a movie where a guy coughed and I flinched. And I'd have wiped the screen with sanitizer if I had any. One way or another, the pressure shows.

         
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Story produced by Robbyn McFadden. Editor: Lauren Barnello.