Tom Jolliffe on cinema in lockdown life. The time to catch up on the films you’ve been meaning to see…
It’s a world in lock down. For many it has meant having more time. As film fans, you may feel yourself gravitationally pulled toward cinema as an escape. This might be a revisit of old favourites. Certainly there’s something comforting in that. The other day I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the 895th time (rough guestimate). Okay…maybe not that many times, but still, it’s a classic that never fails to lift my mood.
So now, as well as having a backlog of writing to do and being confined, like many, at home, I’m finding more time to divert some more attention into films. How many times have you thought about getting into the careers of certain film-makers and not quite been able to get round to it? As film fans we might find ourselves drawn to burning through the Kurosawa back catalogue, or whoever it may be, but due to working, partying, and all those other outdoors things, gets pushed by the wayside. Here is an opportunity to just dive into some films you’ve been meaning to watch. I had an opportunity to recent expand my knowledge of Yasujiro Ozu films, and finally getting round to perhaps his most famous, Tokyo Story (and duly getting hit thoroughly in the feels) having previously tended to try and start with less obvious choices.
Of course we’ve all got to take stock in different ways and have respective worries, but as we’ve seen with countless memes about ‘completing Netflix’ it’s getting to a point some of our routines are getting stale. I’ve been able to dive into a few films that I’d not got around to, or surprise films. I finally got around to seeing Blue Ruin recently, which was a great twist on the revenge genre. Then there was the gripping, almost unbearably tense, Calibre. I’ve had a chance to revisit, and take a first time visit, through a number of classic blaxploitation films too.
As a writer about films and of films, watching films has been an important part of the process for both. Now, writing about films it goes without saying. If I review a movie I need to have watched it. If I do an Op-Ed on a specific film(s) then I need to have seen them. Likewise, in writing screenplays, and having done so in almost every genre, I find myself wanting to watch some inspiration from the same formula/genre, to get those creative juices flowing. It’s not always possible, but at the moment, it’s been a little easier. From recent horror and thriller scripts, to treatmenting a Conan-esqe adventure, I’ve managed to find time to do that. I even managed to watch something as bewilderingly goofy as Deathstalker recently, an old sword and sorcery classic from the 80’s.
So what comes next? Everything from completing my Kubrick checklist (finally) with Lolita, to catching up on more world cinema, to delving into more B movie depths too. I’ve got watchlists that have been unchecked for ages. If you’ve got Netflix or Amazon (or whatever) chances are you probably have a watchlist with titles that have sat there for months. Whilst the key heroes continue doing their great work, all we’re tasked with is staying at home. If a film can keep our eyes from drifting to thoughts of curfew defiance, then lets start expanding our viewing.
You might be limited to streaming, or like myself you might have some physical media, and some that still remains un-watched (because yeah…time). Pop that shrink wrap baby! As far as streaming, almost every service has a free trial, so that’s always well worth doing, just make sure to cancel your subscription prior to the trial running out (unless of course you are suitably allured). The good thing is, there are services that cover almost every taste. You want to broaden your horizons from blockbusters? Go for BFI, MUBI or The Criterion Channel. Youtube has thousands of full films from classic era, a lot from world cinema too (check out the Korean Film Archive, if you’re still in K-fever after Parasite). Not that they need more grip on the entertainment industry, but Disney+ is out now too. Keeping the kids entertained but never delved into Studio Ghibli? There’s loads up on Netflix now, and all loaded with imagination.
What films have you finally got round to seeing? What’s on your watchlist? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and on our twitter page @flickeringmyth
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020, including The Witches Of Amityville Academy (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch) and Tooth Fairy: The Root of Evil. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.