Here are the films to watch in lockdown

By Lauren Drozd 25/01/2021

Image Courtesy of Armaan Latif

Whether it’s the pang of loss that I feel when touch is shared between characters, or brief confusion at crowds congregating without face masks or social distancing, the pandemic has left a lasting mark on how I watch films. I’m increasingly drawn to character-driven stories while my own life has been starved of social contact. I’ve come to treasure certain themes that offer a vital emotional crutch: Intimacy. Community. Tenderness.

In an effort to bring everyone a little closer together this new year, here are the films that may help you get through this third lockdown, just as much as they helped me.

Moonstruck (1987, dir. Norman Jewison)

Cher and Nicolas Cage are the chaotically delightful romantic pairing you never knew you needed, in a comic film with a big heart – and a big moon. Loretta is a superstitious widow who believes her first marriage was cursed but agrees to marry Jonny (Danny Aiello) nonetheless. When she invites his estranged brother Ronny (Cage) to the wedding, she finds herself falling for him.

Image Courtesy of MGM

Whisper of the Heart (1995, dir. Yoshifumi Kondō)

Whisper of the Heart, a warm story of adolescent ambition, is indisputably my favourite Studio Ghibli film. Shizuku, a schoolgirl in Tokyo, harbours a love of reading and writing that is matched only by her classmate Seiji’s passion for crafting violins. Calming and uplifting, Whisper of the Heart lovingly traces the magic of imagination.

Image Courtesy of Studio Ghibli

Singin’ in the Rain (1952, dir. Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen)

A timelessly perfect film about films, charting the rise of the “talkies” that saw silent film stars needing to adapt. Don (Gene Kelly) falls for an unknown actress (Debbie Reynolds), but his co-performer Lina (Jean Hagen) stands in the way. I love how film is portrayed in its all its complexities and contradictions, as both art and commodity, genuine and inauthentic. Revisiting this over Christmas, I was astonished by the envy I felt, watching Don’s unrestrained elation during the titular song.

Image Courtesy of MGM

In the Mood for Love (2000, dir. Wong Kar-wai)

This melancholic and stylish portrayal of unconsummated longing in 1960s Hong Kong stars the preternaturally beautiful Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as neighbours who realise that their spouses are being unfaithful with each other. Tentatively re-enacting the flowering affair, their sexual morals prevent them from acting on their mutual attraction. The absence of physical touch feels incredibly resonant for this time.

Image Courtesy of IndieWire

The Green Ray (1986, Éric Rohmer)

Delphine (Marie Rivière) is dumped, and her summer travel plans fall apart. She meanders aimlessly, alienated, and unable to befriend people. When she eavesdrops on a group discussing the “green ray” phenomenon – a flash of green light that accompanies a sunset – she endeavours to seek one out. A lovely film about loneliness, I formed a major para-social fondness for Rivière’s character.

Image Courtesy of The Film Desk

Paterson (2016, dir. Jim Jarmusch)

Adam Driver plays a bus driver living in Paterson, and who is also called Paterson. He also writes poems in a notebook, although he seems to be reluctant to publish them. Following a week in his life with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), it’s a film where “nothing happens”, but it never feels that way, in a gentle story of inspiration and everyday working life.

Image Courtesy of Empire

Girlfriends (1978, dir. Claudia Weill)

This drama follows Susan, a photographer who deals with the emotional fallout of her married best friend moving out of their shared apartment. Girlfriends is an excavation of women’s careers, female friendship, and messy relationships, all anchored by a wonderful performance from Melanie Mayron.

Image Courtesy of IMDb

Pillow Talk (1959, dir. Michael Gordon)

Jan (Doris Day) and Brad (Rock Hudson) share a telephone line that’s monopolised by Brad’s endless serenades of a stream of women over the phone. When Brad falls for Jan, he invents a persona to romance her. While the film’s gender politics are horrendously dated, it somehow doesn’t detract from its infectious charm and charisma.

Image Courtesy of Britannica

I hope these suggestions will give you some form of solace if you choose to watch them. We may not be with our loved ones right now, but one day we will. In the meantime, why don’t you fire up whatever streaming services you might have at your disposal, and acquaint yourself with a host of colourful characters and captivating stories?

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