As we find ourselves nearly two months deep into self-quarantine with no signs of opening up any time soon, now’s as good a time as any to catch up on your current watchlist! I know I’ve definitely been slacking in that regard, but I attribute that mainly due to the fact that I’m “lucky” enough to be one of the few people able to work from home. However, for those of you who either can’t work, have been furloughed, or are just bored out of your mind with way too much free time, here’s five movies that will definitely help you get through the bizarre self-quarantine situation we find ourselves in. Some of these are new, some of these are classics, but all of them are fantastic films available on streaming that will definitely enrich your movie-craving soul. They aren’t the most obscure films, in fact I’d wager that you’ve probably seen at least one or two of these already. However, if you have yet to watch one of these movies, I can’t recommend them enough, especially considering the situation we find ourselves in currently. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. The Lighthouse (Amazon Prime)
One of the most mysterious, mythical, and downright hilarious movies I’ve seen in a really long time, “The Lighthouse” was my favorite movie of 2019 and I pretty much can’t get enough of it. It’s difficult to describe why it’s so mesmerizing and attractive, but I think it pretty much comes down to how incredibly claustrophobic and unnerving the cinematography is combined with the amazing performances from both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. I still haven’t seen The Witch but from what I can tell, Robert Eggers is a director who has a true passion for language and all the beauty and nuance that comes with it. Some of the dialogue, especially Willem Dafoe’s crotchety naval speeches, literally sent chills down my spine simply due to the combination of how fantastic the written material was combined with gusto with which it was delivered. If you are a fan of Kubrick’s “The Shining” then I can’t imagine you’ll walk away from this one disappointed. Isolation, paranoia, and constant drunken revelry ensures you’re always left guessing as to which man’s side of the story is the one more firmly rooted in reality, and I guarantee it will leave you discussing it for days, if not weeks after watching.
2. Taxi Driver (Netflix)
One of Scorsese’s earliest and most infamous films, “Taxi Driver” is a fairly simple and straightforward story absolutely drenched in a thick, dingy atmosphere that’s almost palpable. Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle is one of the most iconic performances of all time, and the way his character progresses throughout the events of Taxi Driver is absolutely enthralling every single time I watch it. The connections between this movie and 2019’s “Joker” are certainly valid, as both films are essentially about a man’s slow descent into insanity due to his inability to fit into societal norms combined with an antisocial and generally awkward personality. However, Taxi Driver is inarguably the better and far more subtle version of the two, and Bickle’s struggle to find purpose in his own life which eventually leads him down a path of violent delusions of grandeur likely isn’t too far off what many other people have felt at least once in their lives. Taxi Driver represents the anger and frustration of the “loner” personality type, and demonstrates how someone so unassuming can be pushed down a violent path simply due to their lack of personal understanding and self-awareness. Not to mention the soundtrack is one of my personal favorites, and the way the music develops into something so sinister alongside Bickle’s own transformation is downright genius.
3. The Hateful Eight (Netflix)
Not the best Tarantino movie by any stretch of the imagination. Thankfully, “not the best Tarantino movie” still means a damn good film, and that’s exactly what “The Hateful Eight” is. A western whodunit mystery movie soaked in over-the-top violence and the charm of classic Tarantino dialogue, this film is the perfect companion for long days spent indoors around family members or roommates that might be lowkey driving you crazy. Isolation plays a major role in the film, as all of our brooding characters end up stuck in a cabin together during a vicious blizzard and are forced to try and get along. This movie is basically just a performance showcase for Samuel L Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Kurt Russell to flex their acting chops, but it never fails to put a smile on my face. Also, despite its inherent hostility, the cozy atmosphere of the cabin’s interior definitely makes this an awesome watch on cold, windy days. This movie might also contain some of Tarantino’s most messed up deaths ever put to film, so that’s always a nice treat to watch every now and then.
4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Hulu)
If you’ve already read my review, then you know I can’t get enough of this movie, but seriously… goddamn. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is one of the most beautiful, heartwarming, yet downright tragic movies I’ve ever seen, and it absolutely deserves to be referred to as one of the greatest romances of all time. Isolation and intimacy go hand-in-hand with this story, and every single scene is absolutely gorgeous, from the cinematography to the way the dialogue is delivered between the two women. It’s honestly amazing how much this film has flown under the radar, especially after Parasite has seemingly warmed up American audiences to foreign films. Nevertheless, Portrait is currently streaming on Hulu and holy crap, just go watch it right now. Like seriously, why are you still reading this article. If you haven’t seen it already, close out of this and go watch it! Now! (For more details on the movie, check out my full review)
5. Ex Machina (Netflix)
If you’re reading this, you’ve either already seen Portrait of a Lady on Fire, or are just ignoring my advice. Not judging… Okay, I’m kind of judging. Either way, my last pick for this list has to go to “Ex Machina,” as it’s an absolutely brilliant piece of modern intelligent sci-fi, which is something I’ve been craving for a very long time. Original, philosophical, and disturbing at times, this movie is basically an episode of Black Mirror, but good. Oscar Isaac as Nathan Bateman is a national treasure in this film, and Alicia Vikander and Domhnall Gleeson are great in their roles as well. However, what really seals the deal for me is the uniqueness of the setting and the premise, as well as the many, many turns the story takes throughout its runtime. It feels like every 15 minutes, there’s a new twist to the events of the movie, and it constantly leaves you flip-flopping over whose side to take in the ongoing mental battle within Bateman’s robotics facility/private estate. It asks some seriously disturbing questions about the implications of artificial intelligence, and almost morphs into a total horror movie by the end. If you’re looking for a cold, rational, and distressing take on the future of robotics and AI, you can’t get much better than Ex Machina.