My movie watching reached a milestone over the weekend – I’ve reached my 120th film of the lockdown. This means I’ve watched 120 films over the past two months that I hadn’t seen in 2020.
This impressive (depressing) includes a range of movies and I thought a fun (heartbreaking) exercise would be to dig into what I’ve been watching during this period.
The horror, the horror
There have been horrors aplenty, with the genre being one of my go-to cinematic comfort blankets. There are those that have always managed to terrify and enthral me: Jaws, An American Werewolf in London and 2018’s Halloween. And there are those that are new to me but have always been talked about in hushed tones.
Audition is a film of two halves, with the second haunting long after the narrative comes to a close. The Borderlands is remarkably good found footage with both a narrative reason for the cameras to keep rolling and a terrifying last twenty minutes. And the extreme horror Martyrs is one of the most upsetting I’ve ever seen, a brutal slice of body horror that is as skilfully constructed as it is unrecommendable (you’ll know if it’s your thing). But it’s Brain Damage that lingers for me, a delightfully bizarre 80s cult watch about a boy and his talking parasite. It’s on Shudder and really is a must-watch.
A smattering of new watches
With cinemas closed there has been a noticeable drop-off in my viewing of new releases. But thanks to Netflix Originals I’ve been able to watch a smattering of 2020 releases. First up was Spanish genre piece The Platform, which benefits from a nifty set-up (Cube meets Snowpiercer) but lacks the pay-off to meet the narrative’s early promise.
The Willoughbys is an exuberant animation that lacks some of the charm and beauty of last year’s Klaus. Alice Wu’s The Half of It is a beautifully shot, leisurely paced teen romance that managed to make me feel all of the feels. And Time to Hunt is a sprawling South Korean thriller that engagingly manages to morph from an effective heist movie into something closer, resembling a cat-and-mouse tour de force.
Something more comfortable
We’ve all gained time in this period, minutes and hours in our homes where we seek sweet release from the magnitude of our time. And this has led to a fair few comfort watches.
Olivia Wilde’s near-perfect teen coming-of-age Booksmart has received two watches over the past few weeks and will likely receive a few more before normality resumes. As has What We Do in the Shadows, a contender for my favourite vampire movie. The documentary Weiner may make a strange comfort watch but the documentary following Anthony Weiner through a second downfall is a compelling delight.
And then there’s Game Night, the surprisingly enjoyable all-star comedy, which reminds us that a) Rachel McAdams is brilliant and should be in everything and b) Sharon Horgan needs her Hollywood moment, and c) Jesse Plemons is perfectly suited playing weird characters. Plus, the one-take pass-the-egg sequence that drops two-thirds of the way through is expertly done.
With more evenings inside, I’ve dedicated time to some of the longer films I’ve loved over the years. The likes of Gone Girl, Moneyball, The Place Beyond the Pines and Rush have all received much-planned rewatches and have each proved great reminders of how good cinema has been in the last decade.
Last year’s Doctor Sleep is such a delightfully strange prospect and my love for it grew immeasurably on a second watch. Older films like Goodfellas, Princess Mononoke and Aliens bring comfort and expertise in their craft. Oldboy has been rewatched and solidified its place as one of my favourite films. And a complete revisit of the Harry Potter franchise was terrific fun, especially as you watch the series morph into something, well, good.
Some necessary catching up
There have also been first time watches to fill gaps in my cinematic knowledge. The documentary Apollo 11 proved a fascinating watch, while Extra Ordinary is a beautifully constructed Irish horror-comedy that needs to be seen more widely. A pair of Hitchcocks were interesting works, even if The Lady Vanishes is a more successful whole then The Trouble With Harry. What If has one of the best casts I’ve seen in a disposable rom-com in recent years, while Spiderman: Far From Home proved to be an unexceptional Marvel entry. But at least Jake Gyllenhaal has a fabulous beard in it.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing highlights that the director really was the master of whichever genre he turned his eye to (in this instance it’s the heist movie). Two musicals have also brought joy in my household, with Little Shop of Horrors shamefully unwatched by me until this point, while Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a sumptuous treat, and may be the horniest film I’ve ever seen.
The devil comes in the form of Disney +
The arrival of Disney+ has meant one thing. Lots and lots of Disney to watch. Some of them reinforced their dated quality (Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan both leave a bad taste in the mouth due to racist tropes). But others are welcome reminders of the House of Mouse’s body of work.
Wall-E is an improved watch with a three-year-old who finds the slapstick hysterical (even if the second half lacks the delightful simplicity of the first). The Rescuers Down Under (the first Disney sequel ever) is a nostalgic treat for me, particularly George C. Scott’s villainous poacher. And George of the Jungle is a firm reminder of just how good a performer Brendan Fraser is.
What have you been watching during lockdown? Tweet us telling us your faves at @flick_whatUK.