By Andrew Rodden
As the world falls apart due to the COVID-19 pandemic, never before have we, as a collective, had so much time to watch movies. With an overwhelming number of movies to watch and an equally overwhelming amount of free time, it might be difficult to choose what to watch in self isolation. But don’t worry, because I have a list of movies relevant to current events that simultaneously act as vehicles for escape to a different world. Each of these movies is available to rent or buy digitally, but I’ll specifically note if they’re available to stream. Kanopy is an excellent resource for streaming films and is made available to all Colorado College students through Tutt Library! Check out some classic movies and amazing documentaries on the service.
“Contagion” (2011), dir. Stephen Soderberg
Perhaps the most accurate portrayal of the U.S. under the pressure of a viral pandemic (it’s eerie how similar the COVID-19 outbreak is to the fictional outbreak of the film), “Contagion” succeeds at displaying how humans behave in a crisis. It shows how easy it is to spread fake news and how it’s just human nature to mad rush grocery stores. Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Winslet put up great performances and offer helpful social distancing tips of their own which might even help us get through this mess. You can stream “Contagion” on Hulu.
“Mimic” (1997), dir. Guillermo del Toro
Be glad COVID-19 can’t be transmitted by mobs of contagious cockroaches, as that’s exactly how a mystery disease is transmitted in del Toro’s 1997 monster movie “Mimic.” This is far from del Toro’s best work, but it’s a fun romp through the gross subway tunnels of New York City with chillingly icky monster effects — what more could you ask for? You can stream “Mimic” on Hulu.
“The Host” (2006), dir. Bong Joon-ho
Unless you are watching a Guillermo del Toro movie, you probably won’t find a monster movie that is not B-movie schlock. However, Bong throws his hat into the ring and offers his take on the genre with his 2006 film “The Host,” a monster movie that is about so much more than the slimy fish lizard that terrorizes Seoul. It addresses how governments deal with events such as a disease outbreak or a terrifying monster, commentary that has never been more relevant. “The Host” is available on YouTube for free.
“High Life” (2018), dir. Claire Denis
“High Life” is the story of a new father, Monte (Robert Pattinson), who’s locked inside a spaceship hurtling through space. Denis beautifully ebbs in and out of Monte’s memories of past experiences on the ship, capturing the increasingly blended temporality of being stuck inside for a seemingly endless amount of time. You can stream this on Amazon Prime and Kanopy.
“The Lighthouse” (2019), dir. Robert Eggers
As you go mad from being locked up with your family for weeks on end, know that you’re not alone. Watch Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe navigate the difficulties of group isolation on an island off the coast of New England, working tirelessly to maintain a lighthouse. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two about conflict mediation. You can stream “The Lighthouse” on Amazon Prime.
“Her” (2014), dir. Spike Jonze
“Her” offers a glimpse into a future of falling in love with artificial intelligence, which may be less sci-fi as the weeks roll on. Aside from its perceptive commentary on the future of personhood, “Her” works brilliantly as a touching love story between Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannsson, who plays a Siri-like A.I. software that just wants to be loved. You can stream “Her” on Netflix.
“The Thing” (1982), dir. John Carpenter
A staple of the horror genre, “The Thing” is about an alien thing that infiltrates an Antarctic research facility maintained by a group of guys in it for the long haul. Here’s the catch: the creature adopts the likeness of its victims, so no one truly knows who is human and who is an imposter. The film is a pinnacle of practical visual effects, and the makeup and creature designs are gruesomely realistic. Be prepared for disturbing imagery. You can find “The Thing” on Hulu.