Good movies feel more important now than ever before. With little to distinguish one day from the next, getting lost in a meaningful film feels like a true gift. The stories we are told, while effective in helping the time pass, additionally shape us and our views in more ways than we could possibly count. Throughout quarantine, I have had ample time to explore and discover amazing, ethereal, and sometimes visceral films. While sometimes it feels as though the world is crashing down all around us, it is comforting to find solace in a good movie. Whether they take us to distant lands or to a not-so-distant past in which large groups of people could congregate (something that watching on-screen now feels highly illegal), film has the power to open our minds and take our troubles away, if only for a short while. Below I have reviewed some movies that I have had the pleasure of viewing during my time at home.
- Lost In Translation dir. by Sofia Coppola
One of my favorite movies, I’ll admit that this was a frequent rewatch during quarantine. Lost in Translation is a stunning and heart-wrenching film that follows two lost souls and their search for meaningful connection. Against the backdrop of an awe-inspiring Japan, an admittedly alienating setting for the two American protagonists, the story follows a washed-up actor and a young, forgotten wife as they meet and connect through their shared pain. With incredible cinematography and performances and a consistently melancholy yet hopeful tone, this film is a masterpiece.
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dir. Michael Gondry
A truly beautiful film, this was another rewatch of mine once I found that it had recently been added to Netflix. This psychedelic and enchanting story takes on the age-old question: is it better to love and lose than to never have loved at all? Following the compelling and beautifully portrayed Clementine and Joel, the movie takes a non-linear and dream-like approach to presenting their love story and its eventual unravelling. After their painful break-up, Clementine opts to have all memories of their relationship erased and Joel soon follows. With intricate plotting and award-worthy performances, this film is as meaningful as it is stunning.
- Frances Ha dir. Noah Baumbach
This witty and sweet film is truly a must-watch that is not just for fellow superfans of the incredible Greta Gerwig. Frances Ha is an adult coming-of-age story about a lost young woman and her search for fulfillment — the film is likely to pull on your heartstrings and bring a smile to your face. Equally humorous and meaningful, this was a film that immediately felt like coming home. Both comforting and lighthearted, it is also complete with well-written dialogue and compelling performances. I was personally struck by what the film had to say about the value of female friendships; overall the story shared quite a heartfelt and genuine message.
- Big Time Adolescence dir. by Jason Orley
A funny and underrated coming-of-age flick, Big Time Adolescence was certainly worth the watch. The movie follows the young Mo and his misadventures with his older, delinquent best friend, Zeke. Despite the large age-gap and the fact that Zeke is a terrible influence on Mo, the two demonstrate genuine love for one another. Ultimately this is a story about growing pains, friendship and the lengths that we will go to for the ones we love. It also includes many great performances by some breakout stars. At times as emotional as it was humorous, this film has something for everyone.
- Before Sunrise dir. by Richard Linklater
This beautiful and moving love story follows the cynical Jesse and the dreamy Celine, who meet on a train and are struck by their immediate connection. Together they embark on a night of adventure and scintillating, profound conversation. With more emphasis on poignant writing than plot, this film quite literally took my breath away; the movie is incredibly philosophical and memorable. The characters are as relatable as they are wise and thoughtful. This stunning film is likely to make you believe in not only love at first sight, but also in the power of true emotional and intellectual intimacy.
- Peanut Butter Falcon dir. by T. Nilson, M. Schwartz
A truly sweet and genuine film, Peanut Butter Falcon is pure adventure and heart. Zak is a young man with Down’s syndrome who dreams of finding success as a pro-wrestler. Tyler is a petty thief with a temper. When the two meet, they soon realize that they can help each other in more ways than one. Beautifully shot and performed, this story parallels even the greatest Mark Twain adventure stories. Highlighting the importance of following one’s dreams and the power of found family, this was a memorable and optimistic watch.
- Honey Boy dir. by Alma Har’el
Honey Boy relates the gripping and raw true story of actor Shia Labeouf’s own tragic childhood. With amazing performances and well-written material, this film was masterfully done. Told in a non-linear fashion, and flashing between scenes of Shia’s childhood as well as early adulthood, viewers get an inside look into the dangers of child stardom and the horrors of alcoholism. The film particularly focuses on the actor’s fraught relationship with his father — despite relating his many shortcomings, the film still somehow managed to serve as a love letter. Both beautiful and painful, I strongly recommend this movie.
- Waves dir. by Trey Edward Shults
A powerful and deeply visceral film, Waves delivers strong messages about family, loss, and the way we view ourselves. With absolutely incredible performances, compelling cinematography, and a stellar soundtrack, this movie is likely to appeal to many. Dark and gripping, the film follows the Williams family: Tyler Williams is a popular wrestler that gets pushed too far; Emily Williams is a quiet sister whom she believes no one sees. When the world comes crashing in around them, the family must learn the true meaning of coming together. Striking and heart-wrenching, this film was unforgettable.
- The Shawshank Redemption dir. by Frank Darabont
Truly a classic for a reason, this film is utterly remarkable. When Andy Dufresne is sentenced to life in prison for a crime that he swears he didn’t commit, he must slowly come to terms with his horrible new reality, but he isn’t too quick to give in. As he is met with friendship in the most unlikely of places, he soon realizes that the jail system is perhaps just as corrupt as the people it houses. Insightful and beautifully done, this film delivers interesting messages about justice, friendship, and the true cost of freedom.
- Pleasantville dir. by Gary Ross
A sweet and colorful watch, Pleasantville tells the story of modern teens Jennifer and David and their journey to a fictional town that only exists on TV. As the two change the seemingly perfect town in their goal to escape, they realize that perhaps perfection does not equate to happiness. With great performances and a powerful message about the true meaning of love and liberty, this film sparked instant conversation in my house. Encouraging audiences to find the color in mundanity and purpose in conformity, the film was interesting and thought-provoking.