My Quarantine Through Films

As a lover of stories, my quarantine was filled to the brim with new ones I was able to experience. One of my favorite forms of storytelling is through film, which is quite obvious if you look at my very active Letterboxd account. When we were sent home in late March to finish the semester online, we were also put under quarantine, meaning I barely left my house besides going to work. With that being said, between the months of April and August, I watched an insane number of movies, with most of them being my first viewings. When it comes to TV, I tend to just watch New Girl over and over again but with movies, my love for the medium is so great that I have the impossible desire to see them all, causing me to constantly watch new movies. Like I said, I watched too many movies to count over quarantine, but I would like to recommend my top 10.

  1. 1. Rebecca (1940) dir. Alfred Hitchcock

    Winning Alfred Hitchcock his only Academy Award for Best Picture, Rebecca is based on the bestselling book by Daphne du Maurier. Featuring an unforgettable performance by legendary Laurence Oliver as the handsome yet cold Max De Winter, Joan Fontaine leads the cast as the naïve Mrs. De Winter, trying her best to live in the shadow of Rebecca, the late wife of Max. This movie is disguised as a romance but reveals its sinister core as soon as the newlyweds arrive at Manderley, Max’s beloved home. Despite reading the novel prior to my viewing, this film still managed to keep me on my toes. In my opinion, the standout performance was Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers, the ominous head house keeper at Manderley, and Rebecca’s closest confidant. Another adaptation of du Maurier’s classic tale is available on Netflix starting October 21, 2020 staring Armie Hammer and Lily James as Mr. and Mrs. De Winter.

  2. 2. Anna Karenina (2012) dir. Joe Wright

    Based on the timeless tale of love and deceit, Anna Karenina is Joe Wright’s take on Tolstoy’s famous novel. Much like many Wright films, Kiera Knightley stars as the title character, trapped in a loveless marriage and entering a life-changing affair with Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Count Vronsky. Another film where I read the source material before watching, I know that the daunting task of taking on the 800-page Russian novel. With that being said, I believe Wright’s attempt was more than satisfactory, with some of the most beautiful cinematography I have ever seen. With the novels setting of high society Russia, many scenes take place in a theater. Wright took that and ran, with the majority of scenes filmed within an old theater, almost making it appear as a play rather than a film. Anna Karennina is one of the most complicated and frustrating characters in literary history, and this film depicted that brilliantly with my only real complaint being a lack of screen time for my favorite characters: Domhnall Gleeson as Levin and Alicia Vikander as Kitty. 

  3. 3. Harold and Maude (1971) dir. Hal Ashby

    The world ‘quirky’ has never been more appropriately used than when describing this story. Harold and Maude follows the extremely unique relationship between Bud Court’s 20-year-old Harold and 80-year-old Maude, portrayed by Ruth Gordon, bonding over their mutual love of attending funerals for people they have never met. Despite being old enough to be his grandmother, Maude is a picture-perfect example of the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope. She truly lives in her own world, not caring at all what people think of her. By dragging the death obsessed Harold into her care-free life, she completely changes his and truly becomes his best friend and the person he cares about the most. This story is weird, but so incredibly endearing which, including the incredible soundtrack by Cat Stevens, ensures that this was definitely just my first viewing of many.

  4. 4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) dir. Celine Sciamma

    Set in Brittany towards the end of the 18th century, this French film focuses on a female painter, tasked with painting the wedding portrait of a young woman who repeatedly refuses to sit for it. Marianne and Heloise, played by Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel, develop a beautiful relationship, haunted by the knowledge of Heloise’s impending marriage to a complete stranger. Making the most of their limited time together, the two quickly form a rather intense bond, eventually allowing their friendship to develop into much more. The main score in this film is “Storm” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, depicting the theme of the story beautifully and acts as an important connection between the two main characters. With minimal actors, the setting and paintings in this film appear as characters themselves, enriching the story even further and adding even more substance to an already emotional experience.

  5. 5. Emma. (2020) dir. Autumn de Wilde

    One of the most aesthetically beautiful visuals I have ever seen, Emma. is the latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s popular story revolving around the “handsome, clever, and rich” Emma Woodhouse. Emma has made it her life’s mission to matchmake, even when her involvement is unwanted. While I love Jane Austen, Emma is one of her books that I have never read. With that being said, I cannot speak to accuracy regarding the written word, but my overall experience with the film was incredibly delightful. Besides the well-acted characters and enjoyable plot, this was truly one of the most visually pleasing movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching. The costumes were stunning, the scenery unforgettable, and every shot was chosen with such purpose that you can tell nothing about this film was accidental.

  6. 6. Big Fish (2003) dir. Tim Burton

    As a big fan of the work of Tim Burton, Big Fish has easily placed itself as one of my favorites. One of the most emotionally charged films I have ever watched, this story revolves around Edward Bloom, as his lifelong habit of confusing reality with fiction causes him to remain a frustrating mystery to his only son. At his father’s deathbed, William ultimately begins piecing together the full picture of his mysterious father as Edward tells the fantastic adventures he went on throughout his extraordinary life, with William finally listening. Ewan McGregor brings Edward Bloom alive, creating an utterly charismatic and convincing character that has you believing the impossible. With the wonderful whimsy that accompanies any Burton film and powerful quotes that will stick with you for the rest of your life, this is truly a story I will never forget.

  7. 7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) dir. Michel Gondry

    When informed that his ex-girlfriend, Clementine, erased him from his memory, Joel Barish, played by Jim Carry, hastily decides to undergo the life-changing procedure to remove her from his. While undergoing the operation, the audience gets a look in Joel’s memories with Clementine, brilliantly portrayed by Kate Winslet (my favorite actress), as we see their relationship blossom, fall apart, and Joel panicking in attempt the keep the memories he was starting to lose. Told non-chronologically, this story perfectly depicts the feeling of losing someone, while still being thankful that you got to love them in the first place.

  8. 8. Knives Out (2019) dir. Rian Johnson

    Created in the style of a classic whodunit, Knives Out surrounds the family of Harlan Thrombey, a renowned crime novelist, after he is found dead at his estate following his 85th birthday. With a star-studded ensemble cast including, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, and Jamie Lee Curtis, the audience is suspicious of everyone on screen. Beautifully shot and just cheesy enough, this film wonderfully blends classic and modern filmmaking, creating a mysterious story with some of the most vibrant characters you will ever see.

  9. 9. (500) Days of Summer (2009) dir. Marc Webb

    Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, this film follows 500 days in the life of Tom Hansen, starting when he meets who he believes to be the girl of his dreams, Summer Finn, until their relationship is definitively over, 500 days later. The first seen depicts the final day of their relationship, with the rest of story told nonchronologically, erasing the ability for a gradual decline and causing the audience to be even more emotionally invested. With Summer, Webb turns the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope on its head by making sure that Tom never changes her. Regarding this film, the tagline puts it best: “This is not a love story. This is a story about love”.

  10. 10. The Story of Adele H. (1975) dir. Francois Truffant

    Following the daughter of acclaimed French novelist Victor Hugo, L'Histoire d'Adèle H. depicts Adele’s obsession with British soldier Albert Pinson as she follows him across seas, despite his continual rejection. Starring as Adele Hugo is Isabelle Adjani, one of my favorite actresses, who creates such pity for this obviously troubled woman through her performance, causing the audience to care for her deeply. As a great appreciator of French cinema, this heartbreakingly emotional story with superb acting has quickly become of my favorites.  

If you couldn’t tell, I tend to be drawn towards emotional dramas that focuses more on characters than plot so if you are looking for an action movie recommendation, I am the last person you would want to ask (I am a bit ashamed to admit I’ve only seen one Avengers movie). Despite that, my favorite thing in the world is sharing stories that have moved me, so I am hopeful that those reading this may have found at least one new film to add to their watchlist. If not, I will also place a bunch of other movies I watched during quarantine below.

Enjoy the show!

HCXO, Maeve

 

  • Comedies:
    • Young Frankenstein (1974) dir. Mel Brooks
    • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) dir. Edgar Wright
    • Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019) dir. Scott Aukerman
    • Sky High (re-watch)
  • Dramas:
    • The Godfather: Part I and II (1972) and (1974) dir. Francis Ford Coppola
    • Mid90s (2018) dir. Jonah Hill
    • Lady Macbeth (2016) dir. William Oldroyd
    • Never Let Me Go (2010) dir. Mark Romanek
    • Sophie’s Choice (1982) dir. Alan J. Pakula
  • Comedy-Dramas:
    • The Graduate (1967) dir. Mike Nichols
    • The Squid and the Whale (2005) dir. Noah Baumbach
    • Stuck in Love (2013) dir. Josh Boone (re-watch)
    • The Princess Bride (1987) dir. Rob Reiner (re-watch)
  • Musicals:
    • Yesterday (2019) dir. Danny Boyle (re-watch)
    • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) dir. Ken Hughes (re-watch)
    • Hamilton: An American Musical (2020) dir. Thomas Kail
  • Horror:
    • Midsommar (2019) dir. Ari Aster
  • Action:
    • Baby Driver (2017) dir. Edgar Wright (re-watch)
  • Documentaries:
    • Miss Americana (2020) dir. Lana Wilson
    • A Secret Love (2020) dir. Chris Bolan
    • 13th (2020) dir. Ava DuVernay (I watched this twice)
    • As You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride (2001) dir. Jeffrey Schwarz