5 Lock-down Film Recommendations...

By Lucy Harbron - 19:28

We’re now entering nearly a month of lockdown. Am I slowly losing it? Yes. Am I also subtly thriving in the forced rest time? Yes, that too.

All the nights I’ve cursed myself for going out rather than staying in, all the skipped skincare routines, all the lost self-care time, it’s all come back around with this strange period of time where we have nothing to do but these things. While the pressure to write King Lear and gain abs is irritating, the reminder that this is the perfect time to look after yourself is coming I’ve been living for. My favourite lockdown activity? Finally watching all those films I’ve been saying I would for ages and finally having the time on week nights to get done what I need to do and be finished early enough to settle in for a film. At the start of this I made a list and I’ve been flying through it, suddenly understanding the appeal of ice cream as I’m also flying through numerous tubs of vegan Ben and Jerry’s as my film snack of choice. I’m currently keeping a list of any and all films I’m recommended, so I thought I’d return the favour and give you a little watch list of some of the best things I’ve watched recently.

#1 Charlie Says

All my friends are tired of hearing about it, but the other week I listened to an amazing podcast series all about Charles Manson and now my fascination with the Manson family is alive and kicking. While the murders are brutal and worthy of the numerous horror films they’ve inspired, I really have no interest in slasher films. Instead, I think the Hollywood context and the psychological side of the famous crimes is absolutely fascinating and definitely not explored enough. In looking for a good film on the events, I was struggling to find one that didn’t either totally romanticise Charles Manson or totally villainise his cult, and then I stumbled across a trailer for Charlie Says.

A recent addition to the long list of Manson movies, the 2018 Charlie Says focusses on the women of the family, specifically Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins who received death sentences for the Tate/LaBianca murders. Based on a real story, the film looks at the therapy the girls received on death row, where they spent 5 years of their life sentences, totally isolated for all other inmates and grappling with their brainwashing. It’s totally heartbreaking and really makes you reconsider the figures that have been dubbed evil, reframing them as victims of Manson in their own way. It toes a really fine line, being totally respectful of the victims of the crime while also highlighting the abuse and mistreatment the women of the cult faced. The cast is star-studded, starring Suki Waterhouse, Matt Smith and Chace Crawford to name a few, but Hannah Murray’s (AKA Cassie from Skins) performance is gut-wrenching and emotional.

If you’re after a heavier watch with 60s vibes and historical backing, look here.

#2 Quadrophenia

I was that person that had never seen Quadrophenia, so I’m telling you to watch it so you won’t be that person either. Loosely based on Tommy by The Who, Quadrophenia is a must-see for any 60s fanatic, centred around the iconic fights between the Mods and the Rockers on Brighton Beach. If you’re looking for an easy watch, this is a good shout as the film has a good range of emotion but remains fun and has the backing of 60s fashion and music to keep it upbeat.

I liked that none of the characters in this are massively likable. With a lot of 60s/70s films the characters can feel a bit too cut-and-dry good or bad, but everyone in this film is a bit of an asshole. Even the protagonist Jimmy is a bit annoying in a way that makes him feel really human and realistic. The young adults feel like actual young adults, messing about and stressing out in equal measure. It’s all really well balanced between action and romance, style and substance, cinematics and plot. 

Whether you think it’s worth the hype is up to you, but it’s definitely a film to have watched. If you manage to make it through without falling in love with Mod dream-girl Steph and her glorious leather coat, you’re insane.

#3 Clockwork Orange
There’s no better escapism than watching a film where moral code and language go right out the window.

Clockwork Orange is one of my favourite books but I’d never seen the film until last week, always being quite dubious about how I’d stomach the violence of the novel when it was acted out in front of me. Not sure whether this is worrying; but it didn’t bother me at all. Clockwork Orange is weirdly charming, the protagonist has that sympathy for the devil thing going on that I find really fascinating. His normal accent and the funny nonsense language they speak makes for a strange contrast between the ultraviolence he carries out, stopping the film from being too much but making it super weird.

Like all Kubrick films, it’s really stylised to the point where each frame could be a piece of art but that doesn’t stop the action from being fast-paced and gripping. Following the lead character Alex and his droogs (friends) through a series of crimes and then resulting punishment, Clockwork Orange is psychological and over-dramatic, with dystopian vibes like 1984 or maybe even Handmaid’s Tale to an extent, it’s not weighed down with politics. Instead, the key to this film is to just chuck your morals and beliefs right out the window and sink into this strange world. I’m not really into classic cars and guns action films, so this weird 70s take on the genre was perfect.

#4 I’m Not There

I love Bob Dylan but if I’m being honest, I find most documentaries about him or interviews with him super dull. But this unconventional biopic was the cure for that. Exploring the different sides of Bob Dylan’s public persona and the characters he’s taken on or been influenced by throughout his career, I’m Not There separates these figures. Played by a cast of people, I feel like this dives into the enigmatic figure without feeling pretentious or self-serving, you can see him as a character rather than as just Bob Dylan as each of the actors puts on such a different performance. Running from his early folk days, into and then out of his protest days then through to his defection to an electric guitar, the film covers the 7 major chapters in Dylan’s career; poet, prophet, outlaw, fake, star of electricity, rock and roll martyr and born-again Christian.

I liked that with each chapter the style of the film changes to suit. When touching on Dylan’s relationships and affairs, the film feels like it could almost be a French-style rom-com, reminding me of the heaven montages in Vanilla Sky. But the stand out performance 100% going to Cate Blanchett, playing Dylan in his speed-phase in an amazing gender-bending casting. It’s worth watching the film just for her performance as the film drops into a strange trippy style touching on Dylan’s new fame, the backlash for his move to electric guitar and strange relationship with Edie Sedgwick.

By being more stylised and character-based, I’m Not There doesn’t feel as name-dropping or serious as other Dylan documentaries, making it a nice watch even if you’re not a huge fan as it feels more like an art film than biopic. So, if you’re in the mood for something culture-based and artsy without the seriousness of a doc, give this a go.

#5 Valley of the Dolls

These are emotional times and sometimes you need to just have a good weep. Maybe it’s because of all the Manson family content I’ve been consuming or maybe it’s the result of nearly a month inside, but I was shocked how much this film got to me.

Unlike some other 60s films, this 1967 film does feel old but the plot is timeless, centred around 3 women getting battered by fame and love, touching on the pressure on women’s appearance and how hard they are required to work to gain the same respect as a man. Famed for being Sharon Tate’s film, it’s not her performance that steals the show. Patty Duke as Neely O’Hara, a performer you see pre-and-post-fame, is gut-wrenching and weep worthy. She’s bitchy and irritating, but all in all you can’t help but feel for her as with all the characters. As for Tate, her performance is good because it feels telling as her character is regarded for nothing but her looks, something that was definitely true of the actress.

For an old film, it’s mad how many very real and still present problems this touches on, so if you’re looking for a cry fest that is vintage enough to not feel lame but modern enough to still feel relevant, stick this on. It’s all on YouTube as well so very convenient for movie night.

I’m always looking to add to my list so please send over any recommendations or thoughts!

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