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From ‘Cool Hand Luke’ to ‘Boy,’ 10 Films To Watch While in Quarantine

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Let me guess. Like me, you’re a high school student bored out of your mind right now with no aspiration or ambition to do anything but lay in bed, listen to music, and watch Netflix as we wait for this terrible pandemic to take its toll and eventually cease.

Not only this, but you’re growing tired of this hermit, stay-inside-the-house lifestyle that we haven’t been used to since the sixth grade and want to go back to the times of social interaction that didn’t occur over your Iphone’s Facetime app.

Did I hit it on the head?

If not, then you’re god-awfully lucky (and probably not staying inside the house like you should). But to those who felt that on a spiritual level, it’s OK, you’re not alone. This pandemic is trying all of our lives and taking away any level of normalcy that we thought we had. But the isolation we’re all feeling in this confusing time should not eliminate our motivation or productivity.

Everyone has something that they love to do, and I believe that now more than ever is the best time to focus on this craft. For me, this passion is film. At the beginning of my quarantine, I gave myself the challenge of watching 10 films so I could stay in touch with what I love. I completed this challenge and wanted to share with you all the list of what I watched.

“On The Waterfront,” Directed by Elia Kazan, 1954


I first heard about this film while watching director Spike Lee’s Masterclass last year when he mentioned this being one of his favorite films ever. I was given an assignment for my IB Film class where we had to watch a film from the Golden Age of Hollywood and decided that now was a great time to check it out. After watching, I can also say that it’s become one of my favorites as well. It stars a young Marlon Brando as a rag tag ex-prizefighter, Terry Malloy, who’s affiliated with a local mob that controls the docks where he works. After witnessing the murder of a man who was getting ready to expose the mob in court, Terry battles with either doing what’s right or sticking to the street code. 

Rate: 5/5

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“Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle, 2019


I always had an interest in watching Danny Boyle’s latest directorial effort “Yesterday” just off the sheer bizarreness of the plot. A world without the Beatles? What? Regardless, after watching, I only had one thing to say about it: Cute. It’s not as hard-hitting or interesting as Boyle’s other films, however, it definitely serves its purpose of being a cool romantic comedy and also tripping your mind out about how life would be if the biggest band in history just did not exist.

Rate: 3.5/5

“Irreversible,” directed by Gaspar Noe, 2002


Definitely not a film for the weak-hearted. But I did not expect anything less from Argentinian director and provocateur Gaspar Noe. This film was very hard to watch because of the sheer ruthlessness of some of the scenes within it. However, despite the controversy, I have to say that it was very good. “Irreversible” tells the story of time and revenge, all while the events of the characters’ day are told in reverse chronological order.

Rate: 4/5 

“Cool Hand Luke,” directed by Stuart Rosenberg, 1967


Paul Newman gets continuously more badass in every film of his I watch. My love for his acting started after I watched “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” but he absolutely stunts in this 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke.” Newman plays the cunning petty criminal Luke Jackson who goes on the run (multiple times) to escape his rural Florida chain gang. This film is fun, captivating, and one I would not be surprised to see being remade.

Rate: 4/5

“Boy,” directed by Taika Waititi, 2010 


I knew something was special about the work of director Taika Waititi after watching “Thor: Ragnarok” and due to the Oscar buzz surrounding his newest film “JoJo Rabbit.” I wanted to know more about the director, so I decided to watch his first film, “Boy,” to understand. Short to say, since 2010,  Waititi has not strayed away from his use of blatant goofiness to portray important situational dynamics. I loved this movie and the relationship between son and father hit close to home for me. All the emotions Waititi wants you to feel, whether it be happiness, sadness, or grief translate clearly from screen to audience. However, there was something about the film which I cannot quite put my finger on that stopped it from going into my favorites. Regardless, it’s a great watch for all. 

Rate: 4/5

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“10 Things I Hate About You,” directed by Gil Junger, 1999


There’s nothing special this film. It’s another cute high school romantic comedy that we’ve seen a million times before. A big highlight of this though was seeing young actors like Gabrielle Union, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Julia Stiles before they were Hollywood big names. 

Rate: 3/5

“The Art of Self Defense,” directed by Riley Stearns, 2019 


I’d be lying to you if I said I’d seen my fair share of black comedies, and boy did it show while watching this. Riley Stearns’ “The Art of Self Defense” is quite literally one of the wildest films I’ve ever seen in my life, using the setting of a karate studio to poke fun at toxic masculinity. Jesse Eisenberg was the perfect casting decision for the wimpy main character Casey. The plot development is particularly spectacular for his character as he finds himself while working his way up the karate ranking. The story is full of twists and turns, WTFs, and a lot of laughs.

Rate: 4/5

“Mara,” directed by Clive Tonge, 2018 


My friends and I were bored and decided to watch a horror film together while isolated through the Netflix Party Google Chrome extension. That said, this film is absolutely terrible and the reason I’m giving it two out of five stars is for the two times the jumpscares shook me. Also for all the jokes about being high that it sets itself up for with the characters getting bloodshot eyes when coming into contact with the demon. 


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“El Hoyo” (“The Platform”) directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, 2020


While watching this, I could not decide if it was supposed to be a horror film or a thriller. Whatever it was, it took itself way too seriously. Although the plot is interesting, the film’s lack of story and character development is definitely detrimental to it in the end. It tries to convey a deep message of poverty and social status which translates clearly but it would’ve benefited from a more diverse character perspective and a more detailed description of the world in which the prisoners were living.

Rate: 2/5

“Train to Busan,” directed by Yeon Sang-Ho, 2016


This is possibly my favorite film that I’ve watched so far. “Train to Busan” showcases why I love foreign films so much. I had heard a lot about it before watching but had originally written it off as another zombie film. Boy, was I wrong. Usually with zombie movies, the character and plot development are written off so audiences can be captivated with the action, blood and gore. “Train to Busan” does the exact opposite of this. It combines everything needed to make a phenomenal film and incorporates it into the story to produce quite possibly the best zombie flick I’ve ever seen. There is nothing I don’t love about this movie. The characters are compelling, the acting is well balanced, and the action is just the right amount of over the top. If you’ve been wanting to get into foreign films, but don’t know where to begin, I’d highly recommend “Train to Busan” as a great starting place. 

Rate: 5/5 

These are the films that I watched while self-quarantined! If you want to check them out, many are streaming on Netflix and others are available for purchase on Amazon, ITunes, and Google Play. Make sure that you continue being productive as we go through these tough times. Stay at home, stay safe, and wash your hands!

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