• Mike Burdge

What to Watch While You're Waiting



If there's one positive thing that I can squeeze out of the globally terrible situation that COVID-19 has introduced into my life, it's this: I have loads of time to watch movies. Story Screen is still making moves throughout all of this, even though our theater has temporarily closed its doors, we still have plenty of awesome stuff currently happening and coming up soon. In between organizing all of these developments with my friends in the Story Screen Family, I've found time to sit back and catch up with some old comfort favorites, as well as several big blindspots in my cinematic viewing history. So, here's a few flicks I highly recommend cozying up with while we all continue to be responsible human beings and stay home.


Classic Blindspots:



Philadelphia


I love Jonathan Demme as a director, and even more so, as a truly empathetic artist that got to work within the big Hollywood system for many years, turning out some of the very best directed work I've laid my eyes on. For one reason or another, I just never got to see Philadelphia, his award winning follow-up to The Silence of the Lambs. It has always cast a large shadow in the surrounding years of movies, dealing with a storyline that we rarely saw in the early 90’s, but also earning Tom Hanks his very first Oscar win. I can now confirm that the film is easily one of my favorite Demme efforts, where his talent for empathizing emotion in a variety of characters is on full display and used for truly transcending moments.


Available on Netflix



The Hunt for Red October


Here's one I've definitely seen about ¾ of on TNT throughout my formative years, but I was never able to catch it in full, start to finish. Good movie. That's, uhh, that's a real good movie there. Sam Neill lookin' like a snack. The Alec Baldwin from Beetlejuice. Good stuff! Finally watching this John McTiernan directed Jack Ryan joint led me to rewatch Patriot Games, which was a pretty big staple to mid-90’s Mike's constant diet of Harrison Ford led action-dramas. And, naturally, Patriot Games led me to....


Available for Rent on Amazon



Witness


I'd always heard of the “Harrison Ford protects a child witness to a murder by hiding out in an Amish community” movie, but I never actually BELIEVED in it. But seeing is believing, and now that I've seen Witness, I can confirm its existence, and the fact that it's actually quite a well rounded little movie, if not a little melodramatic at times. There's only so much you can really do with that premise, and I'd say the effort put forward keeps in line with the humble sensibilities of the majority cast of characters, ultimately ending as a lesson in doing the right thing, and sometimes just having to let go and allow the world to do what it will.


Available for Rent on Amazon



Driving Miss Daisy


Welp. I watched it. It's on Netflix if you wanna do that, too. No pressure. Here's a video completely 100% not connected to this movie at all:



Available on Netflix



Midnight Run


YAY!! Midnight Run has always been a BIG blindspot for me. It's been recommended to me endlessly, and I've done a pretty good job of avoiding learning anything about the plot every time someone brings it up. I pretty much knew very vague facts: Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin were in it as a bounty hunter and a criminal, but I didn't know who was who (understandably?). It was an “odd couple-esque” road trip movie, à la Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but with guns and action scenes. And it had a very cool name and was considered a cult classic of the genre. That's it. And wouldn't you know? It is very much all of those things, and I can tell that with a few more rewatches, it'll fit snugly in as one of my favorite movies of all time.


Available for Rent on Amazon



Moonstruck


I know! I KNOW!! I watched it now, okay? Leave me alone already! Moonstruck is one of those movies that you just can't believe is working as well as it is while you're still in the middle of watching it. It's far crazier than I thought it would be, and surprisingly, even more Italian than I thought a single movie could be that doesn't at least partially take place in Italy. (I guess there's ONE scene, but c'mon, I'm riffing here). It's a great flick filled with great character performances and a welcome reminder that for a few years (almost three decades ago), Cher was Beyonce but better. No regrets.


Available on Amazon Prime


Thematically Relevant:



The Leftovers


If you've got time, and we all know you do, I highly recommend getting into The Leftovers for the first time. And if you've already seen it, you know better than anyone, that this situation calls for a rewatch. At 28 episodes, it's a brisk watch, and each season operates as its own fully thematic enterprise, leaving you with one of the best series finales in the history of television. This one is easily my highest recommendation on this list. Go watch it, buddy.


Available on HBO



Derek Jarman's Blue


There's just no denying the isolating power of this flick. It's an insanely moving and inspiring piece of art, one of my favorite experimental films of all time, and rewatching it recently reminded me yet again of just how powerful movies can be on just about any sensory level.


Available in full on YouTube



The Invisible Man (2020) / Hollow Man


This double feature is a big ol' bag of fun. Leigh Whannell's 2020 film, The Invisible Man, is an extraordinary reworking of a classic film, using an artistic flair with all the trappings and roots of classic horror pictures to produce something that is, quite frankly, genius. It's very humble in its efforts, and it takes advantage at every turn not only to be effective and scary, but to also loosen up and have some fun with its premise. Paul Verhoeven's 2000 directorial venture, Hollow Man? Not so much. But it is a very fascinating way to interpret the metaphors of the classic tale of “The Invisible Man,” utilizing the horrors of the male gaze, as well as toxic and fragile masculinity, in the same way that Whannell would approach the material two decades later with a different and more subtle spin.


Both Available for Rent on Amazon


Favorites That Just Hit the Right Spot



Sunshine


The less you know about anything related to Sunshine, the better. Simply put, it is one of the most underrated films I've ever encountered, and I tend to think that it is a masterpiece that gets better every time I watch it. It's really good genre work and the cast is astounding (don't look up who's in it, just experience the reveals as they happen). That's it. That's my write up. Watch the movie.


Available for Rent on Amazon



Punch-Drunk Love


There are a few big movies in my life that I return to every now and then, whenever I'm in a specific state of melancholy. Movies like: Almost Famous, Moulin Rouge, The Conversation, Batman Returns, and many more. These were movies that I would put on immediately after school every day, or fall asleep to on countless nights, where I'd wake up in the middle of the night to the 30 second sounds of a looping DVD menu, (or in the case of VHS titles, a static screen of fuzzies and noise). Punch-Drunk Love was one of these movies, and I found myself remembering every turn, every line, every cut, just moments before they were about to happen, like the way you can still remember the words and sing along to one of your favorite songs, even if you haven't heard it in years. I recommend this movie, and that you check out any therapeutic movies like this that you may yourself have. Some movies are like good friends, and we all know those are hard to come by, and these friends can't carry a virus, so go hang out with a few of ‘em!


Available on Hulu



Goodfellas


I wanted to include this well-known gem for two reasons. First, it has a moment in it that always wows me; it's a specific type of moment in many films that truly just makes you realize how great what you're watching really is. For Goodfellas, it's the moment our first person narration by Henry turns over to Karen out of nowhere. It's a magical moment that you can take for granted the first time you see it, but even more so the more times you rewatch it. Nevertheless, it's an astoundingly effective turn that gives me goosebumps every time I see it. The second reason this film is a personal favorite of mine: when the date certain events are occurring in the movie happen to be on your birthday! When choosing random (not real) dates to associate with a story, writers can pick any from the 365 days of the year, and they just so happened to land on a day that really sticks out to you personally. Isn't that always fun!? With Goodfellas, the big day where Henry gets busted all takes place on May 11th, 1980, six years to the day prior to the birth of yours truly. Goodfellas is also probably Martin Scorsese's best picture all around, even though I personally tend to lean more towards the likes of Raging Bull and The Aviator.


Available on Netflix



Mike Burdge

Editor-in-chief

Founder of and programmer for Story Screen. Lover of stories and pizza in the dark. When he isn't watching movies, you can find him reading things about people watching movies. He currently resides in Poughkeepsie, NY and most assuredly is going through a French Connection phase.

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