As we are all well and truly in lockdown mode both in the UK and across the majority of the globe right now we don’t need to feel guilty about missing that party or turning up late to the pub for Friday night drinks, and can simply, Netflix and chill.
Here is a list I have put together of some compelling films currently available to watch on the streaming service, Netflix. There isn’t a particular theme here, but I have tried to cover all bases with the choices I have made. That being said you could say this list goes from darkest to lightest.
Let’s start with the darkest. One I missed at the BFI festival and the limited cinema release. I’m glad it is on Netflix.
#5 Climax (2018), Gaspar Noé
Noé is divisive. I admire and cannot get enough of the immersive experiences he takes us on. The narratives are shocking but not only through the story telling, it is the claustrophobic cinematography and the unsettling scores Noé puts us through.
Climax has a simple and effective narrative. It is about a group of French dancers who dance the night away against a hypnotic DJ set. The camera work is designed so that you have no choice but be part of the dance floor. You feel the energy and passion of their bodies in motion but once the dancers learn that the Sangria they have been drinking is laced with LSD, the fun night changes into hallucinatory mayhem.
I have seen almost all of Noé films and each one takes you on a ride. Although he is a difficult artist to recommend Noé tells a story like no other.
Climax is a masterpiece and I am still gob smacked by it.
#4 Three Identical Strangers (2018), Tim Wardle
This documentary was part of Sundance festival 2018, which had a limited cinema release. Thankfully it is on Netflix
Three Identical Strangers is a true story based on three teenage brothers who are adopted from the same agency. After a extraordinaire coincidence, they all find each other and for the first time are able to live their lives as brothers. But as the titles suggests the teenagers are three, identical, strangers and there’s a lot more going on in this feel good story.
Occurring in the 80s to the present this is a riveting documentary put together through flashbacks and reenacted collage. You really follow this story in the freshest light from old to new. Gauging an understanding of the era through music, fashion and lifestyle it is when you see the present day that you know you have been on this incredible journey together and can’t stop crying.
#3 Uncut Gems (2019), Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Uncut Gems is another film where you go on roller coaster ride thanks to brother duo directors Benny and Josh Safdie. Following on their other hectic experience Good Time (2017, which is also on Netflix), Uncut Gems is a frantic expedition highlighted through the beat of the score. It is relentless and doesn’t stop.
This is also the case with the dialogue here. It is never calm, but deliriously anxious. Adam Sandler’s vocals are so convincing and excruciating as Howard, a Jewish jewellery dealer living in New York. Although Howard has a younger mistress and you do feel sorry for his wife, Sandler plays a hapless loser you really want to succeed and can’t help but cheer him along.
The Safdie brother’s know how to take you on a deliberate pathway of self destruction. The cause may appear attractive at first but is just laced with self destruction and all the wrong decisions.
#2 Lady Bird (2017), Greta Gerwig
Getting slightly lighter here is the coming of age, awkward dramity, Lady Bird. Directed by Greta Gerwig this narrative is almost true to Gerwig’s past of growing up in Sacramento in 2002. Lady Bird, a name given to herself is played by truthfully by Saoirse Ronan. Lady Bird has hopes of going to Ivy League School in the West Coast but doesn’t have the grades or attitude to do so.
Yeah, the coming of age narrative has been done before from the likes of Stand by Me (1986) to Napoleon Dynamite (2004), but what is so special here is Gerwig’s vision of teenage-hood. It is so believable. The icky and unpleasantness of growing up is on point. Not to mention the up and down relationship Ladybird has with her mum.
Lady Bird doesn’t hold back in anyway. It is funny, brutal and bittersweet. This is what makes the film so special and gritter to the normal coming of age narratives.
#1 My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Hayao Miyazaki
Speaking of coming of age narratives here is another one in the form of animation. Some fans even suggest it is a reverse coming of age. My Neighbor Totoro is guaranteed to put a smile of your face. It is an absolute colorful delight and makes you feel like a kid again.
In this weird serene Alice In Wonderland type of adventure, we follow two sisters, Mei the younger and Satsuki the slightly older one. They have moved into a new house with their father Tatsuo in order to be closer to their mother who is recovering in hospital.
The girls discover that the new house has dust spirits living there but soon Mei, discovers something else, Totoro! Totoro is a large rabbit like spirit who doesn’t always reveal its presence to others. Eventually Satsuki is able to see Totoro and the spirit watches over the girls.
My Neighbor Totoro even has its own cheshire cat. Catbus is a very smiling cat who has a bus for a body but unlike the cheshire cat, he isn’t sly and takes the girls home from their adventure. The Catbus is only in My Neighbor Totoro for a short time but is the most memorable Miyazaki character you will meet.
Metaphors, morals and superstitions is something Miyazaki applies to his worlds. These narrative aren’t so much just for children but for adults too. Miyazaki has a way of teaching and guiding us though the act of kindness and good behavior. He encourages us to keep exploring like a kid and that there’s nothing wrong with having a imagination.
These five films go from dark to light and will help pass the time. It may even remind us that there’s light under the tunnel. Stay safe, and stay at home!
What Netflix films would you recommend to pass the time? Let us know in the comments box below!