Keeping Busy: An Isolation Films List – Luka Katic

During a period of self-isolation, it’s hard to know what to do with all the spare time you’ve been dealt. While this can serve as a great opportunity to finally get around to some long-overdue housework or a chance to properly sink into your university assessment; chances are you’ll still have plenty of time to spare. So here’s a handful of movies to help pass the time and keep yourself busy!

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

What better way to escape all the insanity of today then kicking back to the simple charm of the 1960s via the music of the Beatles?

A Hard Day’s Night follows a day in the life of the band as they perform music, goof around, and get chased by fans. There’s a loose feeling to a lot of it and it rides off of their spontaneous charm. There are moments left in that feel like outtakes or mistakes but their inclusion makes this an even more joyous and carefree ride. It may not be a documentary but it does feel like a perfect snapshot of the band at this point in time. Whether you’re a Beatles fan or not; its easy-going nature is sure to appeal.

Frances Ha (2012)

The film follows Frances (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring dancer in her 20’s as she tries to pursue her dreams in New York, and really, that’s all the film is about. It sounds odd to pitch a film built around the struggles of an artist in the big city as a great piece of escapism but hear me out! It’s the film’s simplicity and casual attitude that makes it so easy to connect with and love. I could watch these characters talk for hours on end. One of the most effortlessly loveable films I’ve seen in awhile (although Little Women had the same effect on me so I might just like Greta Gerwig).

True Stories (1986)

This is a film written and directed by Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne and isn’t a movie so much as it is a meditation on the advances of technologies and culture in the 20th century. There’s no specific narrative to it aside from Byrne narrating the world around him, free of judgement or cynicism. It’s an open mind appreciation of the things that make up our modern life with some songs along the way.

It’s like going on a chill musical road trip through Texas with David Byrne, and really; how can you turn that down?

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

I don’t know what’s more breathtaking; the relationship between the film’s two leads or the scenery. Set in the 1700s and follows Marianne (Noémie Merlant), a painter who is commissioned to do a portrait of a woman named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). However, Héloïse refuses to be painted and so Marianne must do so in secret, following her on walks so she can paint her from memory. From here, a romance develops that highlights their emotional connection above all else. It’s about them slowly growing to understand and bond with one another, conveyed through many single shots of the pair to convey the longing they feel for one another. It’s like you’re watching a painting in motion and I cannot recommend it enough.

James Acaster: Repertoire (2018)

Yes, I’m cheating by including a stand-up comedy special.

This is a comedy special by English comedian James Acaster. It’s hard to describe his specific brand of humour but think Bo Burnham without the music and John Mulaney without the sanity. He’s got an in-your-face personality that may seem chaotic and unconventional at first but with time you slowly realise how finely precise and specific his entire act is.

Repertoire is unique amongst other Netflix comedy specials in that it is structured over four episodes; Recognise, Represent, Reset, and Recap. Each episode stands as its own standalone set while also contributing to an overall narrative. This isn’t to say the specials are 100% built upon these concepts but the linking qualities make it great to binge through and try to connect the dots.

Home Alone (1990)

The ultimate isolation movie. Yes, it’s a Christmas film but also it seems unfair to regulate Home Alone to only being watched once a year. It’s not just how loved ones can offer joy and support in trying times, but it’s also about making your own fun when you’re by yourself (even if I’d urge you to not try most of the things Kevin does here).

Luka Katic
Luka Katic

Luka is a Brisbane-based (Meanjin) writer and filmmaker. He is currently in his final year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Film, Screen and New Media).

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