Film

Easy Watching

Movies to survive the plague

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

I’ve often joked that my personal life motto is “Outside bad, inside good.” This is owing to my aversion to activities like hiking and skiing and anything that requires me to purchase expensive equipment in order to suffer.

It might be time for a mea culpa.

What I’ve discovered is that while I might like to opt out of outdoor activities, I do enjoy leaving the house whenever I please. Sure, the first couple of days of pandemic-induced isolation were pretty all right. I read three books, wore my pajamas 24 hours a day and did everything on my own schedule with no one there to judge me or expect anything of me—except two very needy cats, that is. I had food, vodka and all the toilet paper a girl could need (for now).

But the steady stream of bad news combined with my natural inclination for self-critical introspection started to get me down. And without being able to socialize my way out of it—social media is good and all, but no match for face-to-face conversation—I stewed. And fretted. And worried. As the news got more dire, and I began to comprehend how far the effects of COVID-19 will spread, even among people who never fall ill, my small world became more dark.

I have a feeling a fair number of you know exactly what I’m talking about here.

I needed some feel-good, pick-me-up entertainment fodder, stat. Under normal circumstances, my inclination is to scratch that escapist itch by taking myself to the Pickford Film Center for some high-grade cinematic action. After all, I work there and so the movies are free. However, the Pickford was one of the first places to shutter in response to the pandemic, and while the thought of sneaking in and firing up the projectors for a private show was appealing, it certainly didn’t seem in the spirit of the quarantine.

Luckily, options for home entertainment abound.

This is the point at which I feel it pertinent to point out that at the time I am writing this, Film is Truth remains open, is taking precautions to keep things as sanitized as possible and has all of the everything you could ever want to watch. Businesses all over are scrambling and panicking (with good reason—how’s about some small business relief, Gov. Inslee?) due to mandated closures, but supporting Film is Truth and keeping ourselves from going stir crazy at the same time is one of the few bright spots in the COVID darkness.

What I have to offer is a totally random, completely personal list of the movies that I believe can get you out of your head and help get you out of the dumps when you can’t leave your house.

I feel it behooves me to begin with a movie that was a flop when it was released, but has become a bona fide cult classic—at least if the packed house at a recent showing of it at the Limelight Cinema as part of the Pickford’s Third Eye movie series is any indication. I’m talking about Clue, the movie based on the popular board game. When it was released in 1985, anticipation was high. It had an excellent cast (Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, etc.), the trappings of a drawing-room mystery and one helluva gimmick: three separate endings that would be shown in different theaters. There was no telling which theater would get which ending, and to see them all, you had to do some sleuthing, which in the pre-internet era, was not as simple as it sounded. The conceit was good on paper and a flop in real life. Turns out, no one wanted to see the movie three times just for the final five minutes. The prospect of having to do so made audiences so mad they stayed away in droves. However, when the movie began to show—and show, and show—on television with all three endings attached in madcap succession, Clue finally found its audience. It’s wacky, whip-smart and features both some incredible physical comedy as well as one of the best ad-libs of all time, courtesy of Kahn.

I know they can be polarizing, but I’ve always had a soft spot for musicals. Other than Grease, there’s no musical I’ve watched more times than Singin’ in the Rain, which falls into a second category of films I love: movies about the movies. The 1952 musical comedy covers the not-so-graceful time when films transitioned from silent pictures to “talkies.” Glamorous onscreen couple Lina Lamont and Don Lockwood (played by Jean Hagen and Gene Kelly) has to convert their already-in-production silent movie to one with sound. There’s just one hurdle: Lamont has a voice that can peel paint. Enter ingénue Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), who is tapped to dub her voice. A whole lot of hijinks—and tap-dancing—ensue, a little romance is had and Kelly sings and dances in the rain. Kelly and Reynolds are supposedly the stars to watch in the movie, but I’m in it for Lamont’s stellar comedic performance and Donald O’Connor (as Lockwood’s best friend and collaborator Cosmo Brown) fancy and decidedly acrobatic footwork during his big “Make ’Em Laugh” number. And we could all use a laugh right now.

In the more modern cinematic era, another movie that never fails to amuse me—even though it is the darkest of comedies—is Election. It’s early-era Alexander Payne, prior to sideways Sideways, The Descendants, About Schmidt and his brilliant and Oscar-winning labor of cinematic love, Nebraska. Reese Witherspoon plays one of the most indelible heroines ever committed to the big screen, Tracy Flick, a Type A overachieving high-schooler. Her nemesis is none other than Ferris Bueller himself, Matthew Broderick, in this case an embittered and dissatisfied teacher. The battleground: a school election. Somehow the stakes grow to be sky-high, and when you add a variety of wholly inappropriate short-lived and ill-conceived romances to the mix, everything gets hilariously dicey long before the votes are counted. If you’ve watched Big Little Lies, just think of Tracy Flick as the less-polished precursor to Madeline Mackenzie and it will make the whole thing that much more entertaining.

Given that some of you have children you’re desperately attempting to keep occupied (I’ve seen your social media posts, and while I can’t empathize, you do have my sympathies), it seems only proper to throw out a suggestion that will satisfy the little ones—and the adults. My touchstone for entertainment that crosses all age boundaries will forever and always be Pixar. The natural choice of the animation powerhouse’s catalog is Finding Nemo, but odds are decent you’ve already watched that one eleventy bajillion times and may not want to be trapped in the house for weeks on end with you, your offspring and Nemo on repeat. In that case, might I suggest you take another gander at Toy Story? Despite all of the movies that have come since, and in light of Pixar’s long dominance of Oscar’s Best Animated Film category, it can be easy to forget that Toy Story was the movie that started it all—and it remains nearly perfect even now. Pixar brings a family of toys to life as only it can, and this one won’t make you cry nearly as hard as, say, Wall-E.

More ...
An Odyssey
The story of film

In the before times, the thought of consuming a 15-hour, 900-minute documentary about the history of films would’ve been exhausting. Sure, you might have wanted to settle in for the long haul in order to better understand how the birth of silent movies gave rise to a multi-billion-dollar…

more »
Not on Netflix
Film festivals with a twist

What’s next? After pandemic-binge-watching one jillion movies and series on Netflix and witnessing atrocities in the news for months on end, perhaps you’re looking for unique ways to keep your mind occupied for a couple of hours. The following trio of offerings from around the region…

more »
The Best Medicine
Make politics fun again

No matter where you exist on the political spectrum, you’re likely pretty worn out by the events of the past few…weeks? Months? Years? Most of us had hit a point of exhaustion long before the invasion of the Capitol building by domestic terrorists (call them what you will, but I believe…

more »
Saturday
Undercover

11:00am

“Undercover,” an exhibition of butter dishes juried by Nikki Mizak, will be featured for the final week from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday, and 12pm-4pm Sunday at Good Earth Pottery, 1000…

Members Show and Art Challenge

11:00am

View an annual “Members Show” for the final week from 11am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday at Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave. The exhibit features work up to 100 Allied Arts members in a variety…

Alfred Currier and Anne Schreivogl

11:00am

Oil paintings by Alfred Currier, acrylics from Anne Schreivogl, and oils by Patrizio will be featured from 11am-5pm Wednesday through Saturday through March 29 in Anacortes at Scott Milo…

Riding the Wind

11:00am

Michael Dickter’s “Riding the Wind” exhibit can be seen from 11am-6pm daily through Feb. 28 in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Face masks are required, and a…

From Where They Are

10:00am

Help raise funds for Fairhaven’s Firehouse Performing Arts Center by watching Kuntz and Company’s virtual performance of from where they are online as part of the Firehouse Studio. The focus…

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:30am

Teens in grades 6-12 can submit their original writing for consideration in Whatcom County Library System’s annual poetry competition, “A Forest of Words,” through March 15. All styles of…

A World Well Traveled

12:00pm

“Max Benjamin: A World Well Traveled” can be seen from 12pm-4pm Thursdays through Sundays La Conner’s Museum of Northwest Art, 121 First St. The solo exhibit featuring the work of the…

Birdland

10:00am

Flock through Skagit Valley and view “Birdland” for the final weekend from 10am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at Smith & Vallee Gallery, 5742 Gilkey Ave. The exhibit featuring feathered…

A Straw in the Wind

11:00am

Margy Lavelle’s “A Straw in the Wind” exhibit can be seen for the final week from 11am-4pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court. The gallery is also open by…

Little Women, the Musical

12:00pm

Ferndale High School Theatre presents virtual viewings of Little Women, the Musical that can be streamed anytime Friday through Sunday. Over the course of four months, the cast rehearsed in…

Hurt Village

7:30pm

Western Washington University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts concludes the second round of its New Works Play Reading Series at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday with live virtual readings of…

Bellingham Dockside Market

10:00am

Bellingham SeaFeast, the Port of Bellingham, and the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County have joined forces for a Bellingham Dockside Market taking place from 10am-2pm today at…

Watercolor Workshop with Molly Hashimoto

10:00am

From 10am-12:30pm, North Cascades Institute hosts a virtual workshop with painter Molly Hashimoto, “Green to Gold: Trees of the Cascades in Watercolor.” Fees are $50 and include a virtual…

Children's Literature Conference

10:00am

From 10am-11am and 2pm-3pm, attend a Day of Conversations as part of Western Washington University’s annual Children’s Literature Conference. A Virtual Exhibit, “Art as Protest/Art in the…

Street Law

10:00am

Law Advocates and Whatcom County Library System team up for Street Law today to offer free legal help for any civil law questions. Residents are able to attend virtual consultations with…

Stuff the Bus Food Drive

12:00pm

Helping Hands Food Bank and Skagit Transit will team up for a “Stuff the Bus” Food Drive taking place from 12pm-2pm in Burlington at the parking lot at Cascade Mall, 201 Cascade Mall Dr.…

Share Spot

12:00pm

Birchwood Food Desert Fighters hosts a Share Spot from 12pm-2pm Saturdays in the parking lot of the Industrial Credit Union, 3233 Northwest Ave. Thanks to a collaboration with the Miracle…

Bellingham Community Meal

12:30pm

Hot lunches in to-go containers will be provided as part of a monthly Bellingham Community Meal from 12:30pm-2:30pm at Assumption Gym, 2116 Cornwall Ave. Bellingham Community Meal has been in…

Virtual Comedy Open Mic

7:00pm

Bellingham Entertainment will be hosting virtual Comedy Open Mics from 7pm-9pm every Saturday until live events are allowed again. Each open mic will have eight performance spots and room for…

Sunday
Undercover

11:00am

“Undercover,” an exhibition of butter dishes juried by Nikki Mizak, will be featured for the final week from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday, and 12pm-4pm Sunday at Good Earth Pottery, 1000…

Members Show and Art Challenge

11:00am

View an annual “Members Show” for the final week from 11am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday at Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave. The exhibit features work up to 100 Allied Arts members in a variety…

Alfred Currier and Anne Schreivogl

11:00am

Oil paintings by Alfred Currier, acrylics from Anne Schreivogl, and oils by Patrizio will be featured from 11am-5pm Wednesday through Saturday through March 29 in Anacortes at Scott Milo…

Riding the Wind

11:00am

Michael Dickter’s “Riding the Wind” exhibit can be seen from 11am-6pm daily through Feb. 28 in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Face masks are required, and a…

From Where They Are

10:00am

Help raise funds for Fairhaven’s Firehouse Performing Arts Center by watching Kuntz and Company’s virtual performance of from where they are online as part of the Firehouse Studio. The focus…

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:30am

Teens in grades 6-12 can submit their original writing for consideration in Whatcom County Library System’s annual poetry competition, “A Forest of Words,” through March 15. All styles of…

A World Well Traveled

12:00pm

“Max Benjamin: A World Well Traveled” can be seen from 12pm-4pm Thursdays through Sundays La Conner’s Museum of Northwest Art, 121 First St. The solo exhibit featuring the work of the…

Birdland

10:00am

Flock through Skagit Valley and view “Birdland” for the final weekend from 10am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at Smith & Vallee Gallery, 5742 Gilkey Ave. The exhibit featuring feathered…

A Straw in the Wind

11:00am

Margy Lavelle’s “A Straw in the Wind” exhibit can be seen for the final week from 11am-4pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court. The gallery is also open by…

Little Women, the Musical

12:00pm

Ferndale High School Theatre presents virtual viewings of Little Women, the Musical that can be streamed anytime Friday through Sunday. Over the course of four months, the cast rehearsed in…

Hurt Village

7:30pm

Western Washington University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts concludes the second round of its New Works Play Reading Series at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday with live virtual readings of…

Bellingham Dockside Market

10:00am

Bellingham SeaFeast, the Port of Bellingham, and the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County have joined forces for a Bellingham Dockside Market taking place from 10am-2pm today at…

Watercolor Workshop with Molly Hashimoto

10:00am

From 10am-12:30pm, North Cascades Institute hosts a virtual workshop with painter Molly Hashimoto, “Green to Gold: Trees of the Cascades in Watercolor.” Fees are $50 and include a virtual…

Children's Literature Conference

10:00am

From 10am-11am and 2pm-3pm, attend a Day of Conversations as part of Western Washington University’s annual Children’s Literature Conference. A Virtual Exhibit, “Art as Protest/Art in the…

Street Law

10:00am

Law Advocates and Whatcom County Library System team up for Street Law today to offer free legal help for any civil law questions. Residents are able to attend virtual consultations with…

Stuff the Bus Food Drive

12:00pm

Helping Hands Food Bank and Skagit Transit will team up for a “Stuff the Bus” Food Drive taking place from 12pm-2pm in Burlington at the parking lot at Cascade Mall, 201 Cascade Mall Dr.…

Share Spot

12:00pm

Birchwood Food Desert Fighters hosts a Share Spot from 12pm-2pm Saturdays in the parking lot of the Industrial Credit Union, 3233 Northwest Ave. Thanks to a collaboration with the Miracle…

Bellingham Community Meal

12:30pm

Hot lunches in to-go containers will be provided as part of a monthly Bellingham Community Meal from 12:30pm-2:30pm at Assumption Gym, 2116 Cornwall Ave. Bellingham Community Meal has been in…

Virtual Comedy Open Mic

7:00pm

Bellingham Entertainment will be hosting virtual Comedy Open Mics from 7pm-9pm every Saturday until live events are allowed again. Each open mic will have eight performance spots and room for…