Quarantine Conundrums – Films to Check Out While Staying Home
It’s a tricky time we’re all living in lately; we want to be responsible and flatten the curve by not going out and limiting our usual activities, but we also want to gain a sense of normalcy. It’s difficult to achieve all of these things, but in this situation, all we can do is hold out hope that in time things will improve. Many of us are staying home, practicing social distancing as much as possible given the COVID-19 outbreak. But it can get boring and monotonous after a while, so here are some movies to watch at home to occupy your time.
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea ‘崖の上のポニョ’ – Hayao Miyazaki (2008)
A touch of Studio Ghibli’s magic may be just what we need right now. Ponyo on the Cliff is just one of the many enchanting films that has come out of the studio, and is considered to have the status as one of the greats. The film follows a goldfish named Ponyo, and his friend Sosuke, who dreams of becoming a human girl. Miyazaki showcases his usual charming quirks, while remaining meditative and tranquil. The impeccable animation and beautiful music draws you into Ponyo’s own world, suspending our anxieties even just for a while
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea will be available for streaming on Netflix on 1 April.
Life Finds a Way ‘普通は走り出す’ – Hirobumi Watanabe (2018)
Life Finds a Way is a comedy about an aspiring filmmaker, striving to make ends meet and fulfill his aspirations in unaccommodating circumstances. Watanabe’s humorous sensibility makes the film, as he exposes the ridiculous ironies people are forced to contend with. Accompanied by the folk-punk music of the band Triple Fire, the film has a fun and distinctive voice that is thoroughly enjoyable. Life Finds a Way is a funny, yet thought-provoking indie film that seems apropos of recent times.
The film is just one of the many that are available to stream on the Japanese Film Festival website, head on over to discover more Japanese films for free.
Seopyeonjae ‘서편제’ – Im Kwon-taek (1993)
With more time on our hands, perhaps now is the time to verse ourselves with some classic Asian films. Seopyonjae is a musical film by renowned director Im Kwon-taek about traditional Korean pansori singers. The film showcases a disappearing culture of folk music, that is relevant even to this day. In the film, traditional musicians are struggling to sustain themselves with their careers and to preserve the art of pansori. It is an interesting look into the history of not only Korean traditional music, but also the social and political issues of the country. In fact Seopyeonjae is deemed to have played a significant role in drawing international interest and reviving the traditional culture of pansori.
The Korean Film Archive Youtube channel has several more classic works from South Korean cinema.
A Sun ‘陽光普照’- Chung Mong-hong (2019)
If you’re craving for something that will tug at your heartstrings, A Sun may be the choice for you. Winning Best Film Feature at the 56th Golden Horse Award, A Sun is a resonant film that explores family drama. It tells the story of two sons, one is a successful medical student while the other is what some parents would call a disappointment. Chung tackles the issues of family concerns and tragedy with such thoughtfulness, giving his film a realistic poignancy. Check out our review of A Sun here.
Lockdown Cinema Club
Started by filmmakers from the Philippines, the Lockdown Cinema Club compiles collections of Southeast Asian short films that can be watched for free. This initiative was started to help out freelancers, where people can “watch all you want, and give what you can”. With many jobs and projects being cancelled in light of transmission concerns, freelancers are bearing the brunt of the outbreak.
The Lockdown Cinema Club is a good opportunity not only to support Southeast Asian filmmakers during this time, but also to discover new films and talent in the region. Now is as good a time as any to support the Southeast Asian film industry.