12 Angry Men (1957) – Dir. Sidney Lumet
When a Puerto Rican boy is put on trial for murder, eleven out of twelve jurors are hasty to vote guilty, and thus commit him to deathrow. Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) is sceptical about the available evidence and wants a thorough analysis of the facts from every juror before sending a boy to death, to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. What starts as an open-and-shut case becomes a detective story that pokes holes in the evidence at hand, creating a mini-drama of each juror’s prejudices biases, and preconceptions about the case and each other.
For Colored Girls Who May Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuff (1982) – Dir. Oz Scott
We follow the stories of seven very different Black women in America, including themes of abuse, addiction, and violence, both overt and institutional. In this 1982 performance of the award-winning play, we are witnesses to combinations of music, poetry and dance, painting a raw portrait of intersectionality, misogynoir and mental health in Black women. In this time of uncertainty around Coronavirus, it would do us well to remember the impact mental health has in Black communities. We are one of the most at-risk groups (much ado with societal pressures / prejudice) but also a people who are less likely to ask for help. Mental health services have been under immense pressure in this crisis, and we must not forget their contributions as keyworkers as well.
Jaws (1975) – Dir. Steven Spielberg
When a hungry Great White shark starts terrorising the people of Amity Island, the police chief (Roy Schnieder), an oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss) and a rugged shark-hunter set their sights on killing it. Earth’s seas and oceans will never be truly safe but sometimes it’s worth the risk (not that I’m much of an outdoorsy type myself). This is the tragic story of man must be number one. All of these characters are encouraged by a corrupt mayor (Murray Hamilton) trying to gather what’s left of Amity’s tourist industry. And the only crime this shark committed was being hungry, taking on one of the few species on the planet that does not kill to survive. In a time when some are willing to put capitalism ahead of people’s lives, I did struggle not to draw comparisons between the sub-themes of the Spielberg classic and Coronavirus, as meglomaniacs lead Britain and the United States into uncertain doom!
Rebecca (1940) – Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
On holiday in Monte Carlo, the rich, handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) meets a young woman (Joan Fontaine), becoming the next Mrs de Winter. Taken aback by the massive Manderley estaste, she must learn to be waited on, and to exist in the company of Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). Though and behold, things get strange when a mysterious secret is found under the sea close by to Manderley.
Criminally, the only Hitchcock film to ever win a Best Picture Oscar, this is one of his lesser-knowns but my favourite Hitch project nonetheless, with Judith Anderson giving one of the best performances in any film I have had the pleasure to lay my eyes on. Turning eighty this year, Rebecca still surprises me, from its use of light and shadow to how Hitch captures you in the anticipation of the act rather than the act itself. Truly, The Master of Suspense. And isn’t that entire introductory sequence simply enchanting?
Life, Animated (2016) – Dir. Roger Ross Williams
As a toddler, the animated Owen Suskind went mute, lost to autism with seemingly no way back. Nearly four years later, the only stimuli that engaged him were the films of Disney. Animation. One day, his father donned a puppet of Iago, from the film Aladdin. “What’s it like to be you?” Iago (Owen’s dad) said. Owen replies with the next line. This documentary tells the heartbreaking and inspirational story of how a young boy learned language and how to make sense of the world through Disney animation.
For someone who studied Creative Writing at university; for someone that loves stories; for someone that lived for Disney as a youth and raves by Disney+ as an adult, Life, Animated was it. Whilst it’s about someone with autism, feeling the world doesn’t understand you is not exclusive to people with autism and I think there is a high possibility introverted, and highly sensitve personalities (HSPs), will take a lot from this film as well.
These are five of my favourite films I have watched whilst locked down (in no particular order), that give alternate views of seeing the world, people and society; and I hope after COVID, society changes – seeing the world different