Brian's Quarantine Picks

One of the hardest questions for me to answer is what his favorite films are. Too vast, constantly evolving, and so many touch on different levels, there's no ranking a great film.  But here are some recommendations of things to enjoy while we're all cooped up, all available to stream on these platforms.

Click images to see trailers.

IT'S A DISASTER

dir. Todd Berger

R | 2012 | USA | 88 MIN

(Available to stream now on Hulu)

This is a dark comedy that is most relatable to current events. Julia Stiles takes her new boyfriend, David Cross, to meet her friends during brunch at a friend's house, only to discover they're now stuck inside while the world might be ending. It's a comedy-of-manners that plays out like a stage play, but is so irreverently hilarious as the tensions between the couples grows. Much more lighthearted than Outbreak (1995) or Contagion (2011) for a disaster film.

THE GENERAL

dir. Buster Keaton

NR | 1926 | USA | 67 MIN

(Available to stream now on Amazon Prime)

I love Chaplin, but Buster Keaton is the king of silent comedy! Set during the Civil War, a train engineer must sneak into enemy territory to save the girl of his dreams. The physical comedy of the chase, not to mention the unbelievable stunts, to this day still a crowning achievement in death defying stunts (all for a laugh!).

THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE

dir. Riley Stearns

R | 2019 | USA | 104 MIN

(Available to stream now on Hulu)

This was easily one of my favorite films we screened at Art House last year. Over the top dark humor that satirizes masculinity. The surreal world it builds where everyday interactions are exaggerated to cartoonish levels is gut-busting hilarious, but poignant in its critique.

I LOST MY BODY

dir. Jérémy Clapin

TV-MA | 2019 | FRANCE | 81 MIN

(Available to stream now on Netflix)

A strange but oddly beautiful fantasy adventure of a disembodied hand making its journey back to its owner. I am a sucker for animation, especially when it gets deep, and as this story unfolds it strikes with powerful emotion. It lost the Oscar for animated feature, but it was my favorite for sure.

ENEMY

dir. Denis Villeneuve

R | 2019 | CANADA | 91 MIN

(Available to stream now on Netflix)

The power of surreal cinema is something I'm drawn to. It's challenging, but incredibly thought-provoking which makes for lasting impressions. Denis Villeneuve - director of Sicario (2015), Arrival (2016), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - made a bizarre doppelganger film with Jake Gyllenhaal that not enough people are talking about, and I don't want to spoil it!

BLUE VALENTINE

dir. Derek Cianfrance

R | 2010 | USA | 112 MIN

(Available to stream now on Netflix)

I need a good cry sometimes. Marriage Story (2019), Revolutionary Road (2008), and In the Mood For Love (2000) are other great picks for this slot, but Blue Valentine just destroys me as it intercuts snippets of a budding romance between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams with the deterioration of that relationship.

A TOWN CALLED PANIC

dir. Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar

TV-PG | 2009 | BELGIUM | 105 MIN

(Available to stream now on Amazon Prime)

Back to lighthearted fun, this chaotic and highly creative stop-motion toy animation (reminiscent of "Robot Chicken") from Belgium is an absolute blast! Incredibly fast-paced comedy as every decision leads the characters down a rabbit-hole with higher implications, but you're just laughing the entire way.

ANNIHILATION

dir. Alex Garland

R | 2018 | UK/USA | 115 MIN

(Available to stream now on Amazon Prime)

Alex Garland has been behind some of the best science-fiction films of the new millenium, including 28 Days Later (2002), Sunshine (2007), and Ex-Machina (2014). Annihilation takes its lead from mind-bending films like Andre Tarkovsky's Stalker (1979) and Under the Skin (2013) and creates this unique Oz-like world in "the Shimmer" that refracts not only light, but organisms too.

PARENTS

dir. Bob Balaban

R | 1989 | CANADA | 81 MIN

(Available to stream now on Amazon Prime)

Actor Bob Balaban always intrigued me, and in 1989 he made the first of only a handful of directorial efforts with Parents. I recommend not Googling anything about this film, as the marketing really destroys all the plot revelations, but it's a dark satire in the vein of Society (1989) or The 'Burbs (1989) set in 1954 suburbia with a young boy at the age where grown ups are still scary, including his parents (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt). It's creatively bonkers in its style and execution, and a real treat of 1980s spooky-comedy.

CATWALK: TALES FROM THE CAT SHOW CIRCUIT

dir. Aaron Hancox & Michael McNamara

NR | 2018 | CANADA | 75 MIN

(Available to stream now on Netflix)

Of course a great documentary is needed in this list, and I cannot recommend this one enough. Even if you don't like cats, Catwalk ranks up there with The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007), American Movie (1999), and Spellbound (2002) when it comes to finding incredible subjects for a documentary that leads to genuine situational comedy. This is the real life version of Christopher Guest's Best in Show (2000) only with cats!