Life & Culture

Films to Watch During Your Self-Quarantine

A movie list for self-isolation, curated by Steven T. Hanley of Deeper Into Movies

BFI Player

1. Festen, 1998: One of our favourite films of all time. Family tensions and dark secrets slowly reveal themselves at a 60th birthday party. Really beautiful slow-burning cinema.
2. Appropriate Behaviour, 2014: Desiree Akhavan’s hilarious debut. A secretly bisexual Brooklynite (Akhavan) from a traditional Iranian family struggles with her identity and the disintegration of her relationship.
3. Wake in Fright, 1971: For those needing to feel more freaked out during this current time look no further. This truly shocking piece of Australian cinema will do the trick – a teacher stops off in a small town and finds himself spiralling into a sunbaked nightmare of drinking, animal hunting and madness. A favourite of Nick Cave’s ... obviously.
4. The Colour of Pomegranates, 1969: Sergei Parajanov’s masterwork The Colour Of Pomegranates paints an astonishing portrait of the 18th-century Armenian poet Sayat-Nova, the ‘King of Songs’. It caught criticism and baffled certain audiences at the time as this masterpiece is not a conventional biography but more a visual poem of Nova’s work. One of the very few films where I can honestly say we’ve not seen anything like this.
5. Fox and His Friends, 1975: Leave it to Rainer Werner Fassbinder to make one of the most cruel and cynical film about love and relationships but not without compassion and heart. His first film exploring gay culture with himself portraying the lead as a young working-class man in Germany being swept up by his upper-class new boyfriend and his circle of shallow friends.


1. Secretary, 2002: Another favourite from the golden era of US indie. Based on the incredible short story by Mary Gaitskill (go read her collection Bad Behaviour if you dig this movie). A masterfully handled dark romantic comedy about sadomasochism. Knockout performances from James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Trust us.
2. Bacurau, 2019: Again needing more unsettling viewing we got you – best described as a ‘Brazilian Black Mirror via Alejandro Jodorowsky’ where Western tourists are hunting Brazilian villagers for sport.
3. Existenz, 1999: David Cronenberg is always worth watching and this feels like the internet-era sequel to Videodrome. We miss the body-horror era of Croenenberg’s career. Hopefully, Netflix will cut him a huge cheque to make something that blows our minds (Scanners pun intended).
4. Border, 2018: We’re not even sure how to pitch this one? A modern fairy tale? Fantasy horror movies? The second film on our list where I can safely say you’ve never seen anything like this before. A customs officer in Sweden who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation which will call into question her entire existence. Brutal, grotesque and naturalistic.
5. Primer, 2004: A brilliant zero budget science fiction movie. Or as we pitch it Donnie Darko on steroids.
6. Under the Silver Lake, 2018: This divided a lot of film friends we know. Personally we loved it. An epic modern noir movie and a love letter to the weird dark scary Los Angeles that lurks under the surface.


1. Beach Rats, 2017: Imagine Larry Clark directing Call Me By Your Name.
2. Uncut Gems, 2019: The Safdie Brothers’ relentless New York odyssey is a must if you’ve not already seen it. A career-best performance from Sandler, beautiful woozy Tangerine Dream-era synths from Oneohtrix Point Never and two hours of total nerve-shredding mayhem, mishaps and tension.
3. Anima, 2012: Thom Yorke and Paul Thomas Anderson teaming up for a musical worth the trip for the haunting Dawn Chorus section alone. Shout out to Netflix for commissioning something so wonderful and odd. We shouldn’t forget the stunning choreography provided by the genius Damien Jalet, who also worked on the 2018 version of Suspiria.
4. Aquarius, 2016: A stunning slow-burning drama from the director of Bacurau. Sônia Braga is outstanding as a retired music critic refusing to be forced out of her apartment which is due to be torn down.
5. Support the Girls, 2018: We tell everyone to watch this indie gem about a day in the life of a manager of a tacker sports bar (think Hooters), it feels like it could have been made in the golden era of US indie movies and won big at Sundance.

Amazon Prime

1. Fugazi – Instrument, 1999: Maybe the best music documentary ever made and one of the first films ever screened. Shot over a period of ten years, Jem Cohens’ movie is a kaleidoscopic portrait of the hardcore band Fugazi.
2. Heat, 1998: If you enjoyed Uncut Gems, be sure to watch Michael Mann’s neon-soaked crime epic, featuring towering performances from Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The greatest crime movie ever made. Fact.
3. The Disaster Artist, 2017: It’s quite a feat to make a great movie about the making of the worst movie ever made, but James Franco managed to pull it off and with genuine love and affection for the material.
4. The Dead Zone, 1983: Jeez, more Cronenberg, this was unintentional. This is our favourite-ever Stephen King adaptation. When Christopher Walken wakes up from a coma caused by a car accident, he finds that years have passed and that he has psychic abilities, but unlike most movies the newfound power is played as a haunting curse – not a Marvel-like superpower. A stark, cold and often haunting adaptation. Damn, Stephen King is awesome.