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Films to watch to get you through lockdown

by Andy Johnson. Published Thu 21 May 2020 00:18

As life in lockdown continues, it's growing increasingly important to find solace in stories and things we enjoy. Check out this list of films to help us get through isolation. Rather than select a flurry of films that were made to inspire and inform, I've chosen a diverse mix of movies that I've watched lately.

For anyone who's feeling the strain of isolation, missing the intimacy of real life, these movies should help you to remember we will be able to connect with each other soon enough, when the time is right.

From survival stories to all out farces, there's something on this list to suit the various pockets of emotions that were all experiencing at the moment. I hope they will lift your spirits.

The Shawshank Redemption

This is a glorious tale of survival in the face of adversity. Focussing on the friendship between a banker wrongfully jailed for the murder of his wife (Tim Robbins) and a lifer who takes him under his wing, played magnificently by Morgan Freeman.

Released in 1994, it didn't do well initially, but became a must see film from the video shop. The Shawshank Redemption comes from the rich imagination of Stephen King, which further cements the idea that any time the writer puts pen to paper - it will also translate to cinematic gold.

Perhaps we're all dreaming of creating a tunnel out of our homes, away from isolation. To be able to feel the life affirming moments of intimacy in human interaction with family and friends. This movie attests we all have immense inner strength that we just need help to tap into. If you're feeling the strain of isolation then you can turn to
BetterHelp to help you with online counselling.

This movie is great to watch on a Sunday evening, before the reality of another Monday in Lockdown pierces your sofa-lined living room-turned cell.

Life of Brian

A British cinematic masterpiece. The Monty Python team recently celebrated their 50th anniversary and it seems we need their unique take on the silliness of existence more than ever right now. The film, which caused consternation and controversy upon it's release in 1979 follows the story of young Brian Cohen, who is born on the same day and lives next door to Jesus Christ and is then mistaken for 'The Messiah.'

But as we all know... "he's not... He's a very naughty boy!" It is the ultimate example of how to roll with the flow. No matter what situation Brian finds himself in, he just muddles along.

The film's funding was pulled by EMI days before going into production and was only rescued by former Beatle and Python fan George Harrison, who stepped in to personally finance the project. Described at the time as 'the most expensive movie ticket of all time.' Thank God he did, or maybe we wouldn't have Eric Idle's anthem Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

Perfect to watch midweek - for a mirth inducing mood boost.


Humanity could be wiped out by the spread of a lethal zoonotic disease, passed from an African Monkey on the loose in California. Despite becoming 'airborne' - a task force manages to contain it to the small town of Cedar Creek. Now 2000 people are going to die unless Dustin Hoffman can find the monkey of origin and create a vaccine from the anti-bodies in it's blood.

Boasting a stellar cast. Outbreak is worth a watch just for the fractious dialogue between Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Donald Sutherland, the military personnel trying to cover up the fact that they saved 'the virus' to use as a biological weapon when it was first discovered in Zaire.
Sounds like a ridiculous concept? Our current landscape certainly puts things in perspective and now makes this movie a hysterical ode to celluloid escapism.

Apparently all we need is for Dustin aka Poppa Focker to find the coronavirus ridden Bat in China and then Cuba Gooding Jnr will be able to knock up a vaccine in a school lab within 12 hours. Did I mention Dustin jumps out of a helicopter on to a boat to find the monkey at large?Ideal to watch anytime you want a break from the pernicious pangs of this pandemic.

National Lampoon's European Vacation

My biggest of guilty pleasures are 80s comedies - I could watch them all day and night. Just seeing Chevy Chase appear on screen is enough to make me smile inside and out. This is the sequel to the outstanding National Lampoon's Vaction, which sees the Griswald family embark on a cross country trip to Wallyworld - only to discover it's closed. We feel your pain Clark!

Heartily recommend watching them together over two nights. The family win an all expenses paid trip to Europe, what could go wrong? Well in London, Clark manages to knock the same cyclist (Eric Idle) off his perch three times before the iconic scene where Clark Griswald gets trapped on the inside lane of the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout for hours... "Look kids, there's the Houses of Parliament!"

Also featuring the fantastic Holiday Road theme music, which will make you think... where shall we go on our European getaways this summer? Well, we can all dream can't we.

Be Kind Rewind

I'll let you in on a little secret, people often ask whether I watch all my films on VHS? The short answer is no. It's like asking if you only imbibe a certain blend of scotch. It's the story that matters, not the format. It's just that VHS happens to be the first edition of many fantastic films.

Be Kind Rewind was released on DVD, but is a glorious tribute to the video shop era. Directed by Michel Gondry it is a miraculous tale of turning a negative into a positive.

When store owner Horace (Danny Glover) goes away on a trip - he leaves his assistant Mike (Mos Def) in charge, under strict instructions not to allow his eccentric friend Jerry (Jack Black) into the shop. Jerry then pulls Mike into a wild conspiracy theory plot to sabotage a nearby electric substation - because it's melting his brain. Sound familiar?

Jerry then becomes magnetised and manages to wipe all the shop's tapes. When a regular customer wants to rent Ghostbusters - the pair stall her and set about filming their own version in the local library. Word quickly spreads about the hilarious results of their movie-making efforts and the store sees a new lease of life. Great to watch - anytime.


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