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Scraping the Barrel? Here’s a Curated List of The Best Films to Watch in Lockdown

Opinion and Insight 4519 Add to collection
Creatives from Great Guns, RadicalMedia, Red Knuckles, FAMILIA, and Eyebolls share their recommendations for hidden gems, enthralling documentaries, and TV classics to help you avoid lockdown boredom
Scraping the Barrel? Here’s a Curated List of The Best Films to Watch in Lockdown
As lockdown continues across the globe, people are turning more and more to online entertainment to see them through such unprecedented times. Netflix traffic has hit an all-time high, television viewership is on the rise, and studios scramble to switch their latest releases from silver screen premieres to online streams. 
 
But what happens when you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options? What do you do when you’ve caught up on all the blockbusters, rewatched your old favourites, and want to discover something new and inspiring? 
 
Creatives from Great Guns, RadicalMedia, FAMILIA, Red Knuckles, and Eyebolls may have just the solution. 
 
Here, directors and producers offer their recommendations for hidden gems, visual feasts, films that shaped who they are today, and feel-good flicks in the world of film, TV, and documentary - hoping to provide an antidote to endless scrolling on Netflix and lockdown boredom. 
 

Quentin van den Bossche, director, RadicalMedia

Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? 

If you already binged through the catalogue of Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere on Netflix (or remember him from his classic “Joy of Painting” show back in the day) you may have always wondered - what happened to all those paintings? This is exactly the question producers at the New York Times set out to answer for this hilarious Vimeo Staff Pick short documentary. It’s an extremely well-crafted and punchy piece, and is a gateway into other short form content stories produced and hosted by the New York Times on Vimeo. A cracking break to keep yourself educated, inspired, and entertained throughout your day-to-day routine. 


Into the Inferno 

Available on Netflix

Werner Herzog and volcanoes make for an explosive combination. An inspiring figure for any aspiring documentarian (or any type of filmmaker), Werner has a knack for exploring the landscape of anthropology through unique conceptual hooks. This Netflix documentary - picked up from the international film festival circuit - is as beautiful, visceral, and cinematic as they come. Supported by exotic locations, fascinating characters, and mind-blowing imagery, Werner takes us on a global journey from the confines of our living rooms as he explores faraway corners of the world, finding captivating stories while standing at the crossroads where nature meets the human soul. This is one of my top entertaining docs from the last few years.
 
 

Peter Darley Miller, director, RadicalMedia 
Well things have gone to shit here in California. Honestly it’s not the worst place to be in the time of Coronavirus - “fear is the cheapest room in the house” and there is plenty of that on the sunny beaches of Southern California. Let’s get lost, and forget about that Ozark streaming beast. Here are two films that have very obvious relationships, separated by time. They influenced me both creatively and emotionally. I grew up on the beach, I surfed and I skated. Both of these films took what I knew so well and, simply put, redefined it all. 
 

Skaterdater

Available below

I wanted to be in a small gang. My neighbour’s uncle was a photographer for Life magazine and I was fascinated with Nikons and Leicas. I was also about to become fascinated with girls. My brain was beginning to develop a visceral sensibility. Skating barefoot had consequences. It mattered to me that I could see the dirt on people’s feet. This is the first skateboarding film ever. The narrative and cinematography is legendary to this day. Winner of the 1966 Palm d’Or for Best Short Film, in addition to an Academy Award nomination for Best Short that year. It’s legit. 
 

Five Summer Stories 

Available on The Surf Network on Amazon Prime

Endless Summer was and always will be the original and greatest surf movie. Five Summer Stories was the next coming. Technically and visually it went next level, coming out of the darkness of Vietnam with groundbreaking angles and mind-blowing colour. It presented a sense of freedom. I now had the camera and the board - it was the best. 
 
 
While we may feel we have no control over the Coronavirus, we have films. Just remember, as Robert Duvall said, “one day this war is going to end.” Stay safe. 

Laura Gregory, founder and executive producer, Great Guns
I know it’s an obvious choice, but having had the ‘fortune’ to work on a Schweppes campaign many years ago with 'Doc' Bhagvan Antle, one of the principle characters on Netflix’s Tiger King, I’d have to recommend that show. It’s both insanely addictive car-crash television and a surprising confirmation that all the wild theories that we had about 'Doc' and his posse at the time were all likely true. 
 
 
For an equally hilarious and, strangely, more uplifting documentary, I’d recommend Hail Satan (also available on Netflix). It follows the creation of The Satanic Temple, a modern day network of so-called Satanists that turn out to be far more decent people. 
 
 
Sticking with comedy (and don’t we all need a good laugh right now), I’d flag Game Night, Fighting with My Family, and Long Shot as a few really smart comedies with a surprisingly high laugh ratio, if you missed them the first time around. 
 

Available to rent on Amazon Prime
 

Available on Netflix
 

Available on Netflix
 
And last, but definitely not least, I cannot recommend One Cut of the Dead highly enough. Don’t be put off by the first 40 minutes (stick with it, it’s worth the wait) because the film that unfolds beyond that point is pure joy, and frankly I can’t get enough of that!
 
Available on Shudder 
 

Richard Paris Wilson, director, Eyebolls 

Swiss Army Man

Available to rent on Amazon Prime

I find myself thinking about this film a lot at the moment. I think it’s because the lead character is completely isolated from the world, and has to find entertainment and practical help out of the limited tools around him which, in his case, is a dead body he stumbles across on a deserted island. It’s also, obviously, completely absurd, but he manages to find meaning in the absurdity, and I feel like that’s what we’re all trying to do all the time. It’s equal parts stupid and profound, and has one of the most unique scores I’ve heard. It’s a really fun film. 
 

 

Wild

Available on Netflix

There’s a great bit at the start of the film, as Reese Witherspoon’s character starts her 1000+ mile hike, where she just repeatedly says ‘what the fuck have I done?’. I think about that whenever I start something that scares me. It’s such a beautiful, honest film full of moments like that. I used to prefer the more nihilistic Into the Wild, where nature is painted with quiet dispassion, but I think I prefer hopeful films at the moment, and something about nature’s power to heal us really resonates. 
 
 

Rick Thiele, founder and creative director, Red Knuckles
 
I’m a huge sci-fi fan, so if you have any hidden sci-fi suggestions, please drop me a message! Apart from your usual suspects like Blade Runner, Stalker, Solaris, ExistenZ, Dark, Black Mirror etc. here are a few gems that you hopefully haven’t seen and can relieve you from your ‘The Platform’-like experience at the moment. I guess the below just goes to show how smaller budgets and big ideas can have a huge impact. 
 

Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes) 

Available on Shudder

One of the best time travelling films ever. Short, gripping, and straight to the point. 
 

La Jetée 

Available to rent on Amazon Prime

The short film that gave birth to 12 Monkeys is timeless and shows us how successful a film can be with simply still photographs, voice over, and music. 
 
 
World on a Wire
Based on a book that influenced a lot of other sci-fi movies, purposely strange camera moves, odd acting, and a sometimes convoluted script makes for an incredible stylistic exercise that sticks in your mind. 
 
 

Mario Ucci, founder and creative director, Red Knuckles 
 
My personal preference is always to steer away from corporate productions or films that are aimed at profit. I prefer to watch personal experiences - works of love burning the midnight oil. Idealista always deliver passionate, uniquely voiced work. My selection is some of the best work created under that verve.
 

FLCL

Available on Adult Swim

It’s an independent series created by some of the best Japanese animators in their spare time. 
 
 

Gobelins Animation School

This animation school in Paris releases graduation films every year. 
 
 

Massive Swerve

Rob Valley’s masterpiece. An animation deluxe mixing Massive Attack and Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. Animation for adults.
 

Orgesticulanismus

Mathieu Labaye’s ode to his father. Superb. 
 
 

David Bertschinger Karg, one half of director duo ANIMALS, FAMILIA
 
I actually grew up without a TV, so didn’t have an endless list of personal childhood classics that had a massive influence on me. Still, when I took a minute and started thinking about which shows and films inspire and entertain me, it became a black hole. There are so many good ones! I decided to limit each of my categories (films, documentaries, TV shows, and Vimeo) to three picks. I wouldn’t say it’s my all-time top three per category - as I don’t think it’s possible to determine that - but these recommendations will always be important to me. 
 

Movies

Les Intouchables

It’s a great story based on true events. Don’t watch the horrible Hollywood remake - the original French version is amazing and heartwarming. 
 
 

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Available to rent on Amazon Prime

An amazing film about two souls - a boy with Down Syndrome and a washed up fisherman - finding their place in life. I watched it the other day and was amazed by the many facets of the film. One moment you’re laughing, the next you have tears in your eyes. 
 
 

Les Misérables (2019)

I’m not sure if it’s out yet, as I watched it in the cinema a couple of months ago, but it’s definitely one to look out for. I was very impressed by the work of writer and director Ladj Ly and the performance of the cast. It’s a story unfolding in a French “banlieue” - it’s amazing. 
 

 

Documentaries 
 
Jodorowsky’s Dune

Available to rent on Amazon Prime

The documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky, a visionary filmmaker who never succeeded to make the film he always dreamed of. I was so inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of Jodorowsky when he spoke about his project - I feel like this film is kind of a metaphor for the struggles of any filmmaker, regardless of if you’re world-famous or a beginner. 
 
 

Dumb: The Story of Big Brother Magazine

Available on Hulu

This film tells the story of legendary skateboard magazine Big Brother and how the TV show Jackass was born from it. When I watched this I felt like I was 14 again! 

 
13th
Available on Netflix

A sad but important film about America’s prison system. 
 
 

TV Shows
 
Breaking Bad

Available on Netflix

Obviously a good story is important. But in this show, every single element is perfect. The cinematography, the storytelling, the cast, the soundtrack. The show keeps giving and I like how it doesn’t have that typical “western” story arch. 
 
 
 

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Available on NOW TV and HBO

Need I say more? 
 
 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Available on Netflix

I like how this show seems so utterly stupid at first sight, but is actually thought through and has a lot of social commentary. 

 
 

Vimeo
 
Whateverest

A short mockumentary about how the song ‘Inspector Norse’ by Todd Terje came to life. Truly entertaining. 
 


Florida Man

A documentary about Florida’s stereotype. 


American Juggalo 

A look at the often-mocked and misunderstood subculture of Juggalos - hardcore Insane Clown Posse fans who meet once a year for four days at The Gathering of the Juggalos. 


Campbell Beaton, executive producer, FAMILIA 

It’s occurred to me during this uncertain period in lock-down, being led by a government you might not fully believe in, that it’s an opportunistic time to revisit classic political shows proving that things have never actually been perfect. 
 
The original House of Cards is a seminal piece of work - the more recent American version stands on the shoulders of giants! There is no better place for the art of backstabbing and reneging on deals than the Tory party of the 90s. Based on Shakespeare’s Richard III, the original House of Cards, produced by the BBC, is available to rent on Amazon Prime.
 
 
For something more light-hearted but equally well-written, then I would suggest Yes Minister. It’s a great view on relationships that require a give-and-take philosophy in the workplace. MP Jim Hacker, the show’s protagonist, aims to enforce a policy change whilst Humphrey, his civil servant, tries to keep things as they are - with this own agenda in mind. For better or worse, it’s a much less sweary precursor to The Thick of It. 


Available on BritBox
 
If expletives are your thing, coupled with a more modern take on politics, Veep is a great series; produced by the same British showrunner as The Thick of It, Armando Iannucci. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the VP of the USA and is always running from one fire to the next, trying to become the first female POTUS. If Veep is anything to go by, politics is a game in which participants spend their energy avoiding PR disasters while seeking praise for things they didn’t do, rather than enforce any meaningful change. The fear of failure is the single discernible driving force for these characters. In this present situation - in which we’re forced to take a step back from the coal-face - what better time to explore and comprehend the failure in morality of these characters, and how we might learn something about ourselves in the process. 
 
Available on NOW TV and HBO
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Great Guns, Wed, 08 Apr 2020 14:27:01 GMT