Quarantine has been a time for looking. It has been a time for stillness. It has been a time for a new kind of temporal experience. For me personally, this constant observing of the people outside my window, of my bedroom window, of the fixed single-take shots of video calls and classes on my computer screen, has been exhausting and overwhelming. But I admittedly cannot say that it is entirely unbearable. It’s certainly different, and that difference has made an imprint on my media consumption. I’ve always been a vocal fan of slow cinema, of the Tarkovskys and the Akermans of the film world. Now, I turn to them more than ever. Under very few circumstances would I feel a desire (nor have the time) to rewatch all four gloomy hours of Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still or the even heftier ten hours of Lav Diaz’s Evolution of Filipino Family. But now they reemerge as prescient texts of our contemporary stillness, completed articulations through which we may safely understand our new temporalities. As Apichatpong Weerasethakul posits in his letter to Jia Zhangke, perhaps a COVID-19 Cinema Manifesto would be drawn up to liberate cinema from the spectacle to reflect the stillness. I sure hope it happens, and when it does I hope to be back in a theater surrounded by other people. But for now, here are some slow cinema masterpieces you can observe in the safety of your own home:

 Sátátangó, Béla Tarr, 1994 (Film at Lincoln Center’s Virtual Cinema)

A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang, 1991 (Criterion Channel)

Stray Dogs, Tsai Ming-liang, 2013 (Criterion Channel)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011 (Kanopy)

News from Home, Chantal Akerman, 1977 (Criterion Channel)

L’Eclisse, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962 (Criterion Channel)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010 (Criterion Channel)

Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979 (Criterion Channel)

Taste of Cherry, Abbas Kiarostami, 1997 (Criterion Channel)

Certain Women, Kelly Reichardt, 2016 (iTunes)

L’Humanité, Bruno Dumont, 1999 (Criterion Channel)

Sleep Has Her House, Scott Barley, 2017 (Scott Barley’s website)

Limite, Mário Peixoto, 1931 (Criterion Channel)

The Color of Pomegranates, Sergei Parajanov, 1969 (Criterion Channel)

The Naked Island, Kaneto Shindo, 1960 (Criterion Channel)

A Ghost Story, David Lowery, 2017 (iTunes) 

– Alan Wu



I have watched so many different films and television shows ever since quarantine started in March, but none have stuck out to me as much as David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010). I was hesitant to spend two hours watching this film, as I have been let down by a Fincher film before; I found The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) to be overly long and quite boring. However,The Social Network instantly held my attention, and I still think daily about its witty dialogue, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s atmospheric score, and Andrew Garfield’s “fuck you flip-flops.” I am a heavy sleeper, but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about how Eduardo Saverin’s Facebook shares were diluted from 34 to 0.03 percent. That is the power of this film. The Social Network is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Julia Rothkoff



Say what you will about the quarantine experience, but one thing it has allowed me is the time to tackle daunting viewing projects which I’d been putting off for years. Case in point: the films of Johnnie To. The prolific Hong Kong director has made well over 50 movies since his 1980 debut, and his ability to work in nearly every conceivable genre without sacrificing a consistent set of stylistic and thematic interests makes him something like a modern day Howard Hawks. Of the To films I’ve seen these last few months, the one that left the greatest impression on me was 2004’s Throw Down, a remarkable and unclassifiable combination of martial arts film, buddy comedy, and melodrama. As with many of the director’s greatest works, underlying the outrageous blend of genres and stylistic eccentricities is a deeply spiritual perspective indebted to Buddhism. In portraying a former Judo master who has become a gambler and an alcoholic, To-regular Louis Koo moves awkwardly, stumbling, swaying, perpetually unable to maintain his balance. There is undoubtedly a level of slapstick to the performance, but eventually one begins to understand that this is a man whose loss of control over his life is inscribed within and expressed through his body. As he learns to accept the situation which caused him to give up Judo, a genetic disorder affecting his eyesight, he begins to reconnect with the Japanese combat sport, and in learning once again to move with precision and care he is able to bring his life back into balance too. The climax is among the most beautiful sequences I’ve seen in a movie, the most serene, graceful, and uplifting fight scene ever put to film. It’s not available on any major streaming platform, but you can find it if you dig around the Internet.

– Etan Weisfogel   


Lead actors in "JOSE", (left) Monolo Herrera and Enrique Salanic. Scene from the movie. (supplied)

While during a regular Spring and Summer I find myself at lots of screenings, in quarantine I have been taking advantage of online viewing options through theaters and festivals. In particular, NewFest—New York’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival—has many incredible offerings and events for quarantine. This is especially apt while many people are celebrating Pride 2020 in isolation this year. This Pride month, NewFest has its eye on BIPOC creators and protagonists: One special upcoming event is “On Being Black and Queer” on July 7th as part of the Gathering the Pieces Sessions for Michaela Coel’s new show I May Destroy You. “NewFest at the Center Presents” is also showing Pier Kids (dir. Elegance Bratton) in its online NYC premiere June 21-23rd with a livestream Q&A on the 23rd. Films currently available for rent in NewFest’s virtual screening room include The Surrogate (dir. Jeremy Hersh), official selection at SXSW, and José (dir. Li Cheng), winner of the Queer Lion at Venice Film Festival.

– Maeve Murphy



Through this quarantine, I’ve been finding myself gradually craving a specific kind of comfort movie—a smaller, quieter movie that may perhaps echo the anxieties of our time while remaining steadfastly narrow in its focus so as not to be overwhelmed by them. Kelly Reichardt’s unassuming sophomore feature Old Joy (2006) does just that. Centering on a weekend road trip between two lapsed old friends, played by Daniel London and Will Oldham, the lean 76 minute film trades in glances and microexpressions as the reticent London and erratic Oldham reconnect amidst the emerald hues of the Pacific Northwest. Each harbors unspoken anxieties about the paths their lives have taken, but Reichardt optimistically offers that, perhaps the vestiges of their friendship can allay these fears at least for a weekend. Old Joy can be watched on the Criterion Channel.

– Mohar Kalra

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