REVIEW

While Coronavirus isolates us, small-screen services have much to offer

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Picture: Amazon Prime
Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Picture: Amazon Prime

This weekend, in a parallel universe not currently experiencing a global pandemic, our doppelgangers are heading out to advance screenings of the new James Bond film No Time To Die which, in our universe, got moved to a more fiscally responsible release date some time after the fall of modern civilisation.

Much of the big-screen releases we've been looking forward to have followed suit, and so we turn to the small screen to fill the long weeks ahead.

In our family's private Guantanamo, the long days of isolation are filling up quickly since I added Amazon Prime to our suite of streaming services that already include Netflix and Disney + on top of the great free stuff on ABC iView and SBS On Demand.

The frustrated arts programmer in me has risen to the challenge of navigating the service's notoriously terrible search function and algorithm as I compile the ultimate Coronavirus quarantine curated stay-at-home film festival.

Remember not to brag too much about how much online content you've consumed

First to make my playlist are a handful of recent films I wasn't able to catch at the cinema - the suburban horror Ma (MA, 99mins), Terry Gilliam's long-gestated The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (M, 132mins), Matt Smith in the artist biopic Mapplethorpe (R, 102mins), Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman in the surrealist Welcome to Happiness (M, 108mins), and Joaquin Phoenix in Gus Van Sant's Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (M, 114mins).

Adam Driver in The Man who Killed Don Quixote. Picture: Diego Lopez Calvin

Adam Driver in The Man who Killed Don Quixote. Picture: Diego Lopez Calvin

When I'm all caught up and the itchy feet of containment starts setting in, I'm going to smash out a handful of the better isolation films like Five Feet Apart (M, 116mins), and end-of-the-world apocalypse shenanigans like Shaun of the Dead (MA, 99mins).

While that puts me in the mood for some kitsch, Amazon Prime has it by the bucketful with the 1980s weirdness of Deathstalker (M, 80mins) and Reform School Girls (M, 94mins), or the arthouse craziness of Ken Russell's The Rainbow (R, 1989, 113mins).

Getting through that should place us into the second week of social isolation, by which time I'm going to want to be comforted by the reassuring and familiar, probably with some John Grisham like Runaway Jury (M, 127mins), The Client (M, 119 mins), and Matthew McConaughey filling out that white linen shirt in A Time to Kill (M, 149mins).

It's hard to choose which comforting '90s nostalgia to program next from Gen X classics like Empire Records (M, 90mins), The Power of One (PG, 129mins), Boys on the Side (MA, 115mins), and 54 (M, 103mins).

There's enough quality Australian feature film on Amazon Prime to keep you going through most of your third week of social distancing.

I'm most impressed to find The Set (M, 102mins), one of a handful of forgotten productions from the pre-New-Wave era .

They have a cluster of Aussie classics that I haven't seen for a decade or two and are worthy of another look, including Mad Dog Morgan (M, 102mins), Sunday Too Far Away (M, 94mins), Walkabout (PG, 100mins) and The Fringe Dwellers (PG, 98mins).

I would watch the great Aussie family film about a different red dog, Dusty (G, 88mins), but one of my Dobermans thinks the television is a window and barks ceaselessly at every dog on screen - and then runs behind it to see where they've gone. I'm not up to fielding the neighbours' complaints.

Lest this article sounds like an infomercial, I want to point out that there is a LOT of really bad content that needs to be sifted through.

For every Boyhood (M, 165mins) there is Ben Affleck in Man About Town (M, 96mins), for every Tigerland (MA, 101mins) there is Kiwi model Rachel Hunter in Her Infidelity (PG, 83mins).

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag. Picture: Amazon Prime

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag. Picture: Amazon Prime

While the film selection seems endless, Amazon have invested a bunch of Jeff Bezos's pre-divorce billions in television series that should restore your sense of hope if your lockdown hits week four. I binged my way through Picard (one season extending the Star Trek universe), Jack Ryan (two seasons harvesting the Tom Clancy characters) and Treadstone (one season drawn from Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne world) in the first fortnight of my subscription, and I wish I still had them to look forward to.

Amazon Prime also have the outstanding series Fleabag (two seasons) and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (three seasons and counting) that deserve your time, but if you care so little about pop culture you're not already aware of those, you probably haven't made it all this way down the article!

Happy distancing, fellow isolationists. Remember not to brag too much about how much online content you've consumed. We're all supposed to be "working from home".

This story While Coronavirus isolates us, small-screen services have much to offer first appeared on The Canberra Times.