The Earth Dies in Quarantine: Living Through COVID-19 with Film (3/10-3/25)

To stave off cabin fever during quarantine, Abe Beame has kept a log of the movies he has been watching.
By    April 14, 2020

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Abe Beame politely declines your Instagram beat battle challenge.

For the last few weeks, when I haven’t been trying to get my kids to pay attention to school on a laptop, or setting World Records for earliest first drink, I’ve been watching movies. So. Many. Movies. What I’ve learned is that in a pandemic everything is about a pandemic. If you enjoy the style of this piece, (One in a series depending on how long this fucking thing drags on and how generous Jeff is feeling) I’d strongly recommend A.S. Hamrah’s The Earth Dies Streaming. I shamelessly acknowledge the voice was bitten so nakedly Ghostface Killah has a skit on his next album shitting on me for lack of originality. Stay safe. Stay sane. Watch great movies.

Contagion dir. Steven Soderbergh (2011) (3/10): Too easy.

Red River dir. Howard Hawks (1948) (3/11): A tyrannical old white man steals land to build a farm. Ten years on, the economy in his godforsaken part of the world is decimated, and his only hope to sustain his way of life is to outsource his cattle thousands of dangerous miles away to a foreign market. He is accompanied by a protege and over the course of the trek they engage is a bit of political theater. The alleged young idealistic humanist clashes with the cold hearted fascist, over taking him by winning over the populace with his “values.” They reach their destination, make a lot of money for themselves, engage in a superficial showdown, make up and become partners.

The Getaway dir. Sam Peckinpah (1972) (3/13): A man who apparently contracted impotence in prison is freed and immediately finds himself at the mercy of a small eco system of competing interests that all want to use him for his skills then throw him away. He only is able to survive with his femme fatale by being shit out of capitalism in a garbage truck where he is nearly crushed. 

3:10 to Yuma dir. Delmer Daves (1957) (3/15): A gangster is caught by a society without the power or resources to hold him accountable for his actions. He eventually is transferred to prison because he agrees to go, but fear not, he’s broken out of Yuma jail before. 

The Last Picture Show dir. Peter Bogdonovich (1971) (3/16): In a neo Beaver rural American 50s, a needle drop heavy, talky, shaggy, Linklater precursing small Texan town wrestles with the limitations of its existence, the dull crush of a small, boring life. The film aches with loss for a country that it persuasively argues never existed. 

A Zed and Two Noughts dir. Peter Greenaway (1985) (3/17): The sudden, tragic and metaphor drenched loss of their wives cause formerly conjoined twins to embark on a quest to find the meaning of life in its absence, in decomposition and rot. Their death cult is depicted in stunning color, frame by painterly, symmetrical frame. Finding little in the way of answers, they sacrifice themselves at their own altar, where nature inevitably overruns their grand design and renders their entire struggle meaningless, which is the point. 

Close-up dir. Abbas Kiarostami (1990) (3/19): A schlepper with the soul of a poet on the outskirts of a gig economy turns to grift to cadge a small amount of income to provide for his mother and son, and feel like a person of value, however briefly. Kiarostami asks us to question artistic merit, authenticity and what we show deference to in a film that plays fast and loose with all these ideas.

L’enfant dir. The Dardenne Brothers (2005) (3/20): The worst fuckboi father ever in the history of children and parents makes a horrible, shortsighted mistake, sacrificing the next generation in the interest of his own selfish economic concerns. He spends the rest of the film attempting to redeem himself but I suspect it’s too late.


Stalker dir. Andrei Tarkovsky (1979) (3/23): A Professor, a Writer and their guide descend into an isolated, mystical, dystopian purgatory filled with five minute shots, and ponderous, impossibly stretched moments of self reflection. The film is two and a half hours long and feels longer. It is a study of the punitive and redemptive powers of boredom. 

M dir. Fritz Lang (1931) (3/25): In between World Wars, Berlin is paralyzed by a health crisis. Parents fear sending their children to school as recriminations fill the pregnant air. The city becomes fractious, paranoid and suspicious, people fear each other and leaving their homes as an emergency state of panic supplants normalcy and threatens the fabric of civilization itself. City officials struggle for how to contend with the crisis. The proper infrastructure isn’t in place. They are stretched thin and badly unprepared for a conflict of this magnitude. They flail ineffectually against an invisible monster. 

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