We can’t go to the movies, and that’s hurting the people with jobs in the movie theater industry. But we can still watch movies at home in a way that supports these laid-off or temporarily suspended employees.
Filmmaker Sierra Pettengill (The Reagan Show), Film Comment editor and independent curator Nellie Killian, and Light Industry founders Ed Halter and Thomas Beard have set up the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund, which will disperse donations to movie theater professionals. They’ve already raised more than $73,000.
To help them reach their goal, film distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories has set up a deal for movie lovers that will benefit the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund. For about $50, you can purchase a bundle of Oscilloscope titles as part of their Circle of Quarantine pack. You pick 10 digital downloads to own out of an available selection of 136 library titles. That’s less than $5 per movie. Plus, $10 of your payment goes to the fund.
If you have trouble choosing, Oscilloscope will let you make your picks over time. But you could also just go with our mix of favorites. The Film School Rejects and One Perfect Shot team have selected 10 titles, including narrative and documentary features, to add to your bundle. Take all 10 as a curated mix of favorites with our individual stamps of approval or choose one or more among them for your own curated pack (feel free to swap out anything for something by Kelly Reichardt, per recommendation by our own Emily Kubincanek, too).
When Bellflower — a live-wire drama about an unassuming guy who wants to build his own post-apocalyptic muscle car — premiered at SXSW in 2011, the Alamo Drafthouse held an afterparty in a parking lot that involved a cricket eating contest. If I remember correctly, at least one of the filmmakers in attendance participated. It was a real choose-your-own-apocalypse sort of party and everyone had a great time. That’s less of a reason to watch the film and more of a fun anecdote, but maybe now you’re curious and you should watch Bellflower. (Neil Miller)
Centered on a small-time con man wielding a Nintendo Power Glove fashioned to resemble Freddy Krueger’s razor-sharp claws, Buzzard is dementedly hilarious with a sharply confident vision from Michigan director Joel Potrykus. Fueled by junk food, video games, and a manically committed lead performance from Joshua Burge, this is punk rock filmmaking proudly raising a middle finger to capitalism and growing up in America. (Jacob Trussell)
Coherence is the type of shoestring-budget, big idea sci-fi story that fans of Shane Carruth (Primer, Upstream Color) or Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless, Spring) shouldn’t miss. The film manages to turn a simple dinner party into an existentially terrifying endeavor with a cerebral concept and some deeply trippy flourishes. Initially, the movie’s homemade aesthetic sets us at ease (how scary can a flick be if, as director James Ward Byrkit has stated, it had no real script or set?), but as the enigmatic plot unfolds — a rarely-seen comet passes near Earth and begins to impact our world in strange ways — an uneasy sense of dread and intrigue takes over. Cool, creepy, and surprisingly fast-moving for a one-roomer, Coherence is a worthy entry into the indie mindfuck canon. (Valerie Ettenhofer)
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
Tragedy is a part of life, and while we do our understandable best to avoid it, instances of loss and horror can sometimes, despite their best intentions, serve to ultimately lift us up. Dear Zachary is a documentary following one man’s attempt to memorialize a friend in the face of such tragedy, and while the journey grows even more unexpectedly devastating, the core truth at its heart is one about the power of love, friendship, and human connection. With so much out there capable of tearing people apart, the film serves as a reminder that we should never stop coming together to share laughs, smiles, and hugs because someday all that remains will be memories. (Rob Hunter)
Embrace of the Serpent
The magnificent Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent is a wholly singular experience. Shot primarily in gorgeous black and white on 35mm, the hallucinatory Amazon jungle trip follows a native shaman and a couple of scientists as they search for a hallowed healing plant. Guerra uses the vast cultural and technological differences between the two parties to address themes of colonialism, environmentalism, and power to piercing effect. And the result of their decades-long forage will leave you in awe. (Luke Hicks)
Take a virtual trip to Istanbul and get down on all fours, or at least feel like it, with a cats-eye-view of the city. Shot mostly at street level, Ceyda Torun’s Kedi follows its feline stars — wild animals of the metropolis but also sort of shared pets of the citizens who feed them and pay for veterinarian care — as they roam, forage, and fight. Never mind if you’re not a cat person, let alone a stray cat person because this is one of the most tranquil documentaries in years no matter what you think of the kitties themselves. (Christopher Campbell)
Eugene Jarecki jams a variety of actors, musicians, philosophers, and strangers into the backseat of a 1963 Rolls Royce Phantom V once owned by Elvis Presley and asks them to make sense of The King’s rise and fall. At once challenging and celebrating the icon’s status within pop culture, Jarecki attempts to track Elvis’ bizarre and twisted experience with that of the everyday American. Forty years after The King’s death, is our country on the verge of suffering a similar, choking overdose? Is that such a bad thing? (Brad Gullickson)
Steeped in Estonian myth and legend, November is a monochromatic fever dream about love, ghosts, and magic. This film is something to behold, a beautiful piece of filmmaking that wishes to both shock and awe through its visual style. Strange beasts roam the fields, the Devil lurks at the crossroads, and a werewolf may be roaming the woods. November is a strange and beautiful journey that will whisk you away from reality, if only for just a few hours. (Mary Beth McAndrews)
Hailing from Finland, Jalmari Helander’s Rare Exports is a Christmas horror movie that’s fun for the whole family, even though the film features a fair amount of naked elves with their dongs on display. In this one, Santa gets unearthed from his icy tomb, and he isn’t playing nice with the natives of a small community. It’s up to a young boy to save the day. Rare Exports is a child-centric adventure yarn that fans of movies like The Goonies and The Monster Squad, and anything from Amblin, will appreciate. Furthermore, its anti-capitalist message is a reminder of how commercialized Christmas has become. (Kieran Fisher)
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lynne Ramsay’s commanding thriller is an interrogative and perceptive examination of the American family and the bonds both forged and tested by blood. As a mother and son with lifelong contentions between them, Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller are extraordinary. Ramsay doesn’t pull punches, and this grim film can be a lot to stomach, but it’s well worth it in service of a singular and exemplary masterpiece. (Anna Swanson)