What to Watch While Self-Isolating (Jane’s picks)

So we’re all going to be spending a lot of time indoors (and washing our hands) for the next couple of weeks (months? Who knows). Here’s what I’ve been watching to keep myself entertained. 

Babies (2020-)

Netflix’s “documentary” about babies doesn’t really seem like a documentary to me. Rather, it’s a compilation of various clips of families and their newborns from all over the world, interspersed with researchers and experts in the field of psychology discussing their research on babies. It would be difficult to make a comprehensive documentary about such a broad topic and about such complex creatures, so Netflix breaks it into six episodes based around themes like love and crawling. Admittedly, it’s a bit disjointed. But, it’s also filled with hours of footage of adorable, mewling, (that’s the word the show uses), wide-eyed babies. It’s just the sort of innocent content that you need to make you smile. Six episodes, available on Netflix. 

Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

The strangest thing about watching Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) during the coronavirus quarantine is that it features hundreds of people sailing around on a cruise ship… and it’s not a cause for concern. They disembark at various ports, mingle with the locals, and don’t have to worry about hand sanitizer or do elbow bumps instead of handshakes. Imagine that… In all seriousness, Dil Dhadakne Do is a purely fun Bollywood movie that is sure to lift your spirits. It’s got ill-fated lovers, beautiful vistas, plenty of drama, and catchy dance songs — what more could we ask for? Dialogue in Hindi, subtitles in English, available on Netflix. 

Ida (2013)

Ida (2013) takes on a somber tone, so look for something cheerier if the quarantine has got you down. The film stars Agata Trzebuchowska in her first acting role as a young girl about to take her vows to become a nun. Before doing so, her prioress instructs her to visit her aunt, her only surviving relative (played by Agata Kulesza). The film is stark, shot in black and white, and features little dialogue, but it manages to say a lot despite its paucity of words. It’s beautifully composed, each shot looking like a painting, so it is somehow soothing despite its somewhat grim subject matter. Dialogue in Polish, subtitles in English, available on iTunes. 

Love Is Blind (2020-)

You’ve probably already heard too much about the new Netflix show Love is Blind and how strange it is, but I’m here to report that is also entertaining and, sometimes, touching. The show’s premise is a so-called “experiment” wherein men and women meet in “pods,” i.e. rooms with thin walls, so that they can hear but not see each other. (One of them is even a scientist from Maine!) They talk, get to know each other, and even (for six couples) propose without ever having seen each other. Then, they get to see each other (of course, they are all conventionally attractive), live together, meet each other’s families, and have a wedding, where they decide whether or not they actually want to spend the rest of their lives together. Yes, it’s silly, but it’s also moving to watch some of the couples, who really do fall in love, navigate getting to know each other after the safety and anonymity of the pods. Plus, the show might provide a good lesson in what dating will be like in the future if self-isolation endures. 11 episodes, available on Netflix. 

The Hours (2002) 

I just watched The Hours (2002) for the first time recently and absolutely fell in love with it. The film jumps throughout time to feature three women (Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep), whose lives connect through Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, though they never meet. Kidman plays Woolf, Moore is a 1950s housewife in an unhappy marriage, and Streep is a New Yorker in 2001 preparing to throw a party. Of the three, Kidman’s performance was my favorite, but all three actresses are stellar here, and the film is just beautiful. Available on iTunes. 

12 Angry Men (1957)

I imagine that 12 Angry Men (1957) is a good primer for how we will all come to feel as this self-isolation continues. In the film, 12 men on a jury debate the innocence of a man accused of killing his father. As the movie draws on and the drama intensifies, director Sidney Lumet shifts the focal length of the lenses to make the room seem smaller and the walls seem to close in. It is supposedly the hottest day of the year in Los Angeles, and the jury members drip with sweat as the weather outside reaches its peak with a torrential rainstorm. Eventually, the jury reaches its verdict, the sky clears, and they head back out into the world, as we too hope to do soon. Available on iTunes.

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