COLUMN: MY QUARANTINE THROWBACKS

LIAM EASLEY, TRUMPET ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTOR

It’s no joke that the movie industry has taken a hit during 2020. Hardly anything has been released save a few Netflix originals, which are usually on the “miss” side of the hit or miss scale. Due to the low surplus of new movies, this first issue of Quarantine Picks will be labeled “throwbacks.”

1. “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” (1972)

Werner Herzog is a German director known today for his many documentaries, but he started in the realm of fiction. He made an appearance in modern popular culture with his role as the client in “The Mandalorian.” His first film to reach the United States was his 1972 feature, “Aguirre, the Wrath of God.”

“Nihilistic” is one word often tossed around in reference to this movie, mainly due to its sheer absence of morals and zero indication of caring about life. Starring Klaus Kinsky in the main role, this film portrays Lope de Aguirre on his quest down the Amazon River to find El Dorado, the city of gold. This was actually a story based on true events and is told through the only living document of it: the diary kept by Gaspar de Carvajal, the monk who came with them.

This is a very twisted movie, which was something Herzog and Kinsky were known to concoct. However, it’s essential to those seeking that unconventional sense of adventure that also acts as a historical narrative.

“Aguirre, the Wrath of God” can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

2. “Snowpiercer” (2013)

If you’re looking to be weirded out, look no further than Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer,” the 2013 satire film about cramming the rest of the world’s population onto a self-sustaining and infinite train. Starring Chris Evans as the main role, the movie is extremely irksome and uncomfortable to the casual movie-goer, but it does have many very important messages.

“Snowpiercer” is basically an experiment put to fiction. It asks: “What would happen if we took different people from different demographics and placed them in a small, contained ecosystem for the next two decades?” And it is answered with class separation, forced Darwinism and corrupt politics. It also has those corny movie moments to please the commercial audience, especially the slow-motion action shots everyone ate up at the time it was released.

“Snowpiercer” can be streamed on Netflix. Note: “Snowpiercer” is also the name of a 2020 television series.

3. “Total Recall” (1990)

The original sci-fi classic from 1990 starred Arnold Schwarzenegger on this mission to the Red Planet. That sentence may sound very lame, but hear me out – this movie is definitely one of the best in the genre.

Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a man who goes to Mars on a mission as a secret agent, or so he thinks. A major vacationing corporation has created a device that can simulate such scenarios. He goes to Mars, kills the bad guy, gets the girl… but did it really happen? That’s for you to figure out. “Total Recall” is a movie that plays with the memory and makes one question reality. It’s a simple premise, but it’s done so well.

This original classic can be viewed on Netflix.

Action shot from “Total Recall.” Photo courtesy of the Internet Movie Database.

4. “The Birdcage” (1996)

Robin Williams stars as the owner of a gay club in this 1996 comedy directed by Mike Nichols. Williams lives with his partner in the apartment above the club, and they live there quite happily… until Williams’ son comes home bearing news of his engagement to a woman whose father is a right-wing senator with a traditional moral compass.

Most comedies expend the humor at the very beginning, but “The Birdcage” is one of those rarities that can carry the humor until the end. The movie was based on its French counterpart from 1978, “La Cage aux Folles,” which is much more deadpan than its English successor.

Both “The Birdcage” and “La Cage aux Folles” can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

5. “The Black Pirate” (1926)

Do people still watch silent movies? I recently have been trying to find a good pirate movie outside of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and landed on this title from 1926. Douglas Fairbanks is the fearless Black Pirate who seeks revenge for the death of his father by a gang of cutthroats. Along the way, as the movie template for every film prior to 1960 goes, the main hero finds a beautiful woman who he falls in love with after looking at her once.

Despite the seemingly obligatory movie tropes, the film is very entertaining. Besides, silent film is part of culture, and it can’t hurt to indulge in them. Both the black and white and recolored versions of “The Black Pirate” are available on Amazon Prime Video.

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