Not working because of a hurricane is fun. Being cooped up for two, maybe three days, eh, not so much. Don’t despair! This is New York, the toughest city in the country. You’ll get through it the same way generations of New Yorkers have gotten though everything: drinking and complaining indoors. Should you be blessed during this storm with electricity and internet, I present you with a list of top notch Instant Watch picks to pass the hours. You could read a book also, but come on, that’s a last ditch way to entertain yourself.
Since this is our second Halloween in a row with freakish weather, you may be in the mood for a horror movie. If you’re looking for a crappy entertaining horror movie, and you’ve already seen Troll 2, you can go into what I call video store mode. Just enter “Horror Movies” in the search bar and scroll through the titles, and pick one solely on its cover and title. A good rule of thumb is to only pick films that came out between say, 1970-1998. Look for hand illustrated covers and generally avoid anything with “gritty” or “crackled” pictures and typefaces, where it looks like they dipped the cover in acid. Never judge a book by its cover, but with dumb horror movies, it’s just fine.
If you don’t want to gamble your precious hours with tenuous electricity on something random, Instant Watch offers several well made and generally underrated horror movies:
House of the Devil – A small time indie horror that’s tight and suspenseful, with tasteful and clever references to 80s horror. This film is ¾ steady build and ¼ WTF.
The Thing – John Carpenter’s classic body horror includes themes of Cold War paranoia ala Invasion of the Body Snatchers, all within the frigid confines of a desolate research base. The cabin fever element makes this an especially good film to watch when trapped indoors with other people for hours and days on end. Incredible special effects to boot.
Night of the Comet – Goofy 80s horror at its best. Two valley girls wander a desolate Los Angeles after a comet reduces everyone else to either ash, or deranged ghouls. All you really need to know is cute 80s babes with Uzis.
Parents – Bob Balaban, of all people, directs this creepy cult classic. A young boy, something of a loner in a 1950s nuclear family begins to suspect there is something gravely wrong with his parents, that they’re perhaps cannibals. The premise is fairly goofy, but the movie itself maintains a Lynchian uneasiness and does a surprisingly good job of getting into the head of a kid for whom grown ups are not safe. Also, Randy Quaid.
The Host – Korean Joon-ho Bong brings us a good old-fashioned monster movie. The Host updates the classic genre with modern, sophisticated themes of family, failure and loss. This movie is sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad, and sometimes scary.
ARTS AND FARTS AND CRAFTS
Speaking of great movies that you owe it to yourself to finally watch, try a few of these titles. You no longer have an excuse.
The Long Goodbye – Elliot Gould stars as a scruffy, scrappy re-imagining of the formerly slick and composed Phillip Marlowe. This movie is goofy and ambling in Robert Altman’s typical style. Gould mumbles sarcastically and chain smokes his way to the bottom of a mystery involving the betrayal of perhaps his only friend.
Drive – So, this movie came out in 2011, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re already way late. Ryan Gosling channels every Hollywood tough guy ever, playing a nameless getaway driver who gets pulled into a frightening underworld and is forced to viciously fight his way out to protect the innocent. Part film noir, part spaghetti western, part David Lynch, this is a spare and sleek crime thriller with great camera work, outstanding art direction and a perfect soundtrack.
The Conversation – A stripped down and paranoid mystery with an unattractive and morally ambiguous protagonist, The Conversation cleverly plays with audio to tell its story.
Sunset Boulevard – One of the best films of all time according to everyone and I bet you’ve never seen it. See it now.
Punch Drunk Love – Adam Sandler proves that he’s actually a very capable actor in the right hands. It’s funny, it’s weird, it’s short, and the score and the camera work come together the way they should to tell this odd little love story.
So, obviously living, breathing works of genius such as Breaking Bad, Louie, Mad Men, and Portlandia are currently running on Instant Watch. It goes without saying that you should watch these shows before finding employment, maintaining relationships and washing yourself. But if you’ve already looked into those, here’s a few more suggestions:
Wilfred – Part Calvin and Hobbes, part Fight Club, a weird and underrated adaptation of an Australian comedy, in which Elijah Wood plays Ryan, a suicidally depressed lawyer who begins being visited by his hot neighbor’s dog, who he sees as a man in a dog suit. Wilfred is the embodiment of pure animalistic id and repeatedly suggests, or coerces Ryan into fighting back against his own life, taking charge and going after what he wants, with often self-destructive and disasterous concequences.
Peep Show – A fantastic British comedy that hasn’t gotten it’s due in the States just yet. Two horribly dysfunctional roommates, one repressed and fear-crippled, one shiftless and reckless, are two sides of the same loser coin. The show is shot in a unique point of view style that allows the viewers to get into the inner dialogue of both characters as they try to justify their actions to themselves. Starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb of the incredible sketch comedy That Mitchell and Webb Look, also on Instant Watch.
Fishing With John – Jazz musician/actor/crazy person John Lurie made this short series under the guise of a fishing show with celebrity guests. There is fishing, there are celebrity guests, but mainly the show consists of John Lurie being a goofball with fellow weirdos Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe, Dennis Hopper and Jim Jarmusch.