A call to Village Theatre’s movie hotline will get you a recorded message from Lance Alspaugh, CEO of Vintage Cinemas: “It’s intermission time, folks, at least for now!” And so it is, for everybody: stores, schools, restaurants, gyms, sports events, parks, live performances, you name it, we’re all on lockdown. This, of course, includes our beloved Village Theatre, the Coronado Island Film Festival’s host theater, causing us to cancel this month’s Classic Movie Series screening of “Goldfinger,” the third in our James Bond trilogy.
From the beginning, CIFF has celebrated the unsurpassed power of film, more powerful than any other art form. A movie can teach, challenge, inspire, infuriate, make you laugh and make you cry. It can help you figure out your life. It can also help you get through life’s tough times. Like now, the reason for this message.
My 22-year-old granddaughter, currently a San Diego grad school student and my housemate, has suddenly found herself sheltered in place at home with Grandma. With both of us quickly weary of the non-stop, discouraging coronavirus news, we decided that we would hit “cable-news pause” at the end of each day and watch a movie together every night. We agreed on three simple but strict ground rules: a roaring fire in the fireplace; our phones out of reach, on mute; and the movie has to be beautifully written, directed, acted and filmed. (“Fun” is good too, but not mandatory.)
So far, here’s what we’ve watched:
“Tootsie” (1982). Starring Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, directed by the late Sydney Pollack, who also co-stars. Hilariously funny, and here’s a nice bonus: we get to hear our very own Stephen Bishop (CIFF 2016 Celebrity Tribute Honoree) sing the movie’s theme song, “Something’s Telling Me it Might Be You.” I’ve been humming it ever since. Netflix.
“As Good As it Gets” (1997). Directed by James L. Brooks and starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, who both won Oscars for their performances. You’ll see why. Greg Kinnear is great in it too. It’s a Master Class in acting all around. Funny, smart, poignant, great message (some spicy language). Netflix
“While You Were Sleeping” (1995) Starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. An adorable rom-com, funny and original. Sandra Bullock at her very best. Amazon Prime
“Something’s Gotta Give” (2003) Starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Keaton was nominated for an Oscar. So much fun, and the chemistry between these two old friends is electric. Written and directed by Nancy Meyers. Features a Hamptons house that everybody wants to live in. Amazon Prime
“Julie and Julia” (2009). Directed by Nora Ephron; great performances by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci as Julia and Paul Child. Makes you want to break out your copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” But Paris steals the show, as always. Netflix
“Driving Miss Daisy” (1990). Starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. A joy to watch. Winner of 4 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Tandy. Your family needs this now; we all do. Netflix
“The Hundred Foot Journey” (2014). Starring the great Helen Mirren as the impossibly competitive and snooty Michelin-starred French chef who meets her match when a newly-arrived family from India opens up a restaurant 100 feet away. You’ll want to watch this at least once a year. Netflix
And who doesn’t love a good British thriller? Sandy Hoppe, CIFF Board President, says we’ll get hooked on the Netflix series, “The Stranger.” I can’t wait! In the coming weeks we’ll be bringing you more home viewing ideas from the CIFF board and staff. Meantime, we’re staying busy and creative, looking forward to the time when we’re back working full speed ahead on CIFF 2020, our fifth anniversary! As Executive Director Merridee Book points out, “As we navigate these uncertain waters, it’s refreshing to note that people have turned to artists and the arts community for ways to stay engaged, educated and entertained while they stay at home.”
Doug St. Denis is the founder and chairman of Coronado Island Film Festival and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.