100 Comedies and a Dash of Existential Dread

The Daily — Mar 24, 2020
Harold Lloyd in Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor’s Safety Last! (1923), one of Edgar Wright’s favorite comedies

While publications such as the New York Review of Books and Slate have been running personal accounts of life during this crisis in the form of journal or diary entries, Vulture has been calling up filmmakers and talking with them about how they’re coping. In the latest conversation in the series, Bilge Ebiri chats with Edgar Wright, who has been in postproduction on Last Night in Soho, a scary tale of time travel in London inspired by Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965) and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973). During the lockdown, Wright has been working his way through his Blu-ray collection. “You would think that in a time of uncertainty and crisis, you would go for escapism and stuff,” he says, “but I’ve found the existential dread in both Ingmar Bergman and Roy Andersson quite soothing.”

Wright also recalls sitting down to write the last scene of Shaun of the Dead (2004) on September 11, 2001, when a friend got in touch and told him to switch on the news. “I remember for a brief moment, we thought we should abandon the script, because nobody was ever going to want to see a film about the end of the world,” he tells Ebiri. “And then strangely, it started to feel more urgent than it ever had. So I wonder, on the other side of this, what kind of stories we’re going to make. Things that are more than about what’s really happening, or allegories, or period films that relate to something that a modern audience can now understand in a way that maybe they couldn’t before.”

Letterboxd, the social network that allows users to review, discuss, and list movies, has asked Wright for a list of titles he’d recommend to those of us watching at home. He’s obliged with a magnificent set of one hundred comedies. “I could easily do another hundred,” he writes at the top of the list, “so don’t say ‘Where’s so and so?’ Just sit back and enjoy the movies.” Wright has tagged Rian Johnson (Knives Out) to come up with a list, and Johnson’s calling his a “70s Musical Extravaganza!” Because, he writes, “I love how that funky vital wilderness between the fall of the studio system and the ascent of the modern blockbuster manifested itself in this genre.” Then Johnson tagged Russian Doll cocreator and star Natasha Lyonne, whose list of ten films is entitled “I love dreams, even when they’re nightmares.” Don’t look now, but one of these movies is Repulsion.

The Latest

Spanish singer and actor Miguel Bosé has announced that his mother, the Italian actress Lucia Bosè, has passed away at the age of eighty-nine. She died in Brieva, a small town in Spain, having come down with pneumonia complicated by the coronavirus. Bosè is probably best known for her work with Michelangelo Antonioni in Story of a Love Affair (1950) and The Lady Without Camelias (1953) and for her lead turn in Death of a Cyclist (1955), directed by Juan Antonio Bardem, father of Javier. Over the course of nearly six decades, she also worked with such directors as Federico Fellini, Jean Cocteau, Luis Buñuel, Liliana Cavani, Marguerite Duras, Jeanne Moreau, and Daniel Schmid.

In other news:

  • This year’s BAMcinemaFest, which was slated to open on June 11, has been canceled, but the Brooklyn Academy of Music is preparing a series of digital presentations that it’s calling Love from BAM. Besides performances, events, and interviews, BAM has, like many cinemas across the country, teamed up with Film Movement for a roster of virtual screenings. Proceeds are to be split between the distributor and the theaters. And Kino Lorber has set up a similar program, Kino Marquee.
  • RogerEbert.com editor Brian Tallerico and his team have gone through “the hundreds of films that Roger chose as the best of all time” and now present a “handy guide as to where to find them streaming.”
  • For the New York Times, Alyson Krueger reports that the crisis has given an unexpected boost to drive-in theaters.
  • Finally for now, and to circle back around to the theme of checking in on the filmmaking community, director Joel Potrykus (Buzzard, Relaxer) has called up a string of “indie film type dudes”—Alex Ross Perry, Dustin Guy Defa, even John Waters—for a comedic short created by Ashley Young.

For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

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