Still from Totoro

7 films to calm your nerves in a pandemic

It’s all gonna be okay! (°◡°♡)

by Douglas Greenwood
|
18 March 2020, 5:00pm

Still from Totoro

What is there to be said about the constantly unravelling COVID-19 pandemic that hasn’t already been said? It’s a scary time, that’s for sure, and as the news cycles and live blogs become your new go-to location on the internet, it’s pretty standard to be overwhelmed by things. Finding tranquility and peace in these times can be difficult, but alas, since we should all be on lockdown from here on out, there are some particularly sweet films that are so languid and relaxing it’s a miracle they didn’t get the heads up on the global pandemic beforehand. Here are seven that you should shove on loop for the foreseeable future.

My Neighbour Totoro

Where to watch it? Netflix

No film instils you with a greater sense of wonder in the world than Studio Ghibli’s breakout masterpiece My Neighbour Totoro. The story is about two schoolgirls who move to the countryside after their father gets a new job and their mother gets hospitalised (don’t worry it’s not that bleak!). The film follows the fateful duo as they venture into the forests and find a big cuddly tree sprite named Totoro. Everything about this film, from the delicate hands its beautifully drawn with to the otherworldly score (which you can stream now) screams comfort to us. Curl up in front of your television and get lost in it.

The Mystery of Picasso

Where to Watch it? MUBI

You might go into this film thinking you’ll get a didactic, Wikipedia-style breakdown of the most famous abstract artist of our time, but what The Mystery of Picasso offers is 70 minutes of sheer visual ASMR instead. Yep, this 1956 documentary from esteemed French director Henri-Georges Clouzot is a technicolour canvas stretched across your screen. Drift off as you watch the legend create masterpieces right before your eyes, accompanied by orchestra music. Sheer artistic bliss.

Call Me By Your Name

Where to watch it? Netflix

Northern Italy is a dark place to be right now, but it’s worth remembering the beauty of its past and the stunning future it has ahead of it once this all blows over. For the time being, return to it in the form of Call Me By Your Name, everybody’s favourite languorous love story about a boy and his father’s assistant, and the gorgeous summer they spent together. There’s pain, as you know, but it’s less dismal and more bittersweet.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Where to watch it? Netflix

If you’re from anywhere outside of America, chances are you’ll have no idea who Mister Rogers is. When he was on the air, the popular kids TV host was, essentially, the glimmering heart of the USA, bringing joy to children and parents around the world. This documentary goes behind the scenes of his show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and introduces to the lives of the people he’s touched. Add in the fact that Tom Hanks played him in the 2019 fictional retelling of his life, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, and you have not one, but two beautiful reminders that purity and good people do exist in this hellscape of a universe.

Amélie

Where to watch it? YouTube

This is, for a certain generation, the epitome of twee fanciful Frenchness on screen; an idealistic vision of the most romantic city on earth and one young woman navigating its different arrondissements. The titular character, played by Audrey Tautou, spends her life helping others find happiness, which might just make this the most appropriate film for this time period in which everybody seems to be going through it!! The whole film looks like and sounds like a music box; effortlessly charming, and the perfect antidote to anyone’s sadness.

The Florida Project

Where to watch it? YouTube

If you were a kid who grew up outside of a major city, you’ll know about the delights of making a fantasy world from your surroundings. In The Florida Project, a group of kids living in a motel on the outskirts of Disney World go about life with a blissful ignorance to the poverty they’re in. While Sean Baker’s film shows glimmers of what that life is like in a more bleak reality, this big, boisterous award-winner fills you with the kind of hope that you can only really feel as a child with the pressures of responsibility lifted from your shoulders. It also features Willem Dafoe as a nice guy, so you know it’s made to make you feel good.

The Illusionist

Where to watch it? Amazon Prime

Sylvain Chomet is, alongside Hayao Miyazaki, the modern master of animation who has a knack for transforming the art form into something both adults and children can enjoy. His most famous film Belleville Rendez-vous, is a mad-hatter vision of Paris during a big Tour de France-esque cycling tournament, but its washed out colour palette make it a bit of a downer to watch right now. Instead, try The Illusionist, a wondrous story of a magician in rural Scotland and his ascent to the top with the help of a girl who naively believes his tricks are all real. For those stuck in the city (or in their flats), the vast open landscapes of Scotland here will take your breath away.

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Film
Netflix
Streaming
Amelie
Coronavirus
Studio Ghibli