Aweary, I watch little TV and rarely stream. My lockdown viewing is largely on DVD and begins with an immersion in pandemic-related cinema that is far enough from the current crisis but close enough to the theme to temper my brain between updates. Foremost among them is Phase IV, an exceptional science fiction horror from 1974 by the famous graphic designer Saul Bass. I associate it with its thematic and technical predecessor, The Hellstrom Chronicle, a false “scare doc” from 1971 using a similar macro photography of insects, causing them to explode, I warn you now, in terrifying proportions. Then a succession of Shōwa-era Godzilla films, followed by Robert Wise’s grim adaptation in 1971 of Michael Crichton’s novel The Andromeda Strain. Unfortunately, this proves an eco-horror too far and I opt instead for the escape rate.
Electric Boogaloo, a nice documentary from 2014 retracing the rise and fall of Cannon Films gives me my only locking laugh: a tale of the ambitious (and fortunately short lived) plan of the boss of Cannon Menahem Golan to distribute a series of comedies on the theme of the orangutan with actors in monkey costumes, starting with the infamous flop Dom DeLuise Going Bananas (which I do not see).
Later, several stupid 80s Chuck Norris activists, I stupidly stumbled across Google on his recent pro-gun lobbying and instead delved into an archival documentary. The best of these is In Search of the Dark Ages by Michael Woods, an atmospheric and truly exciting 1979 BBC series that greatly expands my meager knowledge of the period and unexpectedly renews my love for the album Oxygène de Jean Michel Jarre.
The music appears to be the real comfort of locking, courtesy of Ken Russell’s 1960s documentaries on Elgar, Debussy and Delius for the BBC’s Monitor and Omnibus series. These marvelous and stylistically innovative films inevitably lead me to the real haven of their subject, which succeeds more than any other form of art, I discover, to calm the worried mind.