From Martin Scorsese Yasujirō Ozu: Simon Bird shares his top 5 film picks for lockdown
Actor, writer and comedian, Simon Bird, has shared a list of his favourite films to watch during lockdown.
At a time when millions of people around the world remain forced to stay home amid strict social distancing measures, the joy of visiting a cinema remains a somewhat distant memory. However, film fanatics MASSIVE Cinema Shutdown are offering up the latest film releases and making them available to enjoy at home.
MASSIVE Cinema, which is part of the BFI Commission on UK Independent Film, has been described as “a place where youth culture and cinema collide” and aims to offer young audiences a unique method to experience new and classic cinematic releases while at home.
Through a series of virtual screenings, watch parties and a free six-week trial of BFI Player, the weekly series features five rotating film recommendations from well-known faces within film, music and culture. One such recognisable face, Simon Bird, has collaborated with the project to provide some suggested viewing.
Arguably best known for playing the role of sarcastic but lovable geek Will in the hugely popular and successful The Inbetweeners TV series, Bird is stepping out on a new path and is making his directorial debut film release with Days Of The Bagnold Summer. The film, starring the likes of Tamsin Greig, Earl Cave, Monica Dolan, Rob Brydon and more, was based on the 2012 graphic novel of the same name by Joff Winterhart and enjoys a score created by the brilliant Belle and Sebastian.
See the full list of Bird’s film for lockdown, below.
Simon Birds Top 5 Favourite Films:
1. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – Martin Scorsese, 1974
First up on Simon Bird’s selection is the great Martin Scorsese but, coming out of left-field, its the lesser-celebrated effort Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
The film, released in 1974, was written by Robert Getchell and stars the likes of Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Diane Ladd, Jodie Foster, Alfred Lutter and more. While sometimes scandalously overlooked, The film went on to enjoy success at the 47th Academy Awards where Burstyn won the coveted prize of Best Actress.
Bird said of the film’s inclusion: “Controversially I think this hilarious feminist masterpiece is Martin Scorsese’s best film. It’s a 70’s dramedy as a widow and her son travel across the states for a better life.”
Official Film Synopsis: “After her husband dies, Alice and her son, Tommy, leave their small New Mexico town for California, where Alice hopes to make it as a singer. Money problems force them to settle in Arizona instead, where Alice takes a job as waitress in a small diner. She intends to stay in Arizona just long enough to make the money needed to head back out on the road, but her plans change when she begins to fall for a rancher named David.”
2. The Second Mother – Anna Muylaert, 2015
Known by its original Portuguese name of Que Horas Ela Volta?, Anna Muylaert’s 2015 Brazilian drama film that details family turmoil with by tackling societal issues within the country.
“This warm, funny Brazilian drama tackles class war in a charming and hopeful way,” Bird said of the film. “When the disgruntled daughter of a live-in housekeeper appears, the unspoken class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray.”
Official Film Synopsis: “Unspoken class barriers that exist within a home come crashing down when the live-in housekeeper’s daughter suddenly appears.”
3. Good Morning – Yasujirō Ozu, 1959
In 1959, the great Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu attempted to modernise his own with the release of Good Morning.
The film, know originally as お早よう, arrived as a loose remake of his previously released 1932 silent film I Was Born, But… and marked what was just Ozu’s second colourised project.
“A typical Yasujiro Ozu domestic comedy – exquisite and delightful,” Bird commented. “Set in the ’50s as two boys I vow to remain completely silent until their parents buy them a television set.”
Official Film Synopsis: “Two boys in 1950s Japan vow to remain completely silent until their parents buy them a television set.”
4. A Pigeon Sat On a Branch Reflecting on Existence – Roy Andersson, 2014
Up next, Roy Andersson’s black and white comedy drama which arrived as the third instalment in his highly celebrated ‘Living’ trilogy.
Discussing the film, Bird explained: “Deadpan surrealism from Sweden. Totally unclassifiable and hilariously gloomy. Novelty salesmen observe as their fellow human’s drift through lives of desperation and loneliness.”
Official Film Synopsis: “Novelty salesmen observe as their fellow humans drift through lives of desperation and loneliness. The slow cinema movie consists of a series of mostly self-contained tableaux, sometimes connected by recurring themes or characters. The story loosely follows two travelling novelty salesmen, Jonathan and Sam, who live in a desolate flophouse, and their unsuccessful attempts to win customers for their joke articles. Although there is no main storyline in the traditional sense, all scenes are connected.”
5. Other People– Chris Kelly, 2016
Last but certainly not least, Chris Kelly’s feature directorial debut Other People arrives to take the fifth spot.
The film, starring Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow and many more, arrived in2016 as a a semi-autobiographical look at Kelly’s family.
“A subtle, whip-smart, and weirdly overlooked comedy-drama from 2016,” Bird said. “An underemployed writer, fresh from a breakup, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother.
“Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother gets sicker, he tries to convince everyone—including himself—he’s doing okay.”
Official Film Synopsis: “A struggling comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone—including himself—he’s doing okay.”