So let me begin with this. I rarely write in the first person. Rarely. But this is an exception to my rule, because there’s a back story to what’s ahead.
It was a typical evening for me (about a year ago), as I wrapped up work and decided to start winding down. “Winding down” for me consists of either heading straight to sleep or finding a film to watch that could put me to bed.
Flipping through Amazon Prime, I could already tell I was fading fast so something short and sweet would do the trick. I scrolled endlessly until I came across a 15-minute film called The Critic, written and directed by Actress Stella Velon. I pressed play and was instantly hooked. The film was a creative rollercoaster of sorts — taking my mind up and down, and around again, as I tried to decipher the meaning behind what was happening.
Needless to say, I didn’t fall asleep. Instead, my mind was zooming 100 miles a minute deciphering the hidden meaning of the 15-minute ride. In rare form (again), I immediately typed up a review of the film on the Amazon site — albeit an honest yet positive one, but from an abbreviated alias name.
Fast forward, Stella sees my review — posts it to her Twitter page, finds my REAL Twitter handle to credit, tags me in the posts and expresses her gratitude. I was elated but then puzzled like “how in the world did this award-winning filmmaker find me? Little ole me?” In any event, we began following each other on social media, chatting here and there, celebrating one another’s wins (to which she has won over 20 festival awards for this film to date) and began an unexpected social media banter — from Dallas to L.A., L.A. to Dallas, and now here we are.
So now I sit — quarantined and sheltered in place — and I find myself mindlessly searching for a quick film fix similar to The Critic. So what do I do? I hit up my new Hollywood BFF (in my head) and asked her to do the hard work for me. You know — bypass the mainstream movie suggestions and give me the nerdy stuff. I asked, “What are YOUR top 4 must see films that I should be binging during quarantine?”
“Okay, see here are my 4,” Stella writes to me. I could sense the tug of war in her message. “It was really hard because I would have included at least 10 :). My list is rather eclectic because I wanted to include films that have stayed with me, regardless of genre & popularity.”
I totally get it, Stella. But for now this list is as good as gold — one that was artfully bestowed by an expert. So write these down, load them up, pop the popcorn and get ready for what she has in store — because I know…it’s just what the director ordered.
1) The Critic (2018)
Without a doubt, begin your cinematic adventure here. (Do not pass go, and do not collect $200.) The winner of over 20 film festival awards, highly acclaimed and an Inspire N Style favorite, The Critic is just the adrenaline rush you will need to jump start your film-binging quarantine adventure.
Catch a glimpse into the darker side of fame in The Critic, as a starry-eyed actress, fresh off of a major win, embarks on an interview that proves to be a lot more than just that.
And I’ll leave it at that. Watch the film on Amazon (included with your Prime membership) or watch it for free (currently) on the UK Film Channel. Leave a review or comment and let us know what you think!
2) Bobby G. Can’t Swim (1999)
Written/Directed by first-time filmmaker John-Luke Montias; “An edgy, unconventional & brilliantly entertaining New York drama in the vein of ‘Mean Streets’.”
Synopsis: Bobby G. lives life on the edge in this real, raw New York street drama. As a small time coke dealer always on the hustle and living in Hell’s Kitchen, Bobby finds his way to trouble, but not might be able to find his way out. Watch on Amazon here.
3) Leading Lady Parts (TV Short 2018)
Written/Directed by Jessica Swale; “A hilarious short about the film industry, casting process and #metoo.”
Leading Lady Parts is a sneak peek backstage as the cream of British acting talent step forward to audition for that dream role. They are primed to take on the role of a lifetime — that complex woman, the strong woman, a woman for today. A lady part who is more than just – lady parts. Watch the comedic short here.
4) Woman Walks Ahead (2017)
Directed By Susanna White — Stella writes, “I really enjoyed this film, it was beautiful and the performances of the two leads are gorgeous.”
Synopsis: Based on a true story, this riveting western follows a headstrong New York widow (Jessica Chastain) as she journeys west to meet Sioux chief Sitting Bull, facing off with an army officer (Sam Rockwell) intent on war with Native Americans. Watch the film on Amazon here.
5) Strictly Ballroom (1992)
“And last but not least, this one is a really tough one for me because I wanted to include so many suddenly and felt like I left out the documentary genre, but I am a sucker for narrative,” Stella says.
“This is an all-time favorite of mine and one of Baz Luhrmann’s best works (in my opinion). I don’t think that many people are as familiar with this early film of his as much as they are with ‘Romeo+Juliet’ (which I also LOVE by the way) and ‘Moulin Rouge’ , so I don’t believe it falls into the mainstream category too much (I hope), despite the popularity of the director today.”
Storyline: Scott Hastings is a champion caliber ballroom dancer, but much to the chagrin of the Australian ballroom dance community, Scott believes in dancing “his own steps”. Fran is a beginning dancer and a bit of an ugly duckling who has the audacity to ask to be Scott’s partner after his unorthodox style causes his regular partner to dance out of his life. Together, these two misfits try to win the Australian Pan Pacific Championships and show the Ballroom Confederation that they are wrong when they say, “there are no new steps!” – Written by Rowena Young | Watch Strictly Ballroom on Netflix.