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The ‘virtual’ Coronavirus film festival: 11 feelgood movies to stop you feeling bad

PUBLISHED: 18:10 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:40 23 March 2020

Minnie Driver and John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank  Picture: BUENA VISTA PICTURES/IMDB

Minnie Driver and John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank Picture: BUENA VISTA PICTURES/IMDB

BUENA VISTA PICTURES/IMDB

Welcome to our Feelgood Film Festival. It’s our antidote to the prospect of months of mind-numbing daytime TV. It’s a chance to catch up on some wonderful, half-remembered films (both old and new) which will hopefully enrich our days in isolation.

Emily Watson and Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love  Picture: SONY PICTURES/IMDBEmily Watson and Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love Picture: SONY PICTURES/IMDB

Fear not, there will be no terrifying references to our current situation with suggestions that we watch 28 Days Later, Outbreak or Contagion. Our film choices are shamelessly upbeat offerings, chosen to bolster our flagging morale as we can no longer venture forth and meet our mates at the pub, for a meal or share a new film at the cinema.

The titles, which can sourced on DVD, multiple streaming sites such Netflix and Amazon as well as freeview channels, have been chosen by cine-fans Andrew Clarke and Emily Cashen and hope to cater for a wide range of tastes and styles of cinema. Sit, back enjoy and let us know what you think by commenting on our Facebook page.

Roxanne; dir: Fred Schepisi; starring: Steve Martin, Darryl Hannah, Rick Rossovich, Shelly Duvall (1987)

Based on Edmond Rostand’s famous French play Cyrano de Bergerac, Steve Martin transfers the action to what was then modern day San Francisco. He plays CD Bales an eccentric fire chief with a rather large nose.

His world is turned upside down when beautiful astronomer Darryl Hannah comes to town but he fears that she isn’t interested in him because of his large facial feature, so in classic Cyrano style, this well-read lover woos Darryl for one of his tongue-tied mates, little knowing that its CD’s words that she is falling for. Beautifully written, wonderfully funny, brilliantly acted this is a genuine comic gem.

Rick Rossovich and Steve Martin in Roxanne  Picture: COLUMBIA PICTURES/IMDBRick Rossovich and Steve Martin in Roxanne Picture: COLUMBIA PICTURES/IMDB

Julie and Julia; dir: Nora Ephron; starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina (2009)

A glorious real-life tale for anyone who loves food and cooking. A dual story, told with wit and charm, by When Harry Met Sally writer Nora Ephron, but set across two different time spans.

In 1949, eccentric Julia Child (Streep) is a diplomat’s wife, bored out of her skull, living in post-war Paris. Determined to fill her time with something useful, she bullies her way into a usually all male Cordon Bleu cookery course and becomes a media sensation when she writes a French cookery book for Americans.

Intercut with this is the story of Julie Powell (Adams) living in New York, bored out of her skull, dealing with 9/11 insurance claims. Living in a small apartment with her new husband, she wants to set herself a challenge, so decides to set up a blog recording her attempts to cook every one of Child’s recipes. It’s a beautifully judged, uplifting tale played by two fantastic actors with lots of gentle humour..

Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia  Picture: COLUMBIA PICTURES/IMDBMeryl Streep in Julie & Julia Picture: COLUMBIA PICTURES/IMDB

Punch-Drunk Love; dir: Paul Thomas Anderson; starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman (2002)

This is a film that leaves you on a real high. A sweet, euphoric tale about overcoming loneliness, forging connections and falling in love. Adam Sandler proves that with the right role and the right director, he’s one of the most captivating acting talents around. Endlessly uplifting.

Stardust; dir: Matthew Vaughn; starring: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Sienna Miller (2007)

Ambitious and entertaining, this gloriously dark and twisted cinematic romp is best described as a fairytale for adults. It’s sumptuous production design, all-star casting and bravura storytelling style remind us those imaginative, early 1980s movies like Time Bandits and The Princess Bride, but this wins out because it has a darker edge to it and a more ‘grown up’ or complex narrative.

This film is a feast for the senses, jam-packed with inventive visual flourishes, a deliciously funny script and enough jeopardy to keep the most jaded blockbuster-fan on the edge of their seats. It also tells you that if you want to buy a decent ring you need to go to Ipswich.

Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Krumholtz in 10 Things I Hate About You  Picture: BUENA VISTA PICTURES/IMDBHeath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Krumholtz in 10 Things I Hate About You Picture: BUENA VISTA PICTURES/IMDB

10 Things I Hate About You; dir: Gil Junger; starring: Julia Styles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (1999)

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Not only is this one of the finest Shakespeare adaptations to appear on the silver screen – it’s a modernisation of The Taming of the Shrew – but it’s also one of the very best high school romcom Heath Ledger plays the archetypal bad boy and Julia Styles is perfectly cast as a moody, feminist teenage rebel. An easy, cheerful watch with plenty of heart.

Grosse Point Blank: dir: George Armitage; starring: John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Ackroyd, Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven. (1997)

Audrey Tautou in Amelie  Picture: UGC-Fox/IMDBAudrey Tautou in Amelie Picture: UGC-Fox/IMDB

High school reunions are a divisive subject. You either love them or hate. Martin Q. Blank, played with effortless cool by John Cusack is not a fan – for many reasons – but as the movie opens he is being pressured by his personal assistant to attend his ten-year reunion. The only problem is that how does Martin explain his job to his fellow former students - it turns out he is a very successful hitman. Things go from bad to worse when former girlfriend Minnie Driver broadcasts his arrival on local radio and he discovers that someone has taken out a contract on him. Can his life get any worse? A great combination of laughs and action.

Amélie; dir: Jean-Pierre Jeunet; starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Dominique Pinon, Yolande Moreau (2001)

Set in Paris, Amélie creates a city that is full of eccentric characters and quirky oddballs. The city may look familiar but it exists in some alternate, heightened reality. It’s rather like an impressionistic painting that has been brought to life.

The film made a star of the elfin Audrey Tautou, who plays the eponymous Amelie. She is a quirky loner, although she doesn’t want to be. She dreams of love, a pure, romantic and, it has to be said, eccentric love. Working as a waitress in a Paris café, she observes the ebb and flow of relationships among the regular clientele and gets caught up in mystery that involves a photo-booth repair man and a garden gnome.

It’s a film about love and being accepted no matter who you are. Amelie may have been made at the start of the 21st century but it remains a film for our times. Gorgeous.

Bob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit  Picture: BUENA VISTA PICTURES/IMDBBob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit Picture: BUENA VISTA PICTURES/IMDB

Who Framed Roger Rabbit; dir: Robert Zemeckis; starring: Bob Hoskins, Kathleen Turner, Charles Fleischer (1988)

A smoky, shadowy film noir private eye detective story, with a bunch of badly-behaved toons thrown in for good measure. Rich in atmosphere and good old-fashioned slapstick humour, this 1988 classic is a laugh-a-minute, and has a truly excellent whodunit at its heart, to boot. It never loses its charm, no matter how many times you rewatch it.

Chicken Run; dir: Nick Park, Peter Lord; starring: Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson (2000)

When it comes to feel-good films, Aardman is a safe bet. Borrowing from WWII prison escape movies, a band of feathered friends make their bid for freedom from the murderous Tweedy farm in this simple yet heartwarming tale. Smart, silly and stylish all in equal measure, this is one for the whole family to enjoy.

Topsy-Turvy; dir: Mike Leigh; starring: Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Shirley Henderson, Andy Serkis (1999)

Bio-pics are usually worthy pieces of film-making. They are informative, celebratory, often touching explorations of remarkable lives but rarely can they be described as classic films. Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy, a loving portrait of Gilbert and Sullivan, is an exception and comes up with a glorious, comic portrait of two head-strong individuals who turned creative differences into theatrical gold.

The film focuses on the troubled birth of the pairs greatest hit The Mikado. Jam-packed with colourful performances, this is a treat for both the eyes and ears.

The Dish; dir: Rob Sitch; starring: Sam Neill, Patrick Warburton, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long (2000)

There’s an old adage that says: “Truth is stranger than fiction” and nowhere is this better explored than in the Australian film The Dish. The world marvelled as Apollo 11 beamed back pictures of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon, uttering those words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” but if it wasn’t for a satellite monitoring station in a sheep paddock in the small provincial town of Parkes, in the Australian outback, then the world would have seen and heard nothing.

The Dish is a beautifully observed, character comedy, based on a true story, which pitches the technically brilliant, but very laid back Australians against the very uptight, do everything by the book NASA officials. The Dish is a total treat and at 90 mins doesn’t outstay its welcome.


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