Over the past two years, we’ve seen an abundance of movies that have addressed COVID in good or bad ways, or conspicuously failed to address the pandemic. On this episode, we’ll discuss the ways films have responded and dig into why it’s detrimental that the movies are ignoring COVID as a crucial part of our contemporary life.
This episode features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and Associate Editor Brett Pardy
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Over the past two years, we’ve seen an abundance of movies that have addressed COVID in good or bad ways, or conspicuously failed to address the pandemic.
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Radu Jude) is the shining example so far. It’s a film that doesn’t just feature mask wearing, but uses poor mask wearing as a comedic device to signal moral failing. It comments on people’s behaviour during the pandemic, but also connects that to other patterns of selfishness in society, both historic and contemporary.
Other films have incorporated the pandemic in varying interesting ways, like Bo Burnham: Inside (Bo Burnham), Beat the Devil (David Hare), and Coma (Bertrand Bonello). We’ve also had documentaries about COVID, from In the Same Breath (Nanfu Wang) to 76 Days (Hao Wu & Weixi Chen).
But many more films have been shot during COVID, and are set in contemporary times, but choose to elide the pandemic altogether.
In this episode, we dig into why it’s detrimental that the movies are ignoring COVID as a crucial part of our contemporary life. We also discuss the precious few contemporary movies that aren’t about COVID, but acknowledge the pandemic in some ways, like The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier), Kimi (Steven Soderbergh), Sharp Stick (Lena Dunham) and Both Sides of the Blade (Claire Denis), and consider those films’ responsibility to portray safe pandemic behaviour.
On This Episode
- COVID, it’s still happening (1:01)
- The three types of COVID movies (21:36)
- The gold standard of dealing with the pandemic in a movie: Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Radu Jude, 2021) (28:02)
- Beat the Devil (David Hare, 2021), COVID, and class (35:23)
- Bo Burnham: Inside (Bo Burnham, 2021) and Coma (Bertrand Bonello, 2022) (47:20)
- In the Same Breath (Nanfu Wang, 2021) and 76 Days (Hao Wu & Weixi Chen, 2020) (53:47)
- Films which dubiously acknowledge the pandemic, including Host (Rob Savage, 2020), The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier, 2021), Drive My Car (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021), Both Sides of the Blade (Claire Denis, 2022), Sharp Stick (Lena Dunham, 2022), and Kimi (Steven Soderbergh, 2022) (57:05)
- Documentaries which were sidetracked by COVID, including Searchers (Pacho Velez, 2021), Young Plato (Declan McGrath & Neasa Ní Chianáin, 2021), Mija (Isabel Castro, 2022), The Mission (Tania Anderson, 2022) (1:14:08)
- Have films ever ignored a major event to this extent? What is the future of the pandemic on film? (1:20:52)
- Conclusion and related episodes (1:27:24)
- Follow airborne transmission expert Dr. Linsey Marr on Twitter
- Read Per Morten Mjølkeråen’s interview with Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn director Radu Jude
- Read Brett’s review of 76 Days from TIFF 2020
- Read Alex’s review of Both Sides of the Blade
- Read Orla’s interview with Searchers director Pacho Velez
- Read Alex’s review of Young Plato
- Read Orla’s review of Mija
- Read Orla’s review of The Mission