Local film insiders share their picks for coronavirus isolation
Celene Beth Calderon’s list
“Crip Camp” by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham
“The Lost Girls” by Liz Garbus
“Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” by Eva Omer
“Who Killed Malcolm X” series
“Tiger King” series
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” by Morgan Neville
Jill Orschel’s list
“This Is Us” series
“Derry Girls” series
“The Quiet Man” by John Ford
“The Seventh Seal” by Ingmar Bergman
Marshall Moore’s list
“Jaws” by Steven Spielberg
“Hoosiers” by David Anspaugh
“Rudy” by David Anspaugh
“Field of Dreams” by Phil Alden Robinson
“A League of Their Own” by Penny Marshall
“The Sandlot” by David Mickey Evans
“Ordinary People” by Robert Redford
Three local film-industry insiders — documentarians Celene Beth Calderon and Jill Orschel and Utah Film Studios vice president of operations Marshall Moore — have shared some of their favorite films and series to help the community pass time while they adhere to Summit County’s COVID-19 stay-home order.
Calderon loves documentaries
Calderon, who is currently readying her Ted Bundy documentary miniseries “Killing Theodore” for release, is attracted to true-crime and documentaries.
But the true crime stories she enjoys aren’t the type that romanticizes the perpetrators, she said.
Much like “Killing Theodore,” Calderon enjoys hearing from those the crimes have touched, such as victims, their families and those involved in the investigations, she said.
The list, which is mostly streaming on Netflix starts with “The Lost Girls” by Liz Garbus.
“Liz is a famous documentarian, and this was her first feature,” Calderon said. “It’s based on a true story about a mother who, while searching for her lost daughter, learns about the disappearance and deaths of more than a dozen sex workers.”
Next on the list is “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” by Eva Omer.
“This is a documentary about the founder of Bikram Yoga, and his fall in the wake of rape and sexual harassment allegations,” Calderon said. “I think people need to watch it to see what a scumbag he was.”
Calderon also enjoys the Netflix limited series, “Who Killed Malcom X,” produced by Ark Media.
“I need to give Ark a shout out because I just signed with them to produce another series after ‘Killing Theodore’ is done,” she said with a laugh.
One of the Calderon’s least heavy true-crime documentary series choice is “Tiger King,” which follows the story of Joe Exotic, an animal park owner, who finds himself accused of hiring a hitman to murder an animal rights activist.
“While this film isn’t uplifting, it’s not as dark as ‘Who Killed Malcom X,’” she said, “if people want something gripping to binge, because each one of the seven episodes gets crazier and crazier.”
Calderon’s “Holy Grail” of documentaries, which happens to not be a true-crime release, is “Crip Camp,” which was the opening night film at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
The film, directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham and executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, is an uplifting story about how a summer camp for disabled students helped lay the groundwork for the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Calderon.
Another feel-good documentary for Calderon is Morgan Neville’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” on HBO, which focuses on the late Fred Rogers, of PBS’s “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.”
In addition to those documentaries, Calderon enjoys other films that have a documentary-like feel such as Bob Spiers’ “Spice World” and Christopher Guest’s “Best in Show.”
“I didn’t have great taste in films when I was child,” Calderon said about “Spice World.” “So I wouldn’t trust my judgement based on that.”
Still, “Best in Show,” a 2000 mockumentary about a group of dog owners who take their pups to a national dog show, did garner a list of awards and nominations.
“It was one of my favorite films from when I was a kid,” Calderon said. “That is my go-to feel-good movie.”
Orschel enjoys the craft
Orschel, an award-winning documentarian and curator of the annual Park City Filmmaker’s Showcase, chooses her favorite films and series based on their overall quality of filmmaking.
Here are some of Orschel’s recommendations:
• “Outlander” on Hulu.
“I’ve never had time to dive into this show until now,” she said. “Even my husband Eddie, who was too busy pre-COVID19 to watch anything, is all in with me on this show.”
• ”Narcos” on Hulu.
“When I asked my friend who is a life coach and inspirational speaker what we can possibly watch together, she said hesitantly, ‘Narcos,’ the notoriously violent Netflix show about Mexican drug cartels,” Orschel said. “My friend admitted she’s ‘addicted to it,’ but the filming and acting are off the charts.”
• ”This Is Us” on NBC.com
“(I’m watching) because a couple other friends and my sister are watching it, and one of them said the writing is the most emotionally intelligent she’s seen in a long time,” Orschel said.
• “Derry Girls” on Netflix
“I will watch Derry Girls with another friend in Brooklyn, who says it’s an adult comedy about a tumultuous time in working class Northern Ireland in the 1990s,” Orschel said.
Another reason Orschel watches these programs is to stay connected with her friends and family.
“I love to watch these shows and talk with my friends about them as we go,” she said, “I really recommend people who are in COVID quarantine to reach out to their friends and family and co-workers and create shared experiences with the many films and streaming programs out there. There is a surplus of excellent content that will last for the ages but the chance to connect with those we care about is more fleeting.”
Orschel encourages people to find ways to watch films and series together without gathering physically
“Maybe we can watch them in some way together via Zoom chat or another platform that connects us,” she said. “It’s great to see technology connecting people when we can’t be together in person.”
Orschel also referenced Netflix Party, a plugin for the Google Chrome web browser that allows friends to watch Netflix films as a group over the internet.
That said, Orschel isn’t a fan of binge-watching.
“Sinking into couches in front of our screens for hours on end will kill us before the coronavirus does; however, I have started watching one film or episode per night, since COVID quarantine began for us over a week ago,” she said.
Orchel’s favorite movies include musicals and Westerns she saw as a child.
She recently revisited John Ford’s “The Quiet Man” and was impressed that a film made in 1952 had such a strong female lead, which was played by Maureen O’Hara.
Orschel’s other go-to films include “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” “Local Hero,” “Blade Runner,”d the first two “Star Wars” films — “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back” — and the “Harry Potter” series.“While in film school, my go-to was anything by Ingmar Bergman, especially his 1957 masterpiece ‘The Seventh Seal,’ which is about medieval Sweden gripped by the Black Death,” she said. “The plague itself is a character in the film and inspires all sorts of extreme behavior.”
Max von Sydow, the actor who played the lead in this and many other Bergman films, passed away a couple of weeks ago.
“For us cinephiles, if (von Sydow’s passing) that’s not a sign of something, I don’t know what is,” she said. “I’m definitely going to make time to watch ‘The Seventh Seal’ during this unusual time with the coronavirus. I love it when great old films find new relevance to our times.”
Moore follows emotions
Throughout the years, Moore, who has been part of the movie industry for more than 30 years, knows films are very personal to people.
“The films I watch over and over again are the ones I feel emotionally connected to,” he said. “And more times than not, they are sports movies.”
Moore’s list includes a pair of Indiana stories in David Anspaugh’s “Hoosiers” and “Rudy,” Phil Alden Robinson’s “Field of Dreams,” Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own” and David Mickey Evans’ “The Sandlot,” which was filmed in Utah.
“I love the feeling I get when I watch these movies,” he said.
Moore also likes dramatic character studies like Robert Redford’s “Ordinary People.”
“I saw that on opening day in 1980,” he said. “I was the only one in the theater, and I was blown away, and since then I’ve watched it over and over again.”
He also has a soft spot for good comedies, such as Peter Bogdnovich’s “What’s Up, Doc?” starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal.
“To me it’s a perfect comedy,” he said.
Still, the three films Moore has watched more than the others in his list are “Field of Dreams,” Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” and Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“I’m big on diversity, and if something rings true with me, I will go back to it,” he said.
The other day, Moore and his family binge watched Michael Petroni’s “Messiah.”
“One of my colleagues at work recommended it, and we watched all 10 episodes in 24 hours,” Moore said with a laugh. “We couldn’t stop watching this, because it was so captivating. Then we realized we probably won’t see another episode for 18 months. So it was like watching a 10-hour movie, and now we’re waiting for the sequel.”
During the past few weeks, Moore and his family got into the disaster and pandemic theme and took in Roland Emmerich’s “2012” and John Suits’ “Pandemic.”
“I had seen ‘2012’ in the theaters and liked it fine, but when we watched it at home, we enjoyed it so much we watched it again,” he said. “‘Pandemic,’ on the other hand, couldn’t have been more personal than it is now. It was hard to watch, to tell you the truth, and when I did, I was sick to my stomach the whole way through.”
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Julian Doan’s short film “Raspberry” will begin its on-demand, virtual Sundance Filim Festival run on Jan. 28.