Perfect Films for Every Occasion, Holiday, Mood, Ordeal and Whim
Selections from the book

Sick Day Films

What to watch when you’re laid up on the coach, feeling like crap? Not too challenging but not dull, familiar but not done to death, serious but not ponderous, and most of all engagingly narrative. Long movies, we thought, were terrific – you’ve got a day, after all. But a certain buoyancy and epic confidence was important, too. Actually, the choices are derived largely from gut instinct; if you have other preferences, rock on. But it’s our book.

Selections from Flickipedia. For more movie recommendations in this category, please consult the book.

scene from the da vinci code
Notorious (1946) Ingrid Bergman’s troubled souse is convinced by Cary Grant’s implacable OSS agent to leave her wanton lifestyle in Miami behind for some undercover work in Rio, which certainly compromises their budding affair. This is arguably Alfred Hitchcock’s most perfect movie, perhaps because the drama is completely comprised of wary looks, realizations, unspoken questions, and lurking suspicions. Grant is so understated he barely opens his mouth when he speaks, and Bergman is a sad and wounded beauty. Amid the pregnant meanings and the most superfluous MacGuffin in Hitchcock’s catalogue, Ben Hecht’s script plumbs the psychology of patriotism, social mores and passion all at once. All this and a screen kiss that might make you lift your head off the pillow in anticipation.

The Great Escape (1963) This perennially popular WWII POW-camp adventure is the least traumatic war film you can imagine – a precursor to Hogan’s Heroes, the film is peopled with glib movie stars doing outwit-the-Nazis schtick, and exhibiting the Allies’ we-can-take-it wherewithal. So, it’s not emotionally demanding – Steve McQueen suffers time in solitary with a mitt and baseball, James Garner manages to scrounge everything but the kitchen sink in the middle of nowhere, Charles Bronson’s Tunnel King digs toward the fences despite his claustrophobia, etc.

The Godfather (1972) What could be better? It’s even easier than usual to overlook the dark themes at the heart of Francis Ford Coppola’s seductive, well-loved masterpiece when you’re under the weather. So what’s left: mighty Greek-style tragedy played out in soft shadowy umber, period tweed and melodramatic Sicilian-ese, by arguably the best cast ever assembled for a major Hollywood film. And it’s nearly three hours.

The Da Vinci Code (2006) Crowd-pleasing, eternally topical conspiracy-theory fun and games, in which Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Ian McKellan essentially recite plummy thickets of ancient history (and heavy strands of complete blarney), all of it pleasantly amounting to little beyond but well-read nonsense. Accompaniment: tea with brandy.

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This site was last updated on 3/11/2012