A week before, it made sense to see Outbreak. The film sat in my Netflix queue, one of the most-watched movies of the week in line with the program; what better prep for weeks of social distancing due to this coronavirus pandemic? Outbreak has been a cable classic of my childhood, with serious stars, satisfying process, and a happy ending that's a little too awesome . It is perfect for streaming in the background as you prepare for bed.

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I'm a film critic; the point of this job is watching films, and I see a good deal of them. In 2019, I saw 154 new releases and watched more than 400 movies complete, though plenty had been along the lines of my casual rewatch of Outbreak. Now, however, I am staying inside for the near future, working in the home in New York to help"flatten the curve," which ought to be any movie lover's dream. Like most people, I subscribe to numerous streaming services, innumerable films are available to me at the touch of a button, and I have been arranged by the authorities to not go out. Here are just a few approaches to movie streaming that I've tried over the last couple of weeks.


Amid these stressful conditions, selecting a movie to watch unexpectedly feels overpowering, and enjoying something at the background seems like a waste of time. It is the exact same principle that governs my choice to shower and dress every morning even though I've nowhere to go and no people. I want to feel as though I am using the day for something. In a time when folks are searching for smaller ways to claim control over their lives, and maybe be distracted, I decided to assign myself a job: handling a list of movies I've never noticed before. You may try something more special, such as watching every movie by a certain manager (maybe Hayao Miyazaki, the Wachowskis, or Nancy Meyers).

Like every Netflix Guide streaming online, I'm at the mercy of this agency's algorithm--there is no easy way to recapture its own catalog, no A-to-Z list of every single movie available on the app. I flitted around the many genre carousels, settling on movies such as Outbreak because of the passing relevance to the information of this day. After that, a hunger for comedy led me to Gillian Robespierre's charming Obvious Child, that summoned nostalgia for a specific age of existence in Brooklyn and the chunky little iPhones we used to possess. Anxiety over the reduction of live sports needed me movie on Miracle, the Disney dramatization of the 1980 U.S. Olympic baseball team's journey. Utter laziness brought about a viewing of the Netflix original Spenser Confidential, a forgettable two-hour dose of Mark Wahlberg landing punches on any corrupt Boston cop that he can find. But such surfing can get older, quickly. I craved newness, and the theaters in my town were closed down forever.

So I moved on to my shelves, going through the numerous films I have (digitally or on Blu-ray) but I've never noticed, such as the majority of the Friday the 13th terror series and some Criterion Collection box sets. It's likely that you have some unwatched films tucked away in your home, too. Take pruning them out and whiling away an evening or two with them. There is an undeniable endorphin rush that comes with crossing items off a record --is not that great for the immune system?

Once I'm done with my shelves, the internet is a treasure trove of cinematic stockpiles waiting to be raided. And I'm not just talking about the swirling morass of content provided by websites like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Personally, I am fond of the Criterion Channel, which at $11 a month has a strong and rotating choice of curated classics, cult favorites, and less well-known foreign films. Criterion generates lists based on narrative theme, cinematic motion, and manager's filmographies, a series of miniature film schools to make watching films feel a bit more practical. Mubi is just another fantastic service that's the nearest we could get to art-house cinema right now, cycling in a new movie every day and giving subscribers 30 days to see it. Other solid options comprise Kanopy, which is available for free through many public libraries; Shudder, a horror-focused site; and, needless to say, Disney+ and similar services from large studios.

I wonder sometimes whether I am overthinking my project-oriented approach. Maybe streaming solutions are most useful, in this odd moment, as Profession providers of therapeutic familiarity. With each piece of world news prompting dread and frustration, what is the harm in watching the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice miniseries for the summertime until you go to bed? As I composed this piece, I had a live-stream of this Monterey Bay Aquarium playing in my screen, and every few minutes I'd pause to soak in the images of jellyfish floating by. I'll continue my cinematic jobs and attempt to make each viewing experience feel as more than only a way to pass the time. But occasionally I might just need to gaze at a jellyfish.