January 31-February 6

You know what I reminisce about? Early pandemic life. You know, the time when corpses in New York were being hauled out of hospitals in freezer trucks… Reason #127 why I’m going to hell.

Of course I’m speaking selfishly inside my own world, which is so closed off from reality, it’s claustrophobic. Don’t tell me that, assuming everyone in your life was healthy, the early stages of the pandemic, from mid-March to the end of April 2020, wasn’t a neat little novelty.

Immediately writing this last block of text, I looked up this phenomenon and it turns out, early pandemic nostalgia is a thing, and I share it with zoomers (unfortunately, my own age) who live on TikTok. Okay, now I definitely should be going to hell right now. Who am I kidding, I’m no different than the likes of Jackson Mahomes. Might as well start dancing!

Leading up to this retroactive golden age was stressful as hell, as it seemingly was for the rest of the world. In fact, ‘let’s break down the stages of the pandemic experience around this time (or at least mine. Again, excuse the claustrophobia).

January 2020: Coronavirus? I guess it’s the new Ebola or Swine Flu, if it’s lucky.

February: This isn’t actually becoming a thing, right? No way… It really did seem exclusively an eastern thing. China is ravaged by it because they’re commies and we’re Americans!

March: By the time we got to 9th, real panic was setting in. The virus gradually climbed up the media ladder to dominate headlines. My stress level was perhaps at an all-time high, fearing that one day interstate travel would be prohibited and I’d be stuck with my peers at school who were getting under my skin. March 11th happened (the day of the pandemic that will live in infamy) and I could feel the world stop its spinning. Stock market crashed, NBA suspended its season, and Trump shut down travel from Europe. Once I arrived back home for spring break (and inevitably the rest of the semester), I immediately became at peace with myself. I’m almost always a lazy bastard who lives easy but with guilt. Once you remove the guilt from not doing anything, as we weren’t supposed to be doing anything under then-seemingly benevolent government orders, you couldn’t make a dope like me happier.

Why do my emotions revolt at the idea of COVID-mania at the level of early 2020 coming back? It really was the best thing to happen to me, as sad as that sounds. I was able to cut out the search for future job endeavors in exchange for sitting around watching movies and scrolling through take-out menus. Again, I still do this all the time, but I miss being guilt-free. In general, everything felt so innocent from a 2022 perspective. Wash your hands, stay apart, masks were reserved for medical workers, and two weeks to slow the spread.

March 2020 was also a heavy film viewing period. During the first week of quarantine, the initial spring break period, I watched something new every day; consisting of Dressed to Kill, JFK, King of New York, End of Watch, Under the Skin, In the Heat of the Night, The French Connection, The Farewell, and Manhattan. Perfectly random for my liking. Not much as changed in February 2022:

Ordinary People (1980, Robert Redford) – It’s tough to be a Best Picture winner spoiling the prize for a better, all-time classic. This isn’t Raging Bull, but it’s pretty damn good. While I don’t relate to being an abusive and sexually insecure (well…) Jake LaMotta, Redford’s film hit home for me in many ways. It can be pretty cliche and Hollywood-sappy at times, but sometimes you got to accept it’s a movie and relish in the emotions.

Defending Your Life (1991, Albert Brooks) – Between watching this and Lost in America in a two month span, I’m just coming around to the realization that Albert Brooks is a genius. I wasn’t expecting a comic like him to get me thinking about and rationalizing my own past life choices. Maybe it’s also because I’m about to enter wilderness of life in so many months and I’m always thinking about something embarrassing I did twelve years ago.

Last Action Hero (1993, John McTiernan) – Check out McTiernan’s filmography. Casual viewers might not even know the name, but they’ve certainly rewatched his movies plenty of times. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career is one of the most fascinating in history and is completely deserved in starring in a movie both satirically and reverently commenting on his persona.

One Hour Photo (2000, Mark Romanek) – This movie has glaring flaws: revealing the ending at the beginning, one dimensional supporting characters, and a narrative flow that is a little too clean and convenient for a portrait of a sociopath. However, this is thoroughly entertaining, and couldn’t help but be gripped despite how predictable the story progressed. Robin Williams is fantastic, and only spotlights how many poor choices he made throughout his film career. We say this about everyone who passes too soon, but he truly was an all-around talent.

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