Rosca's Ramblings

Rosca’s Ramblings: How Letterboxd Saved Me During Quarantine

Emily Rosca | The PhoenixPictured are two of Rosca's favorite things: movies and film cameras.

Where to begin. These past months, with COVID-19 and all, have been subpar by anyone’s standards, but something good has come of them — a brief, screeching halt.  

After years, lifetimes even, of putting things off because “there’s no time,” that age-old excuse suddenly flew out the window and many had more time on their hands than they’d know what to do with.

My number one activity shoved to the side due to lack of time? Watching movies.

Right at the beginning of Chicago’s stay-at-home order at the start of April, I downloaded Letterboxd. “The social network for film lovers,” Letterboxd is any movie geek’s fantasy. It’s even better than Instagram. The app allows you to search up anything related to a movie (actor, director, genre, so on), compile lists and interact with the film community. 

My favorite feature, though, is the diary function. Every time you watch a movie, you can log it — along with a rating and review. There are few things in life better than making lists, so I was immediately addicted. 

All my movie-watching problems were solved that fateful night I clicked “install” in the app store. 

Over the years, my watchlist consisted of easy-to-lose sticky notes both physical and virtual. I’d forget which movies I’d previously seen, and I’d have the hardest time remembering the names of any actor or director (save for Timothée Chalamet’s, of course).

As a way to further listify my recently reignited passion for motion pictures, I decided it’s only fair to you, the readers, that I share my favorite movies from this period in life, along with the note I added with each Letterboxd entry. Some are classics I never got around to watching and others are midnight favorites — they’re all incredible. 

What I won’t do, though, is include trailers for any of the movies, one, because it’s lazy movie-watching and you don’t need to spoil it for yourself, and two, it ruins the aesthetic of the published article. 

Happy watching, pals. 

“Kicking and Screaming” (Noah Baumbach, 1995)

I relate to Jane because I too concoct a response to someone’s witticism 14 hours after they said it.

“Repo Man” (Alex Cox, 1984)

Debbie: “Come on Duke, let’s go do those crimes.”

Duke: “Yeah, let’s go get sushi and not pay.”

“Thelma & Louise” (Ridley Scott, 1991)

Honestly I’m shocked they didn’t think to ditch the blue Thunderbird but I guess I wouldn’t have left it either.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (Joe Talbot, 2019)

The scene with Jimmie and Mont riding on the same skateboard together is the epitome of friendship and it’s beautiful. 

“Frances Ha” (Baumbach, 2012)

I went from loving Frances to hating her to loving and admiring her and I’m happy with my final decision. 

“Groundhog Day” (Harold Ramis, 1993)

Phil Connors brightened my day, too.

“She’s Gotta Have It” (Spike Lee, 1986)

All this time I’ve been looking for this film and it’s just been sitting in my watchlist. Pure black-and-white, jazzy cinema.

“Zodiac” (David Fincher, 2007)

Tensions were so high I think I stopped breathing in the last hour.

“Fight Club” (David Fincher, 1999)

It’s seriously wild to me that Helena Bonham Carter is the only on-screen woman in this entire movie.

“Phantom of the Paradise” (Brian De Palma, 1974)

Poor, poor Winslow. 

“Uncut Gems” (The Safdie Brothers, 2019)

This was so chaotic, stressful and loud, but it was so captivating in every way possible.

“The Edge of Seventeen” (Kelly Fremon Craig, 2016)

This movie is perfect.

“The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

I wish I could rate this higher than five stars. I can’t remember the last time a movie captivated me like this.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” (The Coen Brothers, 2013)

I’m not one to ever care for folk music but this film’s score was beautiful. And so was Oscar Issac. And the cat. And the whole film.

“Casablanca” (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Why do I bother with modern romance, they just don’t make movies like this anymore.

“After Hours” (Martin Scorsese, 1985)

This sets the bar high for thrillers. It’s perfect, really.

“Cabaret” (Bob Fosse, 1972)

There’s a lot I can praise this stunning film for but I have to say, Brian telling Fritz, “Good Lord, you’re on time. I can’t believe it” is about as seen as I’ve ever felt.

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