Bay Area Film Critic Jan Wahl Shares What She’s Watching While Sheltering in Place

The latest movies being offered by streaming services.
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Believe it or not, there are still ways to hunker down at home and laugh out loud. I just did it by watching a YouTube hour of The Very Best of Mel Brooks and the SNL.com Celebrity Jeopardy. At a time when even the staid Motion Picture Academy is changing its rules to include streaming films and video on demand, many are getting creative and going deep into some powerful, engrossing or just plain fun entertainment.

Amazon has just come out with a terrific Coen Brothers-style drama: Blow the Man Down. Written and directed by Danielle Krudy and Bridget Cole, the film transports viewers to a remote fishing town in Maine. Two sisters have to discover the sordid underbelly of their neighbors and relatives as they try to conceal a grisly murder. The film is surprising and filled with great character actors and actresses.

Isolation is a tough one for all of us. This could be a chance to give yourself a film festival: watch the films of Billy Wilder, Greer Garson, Tyrone Power, or theme it with sports movies, comedies, or Bay Area films. Or start a virtual film club with your friends and compare notes with them after you have viewed agreed upon movies. Everyone is a critic at heart… so why not celebrate and connect?

There are free streaming services everywhere. Randy Rainbow’s brilliant musical parodies are free. Broadway HD and Playbill.com have Broadway shows available, from Sweeney Todd to the restaged Oklahoma.

Pony up $19.99 and download AMC Theatre streaming to get access to films such as Emma, Knives Out, The Irishman (finally, a reason it is 3 and a half hours… what a rest from the real world!),  Peanut Butter Falcon and 1917.  Google Marin’s own brilliant documentary Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound. Or groove to musical storytelling like Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, Gay Chorus Deep South or Pavarotti. Google these titles and Amazon awaits you.

Netflix movies

This list goes on forever, but I would be sorry not to pass along my current favorite. Netflix is now streaming a series I’ve waited a long time to see. Self- Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker stars Octavia Spencer as the first female millionaire in America. I’ve been hearing about this incredible inventor and philanthropist since I was a little girl, and these shows would make her proud.

Hats off to great entertainment during the times we really need it!


How You Can Help

Feeling inspired to help creative writers like Phoebe Mary Waller-Bridge discover their voice? Even George Lucas needed to start somewhere. Here are some organizations to support tomorrow’s artists.

California Film Institute

The California Film Institute is a nonprofit arts organization celebrating film as art and education and offers many programs for people of all ages.

Bread and Roses

Bread & Roses Presents is a nonprofit organization that brings hope and healing through live music to isolated Bay Area audiences in institutional settings.

Youth in Arts

Youth in Arts builds visual and performing arts skills through innovative and in-depth programs that foster confidence, compassion and resilience in students of all abilities.


For more content from Marin:

Celebrities Doing Good During the Pandemic

How John Krasinski and Reese Witherspoon Are Helping Us All Stay Positive

Helping Local Musicians Survive Venue Closures


Jan WahlJan Wahl is a lifelong movie buff as well as a producer, director, TV and radio broadcaster, and showbiz historian. She has won two Emmy Awards, is a longtime active member of The Directors Guild of America and reviews movies for KCBS All News Radio and KRON TV. Jan gives lectures on international cruises and throughout the Bay Area. She also teaches classes on Critical Thinking of the Mass Media as well as Hollywood History. A resident of Marin County, Jan lives with her husband and two dogs, Duke and Ella.

Categories: Art