On March 16, 2020, we were told we were going into lockdown. That first day, reeling, disbelieving, I quickly understood the role cinema had to play. And the role I had to play: Movie recommendations. Cinema has always inspired, transported and educated, and I cannot diminish its essential role in helping to lighten our burden, to comfort, to distract. I knew people would be turning to film. I thought of cinema as a second responder.
At first, they were done quickly. My recommendations were a few paragraphs short and based on movies that I was very familiar with. I never imagined I would be writing them for a whole year. At first, I didn’t think there’d be an audience. The impulse to write the recommendations was a way to keep moving forward. I imagined a long tunnel with lights at the end of it. Big beautiful, flickering projector lights illuminating the way and all these images and inspiring dialogue accompanying us. Seeing and writing all these missives kept me focused, and it helped me process all the events of 2020. The choices of films reflected on what was happening around us. It was motivating to keep hearing from people thanking me for the connectivity. They were forwarding them to their friends.
I see the collection of all of them as a commemoration of cinema and this period in our lives in which we were forced to pause – and deal with vicissitudes we never imagined we would ever have to grapple with. I see this book as a celebration of how the art of cinema can give hope. We were given time to be introspective and reevaluate life as we knew it. I see cinema as a conduit to allow you to do that. All I did was to point people in the right direction. North by northwest.