While the world has slowly started to open up, the COVID-19 pandemic has not ended, as you may have noticed. Unless, that is, you're lucky enough to live in a country like New Zealand, which seems to have nailed the whole containment thing.
As many of us continue to stay home when we can, we still need to find ways to entertain ourselves. Early on during the pandemic, we compiled a list of privacy-themed movies for you to watch from the comfort of your couch. Seeing as how there are a rather large number of motion pictures that have been created throughout history, we've listed a few more. If you're not quite ready to venture out into the great wide open just yet — and no one can blame you for a little hesitation — enjoy!
One of the most famous films to emerge in the early days of sound, "M" centers on the search for a man who has murdered a handful of children in Germany. As part of their efforts to catch the killer, the police increase their efforts to monitor criminal activity. In response to this surveillance, the criminal underworld establishes their own network of spies to catch the perpetrator and take the heat off of their own endeavors. "M" is about as unsettling as it sounds based on the aforementioned description, but it remains one of the most important films in the history of cinema, touching upon vigilante justice and the psyche of criminals. It's final message is also about as subtle as a sledgehammer: Keep an eye on your children.
"Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997)/ "Spectre" (2015)
It's not really a surprise to see a pair of James Bond movies touch upon privacy themes, but what is surprising is how one of them landed here retroactively. "Tomorrow Never Dies" has 007 going up against a mogul who attempts to ignite World War III between the U.K. and China with a combination of violence and disinformation through his massive multimedia empire. Mind you, this movie came out nearly 20 years before the words "fake news" were seared into our lexicon. It's a plot that could be transferred directly to 2020 without many changes and perhaps could seem even more plausible with the advent of data collection and social media misinformation campaigns.
As it is more recent, "Spectre" is unsurprisingly more tech-heavy. The movie has the titular organization committing acts of terror to convince the world's governments to join a global surveillance program it is secretly running behind the scenes (which is called Nine-Eyes by the way. Subtlety is in short supply for this list.)
Both films are far from perfect. "Tomorrow Never Dies" has traces of sexism from the past Bond films that will make modern viewers roll their eyes, while "Spectre" makes some baffling narrative choices in the final act that nearly derail the film. The action sequences are still a lot of fun, and Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig both fill out the tuxedo nicely, even if the films don't represent the peak of their respective eras.
"Good Night and Good Luck" (2005)
Directed by and co-starring George Clooney himself, "Good Night and Good Luck" documents Edward R. Morrow's reporting of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's, R-Wis., crusade against potential communists in the U.S. As Morrow and his team at CBS continue to report on McCarthy and his tactics, details about their personal lives are unearthed and weaponized against them as paranoia runs rampant. An excellent time capsule on a tense time in American history and one that brilliantly uses actual footage of McCarthy himself in one of the film's pivotal scenes. It's also great if you need proof that Robert Downey Jr. had a career outside of Tony Stark.
"V for Vendetta" (2006)
Based on the Alan Moore graphic novel, "V for Vendetta" is about a young woman named Evey who gets caught up in the schemes of a Guy Fawkes mask-wearing anarchist named V. Evey and V are fighting an ultra fascist totalitarian British government that uses oppressive surveillance to weed out those it deems undesirable. The film very much owes a great deal to "1984." In fact, the head of the government is played by John Hurt, who played Winston Smith in a previous adaptation of "1984." It's far and away from the most violent movie in this list, but there is a lot to like, and we all agree we could use more Hugo Weaving in our lives.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014)
Early on in this Marvel sequel, Steve Rogers is introduced to a trio of massive gunships that were designed to preemptively eliminate hostile threats. "Project Insight," as it is called, uses a massive network of information to identify nefarious individuals and eliminate them quickly and in large numbers. Rogers is told by Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury the gunships can even identify a terrorist by their DNA. Naturally, Captain America is not a fan of the punishment coming before the crime.
He becomes even less of a fan of the plan when he discovers an evil organization has corrupted the algorithm to target innocent civilians through that same data analysis. One of the best comic book movies to come out of this genre resurgence, "The Winter Soldier" plays more like a grounded '70s political thriller rather than a CGI uber-spectacle. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of CGI and costumed fighting. But there's some substance behind the gloss, and one wishes more comic book movies would follow in its footsteps.
Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash
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