With mixed signals coming out of No. 10, those of us over 70 – (disclaimer: I am 73) – may be feeling more confused than we already are. Matt Hancock, UK Secretary of State for Health – he’s 42 – first told us high-risk over-70s we would be “told to stay home for up to four months”.
Twenty four hours later, the youthful Secretary walked that back – Over 70s would be “asked” to stay home. To guarantee every supermarket on the planet would immediately sell out of toilet paper – you can buy a 72-pack on eBay for £84.99, standard price £14.85 – and our already heightened level of anxiety would spike, Hancock warned that an official announcement could come “in weeks”. Xanax anyone?
More calmingly, the NHS is advising individuals presenting Covid-19 symptoms (repeated coughing; high temperature – over 100ºF/38ºC) to stay home for 7-14 days. Worst case then, for now, you’re stuck at home for two weeks.
You could fill the time keeping an ear cocked for Hancock’s latest “calming” pronouncement. You could play non-stop online Scrabble with English-speakers around the globe. (At least you’ll know now what to do with that impossible D,C, V, O, I combination.) If both those options pall, you could try alternative shut-in entertainments.
As of this writing, Kino Rye is still open for business with stricter health measures in place. Sadly, low attendance figures at those screenings means social-distancing presents no problem.
Same goes for Ashford’s Picture House where the programmers have resorted to showing Buster Keaton movies as the stream of new releases dries up. If either or both of those venues shutter and you’re left desperate for your regular movie fix, help is at hand: streaming movies.
Listed below are some of the most popular services with a few diamonds in the rough. The key to choosing which hangs on the free-trial offer. You don’t want to be locked into an annual contract when you’re released from house arrest and free to roam again. If you do take the free-trial route, be sure to cancel your subscription at least 48-hours prior the end-of-trial date. If you don’t, you’ll be charged automatically.
Here are some picks:
Amazon Prime: 30-day free trial. Monthly subscription £7.99. Amazon’s catalogue trends towards the B movie side but you might want to dip into Steve Soderbergh’s 2011 Contagion for a timely starter.
Netflix: The 800-pound gorilla. No free trial. Monthly subscription £5.99 but cancel anytime. Ramping up the horror inside and outside the living room, Netflix has just added IT to its listing of over 6,000 films
YouTube: Free. You can find full-length movies on this “amateur” (now owned by Google) site if you take time – which you may have – to dig, but be warned: many postings contain malware which could infect your computer. Best install a virus-protection programme (McAfee’s a good one) before you start clicking.
Disney+: This brand-new service is available from March 24 in the UK. 7-day free trial. Monthly subscription £5.99. As of March 15, US subscribers can watch Frozen 2, brought forward from its original release date of June 26. No word yet on a UK release date but shouldn’t be long in coming. Disney’s remake of Lady and the Tramp releases March 24. Money well invested if UK schools close early.
Now TV: The streaming alternative to Sky with no box needed. 7-day free trial. Monthly subscription for Sky Cinema £11.99.
BritBox: 30-day free trial. Monthly subscription £5.99. You can watch a lot of the content here on catch-up TV for free.
Serious movie-buffs may also want to consider the British Film Institute’s streaming site and The Criterion Channel. With the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House closing their doors until further notice, there is a chance that both institutions may start home streaming soon.
Some streamed content is available in the US but not in the UK (Universal Pictures, Disney+’s Frozen 2 for instance). There’s a downloadable work-around: a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN masks your location, tricking the server into believing you’re in the US when you’re not. Though it’s not 100% legal, the Thought Police have better things to do right now than breaking down your door.
More options may be found here.
Before taking over as Secretary of State for Mass Hysteria, Matt Hancock was Minister of State for Digital & Culture. During his tenure, he promised 97% of UK households would be connected to “superfast” broadband by 2020, a promise that has been 97% kept. It is a casual irony that all us oldies now have access to quality movies online just as the Secretary is threatening to lock us all up in our homes for months.
Image Credits: DTCI Media https://dtcimedia.disney.com/disney-plus/images.