Towner Watches: Towner’s film programmer Kate Wood tells us how to enjoy the best cinema at home

Posted on 26/03/2020

In times of crisis, it can be a comfort to escape into another world for a while. During this period when we are unable to physically travel, cinema can still transport us, not only to other countries but to other time periods and even other planets. So, while Towner may not be able to bring you films via the big screen for the time-being, we thought you might appreciate some suggestions for what you can be watching at home instead.

Where to watch

With so many options out there, it can feel overwhelming just thinking about which platforms to try when watching at home. Here are a few of our favourite and less well-known streaming platforms that you might want to try. Or, if you’re sticking with the heavyweights, then this list of 100 great films currently streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime will come in handy.

Testament of Orpheus, Jean Cocteau, 1960


MUBI is a great choice if you’re looking for something more curated; they only ever host 30 films at a time, with each film available on the site for a month. Each day a new film arrives and another leaves.

Current highlights include retrospectives of Jean-Pierre Melville and Ingmar Bergman, plus those who enjoyed our one-off screening of Orphée will be particularly interested in Cocteau’s Poets – a double-bill of Jean Cocteau’s first and last films The Blood of a Poet and Testament of Orpheus, which, along with Orphée, make up the director’s
Orphic Trilogy.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019

Curzon Home Cinema 

One of our very favourite distributors, Curzon have been responsible for some of our most popular recent release titles over the last few months, including smash hits Parasite and The Souvenir. Handily, their catalogue is also available to watch online and they’re offering new subscribers a free film.

Our top pick is the critically-acclaimed Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the sumptuous new masterpiece by Céline Sciamma. Ticket holders who were due to see it at Towner later this month, why not try watching it online instead? You could also revisit Sciamma’s earlier work, Tomboy, a tender and timely film about a young girl exploring a new identity.

L’Avventura, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960

BFI Player

With a huge back catalogue of contemporary and classic titles, the BFI’s online player has enough to last you through until life returns to normal.

For fans of our Screen Classics strand, why not try exploring the Sight & Sound Greatest Films Poll collection – featuring world classics like Tokyo Story, L’Avventura and Rome, Open City. Also worth looking out for is the BFI’s regular Mark Kermode Introduces series. Each week, the film critic and writer choses a title from the collection, giving context, exploring the film’s meaning and explaining why it is essential viewing.

And Then We Danced, Levan Akin, 2019

BFI Flare at Home

Along with festivals across the world, last week Flare (the British Film Institute’s LGBTIQ+ festival) had to make the difficult last minute decision to cancel. But – lucky for us, they’re launching BFI Flare at Home, featuring a selection of the festival programme available to view at home plus daily BFI programmer recommendations and live Q&As with filmmakers.