Think about it: every screenwriter in Los Angeles is currently stuck indoors, low on coke and money, reading nothing but news about the Coronavirus. Within a year or so, we’ll definitely see the release of multiple film and TV titles that focus on telling stories about sickness, virality, and self-isolation, and most of them will feel as rushed and irrelevant as their timely production suggests.
But what if some of your favourite directors ended up getting their hand-sanitised fingerprints all over some of those corona-centric projects? Here are their plot summaries: Hollywood, my Paypal account name is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wes Anderson – The coronavirus is way too ‘now’ for Anderson, whose movie will instead be set in the 1960s during the spread of the more romantic, esoteric Marburg Virus. Jason Schwartzman leads the usual ensemble, forming a crew of monotonous virologists wearing matching yellow jumpsuits that every insufferable cinephile you know will wear for Halloween this year. Anderson already has a perfectionist tendency to treat his characters like chic playthings in a mid-century dollhouse, so a neat, segmented virus research lab setting will make him cream his corduroys.
Woody Allen – Woody directs and acts for the first time in a while, taking on a challenging, transformative role as a neurotic Swedish Cinema professor who falls in love with his underage student. She gives him the coronavirus in the opening scene. Sadly there are not enough ventilators in New York’s underfunded health system and Woody dies. Starts and ends with lively oboe music – ‘The COVID Rag’.
Hayao Miyazaki – Rona is a cute little bacterial glob flying around the world and making everyone’s lives magical! She inspires wildlife and nature sprites to return to the streets of Kyoto; the sacred deer of Nara Park move into the emptying apartments and whimsically mimic human behaviour, donning clothes and cooking elaborate meals that look better than any food you’ve ever tasted IRL.
Adam McKay – A post-coronavirus edutainment feature breaking down the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the virus – it’s fast and funny, but not much more deep than the virus’s Wikipedia page. Ana De Armas wears a bikini and explains what the acronym W.H.O. means for all us dummy laymen.
David Cronenberg – Some hot sociopathic Big Pharma guy (Armie Hammer?) is seduced by a mysterious, masochistic woman (Mia Wasikowska?) who begs him to cough in her face. Their twisted romance drags him into an underground world of corona worship, where the most devoted followers find face masks forming over their mouths…made of their own flesh…ew.
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird is forced to fly back to Sacramento when her exciting new life at college in New York is halted by the crisis. Timothee Chalamet’s character is a corona truther who thinks the virus is spread by mobile phones. Yes, we know Lady Bird (2017) is set in 2002 shut up.
The Safdie Bros – Over two anxiety-inducing hours, a shithead doomsday hoarder tries to sell as many bottles of insanely marked-up hand sanitiser around Manhattan as he can before the cops catch him. It finally seems like he’s made his fortune and escaped to his bomb shelter, but a frenzied mob tears him to shreds at the last minute – his guts spell out the title of the film. Benny Safdie plays a Costco greeter who gets viciously beaten up by the protagonist.
Nora Ephron – Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson star as an estranged couple who have lost their groove. Forced into quarantine together, they remember all the things that made them fall in love in the first place; he collects typewriters! She produced My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)! A gorgeous movie that ends in autumnal New York and then is promptly ruined by the Chet Haze rap track that plays over the credits.
S. Craig Zahler – Vince Vaughn plays a mob enforcer who has to infiltrate a Chinese crime syndicate to cure his immunocompromised girlfriend of the virus. The movie is kind of racist and alt-right-y and was actually filmed like 3 years ago and is only coming out just now because there hasn’t been a mass shooting in a little while.
John Waters – Divine plays a housewife with OCD and an alliterative name who takes it upon herself to bleach her entire suburb clean. She doesn’t count on falling in love with a sexy bad-boy garbage man though, and his love corrupts her and sets her free. The snooty home-owners association are crushed by a trash compactor as the happy couple roll around and fuck in a dumpster.
M. Night Shyamalan – Basically just a #CoronaCut of The Happening (2008) where the trees and grass are audibly coughing on Zooey Deschanel.
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Still desperate to prove his worth for some reason, Leonardo DiCaprio gives himself the virus to play Patient Zero in Iñárritu’s apocalyptic misery-porn epic. He dies IRL. Every Victoria’s Secret model under 25 attends his funeral via Zoom and weeps inconsolably.
Eliza Janssen is a Melbourne writer of criticism and screenplays who wants you to know that there are pterodactyls in the background of the breakfast table montage in Citizen Kane. For more information visit elizajanssen.com / @eliza_janssen.