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LIers reveal their go-to comfort movies for tough times

Long Beach native Billy Crystal, left, and Jack

Long Beach native Billy Crystal, left, and Jack Palance in "City Slickers" (1991). Credit: Columbia Pictures / Everett Collection

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Like a lot of Long Islanders, Peter Goike, a part-time actor in Lynbrook, has seen his life screech to halt during the coronavirus pandemic. His upcoming shows with his theater troupe, the Carlyle Players, have all been canceled. He has productions tentatively planned for summer, but he and his fellow actors can’t gather in person to rehearse.

When Goike needs a distraction, he says, he turns to one of his favorite movies: “Hot Fuzz,” the 2007 action-comedy starring Nick Frost as a constable investigating a mystery in a small English town. Goike, 34, says he likes the snarky British humor and the upbeat arc of the story: “There’s a bunch of violence and stuff,” he says, “and in the end he wins, and everything is fixed.”

We asked a range of Long Islanders about their current “comfort movie” and received a range of answers, from silly comedies to overlooked classics. Cari LoMonaco, a massage therapist and relationship coach in Lindenhurst, says she recently cued up “Sex and the City,” the 2008 feature based on the popular series, and enjoyed the vicarious pleasure of hanging out with a group of old girlfriends. Katherine King, a corporate consultant hunkering down in Montauk with her husband and three boys, says she plans to re-watch “Three Idiots,” a Hindi-language coming-of-age film from 2009 that earned mainstream acclaim and became a repeat favorite of Steven Spielberg.

"Movies and TV on the whole are great right now to enjoy another story, and get involved with the characters,” says Claudia Quadrino, a 22-year-old talent agency assistant in Huntington Station who is working her way down a list of favorite childhood movies, from the Frankie Muniz comedy “Big Fat Liar” (2002) to the YA adventure film “Holes” (2003). “I hope this whole situation helps people respect entertainment more and value it more.”

Chris Roach, comedian and actor, Ronkonkoma

A regular on the CBS sitcom “Kevin Can Wait," which starred fellow Long Islander Kevin James, Roach says he and his wife have been watching a lot of Netflix. “I started stand-up comedy 15 years ago, and since then I don’t think I’ve gone more than 10 days without getting on stage," he says. "I usually have gigs every weekend, booked six months out. And all the gigs have canceled through June, almost.” Roach’s go-to comfort movie: “Green Book,” the 2018 Oscar-winning drama about race relations in the early 1960s. “It’s one of those movies that, when you’re channel-surfing, you see it and you put it on immediately,” he says. “Next thing you know, my wife and I are throwing quotes at each other all day.”

Miriam Rosen, museum educator, South Huntington

With her employer, the Vanderbilt Museum, closed for the near future, Rosen has been spending time finishing several around-the-house projects: restoring an old wooden chair or bagging up toys that belonged to her now-college-age children. Rosen and her husband Howard  also have been watching classic movies. Her favorite: “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” the 1959 CinemaScope adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1864 novel. “It’s a good story, and it’s an adventure and a little science fiction,” she says. It also reminds her of childhood afternoons spent watching the 4:30 p.m. movie on Channel 7. Sometimes, says Rosen, she’ll put on a classic movie and just keep it on in the background. “It’s like comfort food,” she says.

Ben Freiser, co-owner of Beginnings Bar & Restaurant in Atlantic Beach

Freiser, whose restaurant is known for its movie nights and themed menus, admits that his comfort movie might not comfort everyone: It’s “True Romance” (1993), Tony Scott’s bloody crime film featuring Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater as a hipster Bonnie and Clyde. “Yes, it’s a little violent,” Freiser says of the movie, which was co-written by Quentin Tarantino. But it also reminds him of the day he decided to marry his wife and future restaurant partner, Heather, who once rented out a theater to screen the film as part of a birthday present. “Whenever she gets down these days,” says Freiser, “I just say to her the famous three words from the movie: ‘You’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool.’”

Amanda Larsen, health insurance worker, Rocky Point

A recent transplant from Wisconsin, Larsen is working part-time at home and part-time at her office in Melville since her industry is considered “essential.” Her 90-minute commute has been cut in half, but she notes: “I have to think of what the cost of it is -- and I think I would rather have the commute.” While her two-year-old, Katherine, has been enjoying the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” television show, Larsen says she and her husband have found solace in the “Harry Potter” franchise. They’ve already made it to movie No. 7, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1,” which begins with the Minister of Magic intoning, “These are dark times, there is no denying.” But as Larsen points out, “What do the movies always tell you? That it gets better in the end.”

Kerry Kearney, blues musician, Breezy Point

“I’m not a drinker, I’m not a partier. I don’t really go out much,” Kearney says – something of a surprise coming from a lifelong bluesman. Another surprise: His new comfort movie is “Ryan’s Daughter,” David Lean’s romantic World War I epic from 1970, starring Sarah Miles, Christopher Jones and Robert Mitchum. Kearney DVR’d the film from a recent TCM broadcast and watched it over the course of three nights. “I’m a blues guy, and so people always think of the blues as kind of rough and dirty,” Kearney says. “But I love ‘Wuthering Heights’ and really sappy movies from another era.”

Alan Inkles, director of the Staller Center for the Arts and founder of the Stony Brook Film Festival

“There’s a lot of great films from the festival that I could say, but no one will know those films,” says Inkles, who screens several hundred film submissions each year. His comfort-film recommendation: “City Slickers,” the 1991 comedy starring another Long Islander, Billy Crystal, as a white-collar New Yorker who embarks on a Wild West-style vacation. It’s the movie that earned Jack Palance an Oscar for his performance as a grizzled trail-boss; the actor’s famous acceptance speech included several one-handed push-ups. “Sure, we all love ‘Citizen Kane,’” Inkles says. “But I love a good comedy, too.”

Claudia Quadrino, talent agency assistant, Huntington Station

Earlier this month, Quadrino took a red-eye flight out of Los Angeles, where the entertainment industry has all but shut down, and arrived at her parents’ home the next day. Quadrino, 22, says she is self-isolating in her mother’s room because it has a bathroom and its own back-door entrance. “They just bring me food,” she says. “So, could be worse.” Quadrino and her sister Mariel have been working their way down a list of old favorites, but her favorite at the moment is “Ella Enchanted,” the 2004 twist on “Cinderella” featuring a singing Anne Hathaway. “It’s very emotionally satisfying,” she says. “Something about your favorite childhood movies is so wonderful. It really takes you back.”

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