LESSON #1: GEORGIA DOESN’T REALIZE THE BUSINESS INFLUENCE OF HOLLYWOOD— The fine Peach State has been near the top or at the top of the list of most popular movie filming locations annually for over a decade. A ton of business comes to them and it has been a boom of tax credits and employment all the way down the list of credits you see at the end of a movie. The golden gravy train is being threatened by unpopular politics due in part to Georgia’s recent anti-abortion “heartbeat bill” legislation. The same is happening on a smaller level in Alabama and Missouri where similar laws are in place. Disney, Netflix, several production shingles, and many performers are rethinking, threatening, or have already ceased production or engagement plans in those states. Gripe about celebrity agendas mixing with political agendas all you want, but this is business and people are prepared to punch wallets where it hurts. Georgia and those other states can stand on their principles all they want, but the prospective customers are equally allowed to take their business elsewhere. The true business victims here are the under-the-title workers from craftsman to craft services who could see a precipitous drop of employment opportunities. They are citizens and they need to let their voices heard at the ballot box during the next election. Both sides will be voting their interests, but let’s see how far money talks.
LESSON #2: ROTTEN TOMATOES WILL IMPROVE ITS CREDIBILITY— Last year, Rotten Tomatoes widened its collective of film critics for its vaunted Tomatometer with new standards that welcomed product and personal diversity (myself included) beyond the field solely print journalism. The bigger pool has helped make its ratings more aligned to the masses, and now its the mass’s turn for accountability. In a story released this week, RT is seeking to change its method for the Audience Score part of its ratings to focus on verified ticket buyers and not just “reviewing bombing” internet trolls and haters. I highly applaud this effort for more actionable accountability and credibility, the latter of which stands to improve greatly. We can clap all we want, but the smartest among us still know that MetaCritic is statistically better (thanks Quartzy).
LESSON #3: PORTRAYAL AND PERFORMANCE NEED TO GO FARTHER THAN REPRESENTATION— From my Aladdin review on Every Movie Has a Lesson: Yes, it is wonderful Disney sought people of color for this ethnic fairy tale, but the clout of their portrayals and the substance of their actions are not improvements. If you’re going to do the right thing by diversity, go all the way, not just halfway or selectively. Dare to combat stereotypes completely. For extensive look into the troublesome history of Arab representation in film, check out Omar Mouallem’s piece in The Ringer.
LESSON #4: EVERYTHING CAN BE RECAST— Less urgent or important than the stakes of Lesson #3 but in the same ballpark of casting is Harrison Ford’s recent assertion that Indiana Jones will die with him claiming no one will fill the role after him. Hollywood is a place where remake and reinvention are ever-moving cogs of evolution. Someday, even if no one wants it, someone is going to remake the Indiana Jones films or tell new stories of the character. Disney didn’t buy LucasFilm just for Star Wars and they see another cash cow of name recognition. Within our lifetimes, we will see another fedora-clad archaeologist cracking a whip.
LESSON #5: CLEARLY, OLD PEOPLE ARE SLOW AND TAKE MORE TIME TO DO THINGS— Boy, this lesson is mean and vague, even when following the 76-year-old Harrison Ford. Well, we have another delay on Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, the filmmaker’s hotly anticipated Netflix crime epic. Apparently, the VFX to de-age the senior actors needs more time to refine its look without losing the facial expressions of performance underneath. No date has been given, but let’s hope nobody dies before this film sees the light of a streaming device day.
LESSON #6: INDULGE YOUR AUDITORY SENSES AT THE MOVIES— In the final lesson suggestion spot, allow me to share with you this top-notch research list from IndieWire’s Chris O’Falt. He gathered the 23 films cited by the new documentary Making Waves that chronicled the art of sound design. Nothing but choice content here. Impress your ears with some of these winners if you need a casual viewing experience this week. Every one of these movie choices would be better than the cluttered noise of Godzilla: King of the Monsters this weekend.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication. As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over two years, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the previous “Connecting with Classics” podcasts. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work. (#103)