What We Learned This Week: March 19-25

LESSON #1: SEE A MOVIE BEFORE YOUR JUDGE IT— I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t hear as many “Beauty and the Beast” ranters this week as I heard and read the week before the film came out.  Too many people can work themselves into a lather over the smallest sample size of an actual film generating by a film’s marketing.  It was very encouraging for me to see the film itself and its monster box office debut silence a large majority of its false haters who judged from clips and trailers before seeing the entire film.  I know we operate in a news cycle where stepping out with a hot take or being first in clickbait gets traffic and eyes, but so much of that buzz sours to silliness when a film finally comes out and proves people wrong (not everyone but most).

LESSON #2: WHEN A FILM DOESN’T SCREEN FOR PRESS, THAT IS NEVER A GOOD SIGN— Aaron and I, on this website, have active press credentials and get to see films ahead of time for review.  It’s rare when a film doesn’t screen for critics and it’s normally never a good sign.  Fire up the disaster siren warning for “CHIPS” this week.   Buyer beware and run for the hills!  Proceed at your own risk.

LESSON #3: PAY ATTENTION TO THE SXSW FILM FESTIVAL— I’ll echo advice I gave in January on the Sundance Film Festival and turn my spotlight to Austin, Texas.  The trendy SXSW Film Festival is quickly gaining attention, buzz, and notoriety as not just a good time with flashy red carpet premieres, but a legitimate film festival with quality offerings.  Keep an advance Oscar eye on the SXSW award winners, beginning with Grand Jury narrative winner “Most Beautiful Island” and documentary winner “The Work.

LESSON #4: TERRANCE MALICK IS ONE OF THE MOST POLARIZING DIRECTORS WORKING TODAY— Speaking of SXSW, “Song to Song” arrives in theatrical release this week after its Austin premiere.  Any new Malick film brings out the worshippers and haters from all directions.  There are staunch critics who, more often than not, refuse to downgrade the man and his extremely experimental and non-traditional work.  Mark me down in the column of people that refuse to bow at his altar.  While I really do get what he’s doing, I find the man’s work lost and tirelessly repetitive even if it’s absolutely gorgeous from a visual style.  You get to be your own judge because there are not many film experiences more rigorous than a Terrance Malick film.  Best of luck.  Let’s compare notes afterwards.

LESSON #5: WOULD YOU PAY A LITTLE MORE MONEY TO SEE THEATRICAL NEW RELEASES AT HOME?— This lesson paraphrases a headline from a provocative topic presented by /Film this week that put a few fingernails to heads for itch-scratching.  Over the last 10-15 years of HD capabilities possible in home entertainment technology, this is not the first conversation from studios to consider digital access at home.  VOD platforms have continued to evolve, leaving price point as the one tricky and crucial factor in play.  How does $30 sound to watch, say, “Beauty and the Beast” at your leisure on the couch this weekend?  If movie tickets are $12 and you have a family of four, spending $30 compared to $48 before travel and concessions is beyond tempting.  You’re trading saving money for the incomparable experience of the big screen with a captive audience.  How do you feel about that?


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and the current President of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.