What We Learned This Week: October 28-November 3

LESSON #1: NOVEMBER IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE MONTH OF THE MOVIEGOING YEAR— Three consumer stars align during this month that trigger the Futurama “take my money” GIF.  The first is the quality slate of films trying to peak for awards season and the holidays.  October started things early and more excellent films are on the way.  The second is Black Friday, where this lover of physical media adores the DVD/Blu-ray deals that stream across Best Buy, Amazon, Target, and more.  Yes, Best Buy, I will dive into your $2 bin covered in double-sided tape and buy everything that sticks to me.  Scope out the ads in advance as they leak.  Finally, for the refined cinephiles in the room, November is the month for the half-priced Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble.  Folks, it’s time to rack up that credit card debt before the actual holidays.

LESSON #2: SOME FILMS DO NOT REQUIRE A SEQUEL— Way back in 2012, I wrote an editorial on Every Movie Has a Lesson about the “most desired and long-awaited” sequels, a few of which have actually become reality in the six years since.  One movie that wasn’t on the list was Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.  It would have made the sub-list of “unnecessary” sequels, right there with The Shawshank Redemption and other movies that ended on perfect notes.  Lo and behold, Ridley Scott and his Paramount producers can’t seem to help themselves, because details have been updated on a future story being drafted by Top Gun: Maverick and The Town screenwriter Peter Craig.  I trust and enjoy Ridley’s talent work as much as the next fan, but has no serious chance of matching or topping the Oscar-winning original.  It’s only going to tarnish a legacy or two.  Add Bad Boys 3 to that same list.  

LESSON #3: CAN PARALLEL EDITIONS OF FILMS BECOME A NEW TREND?–Notice I didn’t say “will” in that lesson.  That’s assuming success that is already present.  Sure, the DVD era opened the storefront door for director’s cuts, unrated editions, and more of varying rating adjustments.  However, outside of something like Blade Runner (and maybe, to a milder degree, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice), it’s hard to say many new post-theatrical cuts of films have go on to become definitive new standards.  They feel more like novelties for the sake of selling special features.  That’s what I see when I hear about the PG-13 cut coming for Deadpool 2.  It can brag about being a different experience with newly created scenes to be more “parallel” than “alternate,” but how many hardcore Deadpool fans or true completists are going to pay for a tamer second take?  

LESSON #4: TREAT YOURSELF TO A FOREIGN FILM— Feelin’ Film contributor Jacob Neff dropped the confessional challenge in our Facebook discussion group to ask how many of the BBC’s “100 Greatest Foreign Language Films” we have seen.  We had to fess up and some of us (myself including) got an Animal House-level GPA score from our lack of exposure, experience, or completion.  I recommend following Jacob’s “You Should Be Watching” column to see what titles from the list are available, especially with one month left of Filmstruck.  I recommend the huge depth of foreign films available on the Kanopy service connected to your everyday local library card.  In any case, don’t let Reverend Neff chastise you again.  If you need a shorter list, here are Martin Scorsese’s top 39 foreign language films.  Start there.  Get cracking, update the prescription of your glasses for the subtitles, and indulge in some of the classic and good stuff that world cinema has to offer.


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 a year, 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 special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.

Episode 124: The Departed

This week we wrap up our Director #BattleMonth with a bang, or a series of them. Actually, there are a whole lot of bangs. We discuss the fourth winner in our listener polls. Martin Scorsese’s fantastic Best Picture winner, The Departed.

What We’ve Been Up To  0:01:29

(Patrick – The Natural)
(Both – recap of bracket picks)

The Departed Review – 0:12:38

The Connecting Point – 1:10:34


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You Should Be Watching: August 16-22

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


The Aviator

Year: 2004

Director: Martin Scorsese

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Ian Holm, Jude Law, Kelli Garner, Danny Huston, Brent Spiner, Willem Dafoe, Gwen Stefani, Adam Scott, Matt Ross, Frances Conroy, Stanley DeSantis, Keith Campbell, Amy Sloan, Kevin O’Rourke, Nellie Sciutto, Edward Herrmann, Kenneth Welsh, J.C. MacKenzie, Jacob Davich, Sam Hennings, Vince Giordano, Jason Cavalier, Rufus Wainwright

Nominated for a whopping 11 Academy Awards and winner of 5, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, headlined by the magnificent Leonardo DiCaprio is a star-studded, technically masterful, sprawling epic full of period music, design, and color about the larger than life Howard Hughes, an insanely wealthy and driven man who could do it all. He flew planes, made movies, and had an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit. His contributions to the disparate worlds of film and flight technology echo into today. He was also one of the most eccentric characters in American history, which was only worsened by hearing loss and other mounting injuries and an extreme case of OCD that eventually turned him into a complete recluse.

It’s difficult to believe Leonardo DiCaprio, who perfectly inhabits the brilliant, obsessive Hughes, did not win the Oscar he was nominated for, as it’s truly the work of a master actor, full of nuance, vulnerability, and energy. This is not to take away from the other deserving winners from this film, including Cate Blanchett, who presents a pitch-perfect Katharine Hepburn, Hughes’ long-term girlfriend and a spirited eccentric herself. The Aviator is an experience that is as joyful as it is tragic.

 


Pather Panchali

  

Year: 1955

Director: Satyajit Ray

Genre: Drama

Cast: Kanu Bannerjee, Karuna Bannerjee, Chunibala Devi, Uma Das Gupta, Subir Banerjee, Runki Banerjee, Reba Devi, Aparna Devi, Tulsi Chakraborty, Haren Banerjee, Rampada Das, Nibhanani Devi, Rama Gangopadhaya, Roma Ganguli, Binoy Mukherjee, Haridhan Nag, Harimohan Nag, Kshirod Roy, Suren Roy

With this stunning debut and the first film in what’s known as The Apu Trilogy, Satyajit Ray shows the touch of a master in handling the complex and contrasting emotional, familial, and economical dynamics at play in this story of a family living in the jungles of Bengal facing abject poverty. While each member of the central family contributes to the narrative, casting Chunibala Devi for the elderly cousin Indir was inspired. She’s like the fragile, upbeat, super old grandma who puts a smile on your face and whom you can’t help but love . Seeing the continued breakdown of her body and the harsh treatment she receives from her cousin (by marriage) Sarbojaya (Karuna Bannerjee) is painful.

The children, Durga (Uma Das Gupta) and Apu (Subir Banerjee) are relatively carefree, but Durga tends to make her mother’s challenging life even more so, though in contrast, she has a special relationship with Indir. Their father Harihar (Kanu Bannerjee) is optimistic about their future but largely absent as he’s gone months at a time trying to earn money as a writer, which leaves Sarbojaya trying to provide for her family with basically nothing. She’s often hard and bitter and even unnecessarily mean at times. She’s also a fiercely proud woman who refuses to ask for help.

She pays a stiff price for them, but her actions based on her extreme circumstances only seem outrageous at face value and when contrasted to those around her who are in happier spirits. It puts into perspective what our own attitudes would be like if faced with enduring her circumstances. Consider how we treat others when we’re having nothing more than a bad day. It’s a call for compassion and a reminder that we can always use more empathy for those around us.


The Second Mother

   

Year: 2015

Director: Anna Muylaert

Genre: Drama

Cast: Regina Casé, Michel Joelsas, Camila Márdila, Karine Teles, Lourenço Mutarelli, Helena Albergaria, Luis Miranda, Luci Pereira, Hugo Villavicenzio, Theo Werneck, Alex Rusjar, Thaissa Reis, Milcéia Vicente, Bete Dorgan, Andrey Lima Lopes

An engaging story about the complexities of inter-class and family relationships, especially when the status quo is shaken up. Val, played by Regina Casé, is a live-in maid for a wealthy family. She has a better relationship with their son Fabinho (Michel Joelsas) than his own mother does and no relationship with her estranged daughter Jessica (Camila Márdila), who resents her having moved away despite it being to provide her a better life. Suddenly, Jessica, needing a place to stay while she studies for her university entrance exam reaches out to Val, who receives permission to let her stay, hopefully not long. Her presence creates a complex new dynamic to the home and in her relationship with her mother.

Director Anna Muylaert has a careful eye for representing the separation between upper-class family represented in this film and the hired live-in help who serve them, namely Val. She also shows how important being present is as the son, Fabinho treats Val like a mother. Also, by Jessica refusing to recognize the class distinction and making herself at home, the distinctions themselves are brought into focus as well as inherent difficulties of the parent/child relationship across generational lines as well as differences in opinion of acceptable behavior. It’s a simple story but an affecting one.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

August 24
The Road (2009)

August 26
White God (2014)

AMAZON PRIME

August 23
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

August 24
Captain Fantastic (2016)

August 29
Dirty Dancing (1987)

FILMSTRUCK

August 17
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Falls (1980)
Hairspray (1988)
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

August 20
Frances Ha (2012)

August 24
Act of Violence (1949)
Boy (2010)
Casablanca (1942)
The Freshman (1925)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Get Carter (1971)
The Little Foxes (1941)
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Nine Queens (2000)
Now, Voyager (1942)
The Producers (1967)
Stella Dallas (1937)
Swing Time (1936)
Top Hat (1935)
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

August 31
Badlands (1973)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
The Exorcist (1973)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Kameradschaft (1931)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Searchers (1956)
They Live by Night (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Westfront 1918 (1930)
You Only Live Once (1937)

HULU

August 31
Across the Universe (2007)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Hellboy (2004)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rain Man (1988)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)


JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
Hostiles (2017)
No Country for Old Men (2007)

AMAZON PRIME

The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Carnage (2011)
The City of the Dead (1960)
The Damned United (2009)
The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
Every Little Step (2008)
A Field in England (2013)
General Della Rovere (1959)
Hope and Glory (1987)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
In Syria (2017)
La Femme Nikita (1990)
Lean on Pete (2017)
Long Weekend (1978)
The Marquise of O (1976)
Mood Indigo (2013)
Ms .45 (1981)
Passport to Pimlico (1949)
The Second Mother (2015)
Tangerines (2013)
They Call Me Jeeg (2015)
Wake in Fright (1971)
Why We Fight (2005)
Zodiac (2007)

FILMSTRUCK

Heroes for Sale (1933)
Phoenix (2014)
A Star Is Born (1937)
Westward the Women (1951)
Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

HULU

Borg vs McEnroe (2017)
The Cage Fighter (2017)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

August 17

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – NETFLIX FILM
The Motive – NETFLIX FILM

HULU

August 17
Minding The Gap – HULU DOCUMENTARY (2018)

August 23
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

You Should Be Watching: July 26 – Aug 1

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.

This week’s highlights include the lesser known but no less significant collaboration between Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, and Paul Schrader. Also, Paul King’s introduction to the world of a long beloved storybook bear. And finally, a Colombian filmmaker takes us on a dark and strange journey into the Amazon jungles of last century.

Say goodbye to Finding Dory, Jackie Brown, and 13 Assassins on Netflix, Gran Torino and The Hurt Locker on Amazon Prime, Taxi Driver and All Quiet on the Western Front on FilmStruck, and Braveheart on Hulu, all leaving very soon along with many others.

Say hello to the new August titles, such as Batman Begins and Her on Netflix, The Hurt Locker and High Noon on Amazon Prime, and Leaving Las Vegas, Lost in Translation, and Shaun of the Dead on Hulu.

 

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Raging Bull

Year: 1980

Director: Martin Scorsese

Genre: Drama, Biography, Sport

Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, Mario Gallo, John Turturro, Joseph Bono, Frank Adonis, Charles Scorsese, Rita Bennett, Bernie Allen, Gene LeBell

A knockout, tour-de-force of filmmaking at all levels–acting, camera work, direction, script, sound design–and an unflinching biography of Jake LaMotta, a  talented boxer who had greatness in his grasp, but whose self-destructive, uncontrollable bouts of lust, jealousy, and rage sent him into a downward spiral.

Michael Chapman’s groundbreaking black and white cinematography grabs your attention from the opening titles. And Scorsese wears the neorealist influences on his sleeve, particularly that of the master Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti and his film Rocco and his Brothers. But his choices are often surprising as occasionally he will offset the intense visuals with dreamlike surrealism, complete with operatic score. The film received 8 well-deserved Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and took home two–Film Editing and Best Actor for Robert De Niro’s transformative performance. Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin provided the intricate script. The dialogue between Jake and his brother Joey (Joe Pesci) is as densely and carefully choreographed as the many fights, in and out of the ring.


 

Paddington

Year: 2014

Director: Paul King

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Animation

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Madeleine Worrall, Tim Downie, Matt King, Simon Farnaby, Kayvan Novak, Matt Lucas

 

Whether or not you’ve seen one of this year’s best films that happens to feature that lovable bear with an affinity for marmalade, let me remind you that the original is quite the treat as well. Paddington is an energetic, surprisingly funny, and heartwarming reintroduction to a beloved character and the Brown family, who takes him in to their home. Director and co-writer Paul King sets the perfect balance between absurdity and clever humor, creating a storybook world that’s just a little more fantastical than our own where no one bats an eye at a talking bear even though they’ve never seen one.

The Brown family is easy to like, each member delightfully unique in their personalities and quirks, even and maybe especially the straight-laced father Henry played by Hugh Bonneville. Alternatively, the mother Mary (Sally Hawkins) is immediately taken in by Paddington, despite his proneness to accidentally creating messes. It’s also fun to see the variety of familiar faces such as Peter Capaldi as the nosy upstairs neighbor who wants the status quo upheld and Nicole Kidman as the dastardly villain. The music is also engaging, full of energy and remarkably diverse.


 

Embrace of the Serpent

  

Year: 2015

Director: Ciro Guerra

Genre: Adventure, Drama

Cast: Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolivar, Brionne Davis, Jan Bijvoet, Luigi Sciamanna, Nicolás Cancino, Yauenkü Miguee

 

The plot of this striking film from Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra was inspired by the travel diaries of two South American explorers. In this story, they are two scientists separated by decades but with similar goals of finding the mysterious yakruna, a rare and sacred healing plant. The first scientist, a German named Theo von Martius (Jan Bijvoet), comes seeking a cure for his diseased body. The second, an American named Evan (Brionne Davis), intends to complete the journey Theo started.

Each end up securing the services of the same guide, the shaman Karamakate for their search into the deepest, darkest jungles of the Amazon. This bit of casting is particularly strong as the younger played by Nilbio Torres and the older by Antonio Bolívar seem like they could be the same person, though for better and worse, time has had a noticeable effect on both body and personality of the older.

The unique, remote environment and diversity in peoples rarely seen make this important viewing, but it does become quite the strange, dark, psychedelic road movie. It offers an impactful message about how society is drastically changed and long-standing culture is so quickly lost by the infiltration of outside influences, especially when that influence takes an authoritative even god-like role.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 29
Assassination (2015)

July 31
Max Manus: Man of War (2008)
Finding Dory (2016)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

August 4
13 Assassins (2010)

August 15
The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 27
Chef

July 30
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Wild Bill (1995)

July 31
A Christmas Story (1983)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Hurt Locker (2009)

August 1
The Club (2015)

 

FILMSTRUCK

July 27
All the President’s Men (1976)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
His Girl Friday (1940)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Rio Bravo (1959)

July 28
Night and the City (1950)

July 31
Taxi Driver (1976)

August 3
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Marty (1955)
The Mission (1986)
Network (1976)

August 4
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

August 10
Altered States (1980)
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Dogtooth (2009)
Falling Down (1993)
Magnolia (1999)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Them! (1954)

August 12
The Last House on the Left (1972)

August 17
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Falls (1980)
Hairspray (1988)
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

August 20
Frances Ha (2012)

 

HULU

July 31
Braveheart (1995)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Traffic (2000)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Amy (2015)
Bolt (2008)
An Education (2009)
The End of the Tour (2015)
Ex Machina (2014)
A Most Violent Year (2014)
Slow West (2015)
Tusk (2014)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Capote (2005)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)
Raging Bull (1980)

 

FILMSTRUCK

High Sierra (1941)
The Time Machine (1960)

 

HULU

Angel Heart (1987)
Black Cop (2017)
Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

 


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 29
Her (2013)

August 1
The Aviator (2004)
Batman Begins (2005)
Clerks (1994)
Constantine (2005)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Informant! (2009)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Steel Magnolias (1989)

 

AMAZON PRIME

August 1
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Freedom Writers (2007)
Frequency (2000)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
The Soloist (2009)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Watchmen (2009)

 

HULU

August 1
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
The Hurricane (1999)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Lost in Translation (2003)
The Nasty Girl (1990)
Point Break (1991)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Usual Suspects (1995)

 


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

What We Learned This Week: April 29-May 5

LESSON #1: YOU NEED TO START FOLLOWING OUR GUY JACOB NEFF— This week, Feelin’ Film debuted its newest contributor Jacob Neff and his weekly “You Should Be Watching” column. Pulling from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Filmstruck, Jacob presents a curated list of winners that I highly recommend.  The calendar portion of his column alone creates the perfect priority list.  Let his discerning taste, curious spirit, and stellar research help you get the most from your free entertainment time.  Follow him on Letterboxd as well!

LESSON #2: MARTIN SCORSESE IS WISE— Legendary director Martin Scorsese recently made some comments about the state of film criticism being marginalized by the aggregation and shallow examinations from sites like Rotten Tomatoes becoming the norm.  He called it the “devaluation of cinema,” and he’s not wrong.  This isn’t old-and-out-of-touch-man syndrome.  This is a true expert and historian for the medium.  I shared this story link in the FF Facebook discussion group and set off an excellent discussion any and all interested should check out.

LESSON #3: TRAILERS ARE FULL OF SUGAR-HONEY-ICED-TEA— Shocker!  A two-minute sizzle reel designed to market a film and sell tickets edited by different people than the original filmmakers turns out often to be a manufactured and even inaccurate portrait of the finished product.  You don’t say?!  The Ringer recently put out a dynamite PSA editorial on this topic of lying trailers. Welcome to another of many reasons why I, for one, do not much stock into trailers anymore.  I don’t feel sorry anymore for folks that build unrealistic expectations off of these marketing ploys.  The so-called think pieces called “trailer breakdowns” might just be even worse because they double or even triple the wasted energy to dissect something that is misdirection.  As always, I preach patience.  Let the movie stand for itself and come to you.  In the meantime, I hope the folks at Disney/Marvel take the advice of this Forbes article and don’t give us a shred or second of marketing between now and the untitled Avengers 4.

LESSON #4: JAMES CAMERON NOW CAN’T HELP HIMSELF— Last week, it was pining for superhero movie fatigue to help his own Avatar films down the road.  Now that the spotlight came over, more tape recorders and cameras are running in front of James Cameron.  This week, he’s dropping the hot take that 2001: A Space Odyssey lacks “emotional balls.”  Well, on some level (like Scorsese), he’s not wrong to a degree.  It’s all in a matter of how you say it and present it.  Louis Plamondon, a burgeoning film editor friend of mine, said it best:

“A tell-tale sign that artists have reached the end of their product life cycle in terms of pop culture relevance is whenever they desperately feel the need to drop attention-seeking controversies whose timing is meant to coincide with something they have to sell.” 

Cameron is clinging to relevance with a new AMC series to sell, biding time on Avatar sequels, and it shows.

LESSON #5: THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL HAS BECOME A HOTBED FOR MORE THAN JUST PRESTIGIOUS FILM AND FANCY FASHION— The hoitiest and toitiest of the cinema world descend on the French Riviera beginning on May 8 for the Festival de Cannes.  The slate of high-profile films being screened both in-competition and out-of-competition is impressive (including Solo: A Star Wars Story).  What’s making more headlines than the lineup is what is NOT being allowed to join the competition.  Festival leaders have stated they will not accept Netflix films at the fest, which feels hypocritical when other TV platforms like HBO (Fahrenheit 451) have films there.  In a roller coaster of posturing and power plays, Netflix ended up going from threatening to withhold to flat-out skipping the Cannes Film Festival for consideration.  It’s good to see snobbery is still in full swing.  At least Netflix is self-aware, stating that they want to get in less fights this week with festivals, Oscar voters, and theater companies.  Someone or something needs to broker a compromise.

LESSON #6: WE WILL SEE IF “FIRST TO THE MARKET IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT” REALLY MATTERS— Mixing with the world of television and eager to beat Disney to the punch, Warner Bros. and DC Comics publicly finalized their plans to launch their own exclusive streaming service, named DC Universe, later this year, winning the #f1rst troll award.  Offerings will include exclusive new TitansSwamp Thing, and Harley Quinn series.  DC, in my opinion, has been superior to Marvel in the animated department (both film and television), but I will be curious to see how much film content makes the channel, since that’s where the big bucks are.  This is either going to be a benefit of being first or the set-up to being one-upped by the next guy who can now scout and ahead see what they have to beat.

LESSON #7: THE ACADEMY IS CONTINUING ITS PERSONAL IMPROVEMENT TO TAKE THINGS SERIOUSLY— First it was #OscarsSoWhite and now it’s been the #MeToo movement.  The old standards and blind eyes over at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needed every bit of the criticism and urgency to modernize and change that it’s received the last few years.  The news this week that the Academy has expelled Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski from their membership is an encouraging sign that intolerance is becoming an expectation and new standard.  Coupled with saddness and disappointment at the errors of these men (and Polanski’s call for due process), this effort to re-vet the books is still overdue cleanup and I hope it lasts longer than spring and two men.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  He is a proud member and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  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 FacebookTwitter, and Medium.

 

August 2018 – “Choose Your Director Month”

In January 2017, Feelin’ Film had its inaugural Director Month, covering the films of our favorite director – Christopher Nolan. Going through a single director’s films over the course of several weeks in a row provided a unique perspective on how his work had evolved, and was one of the most enjoyable things we’d done. So, in January 2018, we chose to make Director Month an annual occurrence and covered the films of Stanley Kubrick. This, too, was a wonderful experience for us and left us anxious to do it again.

Looking forward at the new release schedule, we have identified August 2018 as a great time to slip in another Director Month. But this time, we want YOU, our listeners, to choose whose filmography we dive into. Below you will find a list of directors and the corresponding films we would discuss. This is your chance to tell us what you want to hear us talk about on the podcast, and you can vote by clicking on the link below to join our Facebook Discussion Group and selecting your preferred choices in the poll.

Vote Here

Tony Scott

THE LAST BOY SCOUT
MAN ON FIRE
CRIMSON TIDE
DAYS OF THUNDER


Michael Mann

HEAT
COLLATERAL
THIEF
MIAMI VICE


Michael Bay

PAIN AND GAIN
TRANSFORMERS
PEARL HARBOR
THE ROCK


Jeff Nichols

MUD
SHOTGUN STORIES
TAKE SHELTER
LOVING


David Fincher

SE7EN
ZODIAC
FIGHT CLUB
GONE GIRL


Coen Brothers

FARGO
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
THE BIG LEBOWSKI


Clint Eastwood

UNFORGIVEN
MYSTIC RIVER
AMERICAN SNIPER
MILLION DOLLAR BABY


James Cameron

THE ABYSS
TITANIC
ALIENS
TRUE LIES


Martin Scorsese

GOODFELLAS
HUGO
THE DEPARTED
TAXI DRIVER


Wes Anderson

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
MOONRISE KINGDOM
ISLE OF DOGS
FANTASTIC MR. FOX


Kathryn Bigelow

ZERO DARK THIRTY
THE HURT LOCKER
POINT BREAK
NEAR DARK

What We Learned This Week: October 8-14

LESSON #1: THE PREVALENCE OF HARASSMENT IS WORSE THAN WE THINK IT IS— The Harvey Weinstein allegations just keep getting worse with every new name that comes forward and every new story that comes to life.  The word “rape” is now being dropped and that’s a new level of seriousness.  I’m reading many comments on threads that will state “I’m not surprised,” but saying that (and I’m guilty too) slightly lowers the level of necessary outrage.  This stuff has been tossed aside too long.  It’s not the time for more dismissiveness or shoulder shrugs.  It’s time to expose this in each place (including Screen Junkies) and stomp it out.

LESSON #2: OUR FOUNDER/HOST AARON WHITE SPEAKS FOR ME AND OTHER FATHERS ON THIS TOPIC— I had to get my “preach” emoji out for Aaron yesterday on Facebook.  I’m going to quote his post verbatim:

Apparently, it’s not okay for a Dad to reference his daughters when condemning sexual abuse. Newsflash: people will ALWAYS relate to something through that which is closest to them. We’re not somehow less against sexual abuse because having a daughter made it more real for us. Sick of the generalizing and judging going on.

Aaron, I couldn’t agree more and guys like Matt Damon don’t deserve the crap they’re getting in the wake of Weinstein.  Bravo, boss!

LESSON #3: MANY CLASSICS BEGAN AS FLOPS.  WILL THAT BE BLADE RUNNER 2049 OR MOTHER! WHEN WE LOOK BACK AT 2017— Martin Scorsese recently celebrated Darren Aronofsky’s mother! and referenced it next to classics like The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Vertigo that started as misunderstand and maligned disappointments.  The much-hyped Blade Runner 2049 is looking like it’s going to follow the trajectory of its predecessor as a niche favorite and not an instant blockbuster.  As the expression goes, time will tell and it happens every year.  Big hits can become more like also-rans as they age and devoted fans and experts can come to create a cult classic.  Which 2017 films will pass the test of time and become classics?


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 directors 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.

What We Learned This Week: August 20-26

 RETURNING FROM SUMMER VACATION: I take two weeks off and all hell breaks loose!

LESSON #1: “MANSPLAINING” IS NEVER ENDEARING OR RESPECTFUL— For a guy who has fostered one “Strong Female Character” after another, including two of the greatest in Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley, James Cameron sure missed the big picture of Wonder Woman.  In an interview with The Guardian (full context), the Titanic filmmaker stated “All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided” and adds “She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards.”  Well now, Mr. Pott.  What color is the kettle?  Mr. Cameron is entitled to his opinion and slant (the film is far from perfect), but the fun thing is we all get one too.  Don’t worry Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins dropped the mic on him with this commandingly brilliant tweet:

LESSON #2: MOVIEPASS MAY HAVE FINALLY FOUND AN ATTRACTIVE PRICE POINT— Mitch Lowe, the co-founder of Netflix, made tsunami waves recently with a ballsy new business model for the mildly-received MoviePass program.  Reducing the $15-50 per-month rate with plenty of fine print and red tape for a tidy $9.95 fee with new fine print and red tape looks like a steal.  However, will customers buy-in and, more importantly, will theaters play ball at taking a possible haircut?  The AMC Theatres chain (more on them later) immediately pushed back threatening legal action and downright banning MoviePass customers.  You have to love that $10 price point, but how useful is it if the theater companies in your area don’t take it?  Compromise is needed.

LESSON #3: ALONG THE SAME LINES, THE VIDEO ON-DEMAND MARKET IS STILL TRYING TO FIND THEIR PRICE POINT— Some of you might remember that six years ago Universal Studios initially planned to release their tentpole Tower Heist on premium VOD for $59.99 three weeks after its theatrical release with the goal of putting more money in their pockets instead of splitting it with movie theaters.  The notion was met with instant boycott and dismissal (much like the film itself) and the studio backed off.  Here in 2017, media giants Comcast (parent company of Universal), Amazon, and Apple are all developing a new VOD delivery system that will put top-shelf movies out for rental 30-45 days after their theatrical debuts at a $30 price level.  Even with $30 being substantial savings compared to hauling an average family of four to the cinema, that price point still doesn’t work if the digital download and Blu-ray/DVD release windows of $20 permanent ownership (not a temporary rental) keep dramatically shrinking like they have been for a few years.  What used to be an industry-standard of six months or more between silver screen and small screen has been cut in half.  May theatrical releases like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have arrived on August store shelves.  Why wait a month for a single high-priced rental when you can wait three and buy it for keeps for a lesser price?  I don’t see the viable premium VOD marketplace for average tight-budgeted blue collar consumers out there (and that’s not even taking into account the piracy market looming over anything VOD related).

LESSON #4: SURPRISE, SURPRISE!  DISNEY IS OUT TO MAKE ITS OWN MONEY WITHOUT PARTNERS— When you make billions hand over fist, you get to call the shots or, better yet, go out make your own game.  The Walt Disney Company will pull its lucrative movies off Netflix and launch its own branded streaming subscription platform in 2019.  They don’t need Netflix when they have the clout and fanbase to create their own exclusivity and keep all the money.  I can’t say I blame them and I stand by my prognostication from earlier in the summer for the day Disney/Marvel pulls out of San Diego’s Comic-Con and lets their own D23 be the one-way fan access point to that frenzy.

LESSON #5: NETFLIX IS NOT INVINCIBLE— From the outside looking in, casual observers (and this very column) have been exceedingly impressed by Netflix’s huge push in creating their own original television and film content.  They have thrown tremendous resources with the aim of attracting more customers and now have the $20 billion of debt to prove it.  Subscriptions are up an astounding 25% since last year, so the gamble is working, but how long can a company like that sustain those spending habits on top of Disney pulling out?  Expect an investment bubble to burst in some area (licensing fees with the studios) and, naturally, a raise in subscription rates passed onto us very soon to recoup that debt.

LESSON #6: HAS THE SLOW DEATH OF THE MULTIPLEX BEGUN?— Options like MoviePass, VOD, and Netflix have not come close to creating a new entertainment access monopoly large enough to overtake the big screen marketplace.  That said, even with price point challenges and debt issues, have the little dents and pin pricks started to add up to true damage?  I, for one, am beginning to at least wonder.   Blockbuster fatigue, thanks to poor performing duds like The Mummy, have taken their toll on consumer spending and confidence.  Multiple business outlets broke the news that AMC Theatres took a dramatic second quarter loss (and is staring at a third quarter one coming) that caused shares to fall 40% since the beginning of August.  The overall American box office is down a scant 4.4% from last year.  If that’s all it takes to financially wound one theatre chain, how are the other ones doing?  How are they sustaining 20+ screen multiplexes hawking bargain attempts and hokey incentives only to still sit empty on weeknights against growing operating costs?  I bet they’re not doing much better than AMC.  I have to think some form of internal, yet dramatic, contraction is coming.  Movies survived the invention of television.  They will survive digital and device shifts, but not without a shift or two of their own.

LESSON #7: I DON’T KNOW WHAT WARNER BROS. IS DOING WITH THE DC CHARACTER FILMS AND I DON’T THINK THEY KNOW EITHER— Spinning off of Wonder Woman‘s success as the #1 earner of the summer, Warner Bros. has the ambitious DC Extended Universe schedule of Justice LeagueAquaman, ShazamWonder Woman 2Cyborg, and Green Lantern Corps locked on the calendar through 2020.  It’s the slate after that has created a flurry of questions this week.  Matt Reeves made it known that his The Batman will be a standalone film outside of the DCEU and spread gasoline-dipped rumors of Ben Affleck being out at the Caped Crusader.  The WB brass then added the dreamy Martin Scorsese/Todd Phillips team-up announcement of a spin-off Joker solo origin story film without Jared Leto and on its own.  Confounding us even more a day later, the studio reveals they are concurrently planning a Joker/Harley Quinn film starring Leto and Margot Robbie that will be within the DCEU.  What is all this?!  Is Warner Bros. admitting defeat at building a Marvel-like universe and course-correcting to make focused films or are we watching greedy, hubris, and befuddlement? If so, why carry both? This DCEU timeline is going to start looking a clue board spider-webbed with red yarn from a police procedural or a Charlie Day meme.

LESSON #8: EWAN MCGREGOR OR NO ONE— I’ll bring the first fanboy torch and pitchfork to Disney’s announcement of an Obi-wan Kenobi solo anthology film coming in the near future.  Cast Ewan McGregor or no one at all.  After the flop of Alden Ehrenreich requiring an acting coach for Han Solo, cast some damn proven talent.  Call it stability as much as you call it justified fan service.

LESSON #9: LOOK TO ITALY AS THE OSCAR SEASON STARTS NOW— The prime third quarter film festival season kicks off with the prestigious Venice Film Festival beginning on August 30th and the top-shelf Toronto International Film Festival starting on September 7th.  The lineup in Venice includes first looks at Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!, George Clooney’s Suburbicon, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of WaterJudi Dench’s crown in Victoria and Abdul, and the Redford/Fonda reunion Our Souls at Night.  I’ll share the killer TIFF lineup next week.  Get your coffee mugs ready to receive a pouring of Oscar buzz!


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 directors 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.

What We Learned This Week: February 19-25

LESSON #1: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GOING TO NETFLIX— I don’t know where the stigma came that Netflix is where losers go to get work.  It’s probably because of the current career chapter of Adam Sandler being housed there.  Many auteur feathers were ruffled by the news that Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited reunion film “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, and the long-lost Joe Pesci, was heading to Netflix instead of a wide theatrical release via Paramount Pictures.  This is a business decision, plain and simple, and Netflix has come to play.  They want to get into the prestige film business and have the resources to do it and exclusivity to offer.  I can completely see Paramount’s end of it too.  As deeply loved and respected (to death) as “Silence” was, the opus was a flop for Paramount’s bottom line, earning back a scant $7 million and change against a $40 million budget.  Also, let’s look at marketability.  What was the last marque hit headlined by De Niro or Pacino as legit leads?  Face it, they are legends mired in decline.  I don’t care how many people love the old days of “Goodfellas.”  If the modern stars of “The Wolf of Wall Street” can only mildly top the $100 million plateau after an Oscar push on a $100 million budget, “The Irishman,” bearing the same $100 budget and likely R-rated genre, doesn’t stand much of a better chance with old has-beens above the title.  Any junior marketing intern can show Paramount that math.

LESSON #2: DIRECTOR GORE VERBINSKI IS BROKEN AND NEEDS FIXING— Discerning movie audiences were stoked at the proposition of director Gore Verbinski going back to his “The Ring”-esque horror/thriller roots with “A Cure for Wellness” after five Johnny Depp films (three “Pirates” movies, “Rango,” and “The Lone Ranger”).  Gaudy results or not, the man has talent.  Audiences didn’t bite and the film debuted in a distant 11th place.  “A Cure for Wellness” should have been just what the doctor ordered.  He needs some career rehab now.  He needs something different and has to resist the temptation to go back to the Depp well for a weak commercial hit to stay on the radar.

LESSON #3: AWARD WINNERS ARE ALLOWED TO GET AS POLITICAL AS THEY WANT IN ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES— I’m going to put this out there in advance.  It’s called freedom of speech.  They earned their 45 seconds of mic time before the orchestra plays them off and it’s their choice to use it however they want.  If you don’t like it, turn the channel.  Go to the kitchen for a snack.  Take a bathroom break.  Problem solved.  It’s that easy.  I’ll forward the internet meme rant here: You lost the right to bitch about this when you elected an unqualified reality TV show host as the President of the United States of America.  Enjoy your TV dinner of hypocrisy and butthurt feelings.

LESSON #4: FOR EVERY OSCAR-WINNING FILM THIS WEEKEND, THERE ARE 10 OTHER NON-NOMINATED FILMS OF BURIED TREASURE WAITING FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT— Let’s say this too in advance before Sunday’s 89th Academy Awards.  The Oscars are a pinnacle for a politically-voted process of taste and preference.  Their taste can inform, but will never replace and should not solely dictate your taste or your barometer of preferences.  You get to like and shower the films you love with praise.  Fly your own flag and love the movies you love.  The amount of excellent films that will never win an Oscar is larger than those that will.  Dig deeper and find your own buried treasure.  If you need some picks from last year, here’s a list of 16 hidden gems from 2016, all making under $1 million at the box office.  Only one of them, the documentary “Life, Animated” was nominated for Sunday.

 

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.