Episode 098: Black Panther

Black Panther has arrived and Marvel’s latest film is shattering box office records and receiving plenty of praise in its first weekend. We’re joined by Emmanuel Noisette of Eman’s Movie Reviews to discuss the cultural importance and quality of entertainment that Ryan Coogler’s film brings.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:02:12

(Aaron – Hamilton: An American Musical)

Black Panther Review – 0:09:21

The Connecting Point – 1:30:15


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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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MOVIE REVIEW: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER (2018)

GOING IN

This is the most excited I’ve been for a Marvel film in several years. Black Panther looks to be set in a completely unique world that feels like an African Asgard. The importance of this superhero film for African Americans is significant, too, and cannot be dismissed. With a cast of incredible actors of color plus two of my favorite Tolkien-universe stars, and director Ryan Coogler whose never made anything less than an excellent film, expectations are high that this will be a comic book movie to remember. Plus, his superhero persona is a cat. I mean, c’mon… who doesn’t love cats?

2 Hours and 14 Minutes Later.


COMING OUT

There’s nothing quite like that feeling when a highly hyped movie delivers the goods. It’s euphoric and can lead to long bouts of smiling the rest of the day. When that film is in a genre that has largely become stagnant and routine, a diamond emerging from the rough is an even bigger deal, and cause for great celebration. Those who have followed Ryan Coogler’s brief career thus far (Fruitvale Station, Creed) knew the young director had the chops to pull of a great Black Panther movie, and boy did he ever.

Early in the film, T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) tells him “Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” This little nugget of wisdom feels like foreshadowing because that is exactly what Coogler and this fantastic cast have done with Black Panther. Marvel movies make money and are highly enjoyable, so the formula thus far has worked just fine. But Coogler, who also co-wrote the film, has definitely elevated that formula and created something with so much more depth than the majority of comic book films. Fans are constantly clamoring for these films to be more than just jokes and great action, and to have some genuine stakes. Because of the more personal level of the conflict in Black Panther it has those necessary stakes, both for T’Challa as a king and the nation of Wakanda. Coogler’s film also tackles the reality of African American history while comparing that to an incredibly advanced civilization free from colonization and bondage. The subtle but strong way the story handles all of these topics is what makes it so special.

Well, that and the acting. Black Panther features a standout cast that just rocks it in almost every role. Andy Serkis steps out of the motion capture suit to play villain Ulysses Klaue and promptly steals every scene he is in. It’s a performance that is dripping with that exaggerated comic book style and I ate up every second he was on screen. Pairing with him in the villain role is Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, who unsurprisingly is phenomenal. Goodness gracious can this guy act! I’ll be blunt – these two together are the best Marvel villains we’ve seen. In Killmonger, for once Marvel has given us a villain worth caring about, and the difference in personality and motivation between he and Klaue makes for superb entertainment. Other standouts are Danai Gurira as Okoye, as T’Challa’s Wakandan General and absolute bad-ass warrior. Her performance is fierce and she epitomizes the strength of Wakandan women who may live under a patriarchy, but are every bit as equal and valued as the men. I could go on and on, but the aforementioned Letitia Wright also was excellent. As T’Challa’s sister, she provides an interesting picture of someone who has grown up with the comfort and technology of a secret tribal country yet still has the sensibilities of a wide-eyed teenager. She gives the film plenty of its humor and is the primary vessel for us to learn about and fall in love with Wakandan vibranium tech (which is AWESOME).

The setting of Wakanda is a beautiful, at times breathtaking, fascinating sort of African Asgard. The filmmakers took great care to make each tribe look and feel unique. Everything about this world felt so vibrant and traditional, from the rituals to the manner of conversation. Much of the score features tribal music with beating drums that fit perfectly, but at times it also switches up to modern musical styles. This is best shown in one particular fight scene where the style of music alternated back and forth based on which character was shown in battle.

Black Panther is truly great, but it isn’t quite perfect. My two biggest complaints about the film are its CGI and a few of the narrative choices made during the climax that felt like shortcuts. The climax also felt a little long to me, but that’s a minor quibble. The CGI being wonky was a major problem in a genre that showcases its heroes using their abilities. Many times it was so bad that it took me out of the moment and lessened the intensity of the action sequence taking place. There are definitely great moments, many relating to the Panther’s kinetic reflecting suit, but overall it was still a letdown from a studio that should be acing that element.

VERDICT

Black Panther may not be king of the MCU, but it certainly is a worthy challenger for that mantle. The film’s deep themes and focus on developing characters makes it linger in your thoughts even after the high has passed. This is the first Marvel film in a long time that I immediately purchased tickets to see again. There are so many great lessons and they’re all contained in a beautifully unique wrapper unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Representation matters and Black Panther is certainly an important step forward in film, but it’s also just a damn good comic book movie and reminder of what the genre can be at its height. Wakanda Forever.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on how his expectations influenced his experience. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

What We Learned This Week: December 10-16

LESSON #1: $54 BILLION DOLLARS IS AN ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNT OF MONEY— The huge Disney/Fox deal that has been rumored finally became official on Thursday.  If you thought the two $4 billion deals Disney paid years ago for Marvel Comics and LucasFilm properties was high, the price tag on this one is enormous, but consider the prizes being the list of holdings coming over in this merger (see the article).  As before in this column, I get the fanboy dreams possible with this (see the character rights breakdown picture below), but I am going to miss the separation of history.  Here’s a good article of the 102-history of Fox.  I remain questioning whether this really is a good thing.

LESSON #2: YOUR R-RATED DEADPOOL WILL BE FINE UNDER THE DISNEY UMBRELLA— Disney CEO Bob Iger already answered one fan uproar after the merger with a statement on the fate of R-rated content like Deadpool coming over form Fox.  His final line was “As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”  People forget Walt Disney used to own the Dimension Films brand from 1993-1999 responsible for films like From Dusk Till Dawn and the Scream franchise.  All Iger and company have to do is create another production shingle under another name just like Dimension.  Hell, just call it 20th Century Fox.  Easy peasy!  Disney’s not going to say no to hit-making money.

LESSON #3: THE GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS REMAIN AN ABSOLUTE JOKE— This is becoming a yearly rant, but so many of the Golden Globe nominations announced Monday reek of questionable voting, taste, and any semblance of intelligence.  Snubs happen with any awards, but there’s are always more dumbfounding.    The Hollywood Foreign Press never seem to get the category split between comedy and drama right in a believable way.  Zero comedy love for The Big Sick?  No women directors?  Come on.  We’ve always heard the hints that this is a pay-for-play popularity contest for foreign press to throw a party to see and be seen.  I’ve just about stopped watching them altogether.  Still, as always, their winners senselessly affect Oscar races and it stinks.

LESSON #4: SOME FILMS HAVE NOT AGED WELL— I’ve been meaning to do some retrospectives this year since this is the 20th year since I graduated high school in 1997.  This past week, I charted my reflective “10 Best” of 1997 and several other lists and categories on Every Movie Has a Lesson.  The topic came to mind of what films have aged well or poorly over time.  I certainly had some films from 1997 that went down in love and appreciation for me in twenty years.  ScreenRant recently did a piece on the topic and made some great picks.  What are some films that have not aged well for you?  What are some films you liked long ago but have changed your mind on now?  Comment and let’s hear some thoughts and titles.


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 FacebookTwitterMedium, and Creators Media.

 

 

Episode 084: Thor: Ragnarok

For this week’s episode we find ourselves leaving travelling with the mighty Thor on his third solo adventure. Indie filmmaker Taika Waititi takes the reigns of the MCU and molds Thor: Ragnarok with his signature comedic style. The result is an aesthetically unique, visually striking, and hilarious new superhero film. But is that enough? We both enjoyed the film, but its absence of emotional weight provides us with an opportunity for a big conversation about how important stakes are in the comic book film genre.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:04

Aaron (The Room)
Patrick (Burnt)

THOR: RAGNAROK Review – 0:20:21

The Connecting Point – 1:11:49

Contact

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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What We Learned This Week: October 29-November 4

LESSON #1: SCOUTING THE RIGHT TALENT IS KEY TO MARVEL’S SUCCESS— How does this low-risk MCU blueprint keep coming up with winners? One way is by scouting comedic talent in front of and behind the camera. Look first at the casting of Marvel’s core leads: Robert Downey, Jr.Chris EvansChris PrattPaul RuddBenedict Cumberbatch, and, in Thor: Ragnarok‘s case, Chris Hemsworth. Each of them (follow the links) bring an easily-activated range of humor to not take themselves so seriously. If you’re shooting for overall levity, you call on the nimble and agile.  The same search for farce can be said for many of Marvel’s directorial choices: Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Anthony and Joe Russo, James Gunn, and Peyton Reed. All have witty and wisecracking credits on their resumes. Add director Taika Waititi’s name to that list. The peppy New Zealander behind Hunt for the Wilder People and What We Do in the Shadows merges his wholesome storytelling sensibilities with a frisky and playful side of sarcasm to sharpen the camp of the comic book content of Thor: Ragnarok.

LESSON #2: NETFLIX CAN STILL BE A BIT OF A BALLHOG— Jeff Huston of “I Can’t Unsee That Movie” has an excellent editorial piece recently talking about the day-and-date release strategy of Netflix.  Thanks to their deep pockets to win some distribution bids on prominent international film festival performers like The Meyerowitz Stories, First They Killed My Father, and Our Souls at Night, high caliber independent films are available on their streaming service at the same time as a soft and limited theatrical release.  The article calls into question how this practice actually does a disservice to the theater end of things and I happen to agree, though I celebrate Netflix plenty (see next lesson) for getting the “gets.” While it’s nice that the arthouse theater scene is being filled with something, the Netflix availability dramatically shortens any helpful effect of attendance the arthouse could really use.  There’s got to be a middle stagger of compromise in there.  Give the arthouse 4-8 weeks of exclusivity and then Netflix gets it forever, something to that effect where both benefit.

LESSON #3: NETFLIX IS ALL-IN ON ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING— We’ve been seeing Netflix’s not-so-quiet surge all year with their self-financed original feature film offerings and have been amazed.  They keep getting bigger, especially with Will Smith’s Bright around the corner.  Now the ambition and push have a target number and it’s bigger than we thought.  Recently, the streaming giant said their 2018 goal is 80 original films.  That is an astounding number that runs circles around Hollywood studios that maybe put out a quarter of that into the multiplexes.  Love them or hate them, Netflix is quadrupling down on being a big-time player.

LESSON #4: DEMAND-BASED PRICING IS GOING TO BE AN INTERESTING EXPERIMENT— We filmgoers don’t often see the business dealings happening behind the curtain and multiplex doors.  For a taste of it, read the strict details Disney is placing on theater chains for the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi and you’ll get an idea of the bitter competition for the almighty dollar.  All we see is ticket prices going up and wondering why while we shake our heads and still open up our wallets.  In an effort to earn a little extra, the Regal Cinemas chain recently announced a trial of demand-based/surge pricing where the hits will cost more than the flops on your receipt.  Seeing the business end of that Last Jedi example, I get theaters trying to squeeze, but one has to wonder if such practice will work.  I don’t like its chances.  All I see are movie studios then asking for a bigger cut on top.


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.  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.

MOVIE REVIEW: Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)




Going In

More like Thor: Ragnarock ‘n Roll, amirite? From what we’ve seen in trailers, Taika Waititi’s film looks to be a wild ride bursting with color, sound, and laughs. I am admittedly burned out on the superhero genre, but Thor: Ragnarok could be something fresh instead of the standard Marvel fare, and that gives me hope. Embracing the Asgardian mythology and combining Thor’s world with one of my favorite comic book stories (Planet Hulk) provides opportunities galore for rich storytelling. I have faith in Waititi and expect that at the very least he and this impressively assembled cast will provide viewers with a fun time at the movies.


COMING OUT

If Thor: Ragnarok is one thing, it’s funny.  No, that’s not a strong enough word. It’s hilarious. Laugh out loud funny. Multiple times. For those who are familiar with Taika Waititi’s filmography this should come as no surprise. The man’s comedic timing is truly great, and his role (you didn’t even know he was acting in the film did you?) steals the show. As a director, Waititi sets the film firmly in its comedic tone right from the start, and it never lets up. Almost everyone gets in the action, from Jeff Goldblum’s eccentric and entertaining Grandmaster to Tessa Thompson’s alcoholic but strong Valkyrie, and of course Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) have plenty of fantastic banter between them. Thor: Ragnarok‘s humor really is its strongest feature and it’s some of the best the MCU has to offer.

But what about the story? If you’re looking for this to be the Marvel film that bucks the routine style of previous films, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The incredible electronic, neon, fantasy aesthetic is a very cool coat of paint on the same old formula. Heroic actions and sacrifice just don’t have much weight to them because everything is a joke in this world. There were numerous conversations where I thought that meaningful character development was coming, but there is never a dramatic payoff. The humor is a constant undercurrent and while it makes the film a lot of fun to watch, it has no depth or staying power because we never connect with the characters or events on anything more than a surface level.

That’s not to say that characters don’t have arcs – they do. This is a hero’s journey for Thor, but other characters must also find out who they truly are if Asgard is going to be saved from the Goddess of Death. That goddess, played by the incredible Cate Blanchett, had potential to be one of the best Marvel villains. Her backstory is intriguing and the film does a great job with the Norse mythology as a whole. Unfortunately, she has little to do other than sling knives around and recite history. She does definitely bring it in the action department, though, and is a worthy foe for Thor and his team. When she’s at her strongest and Thor goes full God of Thunder, it is a sight to see.

Verdict

Thor: Ragnarok plays in an exciting new genre for Marvel. Its overall aesthetic and tone commit fully to the comedic nature of the MCU and results in one of the funniest Marvel films to date. If a fun, entertaining, visually striking, and hilarious experience is what you’re after, this is a must see. It’s too bad that Waititi couldn’t give it a little more depth and heart, though, because that’s what would have truly been something new. As it stands, Thor: Ragnarok will wow you for a few hours, but you’re likely to forget all about it in a few days.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on how his expectations influenced his experience. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: October 2-8, 2017

There’s a long and sordid history to the relationship between Marvel and 20th Century Fox when it comes to mutants. Marvel had the mutants, Fox bought the mutants, Fox made lots of money off of the mutants, Marvel would like to have the mutants back, but Fox, understandably, is a fan of making all of the money. In lieu of mutants, Marvel inserted Inhumans (who are pretty much space mutants as opposed to genetic mutants) into its MCU via the Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD program and had solid results that helped the show find its voice. Now Fox has its mutants and Marvel has its mutants and because everything now gets made into a television show, we’ve come to this; a 2017 Fall TV Battle Royale of mutants featuring ABC’s Inhumans versus Fox’s The Gifted

The Gifted was a tight little pilot that told us what we needed to know about the world. Mutants exist, but they’re illegal and they’re being hunted. Our main characters are the Strucker’s. Reed Strucker is a lawyer who helps prosecute mutants, his son Andy’s struggle with being bullied reveals latent mutant powers, his daughter Lauren reveals mutant powers she’s been hiding to rescue her brother, and now the family is on the run to Mexico with a group of mutants that Mr. Strucker was previously trying to put behind bars. It’s short and sweet and to this point, uncomplicated. It succeeds because it focuses on character and not on spectacle. The cast is led by the amazing Amy Acker as Kate, the matriarch of the Strucker family. The way they make the decision on a dime to leave their life behind to protect their children and live as fugitives and the fact that they don’t really have any idea how to live life on the run rings true to life and immediately makes them feel like a real family. What makes X-Men so great is that behind all of the world saving are small stories of people learning to be unafraid of who they are. The Gifted appears to understand that and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season.

Inhumans is an absolute mess. They live on the moon apparently, and they have a king and queen and some sort of ruling counsel, but there’s been a power struggle recently and there is some unrest. The king is Black Bolt and his queen is Medusa. They appear happy together, but the king’s brother Maximus (played by Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon) thinks that they should be living on earth for…reasons…and he’s sure enough that he’s right that he stages a coup to seize control of the kingdom. Unfortunately for him, his plan to have his brother and sister in law arrested backfires and instead they’re taken to earth by the queen’s sister, who has all-time bad hair, and her giant teleporting dog. If that seems at all clear, then the show should hire me as a writer because it’s not at all clear on the screen. Adding to the poorly told story are multiple groan worthy performances, eye-roll inducing levels of blurted out exposition and fight choreography that immediately reminded me of my early teenage obsession with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It’s awful, it’s terrible, and I don’t know if I’ll watch anymore because I hated it.

I’m not usually one to totally give up on a show after one episode, but if Inhumans vs. The Gifted were a boxing match, Inhumans fell twice and was saved by the bell from a TKO in the first round. The difference in the quality, acting, direction, effects, etc. between the two shows was night and day. So to summarize: If you’re only going to watch one show about mutants this season, watch The Gifted. If you’re going to watch two, watch The Gifted twice. Both The Gifted and Inhumans can be streamed on Hulu.com.

 

Channel Surfing:

  • This Is Us is officially 2 for 2 in making me cry in this young season. I had someone ask me this week what makes the show so good and my answer was simply that it feels more real than most television. Things don’t come easy for these characters. They make decisions to do things and they fall on their face. But they always get back up again with help from their family. I know that not everyone has that experience with their families, but I’m blessed to be able to say that I do. And the family on This Is Us reminds me of my family. We can be intrusive and annoying and neurotic, but we’re also always there. Season 2 is off to a good start. This Is Us can be streamed at Hulu.com or at NBC.com.
  • Designated Survivor is back and it’s still not a good show. But it’s pretty fun. One large dangling thread from season one was wrapped up this week, but I’m sure something else bad will be coming down the pike pretty soon. If this show becomes West Wing, it will be unwatchable. It’s a show that blew up the Capitol in the cold open of it’s pilot. It’s stakes need to be ridiculous, so I hope they keep it that way.
  • I caught a new show this week that I’m hoping will stick around long enough to stick around for a while called Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. It stars Jason Ritter as Kevin, a down on his luck former high school hot shot who returns to his hometown to live with his twin sister and her daughter after the death of her husband. I don’t want to say more, I just want you to watch it. The pilot was the perfect combo of funny and heart-warming and it was the second show of the week to make me cry. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World can be streamed at Hulu.com or at ABC.com.
  • I’m going to recommend a documentary that you can check out on Netflix even though that’s probably technically out of my lane. But it’s only 40 minutes long, so it’s like a 1 hour TV special, which would be in my lane. It’s called Long Shot and I’m not going to tell you anything about it except that it’s intriguing and surprising and absolutely delightful. Don’t read about it or watch Netflix’s trailer, just watch the show. You can thank me later.

That’s all for this week. Next week, the Arrowverse is back! I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about that. If there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group.

What We Learned This Week: July 16-22

LESSON #1:  WALT DISNEY DISNEY STUDIOS IS GOING TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY— I’ve mentioned in this column in the past about how Disney’s multibillion dollar purchases of Marvel Comics and LucasFilm look like bargains.  Throw in their cushy partnership of Pixar and Disney is stocked like Tom Brady’s mansion.  Their 2017-2019 release calendar (see image below) is absolutely loaded with popular content and a wealth of merchandising tie-ins.  Just move Fort Knox to Orlando or Anaheim already.

LESSON #2: DISNEY IS MISSING OUT ON ORIGINAL CONTENT— Looking at that slate of future cash cows, there is one “BUT” or one orange flag.  Where is the original content that used to make Disney great?  Where are the live-action works like Queen of Katwe?  Seventeen of the 21 films on that list are sequels, reboots, or parts of existing franchises.  That number goes up to 18-of-22 you include Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin.   I get that they sell, but sequels can bomb and even the perfection that is Pixar has been burned by them.  Other than Coco and A Wrinkle in Time, I don’t see Disney learning that lesson.

LESSON #3: DISNEY’S D23 FAN CLUB CONVENTION WILL REPLACE THEIR SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON PARTICIPATION— Speaking of making waves and making money, this lesson is more a prediction of something I think will come to pass very soon.  With their annual D23 convention, Disney has their own stage to showcase their own products without the competition or sharing that comes from Hall H in San Diego.  They also have full control and get every dime that comes from that event.  To quote Field of Dreams, “if you build it, he will come.”  Disney has the products people want to see and, thanks to their theme parks, they know people will pay to travel across the country to interact with them.  They have their own thing with 100% profit.  They don’t need San Diego anymore.

LESSON #4: REMOVE THE RACE LABELS FROM MOVIES— A film with predominantly black performers isn’t a “black film.”  It’s “a film” the same way you, I, or we would say for a film with white performers.  The caveat is when the film is in another language than English.  Then you can use the adjective “foreign” or “foreign language” film.  To use a race label in 2017 is embarrassing and more than borderline cultural segregation.  For a side-by-side comparison on this point, look at this summer’s earlier Rough Night and the new Girls Trip opening this weekend and how they are perceived and ultimately marketed.  My favorite line from the linked article from The Outline is “if it feels unfairly reductive to categorize movies as ‘white’ or ‘black,’ that’s because it is.”  Start removing these labels from your vernacular.


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.

Episode 066: Spider-Man: Homecoming

This week we’re excited to be talking about our friendly neighborhood web-slinger and his triumphant return to Marvel storytelling control. Spider-Man: Homecoming is fun, fun, fun. We discuss new tech, getting the high school setting right, and who our favorite Spider-Man of the past 20 years is.

What We’ve Been Up To – 001:15

(Aaron –  Board Games/Pandemic Legacy: Season 1)
(Patrick – The 48-Hour Film Project)

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review – 0:23:59

The Connecting Point – 1:12:47

Contact

Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode 


Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

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Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

What We Learned This Week: May 7-13

LESSON #1: DISNEY UNDERPAID WHEN THEY BOUGHT MARVEL— In 2009, The Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion dollars.  I’m sure that seems like an astronomical sum, but the Disney/Marvel films have been printing money, with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” bringing home $425 million worldwide this weekend on its way to almost certainly $1 billion-plus before it’s done in theaters.  In eight short years starting with “Iron Man 2,” Disney/Marvel films have earned approximately $9.8 billion at the theater box office alone (that will cross $10 billion this week).  That’s a total without all of the regular comics, home media, toys, and other merchandise sold on top of that.  Four billion dollars is looking like a pittance.  We’ll be doing this same math for Disney again in December when “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” drops and makes another killing at the box office.

LESSON #2: JAMES GUNN HAS EARNED CREATIVE CREDIBILITY— When the official word came down that last month that James Gunn will return to helm “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” it was also revealed that writer/director would be joining the inner circle of the MCU’s braintrust.  Gunn stated “I will be working side-by-side with Kevin Feige and the gang to help design where these stories go, and make sure the future of the Marvel Cosmic Universe is as special and authentic and magical as what we have created so far.”  Retaining a mind and a talent like James Gunn should call for backflips.  He has earned artistic respect and is the right man to join that team.

LESSON #3: THE 1970s WERE THE BEST DECADE OF THE CENTURY OF AMERICAN POP CULTURE— This lesson statement is designed to inspire debate.  Maybe I’m loving too hard on the stellar soundtracks of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, but I’m ready to call this prize fight.  No great decade of pop culture since silent film and recorded music began around 100 years ago can top the 1970s.  The music was eclectic and transformative, no matter the genre from rock and disco to soul and jazz.  In film, the 1970s were the peak of the New Hollywood era, a stratosphere of seminal films, emerging filmmakers, and dynamic performers that changed the entire industry and still inspire it to this day.  While there have been strong singular years or small stretches elsewhere, it’s not even close to volume of the 1970s.


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.