What We Learned This Week: April 6-19

LESSON #1: TRUST YOUR AUDIENCE TO BE DISCERNING AND MATURE WHEN NECESSARY— As if you haven’t suspected such for a while, the prudish filter at Disney is thicker than cured concrete and more petty than your worst boss. For an odd and slightly depressing example, Disney+ recently felt the need to digitally edit some minor and non-sexual nudity from the classic romantic comedy Splash. Apparently, the sweet cheeks of a mermaid will burn children’s eyes alive. Grant your audience more discerning maturity, Disney. I get that profits and fandom demand that Disney champion and maintain a family-friendly brand image, but not everyone in every family needs the same cuddling and coddling. Between edits like this and quietly vaulting the harder Fox titles it acquired since last fall, Disney looks worse hiding it than they would embracing it. An easy fix is giving all of this content its own warning label shingle or (even better for the stockholders) its own paid gateway. You can’t tell me a restarted Touchstone Pictures wing (where Disney used to bankroll the PG-13 and further stuff) or Fox Studios-branded streaming service with the likes of Alien and Predator wouldn’t have an eager audience. Disney profits from putting that content out there and builds a future empire home for new projects down the road. All they would have is their name in the corner of the ownership deed in fine print. That sounds like a win to me. Instead, they’re too scared of Song of the South Daryl Hannah’s butt.

LESSON #2: THERE IS A POSSIBLE FUTURE WILL MAY HAVE TO EMBRACE— A fascinating editorial by Scott Mendelson in Forbes made the rounds on #FilmTwitter and our own Feelin’ Film Facebook group. It onlines the future of cinema with as many clouds and rays of sunshine. The potential truths are hard to swallow, but extremely possible. The senior contributor backs his conjecture with strong stats. It’s an outstanding read about the big picture that many may not want to hear but will have to admit is possible. 

LESSON #3: CHANGES COMMONLY START AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL— This pandemic industry shutdown is pushing more than just a few toes to be dipped into the streaming marketplace as a front-line option. Whole studio lower torsos are wading in those waters and some are making those waves from the top down. You may not notice change immediately, but keep an eye on Warner Media and the hire of their new CEO Jason Kilar, the 48-year-old former founder of Vessel and board member at Universal and Dreamworks. The IndieWire article link wants to call this the beginning of the death of Old Hollywood. He certainly has different experience and goals. Watch the shifts coming at the WB. 

LESSON #4: SOMEBODY PUSH MARTIN SCORSESE AWAY FROM THE BUDGET BUFFET TABLE— I don’t want to roll the first two lessons as a lead-in to this one, but a harsher version of this one could read “Change or Die.” Quintessential filmmaker Martin Scorsese is out there with his hat in his hand asking Apple and Netflix for money to make his next project Killers of the Flower Moon. Surely, the conglomerates could spare a few million for one of the finest artists of the century to continue his passion. The problem is Martin is holding out a 200-million-gallon hat. That’s the dollar amount he “needs.” Boomer, that’s too much. Trade some filet mignon for some mac-and-cheese. Trim a few excesses. Make a few more economical choices. I don’t blame Paramount one bit for balking at that dollar amount. They wouldn’t see a return on their investment and that’s exactly the same reason the wildly over-budget The Irishman landed on Netflix. Even kudos cost money. It will be very telling if even Netflix and their deep pockets say no.

LESSON #5: CAN WE GET A MORATORIUM ON ROBIN HOOD FILMS?— Look, I know the Robin Hood creation and character have been open to the public domain for five centuries, but that doesn’t mean we need to have some kind of bastardized film attempt every two years. Sure, the old foxy Disney animated folly is a cute one. However, even that movie getting the live-action “reimagining” treatment from Blindspotting filmmaker Carlos Lopez Estrada still counts as one more sloppy thing to stick to a wall to see if it sticks. Can we put some years in between the opportunities to beat this character to death? Go make another King Arthur, Spider-Man, or Batman incarnation… oh wait… 

LESSON #6: IF YOU’RE RUNNING OUT OF QUARANTINE RECOMMENDATIONS, HIT UP JAMES GUNN— The genre-fueled tastes of the Guardians of the Galaxy director would make any fanboy proud. What started as a gargantuan list of 140 films on Twitter was simmered down to 54 on SlashFilm. That’s a pocket full of gems and the article is kind enough to tell your coach potato self where to watch them.

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. His movie review work is also published on 25YL (25 Years Later) 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 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.  (#129)

What We Learned This Week: March 30-April 5

LESSON #1: ONE MORE TIME, FOR THOSE IN THE BACK, TRY NEW MOVIES— If you heat anyone pouting that there’s nothing new to consume, tell them they’re not looking hard enough. Don’t watch the same comfort food you’ve seen 30 times. Dig deeper. Challenge yourself. Check out Hoopla, Kanopy, and more. On Kanopy alone, there are 107 of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies.” That’s second to the Criterion Channel and f’n free with a library card. If deep isn’t your speed and mainstream is still your drug of choice, check out HBO’s new free streaming offerings for some excellent options, new Netflix additions for April, and Pixar’s Onward just hit Disney+ on April 3rd. Finally, keep the patience coming. Disney’s Artemis Fowl joins Trolls World Tour and The Lovebirds as the first theatrical movies to announce a straight-to-on-demand release instead of postponement (more on that later).

LESSON #2: SHORT FILMS ARE WORTH YOUR TIME TOO— When it comes to broadening your palette beyond vanilla, I’ll also recommend casting a line for some excellent world of short films. Many that were going to screen at the cancelled SXSW Film Festival are being made available on Amazon Prime. There’s also a massive collection of 66 Oscar-nominated and award-winning shorts being made available thanks to the National Board of Canada. Thanks, neighbors!

LESSON #3: HOMESCHOOLING CAN INCLUDE MOVIES— Raise your hand if, not only are you stuck at home right now, you are being called upon to be a school teacher as a parent for whatever e-learning initiative is thrust upon your children. As a school teacher myself, I’m one of those educational bartenders pouring those stiff drinks, and I feel you. Take this column and lesson as permission from a legitimate professional. There’s no reason you can’t include movies in your lessons (after all, look at my website name). Remember when we were kids and this popular meme was true:

Well, it’s your turn to bring that joy to children. Home is the classroom now and you (or at least you better) control the TV. It’s time to shine. Best Movies Right Now has put together a perfect 50-film Netflix homeschooling playlist that encompasses science, social studies, literature, and more. This gets my highest teacher’s stamp of approval:

LESSON #4: LET THE ADVANCE POSTURING BEGIN— Someday hopefully the blockbusters will emerge from forced hibernation.  Disney took out its bundle of flags and, like an Oklahoma Land Rush, laid claim to new release dates for the next two years and change for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and more. Take a peek:

Just as when there isn’t a stoppage such as this, when Disney lands, they land with bullying authority. That’s a whole bunch of superheroes that will test the fatigue some (crazy) people feel. Their presence will either add competition to what was already there or make everyone else move. More often it’s the latter.

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. His movie review work is also published on 25YL (25 Years Later) 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 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.  (#128)

You Should Be Watching: November 8-14

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.

However, while there is still yet time, the November spotlight on FilmStruck continues. And while FilmStruck will be gone soon, Kanopy remains, and on the bright side, Netflix just released Orson Welles’ final film, 30 years after his passing along with a new documentary about its making. Also, Amazon Prime added a whole host of high quality films this past week from the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Sidney Lumet, Billy Wilder, and many more.



Year: 1955

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Cast: Birgitte Federspiel, Henrik Malberg, Emil Hass Christensen, Ejner Federspiel, Kirsten Andreasen, Sylvia Eckhausen, Ann Elisabeth Groth, Cay Kristiansen, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Gerda Nielsen, Ove Rud, Susanne Rud, Henry Skjær, Edith Trane

Carl Theodor Dreyer has an brilliant eye for frame composition, production design, lighting, and camera movement, and that’s just the technical side of this striking film. Dreyer’s script, based on a play by Danish Lutheran priest Kaj Munk, is a window into the life and faith (or lack thereof) of each of the Borgens, a farming family in rural Denmark, and the community in which they live. The main characters are the patriarch Morten and his grown children, Anders, Johannes, and the eldest Mikkel and his wife Inger, who is pregnant with her and Mikkel’s third child.

Each family member is distinct from the others with their own hopes, dreams, struggles, and personal journey of life and faith. Yet, they are still very much a family living under one roof and so the multiple narrative threads are woven together into a beautiful tapestry. The elderly Morten is set in his ways, as is Peter the tailor, the father of Anne, whom Anders pines after. Both Morten and Peter refuse Anders’ request to marry Anne because they are in different sects of Christianity, creating a proudly religious version of the Romeo and Juliet story. Mikkel has no faith, but his wife Inger is deeply religious. So when her pregnancy comes to trouble, Mikkel is forced into his own crisis of faith. In a crossing of history with fantasy, Morten’s middle son, Johannes, after having studied the works of the Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard, has become convinced he Johannes is Jesus Christ himself. He echoes the words of Jesus from the Bible and speaks prophecy that he expects to be believed. Each of these family member’s threads of life story and struggles with faith and reality crash into everyone else’s leading everyone to the critical moment where they are forced to decide what they truly believe and what they will do about it.

Where Is My Friend’s House?

Year: 1987

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Genre: Drama, Family

Cast: Babek Ahmedpour, Ahmed Ahmedpour, Kheda Barech Defai, Iran Outari, Ait Ansari, Sadika Taohidi, Biman Mouafi, Ali Djamali, Aziz Babai, Nader Ghoulami, Akbar Mouradi, Teba Slimani, Mohammad Reza Parvaneh, Farahanka Brothers, Maria Chdjari, Hamdallah Askarpour, Kadiret Kaoiyenpour, Hager Farazpour, Mohamed Hocine Rouhi, Rafia Difai, Agakhan Karadach Khani, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh

Who doesn’t remember being a child, facing what to you was a life or death situation, but neither your parents nor any other adult grasped the gravity of your plight and instead kept harping on you to do what was important to them or what they were certain was in your best interest? But they didn’t stop to realize that you had every intention to do what they wanted except you had this emergency you needed help with first?

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami perfectly captures the experience of being a child trapped in such a true-to-life, Kafkaesque nightmare. Ahmed (Babek Ahmedpour) and Mohamed (Ahmed Ahmedpour) are classmates. Their very strict and aggressive teacher has harshly berated Mohamed and threatened him with expulsion if he fails to do his homework in his notebook once more. Ahmed witnesses his friend break down into tears and we along with him suddenly find ourselves feeling great empathy for the boy. Yet later, there is a mix-up, and when Ahmed arrives home, he discovers he has both his own and Mohamed’s notebook, leaving him torn between obeying his mother, who won’t even listen to his plight, and doing everything he possibly can to return his friend’s notebook even though he lives in a neighboring town, and he has no idea where his house is.

With such a simple but universally relatable concept, we are drawn into the world of children and reminded that they need our compassion and understanding. How quickly we as adults forget the experience of being a child as the roles become reversed and we become the ones making demands of them. How much anxiety is caused when a child feels invisible to adults or when adults think they know what the child needs without caring enough to stop and listen?



Year: 1952

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Genre: Drama

Cast: Takashi Shimura, Haruo Tanaka, Nobuo Kaneko, Bokuzen Hidari, Miki Odagiri, Shin’ichi Himori, Minoru Chiaki, Minosuke Yamada, Kamatari Fujiwara, Makoto Kobori, Nobuo Nakamura, Atsushi Watanabe, Isao Kimura, Masao Shimizu, Yūnosuke Itō, Yoshie Minami, Kumeko Urabe, Eiko Miyoshi, Noriko Honma, Yatsuko Tan’ami, Kin Sugai, Kyôko Seki, Kusuo Abe, Tomo’o Nagai, Seiji Miyaguchi, Daisuke Katô, Hiroshi Hayashi, Fuyuki Murakami 

No matter where we are in life, we all know that we’ll eventually die, whether from cancer, an accident, or old age. Through Ikiru, master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa gives the viewer an opportunity for reflection as it provides an intimate view of one man’s experience of having discovered he has stomach cancer and only has months to live, leading him on a journey of introspection and regret that so much of his life had been spent in meaningless attitudes and actions.

Takashi Shimura plays Kanji Watanabe. Having worked as a government bureaucrat doing the same job for decades as well as being a widower with a son whose primary concern is his inheritance, he suddenly is left wondering what it was all for. What was the point? Ikiru means to live, and Kanji now finds himself desperate to figure out what it means to live. Along the way, he notices his young female subordinate named Toyo (Miki Odagiri) and becomes enamored not with her but with her personality that is positively brimming with the joy of being alive, so he develops a relationship with her to try to figure out her secrets.

The other side of the film, especially in the third act explores the way we make assumptions about other people and how often reality differs from what we think. It serves as a sober reminder that we should be careful about making judgments about others. We may not know the full story.


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)


November 11
Anna Karenina (2012)

November 12
Call Me Lucky (2015)

November 15
Paddington (2014)


November 11
Green Room (2015)

November 15
Me Before You (2016)

November 19
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

November 20
In the Heat of the Night (1967)


November 9
The Big Sleep (1946)
Dark Passage (1947)
Dogville (2003)
Petulia (1968)
To Have and Have Not (1944)

November 16
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Let There Be Light (1946)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

November 29
Everything else


November 30
American Psycho (2000)
Escape from New York (1981)
Get Shorty (1995)
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Primal Fear (1996)
The Terminator (1984)
They Came Together (2014)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)



The Other Side of the Wind (2018)
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (2018)
Into the Forest (2015)


The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
The Apartment (1960)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Being There (1979)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Crossing Delancey (1988)
Deliverance (1972)
Diner (1982)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010)
From Russia with Love (1963)
The Getaway (1972)
Going in Style (1979)
The Gold Rush (1925)
Goldfinger (1964)
The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Kes (1969)
Klute (1971)
The Last Waltz (1978)
Little Odessa (1994)
Logan’s Run (1976)
Lord of War (2005)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Mean Streets (1973)
Of Mice and Men (1992)
The Misfits (1961)
Moonraker (1979)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Network (1976)
Night Moves (1975)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Performance (1970)
The Pink Panther (1963)
Point Blank (1967)
The Red Violin (1998)
A Shot in the Dark (1964)
The Song Remains the Same (1976)
Soylent Green (1973)
Star 80 (1983)
Summer 1993 (2017)
Westworld (1973)
What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
The Who: The Kids Are Alright (1979)
Wonder (2017)
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Zama (2017)


Adam’s Rib (1949)
The African Queen (1951)
The Lion in Winter (1968)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
Stage Door (1937)


Europa Report (2013)
Kick-Ass (2010)
Wonder (2017)



November 11
Outlaw King — NETFLIX FILM (2018)

November 12
Green Room (2015)


November 10
The Children Act (2017)


November 10
Big Hero 6 (2014)

November 12
The Wolfpack (2015)

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.