LESSON #1: ARE CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S FILMS EMOTIONLESS?— The prolific and cerebral director of Dunkirk recently answered critics who have called his films “emotionless.” They must have missed the sharp revenge of Memento, the stirring heroic feels of his Batman trilogy, the seething jealousy of The Prestige, the suspenseful mental weight of Inception, and the familial anguish of Interstellar. Emotionless, my ass. I’m afraid Dunkirk will be the challenge. I don’t think it has the necessary emotional anchors, but my Feelin’ Film peers will say otherwise. See it for yourself (on the biggest and loudest screen possible) and let us know what you think.
LESSON #2: NETFLIX IS AN EVOLVING ENIGMA FOR THE MOVIE BUSINESS— Speaking of Christopher Nolan, he recently made negative comments on Netflix’s strategy of simultaneous streaming and release windows that take away from theatrical films. GQ recently collected a roundtable of directors (included Ava DuVernay, Edgar Wright, Jeff Nichols, and James Gunn) who “blew up Hollywood.” That led many, especially the Nolan disciplines, to raise those anti-Netflix pitchforks we’ve been back and forth on all year in this column. A voice of contrast came out at much the same time from A Ghost Story director David Lowery calling the behemoth hub a “service to the industry,” especially for mid-range independent film who don’t have a chance in the theatrical marketplace (especially against the likes of Nolan’s films and their backing). I side with Lowery, and what’s good enough for Martin Scorsese is good enough for me. I see more help than harm, and it’s still too soon to see the growing effects, positive or negative.
LESSON #3: PRICE POINT IS THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE OF FILM VIEWERSHIP— Echoing the first two lessons this week and a great thread on the Feelin’ Film Facebook group, this whole audience problem comes down to money, plain and simple. A family of four can get more content out of the recurring price of a Netflix subscription or more repeat viewing from the one-time-price DVD/Blu-ray disc purchase at Walmart than they would hauling everyone to the theater for tickets and concessions multiple times a year. Add to that the substantially reduced prices for HD and Smart TVs compared to 10 or even 5 years ago. While I fully endorse to the magic of the communal big screen experience, one would crazy not to see the price point logic and respect a smart household’s budgeting decisions. It’s all about bang-for-your-buck and Netflix is winning that right now with content volume and ease of access.
LESSON #4: SOME FILMS DON’T BELONG IN SPACE— Bigger isn’t necessarily better, and how big is too big? Space is too big. I recently learned that answer when Fast and Furious series director F. Gary Gray said that a future sequel of the franchise that started with lowly car thieves in L.A. could be set in space. WTF?! Straining believability is fun and all, but that’s too much. Has no one this century seen the Moonraker James Bond film? Stop already. Go back to Paul Walker’s sunset and be done.
LESSON #5: SOMEBODY TAKE JAMES CAMERON’S CRAZINESS AWAY— Apparently, James Cameron thinks he’s got another Terminator trilogy for the masses. Come on, man. While I respect the visual envelope-pushing and industry revolutionizing Cameron can perform, the man can be a quack as a writer. That and, by the time he gets to this project for how slow he works, Arnold will be 100-years-old or we’ll all be dead. Somebody shake this bad idea out of him and tell him to go finish Avatar 2 already.
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.