LESSON #1: THE FIRST STEP TO FIXING A PROBLEM IS RECOGNIZING YOU HAVE ONE— True to the quoted mantra of this lesson, a major movie studio did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in recent memory. They cited and accepted blame on an actual fault that the rest of us in the general public have known for months and could have told them the first moment it began. After a dismal third place finish at the box office and parallel to the horribly tone-deaf Pepsi advertisement this week, Paramount Pictures exec Kyle Davies admitted that the “conversation regarding casting impacted the reviews” for “Ghost in the Shell.” He wasn’t going to call it “whitewashing,” but we can read between the lines. Maybe “Ghost in the Shell” becomes the public blemish example that pushes studios to change the way they do business. One can only hope, but it was going to take a showy financial loser that stung someone’s bottom line before anyone noticed.
LESSON #2: HAVE A SCRIPT BEFORE YOU MAKE A MOVIE— Two little news nuggets about stories and screenplays pinged on my radar this week. One was positive, in my opinion, and one was negative. On the plus side, renowned and polarizing filmmaker Terrance Malick stated in an interview that he is “backing away from that style” of making movies without scripts. He elaborated that “there’s a lot of strain when working without a script because you can lose track of where you are.” You don’t say?! Anyone who has seen “The Tree of Life,” “To the Wonder,” “Knight of Cups,” and “Song to Song” knows what I’m talking about. As beautiful and experiential as those films are, they are absolute disorganized messes. On the other end, “Transformers” steward Michael Bay revealed that 14 (yes, 14!) future “Transformers” movies already written. Compared to Malick, way to be prepared. Still, can someone light that shoebox of cocktail napkins written in crayon on fire and save us the future misery?
LESSON #3: THE MTV MOVIE AWARDS ARE STILL A JOKE AND WILL ALWAYS BE A JOKE— This year, MTV is merging their TV and movie award shows together into shared categories. Here is the complete list of categories and nominees. What’s the result of that? All I see is compressed crap. I think TV and film are two entirely different mediums of artistry and performance that shouldn’t be compared together, but what would I know? I’m over the age of 24, have a full-time job, and don’t have a man-bun. There’s a place for fan-centered awards, certainly, but stay fun and don’t pretend to be important. The Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards get it right. I’m more shocked that the MTV Movie and TV Awards actually have a Best Documentary category than their usual silly categories like Best Kiss. I know I’m stepping to #getoffmylawn territory, but 90% of the Millennials watching MTV haven’t seen a single one of those nominees. Stop already. Shows like this feel like a slap in the face to recognizing real talent and real quality.
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.