LESSON #1: STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA UNTIL YOU SEE ANY HOTLY ANTICIPATED MOVIE— The internet is not a kind place with secrets. Trust Aaron White and I in our reviews of Avengers: Infinity War that you’re going to want this one untarnished. Total social media darkness is recommended (especially over in the gladiatorial arena of unchecked internet courage known as Twitter). The full plot is already posted on Wikipedia and the casting and trivia sections of IMDb give notes away as well. Come back when the coast is clear. As the teacher-preacher around here, I will testify and extend the advice that all of us should be treading lightly when it comes to social media with any big film, not just Avengers: Infinity War. All of the noise is worth filtering all the time.
LESSON #2: SPEAKING OF SOCIAL MEDIA, THE STARDUST APP IS FUN AND YOU NEED TO GET IN ON THIS— Color this with a shade of shameless self-promotion, but if you do like social media and the quick interactions that are possible out there, give the new Stardust app a look for Apple and Android devices. Tidier that Periscope and tagged to match movies and TV shows, their user-created personalized video takes are a lot of fun for audience engagement. Find Aaron White’s username of “FeelinFilmAaron” and mine at “movielessons.” We promise a good time!
LESSON #3: PUT UP OR SHUT UP OR, FOR THAT MATTER, S–T OR GET OFF THE POT— I’m sure there are classier parables with glass houses, stones, and kettle colors when it comes to James Cameron’s recent silly and incendiary comments rooting for superhero fatigue to help his own Avatar sequels. I’ll stick with my cruder ones. Adding more gasoline, the Titanic and Terminator director is calling The Godfather thunder of comparisons to his upcoming epics. You know, Jim. Read this lesson. Your clout looks a lot more legit when you can actually deliver. Avatar was a long nine years ago. I get it. An artist on your level can’t be rushed. That’s cool, but then focus on your precious work and leave the success you’re not getting to those who worked and earned it. Call me when the Pandora dinner is ready. I’ll be the old graying man on the couch snacking and enjoy the heck out of the reruns of MCU films that have passed you by.
LESSON #4: SOME FILMS DO NOT NEED SEQUELS AND A QUIET PLACE IS ONE OF THEM— The news of John Krasinski’s hit thriller getting a greenlit sequel at Paramount stands as troublesome. This is another item of industry proof that this is a business first and an art convention second. This is a studio exec who cannot help but try and capitalize on a hit. The real trigger for any sequel should be the story, not the earnings report. I know A Quiet Place ends with a door-opener for more and beats Cloverfield (coincidentally from the same studio) when it comes to wider-world potential, but the remarkably successful film will last longer and be better as itself with no imitators. Leave it be.
LESSON #5: YOU DON’T GET TO SELF-LABEL YOUR OWN WORK AS MASTERPIECES— Last but not least, it’s Avengers: Infinity War weekend and battles are center stage. I will revisit a common battlefield of mine. Even after seeing the MCU epic, the best fight I discovered and observed this week was this rapid war of words between two celebrated directors: William Friedkin of The Exorcist and The French Connection and Nicholas Winding-Refn of Drive and Neon Demon. Take in this very short 90-second video of the extremely pretentious Refn calling his own film a masterpiece and watch the old school Friedkin (who has actual masterpieces on his resume) pricelessly react and retort:
As the Masterpiece Division Cop of the Feelin’ Film Tone Police, William Friedkin just became my spirit animal. He preaches what I preach, that masterpieces take time to assign because films have linger, live, and hold up. Audiences and historians decide that, not the filmmaker themselves.
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 Facebook, Twitter, and Medium.