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)

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