LESSON #1: INFUSE HEART INTO HORROR FILMS FOR ELEVATED IMPACT— John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place is making a killing at the box office for a multitude of reasons. First, from a business standpoint, it’s a well-marketed horror movie with a PG-13 rating to increase the potential audience compared to R-rating fare. Second, and more importantly, Krasinski and company made an intelligent and resonating film compared to the usual shock value thrills of the genre. I believe their secret ingredient was heart. Strip away the monsters and you have a family survival film comprised of characters you care about and invest in, not a cast of hollow and unmemorable stereotypes occupying a buffet menu for carnage. For most disposable horror films, you kind of root for the creative kills but once the surprises are gone, so is the repeat value. In A Quiet Place, you dread any potential for loss and the journey of avoidance becomes more compelling than any swift action. That’s a powerful draw worth revisiting. You’ll find three over-the-moon reviews of A Quiet Place between Aaron White’s take, the main episode here on Feelin’ Film, and my own on Every Movie Has a Lesson.
LESSON #2: HOW DO YOU PROPERLY REPLACE DECEASED ACTORS?— The rumor is out there that Meryl Streep could replace Carrie Fisher as Leia in the next Star Wars film. Naturally, the purists… errr… I mean… hardcore fanboys led the charge of torches and pitchforks against such an idea, forgetting needs and logistics of the story in place. If you have noticed (as the cited article points out), each returning Original Trilogy great has led the main focus for each film (Han had The Force Awakens, Luke had The Last Jedi), and Leia was the planned centerpiece of the third in J.J. Abrams’s script before Fisher’s death. If that is true, it’s going to take quite a rewrite. With shooting due to start this summer, it’s going to be very interesting to see how filmmakers are going to modify the plan. What would you do?
LESSON #3: HOW DO YOU PROPERLY REPLACE DISGRACED ACTORS?— Comic actor T.J. Miller keeps adding to his sh-tstorm and diminishing reputation. After reports of sexual misconduct and violence and transphobic bigotry surfaced last winter, he’s added federal fake bomb threat charges this week. Even before this week, many, including a film critic peer of mine Danielle Solzman and an excellent Scott Mendelson piece in Forbes magazine, have questioned why Miller hasn’t received the Kevin Spacey treatment and been replaced or cut from Ready Player One (a simple ADR replacement you would think) and the upcoming Deadpool 2. I have to believe the answers aren’t always as simple as a replacement, between the hangups of effort, time, negative impact potential, contracts, or the sliding scale of morality trying to define punishments that fit crimes. In the end, I’ll sound like a teacher to say “fair is not always equal.” What worked for Ridley Scott and TriStar Pictures might not work for Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. The only part that is up to moviegoers is whether to support films with these questionable cast inclusions with your ticket money. For a critic like myself, it’s about checking biases at the door and judging the film not the people.
LESSON #4: THE SECRETS OF NETFLIX— I can’t be the only person who wastes time scrolling Netflix menus looking for something the sparks my interest while running into the same promoted and retreading menu preferences. Word is there are codes to unlock and directly navigate to the narrow subgenres appearing within the evolving algorithms on Netflix that contain thousands of underrepresented movies. Has anyone tried these?! Follow this link and let us know!
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.