LESSON #1: THIS PRESENT CULTURE OF HEADLINE NEWS NEEDS TO SLOW DOWN— Feelin’ Film Facebook Discussion Group member Joseph Hamrick penned an outstanding editorial recently on his website Article Asylum entitled “We Need to Talk about the ‘We Need to Talk About’ Headline Culture.” Joseph discusses the wayward directions and lack of due diligence taken in entertainment news nowadays where too many so-called discussion pieces are reactive rather than reflective, defeating the purpose and wearing out that headline trope. James Gunn and even Chris Hardwick are recent examples where patience could have gone a long way before vilification and over-inflation. I know I see this all the time researching for this weekly column and Joseph nailed it. Kudos and my compliments on a great piece!
LESSON #2: TROPES ARE SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN IN THEIR EFFECTIVENESS— The concepts that we all call tropes become tropes because they are successful to a nearly automatic level more than not. I greatly enjoyed an article in The Guardian this week that reported on findings compiled by a behavioral economics and data science team at the University of Birmingham. They combed through over 6,000 scripts to show which story arcs made the most money at the box office. The winner was the “man in the hole” arc, which might as well be your classic underdog story. Enriching stuff! Give it a read.
LESSON #3: TRAILERS TOO HAVE BECOME AN EFFECTIVE SCIENCE— Speaking of effectiveness, trailers know exactly what they are doing to get audiences to desire the product they are advertising. The top trailer-makers have studied and refined the craft of provoking emotions and evoking the senses right down to the algorithms and triggers. As you know I’ve ranted in this soapbox space before, they have still become formulaic with their own troublesome tropes in my opinion and should be avoided, or at least tempered. Still, the entire addictive draw and the creativity behind the craft is fascinating. Enjoy this interview and examination video from Vice News:
LESSON #4: EVEN MONUMENTAL BLOCKBUSTERS BECOME “LITTLE ENGINES THAT COULD”— It has taken six months after its huge February debut and spring box office dominance, but Marvel’s Black Panther, thanks to one final tickle of $15,000 becomes only the third film to earn $700 million or more domestically. It joins Avatar ($760 million) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936 million). To be the highest grossing MCU film was already achievement, but to hit that benchmark is both impressive and special. Congratulations to Ryan Coogler and company!
LESSON #5: NEED A LAST MINUTE HOT SUMMER BEACH READ? CONSIDER A SCREENPLAY— Are you a movie fan that wants to dive in and relive some classic stories? Then get to read between the lines with their scripts. Sure, they might have zero pictures and whole bunch of extra framing words, but I bet they’re better than another trashy hit-or-miss novel off the rack. Last year, Script Reader Pro collected 50 of the greatest film screenplays of all-time and released them for free available downloads. In July, Shore Scripts added 45 more, also completely for free. The combined selections are extraordinary. Search by genre in either stack and revisit some cinematic gold in its purest creative form.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com where he is one of the 50 “Top Writers” in the Movies category. 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. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, 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 special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.