LESSON #1: SOME FILMS DO NOT REQUIRE A REBOOT— Last week, the lesson was “Some films don’t require a sequel.” This time, we have to clap that lesson back and trade the word “sequel” for “reboot.” News spun across Variety this week that DreamWorks is planning to restart its Shrek and Puss in Boots franchises. First, you need a true generational gap and eight years since its last chapter, Shrek Forever After, isn’t long enough, even for the rapid aging of its core audience demographic. More importantly, I have to ask what I consider to be a necessary qualifying question when it comes to remakes and reboots. Have the originals aged to the degree where they are obsolete? Sure, Shrek was corny and dated as soon as the SmashMouth song comes on, but have the narrative fairy tale angles changed or the artistic technology that made the movie? I say they haven’t and a new one will just retread over familiar ground and not be unique or worthwhile artistically. I say let some films stay what they are as benchmarks and time capsules for their eras. The ’00s have their Shrek the way the ’10s have their Despicable Me/Minions. Let them stay there. I’m at looking at you too, The Grinch.
LESSON #2: SAY HELLO TO DISNEY+ AND GET YOUR CREDIT CARD READY— After months of little here-and-there clues and rumored plans, Disney finally and formally announced the details for its vaunted new streaming service, Disney+, coming late next year. Housing its entire artistic arsenal from Pixar to National Geographic with all of the heroic adventure in between, the lineup depth, including original films, is undeniably impressive. The thing I’ve been waiting to hear this entire time is price point. While that number isn’t defined exactly yet, the linked article references a $8-14 monthly price tag. The closer that is to $8, the more successful it’s going to be. Disney+ will be the test to see if a la carte single-studio entity services can work because the selling point of its Netflix and Hulu competitors is the ease of variety under one service roof. If Disney+ succeeds, it will be like dedicated cable networks for single teams or schools like the New York Yankees. Watch everything splinter because each studio will want to create and keep their own money.
LESSON #3: PARENTS NEED TO RESPECT AND FOLLOW FILM RATINGS— For fifty years now, the MPAA has championed the film rating system to warn, screen, and catalog film content for consumers. They are proper and they have evolved to do their job better. Whenever there is a breakdown of outrage over a film’s rating, like this recent story of content from A Star is Born triggering troubling reactions in New Zealand, it’s not the rating’s fault. R is R for a reason and it was labeled correctly so. The perceived outrage is the consumer’s fault. They either didn’t listen to the rating or didn’t commit to the due diligence to properly screen or research a film before subjecting it to younger viewers. The loopholes of the MPAA are few and far between, whereas careless parenting is rampant. This critic and school teacher implores all parents to see any questionable film for themselves before sharing it with their impressionable children. That’s the bare minimum. If you don’t do it, let some solid website like Common Sense and ScreenIt do it for you.
LESSON #4: TREAT YOURSELF TO “NOIR-VEMBER”— If you want to expand your film palette to one of the most interesting and entertaining film genres under the sun, scroll your way into some film noir. Often imitated and rarely duplicated since its hey-day, experiencing film noir is essential understanding the full scope of the cinematic art form. That and its comprised of simple damn good movies that can still put modern thrillers to shame. Start with this list of ten essential noirs from the journal spot Oh Not They Didn’t. They’re all gold bathed in stark black-and-white.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson 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 new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society. 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.