LESSON #1: WE ARE LIVING IN A GOLDEN AGE OF SPIDER-MAN— What was broken beyond repair a few years ago couldn’t be in a better place today. Spider-Man: Far From Home is Tom Holland’s second solo film and fifth total movie appearance as Peter Parker and he is maturing and progressing the character just about perfectly. The movie was given the responsibility of closing out the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe phase and it did not disappoint. Combine the live-action take with the stellar animated off-shoot of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the character finds himself as popular as it has ever been. If Marvel was looking for the next flagship character to lead the MCU after the departure of Robert Downey, Jr., look no further.
LESSON #2: GET FREE STUFF WHILE IT LASTS— Amid the streaming wars sits two wonderful services available for free with many public library cards. Folks on this site and group have long sung the praises of Hoopla and Kanopy. The price of free is amazing and, possibly soon, too good to be true. The usage tab on the library’s end of things might start putting limitations on Kanopy, which would be a damn shame. Between its Paramount and A24 offerings, Kanopy is invaluable for open discovery. It would be a shame to see it dropped at some libraries.
LESSON #3: 30 YEARS LATER, BATMAN STILL HOLDS UPs— We’re all living today at the MCU buffet, but the older among us reminder the sensational time of frenzy and hype that came with 1989’s Batman from Tim Burton and Warner Bros. Pictures. As a movie, it redefined superhero films and showed that dark could sell and camp could be corrected (albeit until Joel Schumacher digressed the franchise). The lore of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson have diminished little, even after Christopher Nolan’s reimagining nearly two decades after. As an event, it was a blockbuster that broke marketing models and changed the way Hollywood did business. The MovieFilm Commentary team recorded a track you can play alongside the film and Gena Radcliffe of The Spool had a nice column piece. I too hopped on Mike Crowley’s “You’ll Probably Agree” podcast recently to reminisce. Like Seth Rogen in Neighbors talking to Zac Efron, Michael Keaton is still my Batman.
LESSON #4: LOOK AT A CANDIDATE’S MOST CRUCIAL QUALIFICATIONS— Speaking of Warner Bros., the media giant hired its first-ever woman CEO recently. Ann Sarnoff was a proven winner at the BBC, raising subscriptions, and she will work to do the same at WB. It doesn’t matter that Ann is a woman. She’s good at what she does. The same can be said for Halle Bailey being cast as Ariel in the upcoming Little Mermaid re-imagining. Just listen to that woman sing. That’s the important trait for that role, not hair or skin color. Disney made a fantastic hire and so did the WB.
LESSON #5: IF THINGS ARE TOO BRIGHT AND COLORFUL FOR YOU DURING THE SUMMER, LOOK TO THE SHADOWS— In the recommendation slot, I am surely aware summer is not everyone’s thing. Some folks want nothing to do with the hot rainbow loudness of this season. If that’s you, might I suggest something colder and hard-boiled. Look into this list of the top 100 noir films from Slant Magazine or 33 neo-noir selections from Vulture. Use this summer heat for some home viewing that hard boils your plots and characters. I call that perfect palette-cleansing counter-programming for this time of year.
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. (#106)