Blog

What We Learned This Week: February 19-25

LESSON #1: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GOING TO NETFLIX— I don’t know where the stigma came that Netflix is where losers go to get work.  It’s probably because of the current career chapter of Adam Sandler being housed there.  Many auteur feathers were ruffled by the news that Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited reunion film “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, and the long-lost Joe Pesci, was heading to Netflix instead of a wide theatrical release via Paramount Pictures.  This is a business decision, plain and simple, and Netflix has come to play.  They want to get into the prestige film business and have the resources to do it and exclusivity to offer.  I can completely see Paramount’s end of it too.  As deeply loved and respected (to death) as “Silence” was, the opus was a flop for Paramount’s bottom line, earning back a scant $7 million and change against a $40 million budget.  Also, let’s look at marketability.  What was the last marque hit headlined by De Niro or Pacino as legit leads?  Face it, they are legends mired in decline.  I don’t care how many people love the old days of “Goodfellas.”  If the modern stars of “The Wolf of Wall Street” can only mildly top the $100 million plateau after an Oscar push on a $100 million budget, “The Irishman,” bearing the same $100 budget and likely R-rated genre, doesn’t stand much of a better chance with old has-beens above the title.  Any junior marketing intern can show Paramount that math.

LESSON #2: DIRECTOR GORE VERBINSKI IS BROKEN AND NEEDS FIXING— Discerning movie audiences were stoked at the proposition of director Gore Verbinski going back to his “The Ring”-esque horror/thriller roots with “A Cure for Wellness” after five Johnny Depp films (three “Pirates” movies, “Rango,” and “The Lone Ranger”).  Gaudy results or not, the man has talent.  Audiences didn’t bite and the film debuted in a distant 11th place.  “A Cure for Wellness” should have been just what the doctor ordered.  He needs some career rehab now.  He needs something different and has to resist the temptation to go back to the Depp well for a weak commercial hit to stay on the radar.

LESSON #3: AWARD WINNERS ARE ALLOWED TO GET AS POLITICAL AS THEY WANT IN ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES— I’m going to put this out there in advance.  It’s called freedom of speech.  They earned their 45 seconds of mic time before the orchestra plays them off and it’s their choice to use it however they want.  If you don’t like it, turn the channel.  Go to the kitchen for a snack.  Take a bathroom break.  Problem solved.  It’s that easy.  I’ll forward the internet meme rant here: You lost the right to bitch about this when you elected an unqualified reality TV show host as the President of the United States of America.  Enjoy your TV dinner of hypocrisy and butthurt feelings.

LESSON #4: FOR EVERY OSCAR-WINNING FILM THIS WEEKEND, THERE ARE 10 OTHER NON-NOMINATED FILMS OF BURIED TREASURE WAITING FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT— Let’s say this too in advance before Sunday’s 89th Academy Awards.  The Oscars are a pinnacle for a politically-voted process of taste and preference.  Their taste can inform, but will never replace and should not solely dictate your taste or your barometer of preferences.  You get to like and shower the films you love with praise.  Fly your own flag and love the movies you love.  The amount of excellent films that will never win an Oscar is larger than those that will.  Dig deeper and find your own buried treasure.  If you need some picks from last year, here’s a list of 16 hidden gems from 2016, all making under $1 million at the box office.  Only one of them, the documentary “Life, Animated” was nominated for Sunday.

 

16144218_10211825217931692_226320391_nDON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and the current President of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  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, Medium, and Creators Media.

Advertisements

What We Learned This Week: February 11-18

LESSON #1: BATMAN IS THE BEST CHARACTER CREATION TO COME OUT OF THE WORLD OF COMIC BOOKS— When done with gusto, what makes Batman unique and special is that he works in any tone.  No one else can match his range of iconic interpretation.  Not Superman and not a soul over at Marvel Comics. He is, unequivocally, the Dark Knight with nearly 80 years worth of tomes written and drawn with infinite conflict, mood, and darkness.  At the same time, when necessary he is, as TV star Adam West dubbed, the Bright Knight of zest, color, and camp, because he is still a regular man with no superpowers dressed up as a bat.  Batman works in either setting because the human fortitude at the core of the character, his drive to right wrongs after personal tragedy, can be employed equally for heroic and virtuous causes and also for the vigilante and urban myth that takes matters into his own hands.  “The LEGO Batman Movie” checks all the Batman boxes.

LESSON #2: “FIFTY SHADES” WORE OUT ITS WELCOME IN ONE MOVIE— Don’t get me wrong, there will always be an audience for kink and the tawdry novel has a built-in audience of die-hards.  A second place box office finish pulling in over $46 million over the big holiday weekend proves enough of that.  But $46 million is a long way from the $85 million and change the first film drew in its debut frame.  The buzz was as cold as the sex this time around compared to last year’s must-see fever pitch.  I expect a 70+% drop off and the film failing to crack $100 million domestically.  The third film of the trilogy is going to be a tough sell.

LESSON #3: KEANU REEVES STILL HAS IT— “John Wick: Chapter 2” doubled everything about the cult hit 2014 first film, from squib budgets to box office earnings.  For the first time in a long time, Captain Whoa, Keanu Reeves, has a hit on his hands.  I’m not calling the comeback complete yet.  After all, this was still third place and behind a crappy “Fifty Shades Darker.”  Before we vault him back to the A-list, let’s see him successfully open a film not named “John Wick.”

LESSON #4: TAKE SOME ADVICE FROM THE BRITISH ACROSS THE POND.  YOU NEED TO SEE “LION”— This week’s BAFTA Awards, the U.K.’s equivalent to the Oscars, the underdog film of “Lion” pulled off a pair of high-profile upsets in Best Adapted Screenplay over “Moonlight” and Best Supporting Actor for Dev Patel over Mahershala Ali of “Moonlight.”  While “Lion” isn’t going to steamroll anything on Oscar night, take it from me, the film is worth your time.  It’s palpable true story of heartstrings that avoids more of the Oscar bait cliches than it exploits.

LESSON #5: SOMEBODY TAKE THE STICK FROM HARRISON FORD— Just short of two years after a self-piloted plane crash seriously injured the beloved actor, Harrison Ford nearly collided this week with a passenger plane on a taxiway while landing at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.  Harrison, you’re 74.  We know Paul Newman raced cars into his 80s and you’re doing what you love.  We get the appeal, but GET OFF THAT PLANE!  We still need you.

LESSON #6: WHAT’S YOUR FORGIVENESS LEVEL FOR MEL GIBSON?— Clickbait spun this week about “Hacksaw Ridge” Oscar nominee Mel Gibson being courted by Warner Bros. to direct a “Suicide Squad” sequel.  Even his inclusion of being considered brought out the “how could you hire this ___ (take your pick: philanderer, misogynist, homophobe, anti-Semite)” outrage, searing social media feeds.  You would think he was selected to be the next Secretary of Education.  Personally, I don’t think he even takes the offer, not after his public thoughts on “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” five months ago.  Still, swallowing the rainbow of opinions on your news feed begs this lesson’s question.  Has he paid for his past misdeeds?  Has his conduct improved?  Do you boycott his work? Does he deserve the chances he’s getting?

LESSON #7: BE CAREFUL HOW YOU THROW AROUND THE LABELS OF “WHITE-WASHING” AND “WHITE SAVIOR”— Months of silly and misguided speculation on Matt Damon and Zhang Yimou’s “The Great Wall” finally get answered this weekend when the film makes its North American debut.  I don’t mean to mirror Bill Maher, but here’s a new rule: See the film before you judge it.  Until then, you just add to the noise of internet trolls and alternative facts.  Point of fact, the film is a fantasy epic closer to “The Lord of the Rings” than a revisionist historical drama.   Honestly, the only opinions of integrity that matter are the people making the film.  Read Zhang Yimou’s strong words on the controversy and put your false argument to bed.

16144218_10211825217931692_226320391_nDON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  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, Medium, and Creators Media.

Episode 045: LEGO Batman

We are extremely happy to be talking about the latest cinematic adventure of The Dark Knight this week, in all its blocky glory. Batman is a beloved character and his treatment by the LEGO team in this film was handled with expert care. This movie didn’t just give us the expected laughs, but packed an emotional punch with several very teachable lessons. It also shined in its use of self-referential humor and made for one of the most joyful theater experiences we’ve had. Our conversation this week is a fun one. Why should you listen? Because we’re Batman!

Download this Episode


Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

What We Learned This Week: February 4-10

LESSON #1: 2016 WAS A BANNER YEAR FOR FEATURE DOCUMENTARIES— If you haven’t sought out the five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature, do you yourself a favor and remedy that.  The multi-hour/multi-part “O.J.: Made in America” is going to win the Oscar and is available on Netflix.  The streaming powerhouse also offers Ava DuVernay’s powerful and comprehensive nominee”13th,” as well as the Oscar-snubbed Werner Herzog musing “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World,” and “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.”  My winning vote would be “Life, Animated” was my #3 film of the year and is available on Amazon Prime Video along with “De Palma.”  If you can make it to the theaters, “I Am Not Your Negro” just opened and is expanding.

LESSON #2: HOLLYWOOD STILL CAN’T HELP ITSELF WITH THEIR OWN REMAKES OF FOREIGN FILMS— Germany’s “Toni Erdmann” from Maren Ade is the front-runner for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.  Word dropped on Wednesday that Jack Nicholson wants to come out retirement to star in an American version with Kristin Wiig.  Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) is executive producing and the speculative fantasy casting and hiring has already begun.  Sure, I’d love to see wily Jack in the title role, but many cinephile fans of Ade’s original film are up in arms, and dutifully so, that Hollywood is going to water down and ruin a good thing for sake of fewer subtitles.  Little to no one is standing on the “this is a great idea” side of the line.

LESSON #3: HOLLYWOOD IS NO BETTER WITH REBOOTS— In movie news, get ready for “Pineapple Express” director David Gordon Green for “Halloween,” Kevin Smith stirring up his own redux of “Jay and Silent Bob,” “Arrival” screenwriter Eric Heisserer teaming with “Passengers” screenwriter Jon Spaihts on “Van Helsing,” “John Wick” steward Chad Stahelski next up on “Highlander, and, last but not least, a Coen brothers rewrite of “Scarface” for an unfilled director.  As always, ask yourself which ones of these you actually want to see.

16144218_10211825217931692_226320391_nDON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  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, Medium, and Creators Media.

Episode 044: Interstellar

Here in Episode 44, we are wrapping up our five-week journey of #NolanMonth by discussing his most recent film, Interstellar, with special guest and friend of the show Andrew Dyce of Screenrant. We’ve had a fantastic time talking our way through Christopher Nolan’s films so it is fitting that we have someone joining us who is both a huge fan of this film and exceptional writer. Interstellar is a moving science fiction adventure and drama with plenty of big ideas and scientific concepts for us to discuss.

Download this Episode 


Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

Donate today to help support the continued creation of great content!

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

2017 Feeler’s Choice Awards Ballot

Voting is now open for the 2017 Feeler’s Choice Awards! 

A huge thank you goes out to all who submitted nominations. We have some award nominations very much in common with major award circuits and others that have some shocking differences.

All are invited to vote. Voting will close at midnight on February 21, 2017. Each award will be announced  at the same time as its corresponding Oscar category on Sunday night, February 26, via Feelin’ Film social media feeds (Twitter), (Facebook), and (Instagram), as well as in our Facebook Discussion Group which is open for all to join. We’ll recap the Feeler’s Choice Awards in our Oscar reaction podcast and also via blog post after the awards have all been announced.

Here’s that link to vote one more time: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SZH3B2K

We can’t wait to see what films and performers this community selects!