2020 was the year of COVID-19 and the corresponding implosion of the film business where many films that I eagerly awaited to see on a big screen, the way films should be, were dumped to various streaming platforms. If the year proceeded the way it should have, I would have watched more films on big screens, discovered new talent and my Top 10 choices may have been completely different. That being said, the films I’ve chosen are all worth checking out as I was watching films up until the day all the movie theaters were shuttered. It’s rather fitting that the last film I saw was the Filipino zombie film BLOCK Z.
Outward Bound has a motto, “To Serve, To Strive and not To Yield.” That describes my father. He served his community in many ways. By being the first child in his family to attend college he shined the light on the possibilities a higher education can offer to his siblings, his children and my cousins. He did once warn me that I was too smart for my own good. I responded “if you didn’t want us to think for ourselves, why did you encourage us to attend college?” But that’s what he did from the day I was born, he instilled in me the unquenching thirst for knowledge. Curiosity about the world around me, both ancient history and current events, is what has driven me to this day. My love of storytelling, or as the Irish say, the gift of the gab, comes from my mother’s family who were involved in the arts but also my father who introduced me to the world of books. I blame my 10,000 volume library on him.
Incompetent governments are typical, but Holy Shit!, what’s wrong with the White House (True News – Der Trumpkof lies out of both sides of his mouth, and his ass). The states are just as bad, the local
municipalities even more so.
Doctoral thesis filmmaking.
An exciting premise for a documentary, the discovery of long forgotten women filmmakers starting with Alice Guy-Blache up through Nell Shipman onward to Wendy Toye and dozens of other international directors unknown inside and outside of their own countries today. The downside is the filmmaker approaches the subject matter as if he has to pad out a doctoral thesis by hammering multiple square pegs into round holes to make a point. The inclusion of a number of over-rated current women filmmakers lessens the strength of this film.
2019 was the year of diarrhea of the hard drive. Like Fredrick Wiseman who seems to have forgotten everything he learned about editing as he has aged, the franchises (Marvel, Star Wars) and elder statesmen of Hollywood (Martin Scorsese and Terrence Malick) are following suit with their lofty “epics.” All of them need he who shall not be named to rev us his chainsaw and start snipping away. If they were including Bollywood song & dance numbers I may give them a little slack. Speaking of Indian cinema, when is Hollywood going to start teaming up the likes of Salman Khan with the Dwayne Johnsons? (I have a great script idea for that pairing.) Speaking of international talent not yet on Tinsel Town’s radar, I offer up Aislinn Derbez (who they gave a thankless role in the middling MISS BALA remake) who I’ve been paying attention to since discovering her in A LA MALA. That film should get an American remake as I doubt most people who didn’t speak Spanish saw it.
If I didn’t have a life to live with diverse interests, I’d rush out to see every “buzzed about” film coming out of film festivals. Years of disappointment and 35 years of industry expertise has taught me to ignore the chatter. My favorite film of 2018, THE DEATH OF STALIN, happened to be one of those buzzers (Armando Iannucci and Steve Buscemi were why I saw it). By year end awards hoopla, the film wasn’t mentioned once (neither was Charlize Theron’s acting in TULLY which had the same “buzz”). The “tastemakers” are like babies with their new shiny toys, PR flacks know how to distract them with their lollipops.
Same old, same old. Healthy, healthy, healthy. Blah. Everybody seems to be chasing the same brass ring and releasing product that duplicates something else in the market without any improved bells and whistles (if you don’t count ghost peppers or superfruits). I want to enjoy my food, not have my senses assaulted. Manufacturers have seemed to forget that their mandate is to sell product and have the customer binge eat that entire bag of chips or box of cookies. Having one chip and sealing up the bag or a single sip of that decadent beverage and putting it in the refrigerator doesn’t help the bottom line.
I have given up on trying to catch all the films getting rave reviews coming off the festival circuit. The waste of time and money this year was ridiculous. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years Eve catching up on films that have been littering End of Year Awards lists and have not liked most of them. I can be vicious about certain films but I’ll save that for when I get around to opening a Twitter account which will get me in trouble as my sarcastic wit is appreciated by select well-rounded individuals who don’t live or die on box office tallies.
What interesting times we live in. The retail industry is crashing and burning due to e-commerce (Macy’s, Payless, Sears/KMart, Radio Shack, J.C. Penney, The Limited, American Apparel etc.) Greedy landlords who have been jacking rents through the roof for years and leveraged their portfolios to buy more over-priced real estate are now facing the grim reaper as their major anchor tenants have walked away from long term leases. The vulture capitalists are circling the carrion. The unlikely knight in shining armor turns out to be low profit margin supermarkets who have figured out they don’t need 100,000 square feet when 40,000 will do.
We have to reach into the world of hip hop to come up with an analysis of the films theatrically released in 2016. As Public Enemy would say “Don’t believe the hype.” At every major film festival, any many of the minor ones, a buzz starts about the “hot film” that’s a must see and a guaranteed award winner come end of the year. Everyone gets hot and bothered and starts repeating this statement which most likely originated with the publicist or sales agent. (I have been both and write mean ad copy for lazy journalists.)