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Category: Editorials

Read the latest editorials and opinion pieces from Big Picture Film Club.

Editorials

My Favourite Actor: Octavia Spencer

July 15, 2020

‘Who’s your favourite actor?’. Even if you think of a name straight away, you might think of another one not so long after that and another one after that. It’s just an impossible question to answer. Every actor has hits and misses and their range can go from rom-coms to thrillers and everything in between. Many of them were awarded multiple awards. During the lockdown, we’ve re-watched way too many Oscar speeches (admit that you did too!) and one of those that always will get to us is the one from Octavia Spencer.

In 2012, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her superb role in The Help. After watching it over and over again, we’re still not sure who did she refer to when saying ‘Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room’. Is she talking about the Oscar statue or Christian Bale who handed it to her? Anyway, one thing we’re sure off is that that Oscar was incredibly deserved. Not only because of that performance but also for her performances before and after that. That’s why we take a look at five of her best performances (and for once, we’re going to leave out The Help because we already know how stunning she was in that film).

Octavia Spencer with her Academy Award in 2012
Octavia Spencer with her Academy Award in 2012.
Picture by Keystone USA-Zuma / Rex Features

Snowpiercer

Way before Bong Joon Ho ruled the award race with his Parasite, he blew everyone away with his Snowpiercer. Ok, the opinions about this movie go from stunning 10/10 to a mere 1/10. However, they’re sure about one thing: the great acting. While we see strong performances from Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, and Tilda Swinton, the one that touches the audience the most is the one from Spencer. Her Tanya is a mother who goes through an emotional rollercoaster to get her child back. Because of the human and touching aspects, this performance is the most relatable of all, especially because of the sci-fi vibe of the movie. She brings warmth and grief, hope and despair, and the expected and unexpected all together in one performance. A great example of the emotional range she can portray. 

Snowpiercer (Official Trailer)

Hidden Figures

When you put Spencer together with Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe, you know what you’re going to get. Fireworks, dazzling acting, and an amazing movie. If you add the inspiring real-life story of female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race, you know it will be a to-watch movie. Spencer portrays Dorothy Vaughn, one of the female masterminds behind the Project Mercury, and with that, she offers the world one of her best roles. She literary and figuratively brings Henson and Monáe together with an emotional, energetic, and on-point performance. Until Hidden Figures, Spencer only got the chance to shine in a more supporting role. With this powerhouse lead performance, she incredibly showed us that she can carry a film all the way through.

Hidden Figures (Official Trailer)

The Shape of Water

A desperate but loving mother in Snowpiercer, a smart and headstrong mathematician in Hidden Figures and now a wonderful friend, co-worker, and interpreter in The Shape of Water. While Sally Hawkins is the heart and the soul of this movie as Elisa Esposito, Spencer gives the most amazing support. Just as any performance, Spencer and her Zelda Fuller are put right into the action, and this time it’s in a fantasy world. While everyone around Esposito seems to become hurt and everything is about to fall into pieces, Fuller provides the much-needed pause and the time to think things through. Spencer provides a lot of emotions, relatability, and cleverness to this movie with her exuberant performance. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she mentioned that the role was written for her and she didn’t disappoint at all. No wonder she was nominated for an Oscar for this performance as well.

The Shape of Water (Official Trailer)

Gifted

Ok, if you’re not into a romantic drama, then you might skip this part. However, before you do that, let us convince you that Gifted is a movie you need to see. On one hand, you have the tremendous Chris Evans, on the other, you have the bright, shiny, and amazingly talented star called McKenna Grace. Right in the middle, you will find Spencer. An established and esteemed actor combined with female emotions and delicacy. While her Roberta Taylor was a more supporting role, Spencer made sure that she was presented on the screen strongly, emotionally, and captivatingly. She gives such a fun and heart-warming performance and add the feel-good vibe the movie needs. While this is a drama, it never feels tough and hard to watch. If you want to let some sunshine into your world, then you should put on Gifted.

Gifted (Official Trailer)

Luce

If there’s one film in which both upcoming and stunning talent come together with well-admired and accomplished talent, then it’s Luce from director Julius Onah. Kelvin Harrison Jr., who portrays the intellectual, loving, and popular student, makes the film industry aware of his talent with a massive bang. He knows how to bring different characteristics to the screen. From the happy and confident student to the more shady and unpredictable young man. Casting director Jessica Kelly did an incredible job by putting Spencer in front of him. As usual, her performance is very nuanced. You will get a glimpse of the love and admiration her character, Harriet Wilsoncan, can give but also Wilsoncan’s mysterious and wicked side. Whether or not you’ve foreseen the ending of the movie, it will still come to a shock to you thanks to Spencer her performance.

Luce (Official Trailer)

What’s your favourite Octavia Spencer performance?

Also Read: How Film Changed Me: On Reese Witherspoon

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Editorials

UK Drive-In Cinemas: Boom or Bust?

July 9, 2020
Drive-In Cinema [Source: Harpers Bazaar]

Drive-in cinemas. The American phenomenon where you can enjoy watching films on a big screen from the comfort of your car. It’s something that brings all the benefits of the communal experience without the annoyances of viewing films in a crowd of people. Well with the current pandemic worries drive-ins are seeing a resurgence in popularity. And the UK is looking to get in on the action.

So, today we’re going to look at the history of drive-ins, as well as some of the drive-in cinema events coming to the UK. And asking if UK drive-ins will take off as they have in the US?

History

Drive-In Theatre history began when Richard Hollingshead came up with an idea to accommodate his mother, who couldn’t fit into normal cinema seats. He had the idea of allowing people to view movies from the comfort of their cars. He set up a screen between some trees to project movies onto, with a radio behind the screen. And in 1933 he opened the first official drive-in cinema in Camden, New Jersey advertising it as affordable family entertainment.

Subsequently, drive-ins sprang up across the US in the 1950s and 60s. Culminating in 1958 when over 4000 drive-ins operated across the US. The numbers slowly declined in the 70s and 80s due to high land values and competition from television forcing many theatres to close. But since the 90s the number of theatres still open has remained steady. Recently new theatres have even begun to open. During this time drive-ins also gained access to new Hollywood releases. And with evolving technology drive-ins have received a great boost in projection and sound quality. A far cry from the grubby exploitation roadshows of old.

Similarly, Australia also enjoyed a history of drive-in success, with several big drive-in screens still operating today. The UK however never cracked the drive-in market. There were several attempts. In 2012 Route 66 opened, hoping to be a permanent fixture of the UK cinema scene, though it has since closed. And there are around 20 drive-in theatres currently operating in the UK. But compared to the US and Australia, UK drive-ins don’t have the same affection needed to keep business going. However, in the age of social-distancing, UK drive-ins may finally have their time to shine.

Enjoying a drive-in together [Source: Deseret News]

Coming Soon To A Destination Near You

Several pop-up drive-in events are coming to the UK over the next few weeks. Among them, The Luna Cinema and At the Drive-in, which will be screening films across several different UK areas (Including London, Oxford, the Midlands, Leeds, Manchester, and more) throughout the coming months.

Both are showing a wide variety of films. From modern Oscar contenders like Joker, and A Star is Born, to perennial favourites like Back to the Future, Grease and much more. Both allow you to order food and drink directly to your car. And both offer state of the art sound (broadcast to your car radio or a speaker which will be provided) and visual technology to ensure viewers get the best experience possible. But does this mean Drive-Ins will become a British mainstay?

Drive-Ins – Here To Stay?

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, many have wondered how the cinema industry will survive. With many movies now being released directly to on-demand, some argue that cinemas are a thing of the past. On top of that, according to some commentators, because the UK isn’t a car-based society like the US and Australia, the drive-in experience may not hold as much appeal for us. And in a time of economic uncertainty, many may not want to pay to see old films in a big car park.

But equally, there are many who crave the cinema experience, and the last few months have seen a renewed interest in supporting the arts and creative industries. And with 31.7 million cars in the UK, Drive-Ins are a good way for many to watch films in a way that is communal, supportive, and safe. Will it succeed? Only time will tell.

Are drive-in cinemas the future? [Source: Time Out]

What do you think? Are drive-ins the way forward? Will streaming ultimately win? Or are you waiting for regular cinemas to reopen? Let us know your thoughts.

Also Read: Amazon to Own Odeon Cinemas?

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Editorials

Quibi: Where Does The Short Film Platform Go From Here?

July 7, 2020
Quibi

This April, Quibi, a unique streaming service launched. All of it’s content is designed to be “bitesized” around 10 minutes or less. Perfect for watching on a lunch break or on the tube. With some big names involved like Spielberg, Del Toro and Jason Blum involved, it seemed like it had potential to get to the big leagues. So why isn’t it?

Quibi launched right in the middle of the global pandemic when everyone had free time on their hands. With everyone stuck inside, they need longer series to keep invested in, rather than 10 minute long episodes. It is also only available in the US and Canada, although that wasn’t really an issue for Disney+. While it does seem that the release couldn’t really have come at a worse time, there are likely other factors.

Try before you buy

Quibi Dashboard
Quibi offerings feature a wide variety of genres (Source:TechHive)

Like most streaming services, Quibi is a paid service. While it does offer a 14-day free trial, it previously offered a 90 day when it first launched. The 90-day trial is a better representation of Quibi, which adds new content weekly. After the two week trial, there are two payment options, a $4.99 which is slightly cheaper than most streaming services but features ads. The other option removes the ads for $7.99. Most paid-for streaming services do not feature ads, with Netflix offering several plans based on how many people use the account.

Another problem unique to Quibi is its content. Because of the “bite-sized” nature of its content, it doesn’t have any existing content to tempt viewers. Whereas Netflix had the likes of Breaking Bad, and Disney has its vast library. Quibi only has original content which can be much harder to sell, especially when you only have 15 minutes of a show. While it might have some top talent involved, it’s hard to get people invested in a show that only has one 15 minute long episode.

(Don’t) Tell your friends

One of the big reasons Netflix gets shows to go viral is because it actively starts conversations. When new shows like Tiger King or Bird Box are released, the twitter account engages with it. By actively encouraging discussion and showing clips or sharing memes, Netflix helps build the conversation around its shows. By contrast, Quibi does not even allow users to take a screenshot whilst in the app, and no sharing onto social media, making it hard to grow buzz for a series without getting people to sign up for it and watch it themselves with little to no context.

Another issue is that Quibi is mobile-only, with no option to watch on a computer or cast to a TV. This has the unfortunate side effect of making it difficult for more than one person to watch any content on there. Watching a funny Youtube clip on a mate’s phone might be good at school, but it doesn’t really work in this context.

Where does Quibi fit in?

Quibi
Quibi doesn’t really offer much that can’t be found elsewhere (Credit: Quibi)

In a world where anyone can create short content and upload it to the internet on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, a paid service seems odd. While it has the benefit of big names, most of them are active on other platforms and have other much more exciting projects planned. Actors like Jack Black and Will Smith have their own YouTube channels, which viewers can watch for free, so why sign up for Quibi?

While the actual content on Quibi isn’t the issue, some of the more weird and high concept shows are perfect for the platform. However, a lot of the shows could go onto YouTube, which already has it’s own premium option. Also, YouTube already has access to new content it also allows other benefits.

While Quibi is an interesting idea, it appears that it just doesn’t have enough to make it stand out from existing platforms, it’s a combination of Netflix and YouTube which is interesting, but those platforms offer different things for a reason. Many of the shows on Quibi are well funded and produced, but seems like a lot of money to throw at shows that total little over 2 hours when finished. It still has a chance to recover and be successful, but only time will tell if that happens.

Also Read: Amazon To Own Odeon Cinemas?

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Editorials, How Film Changed Me

How Film Changed Me: On Change

July 5, 2020
Barbara McLean

On January 20th 2016, Kylie Jenner dubbed the year ahead as the ‘Year of Realising Things.’ Indeed, 2016 did seem to be a year in which things were realised. For example, a lot of white liberal Americans ‘realised’ racism still existed when You Know Who was elected, while we here in the UK realised that Brexit had divided us almost precisely down the middle, and the whole world realised that our favourite celebrities could die – something we realised over, and over, and over again.

If I were to put myself in Kylie Jenner’s philosophical seat this year, I’d likely call 2020 the ‘Year of Change’. Albeit, back in January I thought that change was going to be more to do with real estate than global upheaval. But still, I have, during this pandemic, bought a flat (my first) and two of my friends are preparing to move into a house they’ve bought together. Other friends have gotten engaged, while some have moved in with their partners to get around lockdown restrictions, acquired new jobs that require them to move across the country, or made plans to pack up and head for sunnier shores.

This change is likely due to my age (I turn 27 in September) and that famously I’m approaching what some call ‘Saturn’s Return‘. This is the idea that Saturn takes around 27 to 30 years to orbit the sun and so when you reach my age, it’s getting closer to the place in the sky it was when you were born. This, in astrological terms, means that your life is disrupted, thrown off course, and you’ll face hardship for a few years as Saturn, well, returns. Of course, your late 20s are often when you’re expected to be more independent, and bills, house sales, taxes, hair loss, and bad knees come into play so Saturn’s Return might just be astrology’s way of trying to make sense of adulthood.

The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada / CREDIT: 20th Century Fox

Whether the planets cause it or whether we just blame them, change can be hard to handle. So much so that I often find myself wishing it could fly by in one niftily edited montage. The seasons will change, and I’ll walk down the street in different weather appropriate outfits that allude to the passage of time. They’ll be a shot of me signing the contracts for my new place, and it’ll cut away before showing the stress and anxiety of buying property. Then, without showing the hassle and stress of finding affordable movers, it will show me directing two strong removal men to put the beautiful fancy sofa I’ve spent too much money on down against the far wall. In the next shot, the walls will have been painted, the shelves will be up, and my books will be all unpacked. Ultimately, it will end with everything done and I’ll sit down on my expensive sofa, look around at my finished flat, and smile. I’d be fully moved in, and ready to go back into the main storyline.

Change is a lot easier to process on film, and it has all these ways to deal with the passage of time that we don’t. For example, on Tuesday, I went for my first run in two years, and it ended with me spending £15 on Epsom salts and muscle relaxant bubble bath. It was the muscles in my groin, specifically, that felt like they were over it, as if they were some much-ignored cog in this machine I call my body. Each time I stood up, they ached, and trying to climb the stairs felt Herculean. It’s at this point that the idea of recasting is appealing. Out with the old and in with the younger model like James Bond or Aunt May. Yes, bring in someone more spritely to play the part of me for the next few years – ideally someone who has Hollywood-level personal trainer and doesn’t share my love for potatoes. Let the young hot bushy-tailed ingenue take over and then maybe I could be tempted to step back into the role in a few years (but only if the money is good.)

Bond, James Bond
Bond, James Bond

The last option, of course, is the full-blown reboot. Go back to the origin story, do it a little differently, and re-write the mistakes in the hopes that this time it will all go better and that people will be more receptive to it. Make this new version glossier, smoother, and put money into it. Recast everyone and start again. Of course, by this point, everyone will already be sick of it. Why bother bringing back a story that no one really cared about the first time? Why not make something new instead of regurgitating this old shite. I imagine that’s what the YouTube comments would say under the trailer for my new rebooted life. Nothing is ever original these days. 

Instead, I’ll just have to weather the change like everyone else. Ride with its ebbs and flows and try to make the emotional space to deal with it. I can hope and wish that I had smart ways to process change like film does. I can dream about 4 hours’ worth of shopping becoming a 3-minute montage set to a pop-rock song at the end of which I have a new haircut and a whole new outfit. I can fantasise that, as the inebriated man rambles on about politics, I could just cut away and skip the rest of his drunken lecture. But, instead, my makeovers are more gradual and my night outs often ruined by pontification.

In his book In The Blink of an Eye, film editor Walter Murch writes that Francis Ford Coppola had 1,250,000 feet of film printed after shooting Apocalypse Now. This works out to be about 230 hours of footage, all of which was edited down into 2 hours and 25 minutes. With this in mind, I guess we could try and look at life in a different way. We shoot it all, every second of life, and our memory acts as the editor. Our memory can cut out the excess, reduce the time between scenes, and even dub the dialogue. Right now we’re just the exhausted actors that have shot nearly 27 years’ worth of footage, but at the end of our lives, we’ll be able to play our own personal movies over and over again. We just have to wait until then.

Also Read: How Film Changed Me: On Reese Witherspoon

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Editorials

Let’s Celebrate Film: Five Movies With a Special Birthday in 2020

July 3, 2020
The Social Network

That the release of ‘Tenet’ has caused a lot of online discussions became very clear during the last few weeks and months. While the original release date has been postponed, we will still get out ‘Christopher Nolan’ fix because of the re-screenings of Inception. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. However, Inception isn’t the only movie whose birthday it is this year. Therefore we would like to line-up five movies that have a reason to celebrate and that also deserve to be screened again on the screen while we await new releases (and after that too).

Hallway Fight Scene, Inception (Credit: Warner Bros.)

The Social Network

On the 1st of October, The Social Network will be ten years old and that’s something we have to celebrate big time. While October is still a few months away, there’s nothing wrong with premature celebrations. The drama about the life of Mark Zuckerberg was being brought to the screen by director David Fincher and actors such as Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake. It wasn’t only the audience that fell in love with this movie but also the film critics were easily convinced that The Social Network was a gem. That’s why this movie was awarded three Oscars, four Golden Globes, and three BAFTAs. Such an awarded and loved film should return to the big screen this year.

The Social Network (Credit: Columbia Pictures / Sony)

The King’s Speech

 The King’s Speech is ten years old, just like The Social Network. Director Tom Hooper and writer David Seidler brought King George VI back to life. It wasn’t only about his impromptu ascension to the throne but also about his relationship with the speech therapist who helped him. At first, the role of King George VI was written with Paul Bettany in mind but he declined. After that, Firth was cast and his performance was so captivating, on-point, and emotional that he won the Academy Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role”. Alongside that Oscar, the movie won three Academy Awards. For David Seidler, the evening was even more special as he became the oldest person to win the award for “Best Original Screenplay”. We can’t wait to see that touching “I have a voice” scene in cinemas again.

The King’s Speech (Credit: Momentum Pictures)

Pride & Prejudice

This year, we will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the romantic drama Pride & Prejudice. This movie is based on the same-named novel by Jane Austen and is about Elizabeth Bennet and her Mr. Darcy. Saying that director Joe Wright and casting director Jina Jay did a great job would be a massive understatement. The cast includes strong women such as Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, Carey Mulligan, Talulah Riley, and Jena Malone. The audience praised this movie as “the most diverting film”, “Simply unmissable” and “Absolutely Perfect” and the critics predicted a bright future for Wright. They awarded him with awards such as the one for “Most Promising Newcomer”, “Best New Filmmaker” and “British Director of the Year”. The critics were right about that as Wright sat in the director’s chair for films as Darkest Hour and Atonement. Want to experience how it all began for Wright? Then you should watch Pride & Prejudice when it will be screened again.

Pride & Prejudice (Credit: Focus Features)

Chicken Run

Ok, honestly it might not be one of the biggest classic but when it was announced that Chicken Run would get a sequel, people were incredibly excited about that. It’s exactly twenty years since Rocky, Babs and Ginger made their animated appearance. It’s still waiting on confirmation whether original cast members such as Mel Gibson, Timothy Spall, and Imelda Staunton will lend their voice again. Not sure either if we will be able to see Chicken Run 2 on the big screen as the movie is picked up by Netflix. However, during the last few years, many Netflix films such as The Irishman, The King, and Marriage Story were screened in cinemas. We hope that the Chicken Run sequel will get that same treatment. In any case, we can’t wait to re-watch the original film from 2000 on the big screen if possible.

Chicken Run (Credit: Dreamworks)

Goodfellas

30 years! Yep, that’s how long ago Goodfellas was released. It was the first collaboration between Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci and it’s probably one of those movies that everyone saw. Thanks to the talent both behind and in front of the screen, you are part of the life of mobster Henry Hill. 146 minutes, you will be surrounded by the intriguing world of the Italian-American crime syndicate and you will get to know more about Hill, his relationship with his wife Karen, and the bond with his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito. With more than 43 wins and 38 nominations behind its name, Goodfellas is one of those films that needs be screened in cinemas again.

GoodFellas (Credit: Warner Bros)

Which film(s) do you want to see on the big screen again?

Also Read: 30 Years On: The Godfather Part 3

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Editorials

The Films Of Martin McDonagh

July 1, 2020
Martin McDonagh's Films

Martin McDonagh started writing plays and was very successful at it too. McDonagh’s first foray into filmmaking was with short film Six Shooter, his first full-length film was 2008’s In Bruges, his third film, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri was a huge critical hit, earning two actors Oscar wins for the cast.

Warning – McDonagh’s films are full of swearing and violence and, especially Three Billboards…, deal with very difficult subject matter. Also, some spoilers for each film are contained within the article.

In Bruges

In Bruges
In Bruges (empireonline)

For me, this is a contender for the greatest directorial debut of all time. Back in the long-long-ago, through the mists of time, Netflix used to actually deliver DVDs in the post. You couldn’t even pick which film you wanted but had to have a list of films and prioritise them – I fudged the list as much as I could to get this film as soon as possible. I watched it twice in two days, exceeding my already high expectations. The film is a story of two gangster hitmen sent to lie-low after a job went wrong, and bizarrely, sent to Bruges. Colin Farrell stars in a career-best performance as Ray who seemingly is the happy-go-lucky of the pair but is also weighed down with something terrible that is eventually revealed to be that during the last job he accidentally shot and killed a child. The film is a superb black comedy but at its heart it’s a story of redemption – what is Ray to do with his life now? How can he make things right? Is that possible? Brendan Gleeson is the experienced gangster, Ken, sent along on the mission and now trapped with Ray in Bruges. Amazingly the third main character, Ralph Fiennes’ Harry doesn’t appear until half-way through the film. All three main actors are astounding, Ray and Ken making as an odd double-act, with Harry being an over-the-top mob boss (Harry screaming at his wife, “You’re an inanimate f*****g object” and promptly apologising, insisting she isn’t, is gold). In true film-snob style, I have to cite Bruges itself as a character in the film. McDonagh has said that Ray and Ken exemplified his perception of the city when he first arrived, he was Ken, he loved it’s medieval beauty but quickly became Ray – bored as there is very little to do aside from sightseeing.

Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths
Seven Psychopaths (slantmagaine.com)

Following up In Bruges was never going to be easy. Farrell remained as the central character (playing an Irish scriptwriter named Marty), Gleeson and Fiennes were gone but the cast now boasted Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson, so a fair trade. The plot revolves around Marty trying to write a script he’s called Seven Psychopaths but doesn’t want it to be a cliched action film, despite calling it Seven Psychopaths. Aided and hindered in scriptwriting by his friend Billy (played by Rockwell, a professional dog-kidnapper); things get out of hand when Billy kidnaps a gangster’s dog who vows revenge. There is a lot going on in this film – perhaps too much, as well as just the action-comedy of the battle with the gangster there is an analysis of filmmaking and discussions thinking about religion, revenge and the power of stories. One memorable scene has Marty, Billy and Hans (Christopher Walken) discussing possible endings for Marty’s film, and despite Marty insisting he doesn’t want a traditional gunfight ending that is what Billy suggests. Billy’s ending is an insane shootout involving exploding heads, hidden crossbows and the escape of a pet rabbit/death of Marty’s girlfriend (leading to perhaps the film’s most memorable line “You can’t let the animals die in a movie… only the women”).

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (vulture.com)

There have been criticisms that McDonagh’s films focus heavily on men, certainly, the women characters in his first two films are peripheral, I don’t know whether Three Billboards… is a response to that criticism but this film’s central character was Mildred, played by Frances McDormand. Whilst still a dark comedy the subject matter is far more serious than in previous films. Mildred is a woman in deep grief after the rape and murder of her teenage daughter; after the police have failed to solve the crime she rents three billboards, calling out the local police chief by name for his failure. The idea being that, as Mildred explains, a crime is more likely to be solved the longer it stays in the public consciousness.

A great film it also contains an unforgettable cinema-going experience for me – there is one hell of a punch to the gut as it reveals something Mildred said to her daughter before she was murdered where the cinema audience I was in gasped in shock and heartbreak or in some cases groaned in pain.

McDormand is brilliant and won a second Oscar for this performance and seems to have an almost unstoppable force of nature sense to her, she has no power, no money, no authority but she will make things happen. Harrelson is on great form as the weary police chief who seems genuinely heartbroken he has failed Mildred and her daughter and we also learn is dying of cancer. The fact that Mildred is well aware of both of these facts but pushes on regardless shows her determination. Perhaps the most complicated and controversial character is Dixon (played by Sam Rockwell), a deputy who sums up the worst of the American police force – brutally violent, racist and bullying anyone who stands up to him. Perhaps even worse the rest of the local force is well aware of Dixon’s problems but aren’t terribly bothered (and maybe are the same just better at hiding it) – Harrelson’s character even trots out the line that if they got rid of all of the racist cops, there would hardly be any cops. The reason Dixon’s character is so controversial is whether or not he has a redemptive arc and is that acceptable in a character who has done such terrible things. Personally I don’t think we’re meant to see Dixon as “redeemed”, I don’t think he’s meant to have changed and at best put aside his personal animosity for Mildred to try and achieve something important.

Not For Everyone…

McDonagh’s films are very dark comedies with even darker none comedic storylines going on underneath, and that’s difficult to get right, and certainly, these films aren’t going to be for everyone but have been some of my favourite films of recent years.

Also Read: The Anatomy of a Christopher Nolan Film

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Editorials

7 Great Claustrophobic Films

June 29, 2020
Top 7 Great Claustrophobic Films [Source: Taste of Cinema}

Over the past few weeks, we’ve all been feeling a bit claustrophobic with being trapped inside so much. But cinema has proven that even when restricted, creativity can shine through. So today I’m recommending 7 great claustrophobic films, all based in small or restricted settings, from different genres to show how greatness can flourish even with small canvases.

Drama: 12 Angry Men

A jury is tasked with judging if a teenager is guilty of murder. Initially many think he’s guilty but when Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) disagrees it turns into a riveting debate on the values of justice. 12 Angry Men continues to impress as more time passes. The topics of justice, human nature, and doubt remain universal. And as it largely takes place in one room on a hot summer day it makes you feel as frustrated as the characters. It’s currently ranked 5th on IMDb’s top 250 and has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The leads of 12 Angry Men [Source: Slant Magazine]

Thriller: Rear Window

While confined to his apartment, wheelchair-bound photographer L. B. Jefferies (James Stewart) witnesses his neighbour possibly committing murder. But how is he going to prove it? Rear Window is today regarded as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films. And it’s certainly impressive. As most of the action is shot inside Jeffries’ apartment, we as viewers are put in the same position as Jefferies. Unable to move too far and confined by circumstances beyond our control. It’s currently ranked 50th on IMDb’s top 250 and has a 99% approval rating on RT.

L. B. Jefferies’ apartment in Rear Window [Source: Spy Culture]

Action: The Raid

A group of police officers head to a high-rise to arrest a prominent crime lord. The officers are quickly ambushed, have their retreat cut-off, and many are killed by the high-rise’s residents. Can the remaining officers get to their target before the residents kill them? The Raid has been referred to as one of the best action movies of the past decade and the limited location of the high-rise works to its advantage. Keeping the story focused instead of meandering and making for some incredibly creative set-pieces. It holds a 7.6 IMDb score and an 86% RT approval rating.

Getting ready for a halway fight in The Raid [Source: Listal]

Biopic: 127 Hours

When Aron Ralston (James Franco) goes climbing in Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon he ends up falling and pinning his arm between a boulder and the wall. Can Aron survive in these dire circumstances? 127 Hours is difficult to watch. It’s based on a real-life incident and like previous entries, it does an amazing job putting you into the protagonist’s position by restricting the setting and Aron’s movement for most of the movie. So, when the climax comes, you’re left wondering if you could do what Aron did? 127 Hours was positively received by audiences and critics. Even being nominated for 2011s Best Picture Oscar.

Caught between a rock and a hard place in 127 Hours [Source: Empire Online]

Horror: The Thing (1982)

An Antarctic research station is invaded by an alien creature that assimilates and imitates other life forms. With communication lines cut and the cold wastes outside providing no hope of rescue how are the station’s researchers going to fight this creature? Especially when anyone they know could be the thing? Initially, critics reviled John Carpenter’s The Thing but it’s now considered a horror masterpiece. Thanks to its slow-building suspense and paranoia. Further amplified by the restricted nature of the research outpost setting. It’s ranked 164th in IMDB’s top 250 and has an 84% approval rating on RT.

Confined in the cold in The Thing (1982) [Source: 3 brothers film]

Surreal: The Exterminating Angel

When upper-class dinner guests are unable to leave their hosts living room for unexplained reasons, slowly all semblance of morality and etiquette between the guests crumbles, revealing only animals beneath. Exterminating Angel is a surreal black comedy that uses its humorous conceit of the guests being unable to leave a party to ridicule the bourgeoise. And while it’s certainly weirder than previous list entries you’re guaranteed to remember it. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. And currently has an 8.1 rating on IMDb and a 92% on RT.

One hell of a party in The Exterminating Angel [Source: Slant Magazine]

Romance: Time & Again

Former lovers Isabelle (Brigit Forsyth) and Eleanor (Siân Phillips) meet up 60 years after their relationship ended in a nursing home. With the action largely confined to two rooms, this short allows us to feel the isolation of both the main characters who have both lost their partners. And the limited scope emphasizes the great performances which immediately invest us in the couple and leaves us eager to learn about their history and ultimately their future. Time & Again has an 8.5 rating on IMDb and has received awards at several film festivals.

The central couple in Time and Again [Source: DaxiTales Ltd]

So ends our list of great claustrophobic films. Proving that a limited setting can still engage, thrill, excite, inform, terrify, challenge, and move us. But did we miss any out? Then let us know your favorite limited location film in the comments.

Also Read: Five Thought-Provoking Documentaries To Watch On BirdBox

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Editorials, How Film Changed Me

How Film Changed Me: On the Great Outdoors

June 20, 2020
The River Wild

Slowly, we emerge. Blinking, stumbling, weary. Lockdown is lifting. Shops are opening again, we can see friends and family if we stay two metres apart, and we’re allowed outside for as long as we want. We can travel further, hop in the car and head for the hills, for the woodlands and lakes (as long as they’re in England). Yes, gone are the days of ‘one form of exercise’ and when resting on a bench seemed to be a criminal offence. Instead, we can head out on road trips with those we live with, picnic, lie down in the long grass, and get back to nature.

In preparation for our release, my housemates bought inflatable kayaks. They weren’t the only ones either as prices, on Amazon and elsewhere, shot up like the hand of an overzealous teacher’s pet. These aren’t your bog-standard holiday swimming pool inflatables though, but slightly more industrial ones with full-on ores and an attachable fin. Costly? Maybe. But when you’ve quit smoking and been unable to go to the pub for three months, there’s a little more money floating around.

When they arrived, the night before we’d planned to go out in them, we talked about paddling upriver, finding a place to rest on a secluded private bank, and laying out in the sun like we were in an adaptation of a classic novel. Instead, we found a small plot by the river and laid down our blankets, careful to avoid the dog shit and litter left by the previous days’ loungers. We put down our cooler bag of drinks and sandwiches, pulled out the weekend papers we’d bought on the way, and arranged to go out on the river in twos.

The River Wild, Universal Pictures
THE RIVER WILD (1994) / CREDIT: Universal Pictures

The first time I went out I felt like Meryl Streep. This is not uncommon for me. In fact, whenever I’m prepping to have people over for dinner I feel like Meryl Streep in The Hours, when I sleep with older men, I feel like Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated, when we talk about who gets custody of the cat when we all move out of our shared house in a few months I feel like Meryl Streep in Kramer vs Kramer. Still, out on the water, with the sun beating down and a light breeze slapping against my burnt forehead, I felt like Meryl Streep in The River Wild.

The River Wild is a 1994 action-thriller starring Streep as Gail Hartman, a former river guide, who takes her family on a rafting trip down the Salmon River in Idaho for her son’s birthday. The idyllic and healing adventure is scuppered when two violent criminals, on the run and hoping to take the river to freedom, force Gail to take them down the Gauntlet – a treacherous, rocky, and danger-filled stretch of rapids that has long been closed to rafters. It’s a perfect Sunday film that has everything: a cute dog, a sexy yet ominous Kevin Bacon, and further testament to Streep’s ability to literally do anything.

Sure, my experience out on the river was nowhere near as exciting, but it did get me thinking about the outdoors on film. Is it really possible to capture that experience on screen or does it have to be lived? My Dad would have told you the latter was true. As I wrote in my first column a few months ago, he was an advocate for getting outdoors whenever possible. I’m a reluctant adventurer myself. I’ve never really been one for ‘activities’, shall we say? Something inside me is super resistant to them. Whether that’s some kind of subconscious rebellion against my Dad’s mindset is between my future therapist and me, however, as I’ve gotten older and my mid-twenties are starting to look more like my late twenties, I’m struck by a desire to be outdoors.

Free Solo on National Geographic
FREE SOLO (2018) / CREDIT: National Geographic

Of course, film and TV can offer awe-inspiring at a lesser price. For example, nature documentaries provide a glimpse of those wild worlds on BBC iPlayer. At the same time, National Geographic can show you a man free climbing up a mountain from the comfort of your cinema seat. We don’t have to leave the comfort of our own homes to view the wonders of the world, and for the past few months, we haven’t been able to. The beauty and mystery of this mad planet captured on film make us all mutter Liz Lemon’s famous catchphrase; ‘I want to go to there!’

But the question is, can we? Flights are grounded, fear of flying and travel is certainly higher, and who knows what the financial cost will be now the airline’s budget business models appear to have crumbled. Sure, we have head out into the English countryside but a week of thunderstorms has made that a lot harder. So, for now, we’ll have to settle for on-screen globetrotting. 

Of course, my jaunt out onto the river was two weeks ago and not during the current spate of torrential rain. On those days when you can get outside, the days where you get sunburnt and all anyone says is how they can’t believe how hot it is, then, by all means, get out. My god, we need it! However, on days when that isn’t possible, here are a few recommendations to bring the outdoors in…

Get a free trial for Disney+

Elephant on Disney+
ELEPHANT (2020) / Credit: Disney

The new streaming service from the House of Mouse features an extensive range of nature films through their partnership with National Geographic as well as they’re own documentary production arm, Disney Nature. Plus, you get seven days free!

Watch Planet Earth on iPlayer

PLANET EARTH II (2016) / CREDIT: BBC

Yes, you’ve probably already seen it. The docu-series from David Attenborough has been a global phenomenon, but what better time to revisit it? Especially now it’s all available on iPlayer.

Watch Jumanji

This 1995 family adventure sees the perils of the jungle spill out into a quiet American town. Between the large alligators and stampedes, it’s enough to make you feel quite happy you’re trapped inside.

Watch The River Wild

THE RIVER WILD (1994) / Credit: Universal Pictures

Honestly, it’s just a great film that we don’t talk about enough. If I do one thing in this life, let it be bringing more people to this movie. It’s available to rent or buy on most VOD services, and you won’t regret it. Just strap in for a wild ride! 

Also Read: How Film Changed Me: On Reese Witherspoon

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Editorials

Social Media: A Filmmakers Friend or Foe?

June 19, 2020
Dr Parvinder Shergill

Social media has become a world in itself, from quick picture-snapping on the gram to political comments with the birds of Twitter. It is indeed a virtual land exploding as the months pass, with new apps continuously being promoted. We are now in a time of zoom or house party for those that need to work from home.

Whilst self-isolating, social media has indeed come in as our best friend to save the day, in ordering our shopping list, to catching up with granny.

I have spoken as an expert speaker at Parliament for social media. On one hand, yes it needs to be used wisely as it can impact one’s sleep, anxiety, exercise, and self-esteem to name a few. However, it can be an excellent tool for connecting with others that you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, with a supporting platform for those that have autism that can find typical face to face contact difficult.

For a filmmaker, I think it is a unique opportunity to showcase your work, almost free publicity if you will, which anyone in this industry will appreciate. Gone are the days of posters, or leaflet giving, but now one click can reach millions. It has certainly been as asset to many celebrities in endorsing their products. A strategy of technology that can contribute so much to a filmmaker.

I worry though, as with all social media, that despite it being an effective communication tool for filmmakers connecting to the industry at a tip of their fingers, that it could also downplay just how difficult it is in fact to create a film.

This is exactly what I spoke with David Yorke, an award-winning filmmaker. David, I met only last month at a film festival, which already feels months away due to lockdown. I was drawn to one of his films, in particular, named Safekeeping. It is a story that was originally created when David entered a competition about the world ending. What he made, I feel was tragically beautiful on the screen. It certainly is a film that one can take away a lot of messages or interpret in many ways, which I discuss with David. I personally felt drawn to the themes of abuse, palliative care, love, attachment, and loss. I won’t say too much, in case you have not watched the film, but for me, it resonated, possibly due to my work in mental health, with the exquisite location in a large field- some of my favourite scenes in this field.

I see David’s Instagram and I congratulate on him on the recent festival wins, and he candidly speaks about how Instagram shows only one aspect of his career, however not the hard work behind the scenes. I ponder on this, as he is absolutely right. For a moment I have been swept with the limelight social media can portray into someone’s life of just looking at the best-taken photos, but not actually what that individual is going through or doing to even get to that point of the picture being taken. We as human beings, get drawn to the attractive object, the good object in our mind’s eye, the power, the money, the trinkets of unattainable wealth, the prestige, the good looking, and even the downright ideal of what we want to be. Essentially conditioning ourselves to believe that if a picture looks perfect, then that person must be living a perfect life.

But being a filmmaker is messy. It means constant drop out of actors, lack of funding, desperately awaiting emails for location, and the need to be accepted to festivals for recognition. It certainly is not the edited poster or final edit of the film as we see as the audience.

Social media reminds me of exactly that: the poster of the film. It is the edited version of our work, our work meaning our life in this context. But what we fail to show is the bloopers, the slips, the pick me ups, the tears, and the laughter through the exhaustion.

I hope as filmmakers, we remember that of course, it is about the final product, the final edit, but to remember the process of achieving that, and to remind one another on social media how we admire this process and not just the edit.

Also Read: Interview: Dr Parvinder Shergill Talks Mental Health & Movies

This article was originally published in www.thesecretpsychiatrist.com

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Editorials

What The Snyder Cut Could Mean For The DCEU

June 16, 2020
Justice League

Things have never gone quite smoothly for the DC Extended Universe, often seen as the poor relation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and always playing catchup. The DCEU does not seem to have had the same overall guidance that the MCU had and with the announcement that HBO will screen the “Snyder Cut” of 2017’s Justice League things are only going to get more complicated.

What Is The Snyder Cut?

Justice League - The Snyder Cut
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (credit: Warner Media)

When DC wanted to create its own superhero universe, the DCEU, one director was pushed to the front – Zack Snyder. Snyder directed the first film in the DCEU, Man of Steel, in 2013. He then went on to direct Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, which brought Batman and Superman into conflict and introduced the character Wonder Woman. Naturally enough, a Justice League film was planned, this being a team of superheroes that worked together from the DC comics. Again, Snyder was to direct. However, after a family tragedy Snyder stepped down from directing and the project was taken over by Joss Whedon. Many fans were disappointed with the finished product with some believing Whedon had taken the film in a different direction to which Snyder had wanted. And so an internet campaign was born for the so-called “Snyder Cut” to be released.

The Two Film Problem

Doc explaining the diverging DCEU timelines (backtothefuturefandom.com)

This has created a rather thorny philosophical problem – which is the real Justice League film? To use the correct term – which is canon? In the past this wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, canon was not something that worried the people who made Batman Forever, whilst nominally a sequel to Batman Returns it was very much its own film. But in the DCEU this is important as it will have repercussions to the other films and tv shows. In the world of comics, canon is at once incredibly complicated and incredibly simple. There is no one story for a superhero, there are multiple stories, they can be set in different time periods, change important details of the story, retell old stories in a new way. This is a perfectly natural part of comic books that allows them to remain refresh when characters can be decades old. Such a reset is probably coming to MCU relatively soon.

The DCEU machine is already winding up for the release of The Batman with Robert Pattison taking on the role. Obviously this will be a younger Batman/Bruce Wayne than Ben Affleck’s Batman and raises the question of where does this sit in the DCEU storyline? I have tried to find this out but it seems very unclear. Similarly what about Suicide Squad, The Suicide Squad, and Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey? Affleck’s Batman briefly appeared in Suicide Squad and as Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn runs through them it could be assumed they are all in the same universe.

I doubt in terms of plot too much would be different between The Snyder Cut and the original film. I can’t imagine that Snyder’s will feature a massacre of the main characters or a completely different outcome but if nothing else fans obsess over small details.

The Darkest Timeline

Abed in Community wearing his evil beard (www.community-sitcom.fandom.com)

My own rather impractical solution is to have two separate DCEUs running alongside, each branching off from their own version of Justice League. The idea of having two competing DCEU timelines with the same actors and same plots is certainly intriguing, given that it’s DC you’d have to assume that each would be competing to be the darkest timeline – in the vein of Abed’s infamous belief, in TV show Community, that of six possible different ways for the show to go, there was a “darkest timeline”. Like in Community (as inspired by Star Trek) all characters in DCEU would wear goatee beards, the acknowledged universal symbol of evilness.

Abandon The Universe

Joker (deseret.com)

My unpopular opinion on the MCU is I don’t think it promotes good storytelling. The MCU currently consisted of twenty-three films (as well as tv shows that are meant to take place in that universe) and every new film has to fit in. There can be a lot said for telling a story over multiple films and adding scope to the narrative but I see it as so much baggage.

Joker is probably the most critically acclaimed comic book film ever as well as being hugely financially successful and popular with traditional fans and it is not considered part of the DCEU. I would like DC to embrace this idea. They didn’t have to worry about how this film would fit into the wider story and just make a great film. If they want to do another Green Lantern film there is no reason for it to fit in with an existing story, it can be it’s own self-contained entity, allowing them to be more experimental. This will allow DCEU to have over-the-top minor character mad-cap adventures like the recent Harley Quinn and their brooding dark Batman films.

If nothing else the release of The Snyder Cut could be an interesting watershed for films with huge fandoms, fans made this happen. Much has been written about what effect fan dissatisfaction had in relation to the recent Star Wars films and it’ll be interesting to see how fans will use this new power.

Also Read: The Snyder Cut Saga

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Editorials

30 Years On: The Godfather Part 3

June 13, 2020
Godfather Part 3 [Source: New on Netflix USA]

The Godfather Parts 1 and 2 are considered two of the greatest films ever made. Part 3, however, is seen as the black sheep of the series. But with Godfather Part 3 turning 30 this year, it’s time to see if it has aged well or if it should have ended up like Jack Woltz’s horse?

Synopsis

Years after Part 2’s events Michael Corleone is divorced from his wife Kay and trying to turn over a new leaf. Suddenly in walks Vincent Mancini, son of Michael’s dead brother Sonny. Vincent is feuding with enforcer Joey Zasa so Michael takes him under his wing.

Michael is also working to legitimize the family, but Don Altobello warns the mafia wants involvement in Michaels’s new business venture. Michael attempts to pay the mob bosses off to keep them away. He narrowly avoids an assassination attempt and Vincent realizes Altobello and Zasa are working together. Meanwhile, Vincent begins dating Michael’s daughter Mary. Vincent assassinates Zasa enraging Michael, who tells him not to see his daughter anymore.

The Corleone’s head to Sicily and Vincent defects to Altobello to get information. He discovers Altobello has hired someone to kill Michael. Michael’s business deal is ratified, and he names Vincent as the new Don. With this new position, Vincent decides to swiftly destroy the family’s enemies but have the Corleone’s underestimated their opponents?

Godfather 3 Critical Reaction

As mentioned earlier the first two Godfather movies are seen as two of cinemas greatest films. Both won best picture Oscars. Both have iconic dialogue that’s now part of everyday conversation. They feature incredible performances from some of cinemas best actors (Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Sterling Hayden etc.). And both are beloved by the public and critics. They are the second and third best films of all time on IMDb and have a 98% and 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Conversely, Part 3 won no Oscars, currently sits at a 69% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, and is rated 7.6 on IMDb. An incredible dip in perceived quality. But is that feeling justified?

The Godfather (Source: Films Leaving Netflix)
Iconic poster for The Godfather (Source: Films Leaving Netflix)

The Good

Part 3 does have positives. Firstly, Al Pacino is great as an older Michael Corleone. His cool, ruthless nature from the previous movies now replaced by world-weary wisdom and compromise making him feel like his father from Part 1. Returning players Diane Keaton and Talia Shire and new faces Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, and Joe Mantegna are also fun in their roles.

The atmosphere is also top-notch. The golden tinged cinematography and excellent score help give a nostalgic and operatically tragic feeling to the film. 

And there are some genuinely good story moments. Particularly Michael coming to terms with his horrible past and mentoring Vincent to take over from him. Which gives this entry a great sense of finality. And set-pieces like Vincent’s apartment break-in, Joey Zasa’s murder, and the opera massacre are entertaining.

The Bad

However, Part 3 has a lot of problems. And a lot of them come from it living in the shadow of its predecessors. The plot is very convoluted, like the previous entries, but aside from Michael and Vincent, no one has a compelling motivation to invest us in the action. Compared to the multi-layered characters of previous entries, this film feels generic in comparison.

The first two movies were also effective because of their realistic presentation. The dialogue felt natural and the violence hit hard because it felt so mundane. Here the action is overblown and at points ridiculous (see the helicopter assassination scene). The dialogue also feels unrealistic, with people espousing their motivations rather than using conversations to infer character motivation. There’s also an air of desperation as the movie tries to make Michael sympathetic. The Michael that series fans know, who coldly ordered the murder of his brother and pushed Kay away, is a world removed from his characterisation here. Honestly if not for Pacino’s performance it would come across as a cynical attempt to make the character appeal to a broader audience.

Finally, Sofia Coppola’s performance as Mary is terrible. It’s not her fault, she was essentially forced into it after Winona Ryder was unavailable. But her inability to emote or sound convincing is a major hindrance to the film because she has such a prominent role.

Verdict

Godfather Part 3 isn’t without merit. There are some fun performances, solid atmosphere courtesy of good-looking cinematography; a great soundtrack, and some entertaining moments. But it’s overall incredibly disappointing. Most of the characters are dull, making the twisty narrative a chore. It also lacks subtlety, with the powerful realism of the first two films replaced by overblown clichés and it features an atrocious performance from Sofia Coppola. It isn’t awful but it’s a huge blemish on the Godfather name.

Also Read: Was It Really That Bad? Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

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Editorials

Amazon To Own Odeon Cinemas?

June 12, 2020
Odeon Cinemas

With the global pandemic, movie theatres, like many businesses have been forced to shut down. People were advised to stay at home, and only leave the house for essentials. So trips to the cinema weren’t included. As the pandemic has gone on, some smaller businesses have unfortunately had to close for good. Many surviving businesses will likely take time to recover. A recent report indicated that AMC Theatres could be seeking a buyer. AMC also owns the Odeon chain in the UK. The potential buyer? Amazon. Yes that Amazon.

So could Amazon really own a cinema chain? And what would that mean for cinemas?

What’s this all about?

Trolls: World Tour
Trolls: World Tour became an unexpected hit via on demand (Universal, 2020)

Streaming services have been invaluable while everyone is in lockdown, and Prime has been a heavy hitter for a while. Especially in the UK, which didn’t get Disney+ until a few months ago. Amazon Prime has the added benefit of additional discounts from the main site. It also lets users rent and purchase many films, even if they don’t have prime, unlike most other services.

With cinemas closed, many studios have had to either delay big films or release them on demand. The pandemic has cemented the influence of streaming services, and many people are asking what the future holds for cinemas. With streaming being easier and often cheaper, audiences may not be as inclined to visit cinemas anymore, except for “event” films such as “Tenet”. The latest trailer confirmed it would be “only in theatres”.

Why does it matter?

Amazon Studios
Amazon have had success with some of their orginal films

So Amazon has a successful streaming service and want to buy a cinema chain. This is good for Amazon, as they could give their original content theatrical releases. Existing Prime customers could also get additional perks. But what about cinemas they don’t own? Could we start seeing some releases exclusive to some cinemas? Amazon has had success with original films like “The Big Sick” and “Manchester By The Sea“. Although the Oscars temporarily allow films streamed digitally to be eligible, traditionally they need a theatrical release. Although they have started to move away from this, like most streaming services. Netflix had a big exception with Scorsese’s “The Irishman“, which had a limited theatrical run so that it qualified for Oscars. This would allow them to release a film on their streaming service for subscribers, while also being awards friendly.

If Amazon did this, it’s likely other streaming services would follow suit. Disney is a likely contender. Along with Universal, they have been less concerned with cinemas, releasing films soon after theatrical releases. If these studios begin buying up cinemas, they could have the best of both worlds. Many cinema chains are refusing to show Universal movies if they continue ignoring the theatrical window. This could potentially lead to a scenario where huge franchises are only available in certain cinemas. You could watch Fast and Furious 9 at your local, but then have to travel to a Disney owned chain for the new Star Wars. Imagine the streaming wars, but with actual cinemas!

How bad would this be?

Orson Welles infamously clashed with studios on most of his projects (Source: Vulture. com, 2015)

This would actually be a step backwards. Back in the 1920’s studios not only owned the theatres but had exclusive contracts with actors and directors. This meant that they could only work for that studio for the duration. and created a monopoly on the industry. During a two-decade-long court case independent producers, like Orson Welles and (ironically) Disney fought to end the practice. Eventually succeeding, the Supreme Court managed to end the practice of block booking in 1948. Although some argue those rules are no longer needed, meaning we could see a return to this model…

This would give studios complete control over films, with potentially much more “studio interference“. Director’s Cut’s would be very hard to produce as they would now be tangled up in rights issues. It would also be much harder for directors or actors to leave a project or refuse one.

Luckily, it seems like these talks may just be rumours, as neither company has confirmed they are actually happening, but if it did happen, it could be very bad news for everyone but the studios.

Also Read: Why We Need To Support Independent Cinemas Now More Than Ever

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