March 2020 Digest

Features
Pandemics on Film
Single Location Movies
Short Film Showcase #2

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Movie Review – Downhill

Downhill (2020)
Written by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, and Jesse Armstrong
Directed by Nat Faxon

I don’t want to write a review that simply compares Downhill to the film it is remaking, Force Majeure, but my god, I have to. Downhill is a recent example of a horrible way movie studios take foreign films and make butchered rehashes that show total disrespect to the audience. This movie loses every single element that made the original such a sharp, well balanced dark comedy and makes themes and characters way too obvious and on the nose. I laughed, possibly once, a slight chuckle, but spent the rest of the runtime having my worries confirmed.

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard -Season One, Episode Ten

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season 1, Episode 10 – “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2”
Written by Michael Chabon & Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Akiva Goldsman

I really loved the idea of Star Trek: Picard. Bringing back the aged captain and seeing what he’s like now, how he relates to the galaxy around him. Of course, we knew going in that Picard would be surrounded by new faces, and I was a little apprehensive but still open to new characters. From looking at Discovery, it was clear that this new show would push the boundaries in terms of violence, language, and sex. That’s acceptable and could make the show more “realistic” in terms of human behaviors. Ultimately though, Picard never becomes the thing so many expected it to be. There are real moments of brilliance, but for the most part, it plays out predictably with characters taking actions and saying things you would expect them to, not much better than mediocre fan fiction.

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Media Moment (03/27/20)

We’re in for a very strange restructuring of the film calendar. Wonder Woman 1984 has been delayed from its May release to August, a month not typically seen as where studios put big tentpoles. Black Widow has been moved from late April to November (likely Thanksgiving) for its release. Production for The Batman has been indefinitely delayed, so that should come out in late 2021 or further at this point. Despite all of this, filming for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is set to still begin in June. It appears that this current phase of the MCU is very dependent on certain movies & shows releasing at certain times in relation to each other. Strange is set for release in May of 2021. 

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Movie Review – Emma.

Emma. (2020)
Written by Eleanor Catton
Directed by Autumn de Wilde

Comedies of manners are always a popular subgenre of film & television. Shows like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm center their entire premise around social misunderstandings and conflicts centered around etiquette. The master of this narrative is Jane Austen, whose body of work was mainly concerned with the comedy and drama that comes out of what most people would see as everyday interactions. Her novel Emma has been adapted many times, so the question for this film is, what makes it unique from the others?

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard Season One, Episode Nine

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One, Episode Nine – “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1”
Written by Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman & Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Akiva Goldsman

So many things about this penultimate episode of Picard feel pleasantly familiar while others seem so out of place in a Star Trek story. But that is to be expected with Akiva Goldsman, who delivered one of the most un-Star Trek-like series in recent history (Discovery). He loves things that are conceptually cool and full of visual spectacle. There’s the sense that the final episode of the season will involve a big shooty space battle, which is simply not what Star Trek really is. Star Wars? Most certainly. But I am not looking forward to this conclusion. Star Trek, when it does space battles, is more about one-on-one and the strategy of battle.

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Media Moment (03/20/20)

These are worrisome times. I don’t expect we are close to the end of this crisis, and without strong centralized action, it is only going to get worse. I’ve noticed that our “leaders” are passing the buck instead of taking charge. The president says it’s all on the governors, which is one way of saying, “I’m not taking responsibility for this.” Even down to my local state legislature and governor, they refuse to take action and just suggest what should happen. In the meantime, some Hollywood studios are putting up movies for distribution.

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