I’m getting into a long discussions with a couple of friends about the movies I’m recommending. Some of the friends are delighted at some of the gems I’m sending their way and some of the friends are upset because what I’m saying is good isn’t blowing up their skirts. I was thinking about this and I realize that what I am seeing and how I’m reacting has been effected by covid.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the what and how of film releases have changed. Some films have been pulled as filmmakers want a brick and mortar release. Most films are getting some kind of VOD release. Drive ins are going gangbusters in a lot of areas. There is a weird whiplash to it as somethings are being released to “virtual theaters” with tie ins to actual theaters, while others are just going to normal VOD platforms.
Frankly I have no idea of the whys and wherefores of any of it and I don't think anyone else does either.
What I do know is that what I am seeing has been changing, especially in the last few weeks where the shift away from strictly streaming to theaters or theaters and streaming has altered plans. There is a sense that some films are being held a little bit to see which way the wind blows. Release dates are changing. And that isn’t taking into consideration the changing nature of, not to mention the scheduling of the festivals which has altered the flow of what I’m seeing.
I that what I'm being offered is being altered since some of the firms I deal with have been shifting around, with people ending up in new places or simply disappearing. I'm seeing a lot of new names and faces and not seeing a lot of old ones.
What I’m seeing, especially in the last few weeks has been a real mixed bag. Some of it has been good, some bad. Some of the festival selections feel like they were made because they had limited choices. Some of the films being released to VOD make me feel that they are there to just fill slots- which means that some of what I’m seeing is there just to fill slots.
On the plus side I have discovered some great films like Last Right, Trigger Point and The Great Leap. On the negative side I’ve been challenged about some of my choices with some friends taking me to task about some of the films I’ve liked. I recently had a discussion about some of the more off beat films I’ve been enjoying. One friend has wondered what drugs I was on when I watched some of the more esoteric films, like Great Leap.
None. I was not on anything. However the fact that a lot of the films I’ve been running across the last few weeks have been really bland and by the numbers has effected the way that I am responding. I know this happens all the time, but to be perfectly honest since the start of 2021 it’s been more pronounced. There have been so many similar comedies and dramas hitting my inbox that anything out of the ordinary is getting a few bonus points. Worse even the good films are tough to write about, hence the shorter reviews.
The discussion of what I am liking and what I’m not took a weird turn when an acquaintance who only does a film or two a week questioned why I was powering through so many questionable films. Why wasn’t I being more selective. The answer, beyond needing to feed the "film a day" beast, is simply I tend to find the real gems by trying a wide variety of films.
While I have always loved the inde films, I find that cut off from the big budget Hollywood films I am losing my taste for them. Yes I love the spectacle of things like GODZILLA VS KONG, but I’m becoming less forgiving with their flaws.
On the other hand I’m also becoming less forgiving toward inde films if they track close to the Hollywood model. I love that most inde films are more creative than the studio produced stuff and I am becoming cranky when things are not as creative as I would have liked. On the other hand I suspect that once more Hollywood pabulum is back in my diet I’ll be back to forgiving.
Actually what is killing me is the lack of interaction with the film world and my friends. Because everything is being watched at home and because no one is on the same schedule, no one is watching anything "together". We are all on different schedules and it makes it hard to discuss films. I may see something great but other people may not have had a chance to see it. When they do I may have moved on. The mad passionate discussions are lacking. The closest I’ve had to a typical cinema life for me was during Sundance when everyone was watching things in close order. I’m hoping this returns with Tribeca since it appears the screening process will be close to Sundance’s.
In a way the real thing that Covid has done is crush my enthusiasm for covering film. It has become a daily battle to watch, to write and to deal with the changes. There have been so many shifts to releases, to festivals and to the industry over the last year that it isn’t surprising that a good number of people I know have gotten off the bucking bronco.
PR firms and studios have shifted. People have moved around. Some sources are gone or changed. Nothing as it was. Worse It seems that since Slamdance the films are kind of drying up or release dates are changing as filmmakers and studios are aiming to get back into physical theaters. I’ve been pushing things back as a result. I find I am scrambling more to chase down films I want to cover. While I am delighted when I find a great film this just isn’t really fun anymore.
That said I keep going because I keep finding good things and because I’m too stupid to stop.
And now quick word on the festivals of the week.
The New York Polish Film Festival (Info and tickets here).
The annual festival of films from Poland is back and it’s both in person Wednesday through Saturday as well as virtual. I’ve seen six of the films and they are all awesome. I highly recommend all of them. Go buy tickets.
Open Roads New Italian Cinema (Info and tickets here)
One of my favorite festivals of the year returns with a look at some of the best Italian films you probably never heard of. As this posts I’m just beginning to wade into the festival offerings. Where in other years where I’ve hit up most of the fest this year I’m only doing a handful. Time and tide are taking a toll. That said there will be reviews later this week once I get a chance to write up the films.
Tickets an details can be had here.(Its all virtual this year)
It’s still a couple of weeks away- but I just want to say that I've started scheduling reviews for Tribeca. I’m not certain how many films will be covered but I suspect that its going to be a large number- we saw a good chunk of the films they are showing from last years fest, plus I’ve had access to around 20 new films (so far). I can’t say more just yet but there is good stuff here.
Lastly one of my favorite directors Irina Varina has a new experimental short film.