Merrily, Merrily Down The Stream

A recent study of our Stay At Home lives has purported that the average American is streaming about 8 hours a day! That’s a lot of content! Do you feel like you’ve seen everything on Netflix already? Are you looking for something new to stream or weighing which other service to add and then cancel after your 30-day trial? Here’s a few suggestions to get you thru our next month of Safer At Home restraints.

The Willoughbys

Cooped up with kids? How about the new animated feature The Willoughbys that landed on Netflix this week. Featuring an all-star vocal cast and punchy animation, the tale is based on a children’s book by author Lois Lowry. Selfish parents are sent on a vacation as the kids go on an adventure with a helpless nanny in tow. This is not a film for little kids or for sensitive kids. There are some scary scenes and the children neglected and abused but don’t worry, the bad guys get eaten in the end. Ricky Gervais as the voice of the cat narrator is a perfect choice for this film.

Looking for romance? Add Hulu or rent on Amazon Prime ($2.99) to watch Portrait of a Lady on Fire, 2019 — Portrait de la jeune fille en feu . This sumptuous tale set on an island is full of lustful glances and furtive clinches. Beautiful cinematography and lovely leading ladies fight against the constraints of their times and their sex. One of my favorite soundtracks from last year and my favorite film.

Need a little supernatural with your star-crossed lovers? How about a witch and a vampire in A Discovery of Witches on Sundance Now. This series based on the novels of Deborah Harkness is an old-fashioned romance with a twist. Season Two is streaming now.

Do you need to be reassured that there’s goodness in this world? Watch Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution for an empowering documentary about a life-changing summer camp for teens with disabilities. This camp helped change disability access in America and is funny and heart-warming. Stream the movie on Netflix.

Need a Feminist Film to get your blood boiling? Learn about the road blocks to the Equal Rights Movement with a fabulous roster of talent. Cate Blanchett stars as Phyllis Schlafly in the series Mrs America on Hulu. You’ll come to understand how this country can still justify limiting woman’s rights.

Perhaps you like to see new films that have a little controversy to spice them up? Go to Michael Moore’s YouTube Channel and watch Planet of the Humans. The Daily Beast ran an article titled “Michael Moore Just Declared War on the Climate Movement” (Mike Pearl, April 20, 2020). Filmmaker Jeff Gibbs examines climate change, fossil fuels, pollution and the green energy movement. Michael Moore is the Executive Producer.

If you’re Staying Safer At Home with film aficionados, consider adding The Criterion Channel for streaming classics and discoveries from around the world with special features curated in categories such as filmmakers, cinematographers and other criteria. Enjoy everything from a black & white classic to a contemporary film like The Fits (Directed by Anna Rose Holmer, 2015) that you may have missed.

If you’re holding on for films in the theater…well, be patient. There are still films on the slate to be released this year. Whether Americans will be willing to sit in theaters with social distancing and eat popcorn under a mask, that’s to be seen. Singapore opened it’s movie theaters and then had to close them again when Coronavirus cases took an upswing. There are still open theaters in some states that haven’t issued ANY Stay At Home orders but they’ve been playing the same films on steady rotation. Now that the Oscars will consider nominating films that streamed online and not require a movie to play in a theater, if only for this year, many films will consider sales to online platforms. Trolls World Tour had remarkable success as a rental on Amazon, Apple TV and Google Play.

The most likely film to herald a return to theaters is Christopher Nolan tentpole Tenet (July 17, Warner Bros.), followed by Disney’s Mulan (July 24) and Warner Bros. Wonder Woman 1984. If that happens, these titles could claim virtually every open screen in North America.

Still on the summer 2020 schedule are Twentieth Century supernatural thriller The Empty Man, (August 7), Disney talking-animal film The One and Only Ivan (August 14), Orion’s Bill & Ted Face the Music (August 21) Orion, and Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (August 28) — but any or all of these titles could fit the parameters for a home premiere. Which will shift to streaming or VOD (Video on Demand)?

More theatrically inclined are October releases such as Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Twentieth Century’s Hercule Poirot mystery Death on the Nile (October 9), Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches from Warner Bros. (October 9), and Universal’s BIOS starring Tom Hanks (October 2) and Halloween Kills starring Jamie Lee Curtis (October 16).

Other October titles are more likely VOD candidates, including Paramount’s Tom Clancy actioner Without Remorse (October 2) and game adaptation Snake Eyes (October 23); Sony’s animated family film Connected (October 23) and Twentieth Century’s drag musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (October 23, Disney).

Almost certain to keep their dates (excepting any theater closings) are MGM’s No Time to Die (November 25); Disney’s Free Guy (December 11), Soul (November 20), and Black Widow (November 6); and Twentieth Century’s Steven Spielberg musical West Side Story (December 18). Warner Bros. is opening Godzilla vs. Kong (November 20), Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi spectacular Dune (December 18), and Tim Story’s animated Tom and Jerry (December 23), while Paramount is banking on two sequels, Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America 2 (December 18) and Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick (December 23). Less assured are Disney’s erotic thriller from Adrian Lyne, Deep Water (November 13) and Ridley Scott adventure The Last Duel, which has a December 25 release date but still hasn’t begun production.

Hoping for Oscar attention is MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson (December 25). Please, please, tell me we’ll all be able to see movies in theaters before the end of this year!

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